The Kiss that Nearly Killed Me–Why Peanut Allergies are DEAD Serious

I am reticent to write this blog, namely because a lot of the content I’ve shared lately has involved a string of injuries. I am a 40 year old woman who practices Brazilian Jui-Jitsu and it’s a contact sport. Stuff happens. I’m also the mother of a 4 year-old. Trips and falls over the hidden Matchbox car or lurking Legos happen. If fact, I’m not particularly worried about burglars. If they can make it through my living room in one piece?

Feel free to have the ten-year-old television. You earned it.

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But, despite this being embarrassing, I felt it was a vital topic to address. Recently, I blogged about empowering my little one to do things on his own. A big step? Making his OWN PBJ sandwich. Since I already know I have a zillion food allergies and intolerances, I’ve avoided eating peanuts, because I know that people with current allergies are far more likely to develop others.

I’ve been very grateful that my allergies—gluten, dairy, soy—are fairly easy to monitor. I cook most of my own food. Also, these allergies might make me miserable for a few hours or days, but getting into gluten isn’t life-threatening.

The Deadly “Peanut”

I’ve heard the “urban legends” about how dangerous peanuts in particular can be. It did seem odd that schools and airplanes were banning them and that responsible restaurants began posting warnings. I respected that because, an allergy of that magnitude? Better safe than sorry. But it’s one thing for a concept to be in our head and quite another to experience it first hand.

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For the past two weeks, I helped Spawn with his sandwiches. I never ate any of the peanut butter and would wash my hands. Then, about a week ago, I started getting these weird itchy bumps on my left ribs. I assumed a mosquito had tried to escape my cleavage and was pissed off after being smothered by the underwire in my bra.

What struck me as odd was that normal itch creams or lidocaine didn’t dent the itch. Another weird thing was that HUGE patches of skin lost all feeling.

Then a day might pass and no itchy bumps or numbness. But, each time the bumps came back, they were worse…and on the left side on my bottom ribs. The odds of catching a mosquito or lost fire ant on the same side stretched believability. Thus, I relegated this odd phenomena a heat rash or perhaps the washing machine hadn’t removed all the soap. I changed detergents and made sure to increase the rinse cycle.

Yesterday morning, I awoke and helped Spawn with his sandwich and Hubby called me for something. I skipped that vital step of scrubbing my hands and just did a half@$$ rinse. I took Spawn over to my friend Shannon’s house feeling fine. I kissed him goodbye to go to my bible study. On the way to church I began to wheeze, cough and sneeze.

Okay, I’m in Texas. Allergy Capitol of the WORLD. Pollen.

By the end of bible study I was really coughing and my side was in terrible pain. I went to the restroom to check my side in the mirror.

 

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Then this (above) quickly became THIS (below).

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My whole left side and part of my back were covered in massive angry hives and I couldn’t feel any of the skin around the hives. Most of my mid-section and back were completely numb. I scrubbed my hands thoroughly thinking maybe I’d left some of the peanut butter on my hands and that I’d be fine with some Benadryl.

As I was driving Shannon home, the wheezing increased, the hives spread and suddenly I was missing turns and completely disoriented and confused. My blood pressure bottomed out. I didn’t know where I was. Shannon guided me to pull over and drove me to her house where I took a megadose of Benadryl and a couple puffs of albuterol.

I was slurring my words and still very disoriented. They wanted to call an ambulance, but the Benadryl was kicking in and, though I still felt like crap, I was improving. Shannon called Hubby to come get me and take me to a hospital.

By the time he arrived, I could breathe again and the swelling had diminished, but I was loopy and talking like I’d had a stroke or a few shots of Jaegger. Since anaphylaxis is the main concern for this kind of reaction, I refused a hospital visit.

Good thinking. You took Benedryl and used an inhaler. You’re fine now. Here’s a prescription for an epi-pen and that will be $1000.

Since I was finally breathing and throat was no longer swollen, I asked Hubby to take me home (and I plan on following up with an allergist to get an epi-pen).

