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Food Allergy Chronicles: The Invisibility of Allergies

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Invisibility of Allergies

If you have read anything I’ve written before you know I am a firm believer in taking personal responsibility for managing your allergies. I don’t expect anyone to do anything for me. I do however expect a certain level of respect.

Chronic allergies such as food allergies, allergies to insects, and allergies to medication are an illness. They are not something that goes away, but they are not always visible. A person can’t look at me and tell I have a laundry list of allergies and people lack an understanding of things they can’t see. Unless you witness first hand someone having a reaction, you may never understand the severity of the issue.

Most people I know who have allergies have had people question them about it at least once. “Just eat an almond and see what happens”  “ You don’t look like you had a reaction,” or  “Prove it” are all things people foolishly say. People also like to mock and make fun while they eat their cupcakes, doughnuts, sandwiches, etc. If you have never been in a position where you can’t breath – good for you – because I can tell you it’s terrible. Have you ever thrown up while you can’t breath? Also terrible. Hives? Terrible. Swollen face, eyes, hands? Terrible.

Auto-injectors are the life-saver of anyone with allergies. They deliver a life saving dose of epinephrine whenever you use them. However, to use them you need to slam an inch long, 22 gauge needle into your leg. You guessed it, it’s terrible.

My point is not to get people to feel sorry for me. Feel sorry for kids with cancer, I require no sympathy. I go out of my way to not bring attention to the fact that I am terrified every time I eat food I didn’t cook, every time I’m outside in the summer months, or every time I’m around people who are eating. I’m afraid I’ll miss out on something or disappoint people if I have a reaction. I’m afraid to eat at my brother’s wedding because I don’t want to risk ruining it. I hide these things because I don’t want attention for something that is just a fact of my life. I do, however, want people to understand no one chooses this. No one goes out of their way to live this way. I choose to live my life everyday without asking people to make changes for me. I spend time outside, and go to restaurants and I’m afraid every step of the way. Show respect, be happy you can’t see it because it when you can see it then you will really need to be worried. It isn’t pretty!

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