Anaphylaxis is Not a Cute Girl’s Name. It’s My Allergy to Nuts

When my grandmother was getting up there in age and starting to lose her mind, she didn’t listen to, believe or remember what others told her.  One year, we went to her place for Thanksgiving and although I told my parents to tell her not to put nuts into the food because I didn’t like nuts and was possibly allergic to them, my grandmother put nuts into the food anyway.  She thought that if I just ate them in her food without knowing, I would find that I actually liked them.  It could have killed me.  I was lucky because I threw the food up and thus got it out of my system.

My parents told me that they told her I was allergic to nuts, even though I know they didn’t think I was allergic at that time which makes me wonder if they actually told her at all.  I think they just told her that I don’t like them.  I remember a time when my family put peanut butter on a cracker and tried to get me to eat it even though I had thrown up nuts before and they knew there was something wrong.  Nut allergies were not really known about back then.  Even though, nice of them to ignore the signs, not believe me and not even think that a pattern of throwing up stuff with nuts could have been a sign of a serious problem, that I wasn’t just faking it.  I wonder how many kids died over the centuries from bad parents.

After I went to college, I had a few nut allergy episodes that sent me into anaphylaxis and the hospital.  Anaphylactic shock is where your body reacts to an allergen that causes ones lungs to close up and the arteries to dilate, which lowers the blood pressure.  Between the lack of oxygen and the low blood pressure, the reaction kills you.  After going to the hospital a few times from eating nuts, my mom remembered giving me allergy tests as an infant.  I asked her why she didn’t remember this before even though I kept telling her over the years that I had bad reactions to nuts that even sent me to the hospital.  She said she didn’t believe the results and threw them into a box in the attic.  So now, she decided to dig them out and send them to me. The results said, in capital letters, that I was allergic to nuts.  To her benefit, there were a number of things in that list in capital letters, like lobster, and maybe that’s why she didn’t trust the results.  I wonder how many other parents were too stupid to think a similar situation was the sign of something wrong with their kid.

These days, thanks to greed, negligence and apathy amongst food manufacturers, lots of people have to worry about food that is nut free but still made on factories with nuts; god forbid the machinery is cleaned thoroughly.  I’m lucky to have survived and am lucky to be living in a time where injectable epinephrine and Benadryl have been created and are available everywhere.  I’m also lucky to have a slow reaction; mine takes about an hour to set in so I can get to a hospital.  I have known others whose reactions take seconds to set in.  I wonder if centuries ago a kid having the same problem was taken to a doctor who cut them and stuck leeches on them only to see them die.



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