Nobody should be living in fear, it’s not a nice place to be. Believe me, I’ve been there. I have spent years too frightened to eat out. Scared people will laugh at me or think I’m a freak. Fearful that I will stand out, cause a fuss, be a pain in the allergic backside.
But that’s all stopping now. Since last year when I decided I was going to demand better and not hide behind anaphylaxis as a reason to not join in, explore, ask for a safe meal etc. I’m getting out there and mostly I’m enjoying the ride. I’ve been abroad on my own and had a fantastic business trip in Copenhagen, eating out in some amazing restaurants. I’ve tried new places here in the UK and have been very pleasantly surprised on the whole. Give me Ham, egg and chips or steak and I’ll be more than happy. Offer me something a little more adventurous and I’ll be your number one fan and visit often with all my friends and family.
So far I’ve been fine but I’ve had a few minor reactions along the way. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy because it hasn’t but what I have learnt is that most people are kind, most people will listen and take your allergies seriously and when they don’t you can usually tell.
Look for the sighs. The eye roll. The tsk tsk. The impatient look. The comments like, “What can you eat? Fresh air? Dust?”
Well no actually, I can’t eat dust either because I’m allergic to that too!
What scares me more than having a life threatening allergy is ignorance. People in positions of power, like waiters, chefs and restaurant managers who don’t take allergies seriously. Allergies and anaphylaxis can be potentially life threatening but it’s not rocket science to help me choose a safe meal and to ensure the kitchen is clean to avoid cross contamination.
Failing to take allergies seriously is very dangerous.
Treating people with allergies with disdain breeds poor allergy awareness.
Discrimination spreads the opinion that it’s not that bad really. That maybe we just get a bit of a runny nose or a tummy upset.
Some people don’t get it until they’ve seen someone having full blown anaphylaxis.
Some people don’t really understand until they’ve put me in A&E. They usually just didn’t quite realise either what dairy was, which allergens were the issue, how bad it could be. But if anyone says they are allergic to something, whether they is a mild allergy or not, don’t take the risk. Take it seriously. Ask questions, check if you’re not sure.
Don’t be one of those people who doesn’t care.
Who says something like, “Oh you’ll be fine.” or “This should be OK.” without checking.
Listen, ask us how bad our allergy is, please take us seriously. Always check something if you are not sure.
We are not lying. We are just trying to live our lives and take part in all the stuff most people take for granted.
If you are reading this and you don’t understand what anaphylaxis is, visit the Allergy UK website to find out more.
On one final note, one of the things I fear most of all is peanuts in public places and the peanut kiss. They get everywhere. I can smell them a mile off and then I’m on hyper alert to gauge whose eating them and who potential might be about to plaster me with the dust of the stuff.
So please be aware of allergens. Listen when people say they have them.
Be nice, be kind and spread a positive attitude towards allergies.
What do you live in fear of? If you have allergies that can cause anaphylaxis, what are your biggest fears?