Here is The WEIRD Part

I staggered inside and sat at the table. Though moments earlier, I’d been feeling a lot better, I suddenly began to wheeze. The peanut butter sandwich left on the table three feet away from me was causing me to react. I took more Benadryl and went to the bedroom until Hubby could decontaminate the kitchen of all the peanut butter.

Today, I’m fine (aside from a SERIOUS Benadryl hangover and really, really itchy hives).

But what kicked off the first part of the reaction? Pecking a Mommy Kiss on her kiddo (who’d just eaten a PBJ). The second phase? Touching my skin that was itchy and blowing my nose with hands that still had some peanut butter on them. The last phase? Sitting only a couple feet from a sandwich.

Ok, I am NOW a believer and can attest that this is NOT urban legend.

Why the Hate?

Something disturbed me when I was researching about this allergy. There is a terrible animosity toward those with peanut allergies. Numerous blogs dripping with venom and ranting about how their kid shouldn’t be deprived of a PBJ at school because one sissy@$$ kid has an allergy. People have found it funny to spread peanut butter inside the door handles of places that post warnings about peanuts. Flick peanuts at kids they know are allergic.

Sadly, THIS seems to be a very common sentiment:

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And what bothers me is that most of these allergies have been created due to gross irresponsibility of the food and medical community. For YEARS, doctors overprescribed antibiotics in situations where they weren’t required, thus creating a generation of people with penicillin allergies or antibiotic resistance. Doctors not poor genes created superbugs requiring Godzillacillin.

The food industry is not held to a strict standard of truth in labeling. Gluten hides under a lot of names. Europe refuses to buy American wheat. I have family members who live in Europe and eat bread all the time. They can’t eat our bread or pasta without getting ill.

There are good reasons for this explosion of food allergies.

First, I believe GMO is not as “safe” as scientists claim. And maybe I’m a jerk, but these “super smart scientists” were the same folks who claimed that hydrogenated oils were so much healthier than butter, olive oil, or coconut oil (even though ROACHES wouldn’t touch it).

Oh wow, trans fats? Oops, our bad.

Also, even if I am wrong about the GMO thing, in our modern society we eat out far more often and rely more on packaged and processed foods than ever in history. I’m old enough that I had a mom at home who cooked our meals. Eating out was a treat.

Yes, I ate PBJs, but the only time I ingested peanuts was when I was eating peanuts. Now that cookies are bought off a shelf instead of homemade? And more and more foods are all processed in the same place, on the same equipment? The general population is regularly being exposed to all the MAJOR allergens at a far higher rate. This means over time these allergens build in our systems and suddenly BOOM, we have an allergy.

In 1950, you got “gluten” in your bread. People knew they were eating wheat. People didn’t have to check the spices, soups, salad dressings, and lunch meats. In 1950, ham on your sandwich was HAM.

The Message from the Mess

Just know that when people get uptight about a food allergy, they aren’t meaning to be high-maintenance. It is a real hassle to have allergies. And to some of us is IS a matter of life or death.

I’ve been poisoned at conferences, stranded at airports for 15-20 hours with nothing to eat (I now bring supplies). I’m the “pain in the @$$” to the waiter (though I am kind and tip extra). People resent you because you can’t go to the restaurants they would prefer, or you when don’t order anything to eat, you’re then judged and treated with hostility.

I hate having allergies. Sometimes, it would be nice to just eat where I want and what I want to and not read every label like I am researching for a dissertation.

I’m very happy that discovering my peanut allergy happened as it did. I could have been on my way home with Spawn in the car when it hit full-force. Or at home alone with a 4 year old. OY! I might not be here to write this today.

Actual image of Kristen's Guardian Angel

Actual image of Kristen’s Guardian Angel

But, I’m still here. I have a newfound respect for those with the serious allergies and just want to let people know just how dangerous this allergy is. This allergy really scares me because it’s beyond my control and relies on others respecting how deadly this allergy can be.

