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More than “Just Allergies”

November 28, 2013

Hi, my name is Bailey and I am allergic to peanuts, nuts, and chickpeas. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you a personal story that highlights the importance of spreading awareness about anaphylaxis and how it is so much more than “just allergies.”

I am a competitive volleyball player and have travelled to numerous tournaments over the past five years. One time I was at a local volleyball tournament and all of a sudden I began to feel nauseous in between games; a symptom I usually have when I inhale, or come into contact with peanut butter. Not wanting to make a huge scene, I simply told my mom that I didn’t feel well. Although I didn’t directly tell her that I thought my allergies were bothering me, she was able to tell by how uncomfortable I was that it was more than just “not feeling well.”

She was suspicious whether there may have been any of my allergy triggers around, so she made her way to the canteen at the tournament to see if they were selling something that contained my allergens. Sure enough, the canteen was selling peanut butter cookies. My mother politely explained to the woman working at the canteen that I am at-risk for anaphylaxis with allergies to peanut butter and asked if they could please stop selling the cookies.

The woman unfortunately told her that they could not stop because the cookies were selling very well and were bringing in good money for the volleyball club that was hosting the tournament. My mother, who was slightly taken back by the woman’s response, explained in further detail to her that my peanut allergy is potentially life threatening and asked again to please stop selling the cookies. The woman once again refused.

Ultimately, the woman working the canteen still refused to stop selling these cookies. I was lucky that my symptoms did not progress, but it really became apparent to me how important spreading awareness about anaphylaxis truly is. I now make an effort to have my voice heard when it comes to my own allergies, and I believe that if everyone impacted by anaphylaxis spoke up about how severe an allergic reaction can be, the more people would realize that making a few extra dollars for a volleyball club fundraiser isn’t worth the risk.
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