I just had to share this brilliant article which was featured this week in Chat Magazine, with the fantastic headline of “Snogging me comes with a health warning!”. That made me laugh so much, possibly the heading for my dating profile?
This article details my allergy journey, from my first even anaphylactic reaction, diagnosis with a nut allergy, right up to my last anaphylactic reaction to nuts in a starter while eating out.
The heading is a reference to a particular kiss which resulted in an allergic reaction after my partner at the time had eaten nuts. You would not believe how much my lips swelled up! If you have a nut allergy, be very careful who you kiss!
Just re-reading this story brings back the fear and terror of that night, waking up in intensive care and knowing how close I had come to death, again! I had been out for a meal and been given a meal containing dairy, despite all my best efforts to inform the restaurant beforehand, remind them on arrival and continual checking during the meal.
I was failed that night by the staff at this pub due to the following reasongs:
- No processes in place to handle allergen bookings
- The manager who handled by booking was out that night, without this key member of staff no one knew what to do
- Staff were not adequately trained to take allergy food requests
- Kitchen staff were not trained to understand the severity of anaphylaxis
- Communication between the team was lacking
- Despite my repeated questions and the staff’s obvious lack of understanding, no one admitted they didn’t know or didn’t check and to this day I do not now know quite how I was given a meal so laced with dairy, yet being told it was dairy free and made especially for me.
- No one knew what to do after the fact of the allergic reaction taking place and staff hid, avoided me and refused to help or communicate
- I did not receive any proper apology except an email from the pub assuring me they took allergies very seriously and hoped I was now OK! Clearly they didn’t take them seriously at all and I very, very, very much NOT OK!
It was basically an accident waiting to happen and a truly awful evening in my life. Thanks go to my wondering colleagues and friends who were with me that night. Thank you all for staying with me, getting me help and helping me heal afterwards.
I don’t think I will ever truly get over these incidents. They haunt me to this day. They stay with me. They still give me nightmares and I remain to this day, incredibly anxious any time I am eating out.
This isn’t such a bad thing as it keeps me ever vigilant but when you have had a near death experience it never really leaves you.
It wasn’t the first time I’d had an anaphylactic reaction and it probably won’t be the last. Living with the knowledge that certain foods could cause anaphylaxis, or in the worst case, could kill me, is very hard to live with.
I’ve developed anxiety and panic attacks because of this and needed therapy to learn now to come to terms with it.
So I am very grateful to everyone who keeps me safe, to my friends and family, thank you.
And to Chat magazine for taking my story and sharing it with their readers. I will never stop campaigning and raising awareness about allergies in the hope that I can help others not feel alone and help educate everyone about how to keep people with allergies safe
Death from anaphylaxis is avoidable but it takes a community, a family, a nation to ensure those at risk have the information they need to stay safe.
Writing therapy for my anxiety and fear
After my last anaphylactic reaction I was asked to write a book, the theme being, how do people with the anxiety, fear and worry that anaphylaxis could make the ill and possible even result in death.
If you or your loved one has anaphylaxis, you might find my book, The Reluctant Allergy Expert – How to kill the fear that anaphylaxis could kill you, useful.
It’s available on Amazon as a kindle and in paperback.
To find out more, read The Reluctant Allergy Expert.
And finally, thanks again for reading my blog. I’d love to hear your stories. How do you live with the fear? How do parents cope? How do children cope? What do you do to help?
Stay safe and keep checking those labels, menus and asking again and again. It’s never enough!