It isn’t a joke or us wanting attention…though Hubby did do the dishes and clean the house :D. If you have allergies, I totally feel for you. But maybe this trend will make the food industries start being more responsible and the same peanut allergies they created can be eliminated (FYI—peanut allergies have risen almost 20% since 1997).

I also found this COOL site for those with allergies. It also has a section for parents. Since little ones don’t have the same vocabulary as an adult, they have a list of common things a small child might try to tell an adult when they are having a reaction.

What are your thoughts?

Yes, I am a delicate flower. Sigh. Do you struggle with allergies? Do you find people are flippant or even rude in regards to your allergies? Have you ever had a scary experience with an allergy? Are you a parent of kids with food allergies? What are your experiences? Suggestions? Tips?

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

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  1. #1 by Stevie Turner on August 13, 2014 - 2:15 pm

    I’ve had a lactose intolerance since childhood, but my husband found out to his cost only recently that he’s allergic to shellfish. Very scary reaction in the middle of a restaurant!

    • #2 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 13, 2014 - 2:23 pm

      Shellfish allergies are TERRIFYING. I was once on a cruise and there was a woman who didn’t know she was allergic. Her face looked like she’d gone five rounds with Mike Tyson.

      • #3 by Stevie Turner on August 14, 2014 - 2:26 am

        Funnily enough he has always eaten prawns, but recently ate lobster for the first time. He passed out in the chair……..very scary!

    • #4 by Lynn Reynolds on August 15, 2014 - 8:22 am

      Shellfish seems to be on the level of the PB allergy, at least for some people. My mom once worked at a caterer’s – a woman walked past a buffet that had shrimp out on display. and within thirty seconds she had collapsed. An ambulance had to be called. Apparently, just the airborne molecules from the steamed shrimp were enough to nearly kill her.

      Severe allergies truly are no joke and it’s frustrating how snide people can be about them. I’m allergic to chocolate – yes, I know, how tragic and all that. I once had a co-worker who would constantly try to get me to eat chocolate so she could “see what happens.” And you’re right – I don’t think we’d all be having such widespread problems if our food hadn’t been so heavily manipulated and modified.

  2. #5 by Liz Crowe on August 13, 2014 - 2:18 pm

    HEAVENS! I joke about being allergic to my three kids (for the record, only ONE of them was “planned”) but this is no joke—glad to know you recognized and dealt with it quickly! I am one of the lucky ones only truly allergic to seasonal pollen (and shopping). Take care and hope your summer with the kiddo went well.
    cheers
    Liz

  3. #6 by coldhandboyack on August 13, 2014 - 2:21 pm

    Wow! You’re so lucky. I have a few mild food allergies, but nothing like that.

  4. #7 by Deborah Coonts on August 13, 2014 - 2:23 pm

    Allergies. Yup, penicillin for me. As for food, dairy for sure, but only mild reactions. I’m a believer that most of our health problems stem from the processing, the chemicals, the genetic modification of our food. I’m so allergic to penicillin I can get a reaction from eating a steak. What does THAT say? Do I watch what I eat? More and more. I have so many auto-immune issues, none of them severe–yet–, that I’m finally growing up and getting serious about it.

    Glad you discovered the peanut issue and lived to tell about it! THAT is quite a reaction!

  5. #8 by Melissa Lewicki on August 13, 2014 - 2:24 pm

    It has always irritated me when someone would say “Oh, it’s just allergies.” “Just allergies” can be painful, inconvenient and deadly.

  6. #10 by jrosebooks on August 13, 2014 - 2:27 pm

    So sorry, Kristen! I myself have recently been wondering WHY Southwest is serving PEANUTS on their airline. When they handed them to me last year, I was like really? after ten years of no peanuts online, they’re suddenly handing them out again? It’s not like peanut allergies have changed or anything…

    “Europe refuses to buy American wheat. I have family members who live in Europe and eat bread all the time. They can’t eat our bread or pasta without getting ill.”
    –>THIS is SCARY!! (Reminds me that beauty companies make ONE product for the US consumer (cheaper/more harmful chemicals), and a different product for use in Europe. A famous cosmetologist brought this to light a few years ago).

