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Beginning of a New (School) Year

August 28, 2014

I have written in a long time, and I’m very sorry for this. But I have an excuse, and a very good one at that. School started back up and it’s been my hardest year yet. It might have to do something with the fact I have my two least favorite classes first semester, Algebra 2 honors and Chemistry honors, and that I don’t have my favorite class, English, until next semester! But you know, whatever.

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Anyways, I am now on the Newspaper staff at my high school and I am now a columnist. So that is an upside. I figured I would share my first column with you lovely people at read my blog.
Here it is:
No Peanuts, No Problem
I’ve been allergic since birth. My mom has always told the tale of how I would break out if someone who had strong perfume on touched me. She gave me an affectionate nick name reflecting my sensitivity: “Little Green House Plant.” And I’ve carried that name ever since.
It wasn’t until I was three years old that I had my first severe reaction.
It only took one cashew to turn my lunchtime best friend into my nemesis. My parents, living in Monterey at the time, dosed me with Benadryl and rushed me to Cookeville Regional as fast as humanly possible. There the doctors diagnosed me with anaphylaxis: a severe allergic reaction that causes the throat to close. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room.
I’ve lived with anaphylaxis for approximately twelve years now, and, luckily, I’ve only had one anaphylactic reaction. But with severe food allergies comes great caution and even greater precaution. Every time I leave the house I instantly grab my Epi-pen; it’s one of the only things that will save me if I have an anaphylactic reaction. An Epi-pen is a “shot” that contains a medication called epinephrine; it reverses the course of the allergic reaction once injected into the thigh. I always tug it around in my purse for my safety.
If I go somewhere, and I know that they are serving food, I constantly analyze the food and what people are touching. Cross contamination is my biggest fear: if someone eats nuts, then touches something that I touch, I could have a serious reaction from just touching it. I also check the labels on every packaged food, even the food I eat every day. Companies are constantly changing factories and this can change the risk of cross contamination. On the bottom of every list of ingredients is an allergy warning that lists every known allergen and possible allergen.
The constant worry and cautious mindset gets tiring. My whole existence revolves around what people are eating and what I’m ultimately avoiding. A lot of times it’s very hard to stay positive when the whole world seems to be against you. However with the help of my God, my family, and my friends, I have been able to find the silver lining in the rain clouds above my head. I believe that everyone and everything has a purpose, and having food allergies is just a part of my greater purpose. If I didn’t have them, I wouldn’t be the same person I am today.
School is probably the hardest obstacle to face in this endless battle against my allergies. I’ve found that many teachers and students have not been educated on food allergies, and they don’t understand the severity of them. Often, people think that if they stay away from me I’ll be fine. But having peanut butter across the room from me is like having a loaded gun in the room. It inspires the same anxiety and fear. You could say that my goal is to educate as much as I can, so that I, and the 15 million other Americans with food allergies, feel a little safer.
Having food allergies isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just difficult sometimes. If you know someone with food allergies, please be respectful. We don’t know all there is to know about food allergies, but there are research organizations working on finding a cure. If you wish to have more information on food allergies and what they are, you can go to the Food Allergy Network’s website (foodallergy.org).

I hope to be able to write more between the endless amount of home work I have and the limited free time I have.
Have a great day, you deserve it.

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