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Erin Price @Super_Weenie
, 24 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Once again, the topic of food allergies is trending. Someone said something insensitive, told folks with allergies they should just stay home. It was related to air flight.

I’m not going to link to it. You can look it up if you like.

But I feel compelled to share my story.
Because the element that always seems to get lost in this discussion is what it feels like to be that person experiencing anaphylactic shock.

To be the one people are shouting at to simply stay at home.

Forever, I guess.
I’m going to share with you what it feels like to go into anaphylactic shock.

So that maybe you can understand a little better what we go through.

This is about to get gruesome, folks, so consider this your Trigger Warning.
I am not looking forward to this discussion.

But I’m going to share these personal stories anyway.

So that maybe you, whoever you are, can have a little more compassion the next time you encounter someone like me.
I have had severe food allergies my entire life. (I also have a child with severe food allergies.)

I was first diagnosed with I was about three years old, after my first reaction.

I am allergic to all tree nuts and a bunch of other things, too, but nuts are the most serious.
Like all parents of kids with food allergies, I know what it feels like to watch my child go into respiratory distress because they’re suffering an allergic reaction.

The terror you feel as they vomit uncontrollably and claw at their face, gasping for air.

It is awful.
But unlike many parents of food allergic kids, I know firsthand what it feels like to be the one experiencing the reaction.

In order to help you understand what it's like, I’m going to explain my personal experience with anaphylaxis.
Caveat: My experience is only my experience. Allergies are unique to the individual and the physical response to allergens is, too.

Other people will have had different experiences. This is only my own.
Here we go.

(My heart is racing as I type and I’m on the verge of tears here, folks, so please keep that in mind as you type comments to me. I don’t like to talk about myself this personally, intimately to strangers. Or even to friends.)
If I eat one single bite of a food containing nuts or even just cross-contaminated with nuts the following happens:

It feels like stinging insects are crawling down my throat and into my ears, biting all the way down, crawling deeper with every second that passes.
They’re bunching up in my airways, so there’s less room for oxygen.

My heart starts racing and my breath comes in gasps. Like if I can take more breaths, maybe that will make up for the reduced oxygen making it into my body.

But that’s not how it works, really.
I start gasping for air.

But also, there’s pain. So much pain, in every part of my body.

Like the stinging bugs are burrowing under my skin and into my belly. Digging in deeper.
My heart is hammering in my chest and it hurts every time it pounds. It pounds harder and harder.

I feel my blood moving through my veins and it’s like fire.

The heartbeats hurt so much and I’m so happy for every single one because that means my heart hasn’t stopped. Yet.
And I’m so scared. My hands shake uncontrollably.

Is this the last time my heart is going to beat? Will my throat swell enough that there’s no more room for the breath to squeeze into my lungs?

Is this the last reaction I'll ever have because I'm dying?
The fear is actually a visceral thing.

I can feel it welling up deep inside me. Clutching at my heart.

And I’m just so afraid that the pain will get so powerful that I’ll start to want to die. Because it’s close.

Because maybe dying would make the pain stop.
And now I know that the only way I’ll survive is to fight to clear my head enough to do all the things I know can help me.

Take the proper medications.

Call for emergency medical care.

Stay conscious long enough to enlist people to help.
I could go on about the pain and the fear and the stinging insects under my skin, but I hope you get the gist.
It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever experienced.
And that’s what people like me have to cope with every single day. That a reaction like this could happen at any minute, if we make the smallest slip in judgement.

If some well-meaning friend assures us the food is safe and we make the wrong calculation.
So, please, instead of rolling your eyes at the food allergic individual asking for your help.

Instead of whining about how someone else’s life threatening medical condition is an inconvenience to you.

Instead of suggesting we all just stay home.

Please, count your blessings. Think about how lucky you are not to have to deal with this condition yourself.

Choose to be kind and considerate instead.
And please understand that I am aware of how complex this issue is.

Particularly the issue of air travel. The food which might kill me, may the the only one the another passenger can safely eat.
I know it’s not a black and white issue.

For a wonderful, nuanced treatment of this very topic, I’ll refer you to the book Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl, by @SandraBeasley
And for now, friends, it has cost me something to share this with you.

Please repay my kindness by spreading this thread, so that the sacrifice of my personal privacy won’t be in vain. So that someone can learn from my experiences.

Thank you.
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