  7. #11 by kristin nador on August 13, 2014 - 2:29 pm

    I’m glad you’re feeling better, Kristen, and that you discovered quickly the allergen culprit. My oldest daughter had asthma and a nut allergy as a young child but fortunately she outgrew both. During that time though we had a hard time convincing others (particularly grandparents) to please leave peanuts out of the goodies they wanted to give her.

    You shouldn’t feel bad about sharing what’s going on in your life. You never know who you may be impacting and helping. I also admire that despite your sensitivities you continue to do what you want, like your jujitsu. Many people who have environmental sensitivities can develop anxieties to do any new things in life. Hats off to you! Also a question: is your jujitsu Capoiera? Just curious, had a friend who did capoiera competitively. It’s a tough but beautiful sport. :)

  8. #12 by That Writer Broad - Amy D Wilson on August 13, 2014 - 2:32 pm

    Glad you’re okay!

    Mine isn’t so much an allergy as an intolerance, so I can’t drink wine or anything cooked in wine. The rough one is that I can’t eat any of the fun meats like bacon, pepperoni or hot dogs because of the sodium nitrite. Either one, wine or nitrites, will almost always give me a big ole migraine.

    So life already sucks. But then I have to hear people say “There are more nitrites in your spit than in a hot dog!” Well, obviously my spit isn’t giving me a migraine for three solid days or I’d have a lot more suspects than just hot dogs and bacon. Seriously, who in their right mind would give up bacon unless they absolutely had to?

    I’ve actually had people sneak wine into the food they cook for me, then look stumped when I magically started squinting in pain a few hours later. “We thought it was all in your head!”

    Yes, it IS all in my head. The whole knife drawer – right here in my right temple.

  9. #13 by Cheryel Hutton on August 13, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    I have a milk allergy. I’m so tired of people going, “lactose” and then ignoring everything else I say. I can tolerate a bit of milk, but it’s hard to not get carried away–and wonder why my asthma is out of control. It’s just damn near impossible to stay dairy free when you aren’t healthy enough to cook everything yourself, or pay more money than I have for specialty foods.

    Take care of yourself, Kristen! Peanut allergies are scary!

  10. #14 by jrosebooks on August 13, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    I finally emailed Southwest about the peanuts. Thanks for making me stop procrastinating:

    “Hello,
    I would kindly like to find out why peanuts are being served on the airline again? I know that airlines stopped serving peanuts because of people’s severe peanut allergies. I actually have a friend who breaks out into hives if they even within FOUR FEET of peanut butter. I would like to request that the airline goes back to not serving peanuts on flights. Peanut allergies should not be taken lightly and are NOT a joke.

    Thank you for your consideration in this serious matter,
    Jennifer Rose”

  11. #15 by Kristen on August 13, 2014 - 2:33 pm

    So glad you were alive and well enough to post this. Scary, scary stuff!

  12. #16 by shannonlreagan on August 13, 2014 - 2:34 pm

    Oh Kristen! I understand completely how you feel! I was the family hypochondriac. Now I am the canary that was warning other of what could eventually bother them. I’m one of the dozen celiac family members we know of. I learned why I hate fruit when my now two year old daughter couldn’t eat bananas and avocados without a dangerous reaction when she was first eating solid food. Stay away from those latex related foods! (latex-fruit syndrome) Pile on a set of blood results saying I am having trouble with nearly every gluten cross-reactive (to foods you eat when you are gluten free that, oh goody, have a similar protein chain as gluten and confuses the body.) Now I learned I can’t handle salycilates! Yes. Most fruits and veggies have those! Worst of all, my tendency to get indigestion when eating mint as a teen has turned into a tendency for my vocal cords to seize up in recent years. All I have to do is be near someone chewing mint gum to end up having trouble breathing. Just love the itching too. These allergies are not a joke and the canaries (us) are supposed to be warning the world of the danger that it is killing them too!

