Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

Hamburger Surprise

by Courtney, age 20. Allergic to peanut, soy, and shrimp.


I’ll always remember my most embarrassing food allergy moment. It was an average, sunny day during eighth grade. I had never had a problem with the school's cafeteria before, so I decided once more to buy my lunch.

That day I bought a cheeseburger, and sat down at a table to eat with my friends. I noticed the bun looked different from the others I had eaten in the past. I thought nothing of it; I was hungry and wanted to eat. After lunch, I headed to class with my friends, but on the way I noticed that my throat and ears felt funny. By the time I sat down at my desk, I felt tired and weak. I could barely write with my pen.

I asked to go to the nurse; my teacher knew about my food allergies and let me go without question. I told the nurse that I thought I was having a reaction, and she called my mother. My mother came to the school, gave me my EpiPen®, and then called 911. As soon as I got my shot I felt much better, so I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal at this point; the EMTs would just check to make sure I was okay.

In walked three EMTs, two police officers, and a firefighter. They all crowded into the nurse’s office, and some of my fellow students watched them lift me onto a stretcher. I have never wanted to attract attention to my allergies, so I felt pretty weird getting on the stretcher. When they took me outside to the ambulance, it just happened to be the second lunch period. Everyone pressed against the windows to catch a glimpse of me being wheeled out of the building on a stretcher.

I ended up being fine. I didn’t even have to stay overnight at the hospital. My reaction caused some talk at school, but I just told everyone I was fine. Initially, the most embarrassing moment had been when I was being carried out on the stretcher, but I felt awkward when I found out the reaction was because the hamburger had an ingredient derived from peanuts. When I look back on the whole thing now, I just laugh it off and think twice before I eat a hamburger.

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