After watching clips last night from a recent This Morning episode, I felt the need to write about it.
In this episode they were interviewing a fellow colleague, Amy May and her parents, regarding the allergic reaction that nearly took her life, but instead left her brain damaged. They also had posted a poll to the public asking whether peanuts should be banned on flights.
The episode also included a demonstration of how to use an epi-pen if someone is having a life threatening allergic reaction. I am SO glad that they showed this on TV because it is a basic part of First Aid that should be taught and yet most people don’t know how to do it. (Links to the episode clip and the epi-pen demonstration are at the bottom of this post – PLEASE take 40 seconds out of your time to watch the epi-pen demonstration video!)
Allergies aren’t people being awkward and they’re not people just choosing their dietary needs, like being a vegetarian or vegan. Believe me, people with allergies certainly don’t CHOOSE to have an allergy.
I have been allergic to nuts my whole life. Peanuts predominately with slightly less threatening allergies to other types of nuts.
I first had a reaction at 3 years old, then at 12 years old (when my mum wanted to test to see if I was still allergic) and then I have only had minor reactions since, as I have had an epi-pen and medication on me at all times to combat the reactions I have had.
I love cake and chocolate, but I can only eat brands that I know and trust, so home-made cakes in coffee shops are pretty much out of the question. I love curries and stirfrys but I can’t eat out in restaurants or have takeaways as there are peanuts in Chinese food and other nuts in Indian food. So instead, I have to make them for myself at home.
When I go on airplanes I have to ask the flight attendants if they can not serve peanuts on the flight. This is because the recycled air could result in me having a reaction thousands of feet up in the air, where no ambulance can get to me. Whenever I buy packaged food in the supermarkets I have to check the ingredients for allergens. I probably look like I’m calorie counting due to how long I look at the packaging, but I’m actually checking whether the food either contains nuts or deciding whether to risk buying food that is ‘made in a factory that handles nuts‘ (like every frickin’ package says nowadays). I can’t even share drinks with people because I had a bad allergic reaction from sharing a glass of water with my sisters, who had been eating peanuts earlier in the day.
Every single time I eat out, I have to ask the waiters to check with the kitchen what I can eat. Sadly, in the case of Amy May, she had checked with the chef whether her dish was nut-free, and because they clearly didn’t make it nut-free, she has ended up brain-damaged and stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
When This Morning put up a poll asking whether people thought nuts should be banned on flights altogether, (brought to light after a 3 year old had a terrifying allergic reaction mid-flight), only three quarters of people said ‘YES they should be banned’.
I’m sorry, but if you are one of the quarter of people who said ‘NO they shouldn’t be banned, because I like eating my peanuts on my flight‘ then YOU ARE SELFISH!
If you voted ‘NO’ then I hope you either develop an allergy, or your child develops an allergy, so that you can understand the severity of the situation. It is not a lifestyle choice, but it is a lifestyle in the way that your whole life revolves around it.
I have always wanted to travel all over Asia, but it is very unlikely that I ever will because I could potentially not return from my trip because something I eat could kill me. (Peanut oil is commonly used in cooking, along with nuts being in general recipes.) When I went to Thailand with my friend last year, I was paranoid over everything I ate and had to eat out at places where I knew the owners spoke fluent English and understood my allergy.
Believe me, it’s not fun for us with allergies to have to ask our waiters to check our meals are safe. I even had to check with Starbucks that their chocolate syrup for mochas and hot chocolate doesn’t contain nuts!
So the next time you think about making that flippant comment that ‘nobody used to have allergies back in the day’, or ‘people with allergies are just being fussy or akward’, or APOLOGISE FOR US AND OUR AWKWARDNESS, please take a second to rethink.
You should take allergies seriously, because the people with allergies (and their families) certainly do take it seriously. It’s not nice sitting down to a meal and praying that it won’t be your last.
AMY MAY’S STORY
HOW TO ADMINISTER AN EPI-PEN