Teens in the Real World
  Food Allergies in the Real World  

That's a Dangerous Pizza!

By Sarah. Age 15. Allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, and soy.

 

I came home from the grocery store very excited. I had recently developed an allergy to soy, and I had not been able to find a safe pizza. Pizza used to be my favorite food, and now we were always looking for a kind that did not have soy. When my mom and I finally found a pizza at Whole Foods that I could have, I could not wait to get home and eat it.

I read the label, and it appeared to be fine. In fact, it had great allergy information and guaranteed that they kept the foods on separate product lines to avoid cross-contact. I felt really safe about it, so I ate the entire thing.

Immediately after my last bite, I thought I had the flu: I was sick to my stomach. My parents said I looked sick, but with no signs of hives or swelling, they thought I might have had too much to eat. I went downstairs to get some water, and on the way back up the stairs, my mouth felt dry and tasted like metal, and my lips felt a little swollen. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was trying to tell my mom what happened, but I could barely talk.

I managed to tell her that I needed the EpiPen ®. Everyone was shocked at how fast I came to that conclusion, after being perfectly fine 10 minutes ago. I took the EpiPen, and about 30 seconds later I was a new person. I felt so much better: I was able to talk easier and could breathe. I still couldn’t get over how fast this reaction had been. I have had reactions in the past, but they have never been this fast before. If I hadn’t gotten that epinephrine as soon as I did, my symptoms would have definitely gotten worse. I also realize that I should have sought medical help immediately after the epinephrine, in the event that the allergic reaction would not subside.

I learned a very important lesson from this reaction. It taught me that I need to bring my epinephrine with me everywhere. Reactions are never predictable, but as long as you are prepared, you can handle them. I must confess that if I was ever going on a quick trip to the store or the pool, I sometimes would leave my EpiPens at home, thinking it would only take me about 10 minutes to get home if I needed them. This reaction taught me that you don’t always have 10 minutes to wait. What if the car breaks down? What if you don’t get to your epinephrine in time? I know that I will never leave my EpiPens behind again.

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