“Can I eat at Baskin Robbins?” I ask my trusted group of allergy experts. They are moms, dads, teens, siblings, friends, and relatives. They all know; they are all connected to someone who has a severe life-threatening nut allergy. They have been where I am, and they answer my questions when I need help. They know that it can be confusing. What does "may contain traces" mean? What does "produced in a facility that processes peanuts and tree nuts" mean? What do I do at restaurants? How do I travel to foreign countries?
“No. Your days of walking into a store and ordering an ice cream cone are sadly over. There is way too much risk."
I sat in the allergist's office less than a year ago. I was 34 years old. I had experienced some throat swelling, some all-over itchiness, some lip tingling, some digestive upset. I assumed—how silly of me—that it was a fluke. I assumed that the allergist would ask some questions, would do some testing, would look at me like I was a little bit crazy, and would send me on my merry way.
Instead, I walked out of my appointment in a bit of a haze. I had answered at least a thousand questions. I had asked at least a thousand of my own.
I had pages upon pages of literature about my newly-minted tree nut and peanut allergy. I had a brand-new EpiPen (an epinephrine auto-injector), complete with video instructions of what should happen in case of anaphylaxis. I had a list of nuts to avoid—almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, pecans, walnuts. I had a list of fruit to avoid—apples, cherries, peaches, pears. I had a list of animals to avoid—cats…and my dog.
I had an arm full of itchy-as-heck welts.
I am now a statistic.
I will never eat pecan pie again.
And I will never not worry about possible allergic reactions.
"THIS SALAD HAS NUTS IN IT," My sister-in-law shouted at me as she watched me spoon the cole slaw into my mouth. It was Father's Day, and I was enjoying my dinner. I had made sure to ask beforehand, I always do. But something got missed; a family member didn't get told.
And then I began to feel it. Lip tingling, throat closing and swelling, sweats, chills, stomach ache, itching, panic.
That's the thing about relying on others. It can be unpredictable.
And that's the thing about anaphylaxis. It sure can be unpredictable too.
And this is why I always have my EpiPen on me.
I can ask as many questions as possible. Hundreds, thousands even. And I do.
I can avoid all the places I know are too risky. Bakeries, ice cream parlors, coffee shops. And I do.
I can read labels to make sure the products are allergen-free. And I do.
I can call ahead to restaurants to make sure that special measures are taken for me. And I do. And usually restaurants are very accommodating.
I can do all of these things and then some to assure my own safety and peace of mind.
But things happen.
And I can still find myself at your family BBQ gasping for air, and scared to death.
So I am prepared to make sure that anaphylaxis doesn't happen—but I am also prepared for the times when it does happen. I know how to use my EpiPen. I check the expiration date to make sure that it hasn't expired. I have taught my entire family how to use it, including my youngest daughter. I have four EpiPen Auto-Injectors, and know where all four are at all times—in my purse and on my person. Always.
I work hard to always ask my allergy experts any questions I may have. But I am also always prepared, just in case.
This is proudly sponsored by EpiPen®.
The opinions expressed in this post are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of Pfizer Canada, the Canadian distributor of EpiPen. Pfizer Canada reviews all material to ensure medical accuracy of statements.
EpiPen® and EpiPen® Jr (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors are indicated for the emergency treatment of anaphylactic reactions in patients who are determined to be at increased risk for anaphylaxis, including individuals with a history of anaphylactic reactions. Selection of the appropriate dosage strength is determined according to patient body weight.
EpiPen® and EpiPen® Jr Auto-Injectors are designed as emergency supportive therapy only. They are not a replacement for subsequent medical or hospital care. After administration, patients should seek medical attention immediately or go to the emergency room. For the next 48 hours, patients must stay within close proximity to a healthcare facility or where they can call 911. To ensure this product is right for you, always read and follow the label. Please consult the Consumer Information leaflet in your product package for complete dosage and administration instructions.
© 2013 Pfizer Canada Inc., Kirkland, Quebec H9J 2M5 • Toll free: 1-877-EPIPEN1 (1-877-374-7361)
EpiPen®, EpiPen® Jr are registered trademarks of Mylan Inc. licensed exclusively to its wholly-owned affiliate, Mylan Specialty, L.P.; sub-licensee, Pfizer Canada Inc., Kirkland, Quebec H9J 2M5
I am a listmaker by nature. I make lists of all of the lists I need to make.
No really, I do.
Throughout the year I have a running list of all of the things I'd like to have. Sometimes the list includes really practical gifts, like a coffee maker and Hanky Panky thongs. And sometimes the list includes big things that I need to save up for, like a new camera and lighting equipment.
But most of the time it includes hints for my husband.
"Here honey, darling, love of my life, here are some reasonably priced things I would never buy for myself, but wouldn't complain if they showed up in a gift bag...or under a tree somewhere."
1. Holiday Cheer Dishtowel, $18, Anthropologie. I love adding a few extra touches in my home around the holidays. Pair this with its Merry, Merry partner for a great hostess gift!
2. Green Camo Skinnies, $119, Lazypants. I can't express to you how much I need these pants. I work from home and while I do try to get dressed every day, there are times in the dead of -20 degree winter when I really just want to wear a pants your can really LIVE IN, yanno?
3. Learn To Knit Kit, $62, purlsoho.com. I learned to knit when I was 8 years old and my Bubbie taught me to make scarves. I made about 85 scarves until I got bored and gave up and then completely forgot how to knit. I would love to pick it up again!
4. Les Miserables Book Scarf, $42, Etsy. It's not the first time I have drooled over these book scarves and I may—admittedly—own more than one. But Les Miserables? This one might be my favorite. If this tale isn't your thing, you can check out listing for so many other great novels, including Romeo and Juliet and Alice and Wonderland.
5. Shanna Murray Recipe Pie Dish, $22.41, WestElm. Oh how I love this. It's two gifts in one—a pie dish AND a recipe for pumpkin pie.
6. Sorel Tofino Herringbone Boot, $155.01, Free People. Weatherproof and waterproof boots are a necessity for our harsh Canadian winters. But who says that warm winter boots need to be super expensive or super ugly? I love the herringbone on these boots—they really add a little personality to practicality, don't you think?
7. Eat Cake For Breakfast Mug, $20, Kate Spade. Now *here's* a message I can really get behind. I love cake, and I love to eat it breakfast. Who doesn't, really?
8. T-shirt, $19.95, Cottanable.com. I suspect that the maker of this t-shirt just really, really likes winter. But I...just really, really like Game of Thrones. And I actually kind of hate winter.
Thanks in advance, husband.
Love of my life.