Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Easy and Simple

By Vivian. Age 15. Allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame.

  1. Pull off gray safety cap.
  2. Press black tip against thigh.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds.

I used to do these steps all the time with an orange. It felt so easy and simple.

The first time I used my EpiPen ®, I was in Guatemala returning home from a camp.

I was waiting for my airplane to take off, and I had to get out because I was having an anaphylactic reaction.

When I swallowed the allergen, I knew something was wrong, and then suddenly it clicked in my mind that I was alone and that I was having a reaction. I knew it was time to use my EpiPen; it couldn’t wait.

All the practices with the oranges that seemed so simple and easy suddenly seemed scary and complicated. But it was a matter of death and life. And I knew how to do it; I just wasn’t expecting it.

I sat on the floor and held the EpiPen tightly. I suddenly felt ready. The instructions were clear in my head:

Pull off gray safety cap.

Press black tip against thigh.

Hold for 15 seconds.

All of the sudden I heard a “click,” and I began counting slowly.

It wasn’t that painful; it felt more like a relief. I felt a mix of emotions: I was exhausted, happy, sad, homesick, scared … and tons more. But I learned that you’re never alone if you have your EpiPen and you know how to use it.

I also learned that the EpiPen instructions are missing a step: Courage.
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