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Bad Nuts This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     At any moment of any day my life can depend upon a half-inch needle containing .3 milligrams of adrenaline. One person’s careless mistake can send my life into a whirling fight for survival. According to a recent study, one percent of Americans suffer from a peanut/tree nut allergy. The reactions can be severe, even fatal: this allergy accounts for 50 to 100 deaths each year. The government has taken action by requiring schools to create peanut-free zones (or not allowing peanuts into the school at all). Also, many airlines have stopped distributing peanuts. Despite efforts to reduce reactions, many Americans, including me, have to live each day with an added burden.

Halloween of 1996 is a night that will forever be etched in my memory. When I returned home from trick-or-treating, I put on my Pocahontas nightgown and gobbled down a piece of saltwater taffy. Then I scurried along my merry way, watching television, waiting for my mother to tuck me in. Suddenly my throat began to get very itchy, and it burned too. So I grabbed my favorite cup, pink with a sippy lid that folded so no liquid would escape, and asked my mom for water. I swigged it down and asked her to refill it three more times. She looked at me, got suspicious, and then worry came over her face. She sat me on the couch, snatched up the phone, and began to dial quickly.

I heard her ask to talk to my pediatrician. She told him that I had massive blisters on my lips, and as she was on the phone, I started to get very short of breath. I had asthma, but I hadn’t been running around. As soon as that was relayed to the doctor, she hung up and dialed three numbers: 9-1-1. The ambulance showed up and I was whisked away.

In the ambulance I was surrounded by four smiling young paramedics. One of them handed me a purple stuffed dinosaur so I would have a friend on the way. When I got to the hospital, I honestly don’t remember very much other than a lot of crying, and finally getting the antihistamine I needed. Around 2 a.m. my aunt and uncle came to pick up my mother and me. And I have lived with this memory, and this allergy, ever since.

This allergy, I feel, has limited me socially. It has made me more cautious of everything in life. I have to watch what others are eating, food labels, whom I share food and drinks with, and even who has had contact with anything containing peanuts. At parties, I feel like a pain in the neck because I have to ask who made each food item and what the exact ingredients are. I have resorted to not eating at parties unless I am sure nothing contains anything I might react to. No morsel is safe to put into my mouth unless I have double-checked it. I don’t trust anyone else with my life.

The reason I live like this is that I don’t want to have a reaction, which can range from mild to severe. A mild reaction is an irritated throat and blisters on my lips, and can be treated with Benadryl. A severe reaction is anaphylactic shock, which is when my throat blisters so much that it swells to block my airway. If anaphylactic shock isn’t treated within 10 minutes, I will die. It’s an extreme thought, but sadly a real one. The only thing that can save my life is a half-inch needle with .3 milligrams of epinephrine and a person with the courage to administer it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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cocoloco said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm
I have a severe allergy to pecans and cashews.  One time I had pecans in my salad and someone had to use the epi-pen.  I know how you feel and its not fun, but luckily I'm not allergic to all nuts.
 
malachite_eyes said...
Dec. 22, 2010 at 9:46 pm
I feel really bad for you, I kind of know how you feel but not that extreme. I'm severely allergic to grass and pollen. Don't feel like a burden when you have to ask people what's in the food, better to be safe than sorry(:
 
SpyceChik said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 5:17 am
I understand EXACTLY how u feel. i am allergic to A LOT of things. Luckily, I've had only a few very serious reatcions. I identify with the feeling like a pain in the neck. I'm allergic to pollen grains, which means I can't go near certain flowers, dust, smoke and some medicines and my brother is allergic to peanuts. It can be really tough sometimes, especially when other people don't take you seriously.  I remember once, in 7th grade, we were doing an experiment with flowers ... (more »)
 
ThisLitIsBananas This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm
This is a good piece. However, though I will agree that these allergies are serious and we should take them seriously, I don't agree with schools completely banning peanuts. once kids get older they should be trusted to take their allergies into their own hands. It isn't fair to ban peanuts completely - especially since the majority of people with nut allergies have to ingest them to trigger a reaction, and other alergies, such as egg or milk, are forgotten. But good article - peanut allerg... (more »)
 
practicerandomkindness said...
May 30, 2009 at 4:03 am
No offense, but you do have to trust people a little more to better cope with this allergy. Good piece.
 
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