"It starts with a feeling, an itch, a sneeze. Within minutes, if not seconds, of eating something I can feel a reaction is starting. I take Benadryl hoping it is just a minor reaction and it will not progress. Soon, I know whether it is minor or if more symptoms will develop. If the reaction continues I begin to feel itchy all over. My face and neck start to get red and blotchy with hives. I feel like my stomach is being ripped apart. Then, the swelling begins. My eyes begin to swell to the point where I am unable to see because they are shutting. I do not even look like the same person. All of these symptoms are annoying and frustrating, but can be manageable. The scary part is when breathing troubles begin. It feels like you are far underwater. When I was little I used to always try to dive down and touch the bottom of the deep end of the pool. You start to feel the pressure of the water on your lungs and you know that you need to get to the top and take a deep breath. A reaction is the same way. I feel the pressure on my lungs. I am struggling to take a deep breath and know that I need to breathe. The only problem is unlike the pool where you can get to the surface, there is not a surface to break through during a reaction. In order to get that deep breath an Epi-Pen must be used. Any reaction is scary. A symptom listed of anaphylaxis is “impending doom.” How horrible is that?! No one should fear that taking one bite of something can leave them struggling to breathe, but it is what many people and families live with every single day. I am one of them. This is my truth. This is my journey. This is what happens behind the reaction."
I wanted to take a moment tonight to introduce you to my friend Natalie. The excerpt above is from her blog http://behindthereaction.com/.
Natalie is smart, fun, social, and energetic. She also has food allergies. I met her at our local food allergy support group, and we hit it off immediately. Natalie is severely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and has recently been diagnosed with idiopathic anaphylaxis. For those of you who don't know, it is anaphylaxis with no known cause. Meaning it could happen anywhere at any time. She has gone into anaphylactic shock three times in the last seven months. She is a college student, food allergy advocate, and co-leader of our local support group. I have a feeling this girl might be a household name in the FA world some day.
One of the things that I admire about Natalie, is that she isn't living her life, fearing when the next reaction will come. She takes every day as it comes and lives life to the fullest, with a purse full of epinephrine I might add. Another benefit to speaking with Natalie, is that she brings a different perspective to food allergies, that we don't get as parents.
Natalie is very open about her allergies, and will even post pictures of her reactions. I love her blog mostly because as parents, we see the symptoms and we treat the reaction, but we can only guess what it's actually like for our kids. Through Natalie, we get to see behind the reaction.