Elynne Gold on her daughter’s experiences: My teenage daughter suffered her fifth severe anaphylactic reaction in 18 months in July 2017. For her, the post-reaction period is filled with anxiety about food allergies. One night following that latest reaction, she sat awake in bed, writing her thoughts on her phone at 3 a.m.
Talia believes she needs to do something. As a 15-year-old, what she feels she can do is to help raise awareness. For instance, awareness about the severity of food allergies and how they should not be taken lightly. How they should be understood and shouldn’t be treated like a “joke.”
I awoke in the morning to the following text. She wants to share it. We both want to share it. Especially in this holiday season, we want to remind people to be extra vigilant about food allergies.
Talia’s Timely Message
Here is a little something I think is so crucial for everyone, no matter who you are, to read.
I am among the 1 in 13 children who was born with severe, severe anaphylactic food allergies.
To most people on the street, they don’t think much of it – “Oh it’s not a big deal, she just won’t eat nuts.” Others even call it a blessing in disguise – “You’re lucky you are allergic to all those things and can’t eat it because you don’t give in to unhealthy foods.”
If I learned anything from a young age, it’s that you can’t always blame those who don’t understand, and that is the point of this message. Anaphylactic reactions, like the kind I have, are life-threatening, and in the heat of the moment, it is a battle between life or death.
I’ve had five severe reactions in the past year and a half, and each time it doesn’t get any less scary. Since I was a little baby, my parents knew about my severe allergies, which were to many foods. They knew the severity of it, and kept me safe. I only ate what my mom cooked, brought my own food to restaurants, and followed the simple rule of “no ingredients, no eat.”
Luckily as I grew older I outgrew some of my allergies, leaving me with remaining allergies to peanuts, all tree nuts, eggs, dairy and peas.
As I grew more independent the reactions began to start. I won’t go into major detail of the events of every reaction, but each one included the same symptoms of horrible stomach pain, nausea, confusion/dizziness, loss of consciousness and, most importantly, the frightening feeling that I couldn’t breathe.
My epinephrine auto-injector, a lifeline for an allergic person, saved my life four times. But the thing about all of these reactions is this: I was being diligent; I was being careful. I thought I was being safe. But it was the lack of understanding of anaphylactic allergies in the world that played a huge role in all of my reactions.
I always express to everyone how severely allergic I am to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy and peas and to take precautions. At restaurants, I ask them to use clean utensils and equipment so I am safe. And I can say it 1,000 times, but in truth I am trusting these employees with my life. From accidentally ingesting almond milk that had contaminated my fruit juice because the employee didn’t listen and clean out the blender, or from a granola bar packaged on poorly cleaned equipment that was shared with nuts, I have suffered severe repercussions.
I am 1 in 13 people who live with this curse, who feel as though it’s not fair that they can’t grab a juice with a friend without risking crossing the line of life or death. Life with allergies is not glorious, or lucky, and it never will be. But with the spreading of allergy awareness we can help save so many lives and protect those that do have to live this way.
Knowledge and awareness can turn a person’s life with anaphylactic allergies from a doomed ending to a hopeful one, to a happy one. Life with allergies stinks, but we have the power to save many, with only the price of knowledge. So contribute. Spread food allergy awareness. Turn someone’s fear into hope, and give them – the people like me – a happy ending.