    • #17 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 13, 2014 - 2:49 pm

      I was the family “hypochondriac” too. And doctors all told me it was in my head. Only to find out I was DEFINITELY not attention-seeking and really WAS SICK. My family is still tough to deal with. I go to Thanksgiving and there is nothing I can eat and then when I sit with a bowl of lettuce I am an @$$ and a party-pooper.

      • #18 by shannonlreagan on August 13, 2014 - 2:53 pm

        Exactly. Now my dad was diagnosed with celiac disease. Since then no one has suggested that I will probably go back on wheat soon. I just want to have the energy to do my art and raise my children. Sigh. If you ever come to an event here in the Northwest that I’m able to make it to, I’ll sit with you so we can be weird freaks together! Its much more fun being a freak if you aren’t alone.

      • #19 by charismaloy on August 13, 2014 - 3:06 pm

        I was the hypochondriac, and lazy to boot. Since I was the one who had long term effects from injuries that my siblings never had, they resented the days when I refused to do something because I “hurt”. My lysine deficiency had my body acting like a hypoglycemic’s, but since I wasn’t diagnosed, then my weakness was “laziness” and my insistence on frequent feeds of red meat (didn’t know it was the lysine in beef, just that beef made me feel better) was simply gluttony. Two weeks ago, 25 years of being “lazy and out of shape” was finally sorted when I could no longer self control the asthma attack and ended up in the ER.
        I know that part of my problem with being labeled is the fact that I was not built with the long lean body that “fit” people are supposed to have. For all that I wanted to be more active, society saw all the curves that I fill so gloriously and decided that I was fat, then they wrote me off. I have had more than one physician tell me that I just needed to get more exercise when I was trying to figure out the lysine and asthma issues. Now that I personally figured out the one and had doctor’s assistance to manage the other, there is no holding me back. I finally have the energy to be who I always tried to be.
        Too much of the overlying issue is a prejudicial mindset that says there is only one correct way to be. We forget that we are all uniquely and wonderfully made.

        • #20 by Carradee on August 13, 2014 - 5:04 pm

          Excuse me, but your comment on needing beef caught my attention. Do you get fatigue and mental fog when you don’t have beef? For some reason I get ill if I don’t have meat at least twice per week, even if I’m having full protein and proper nutrients. And exercise makes me ill. I assumed it was my adrenal issues, but if there’s something else that could be causing it…it would be worth tracking down. :-)

          • #21 by charismaloy on August 13, 2014 - 5:40 pm

            I was finding that I HAD to have a red meat meal EVERY DAY without fail, (unless I got some really high quality, lean beef in me, then I could skip a single day) or I was in a mental fog, complete with fatigue, vertigo, loss of cognitive function and a complete loss of awareness as to the world around me. I was starting my day with a thick cheeseburger topped with fried egg whites, just to keep me coherent.
            When we researched my symptoms, it appeared that I showed signs of thyroid issues, so I made an appointment with the doctor. I explained everything to her, including the fact that I only functioned if I had red meat. She took blood tests and sent me home. A week or so later, I went back and she said that blood tests showed nothing, that eating that much red meat was going to damage my kidneys, and that all I needed was to get off my ass and go for a walk. The fact that I COULDN’T and that was why I was in her office was lost on her.
            With no help from modern medicine, I went back to research and kept eating my hamburgers (my mouth was bored with them but my entire body leapt toward the plate). I discovered that, until your thyroid has ACTUALLY failed no indicators will show up in a blood test. We tried other forms of protein, and discovered that while chicken and fish were yummy, it was like eating air as far as my body went. Pork was a little better, but not much.
            So we asked a better question in our research. What does red meat contain that is missing in other forms of protein? There are certain amino acids that the human body does not produce on its own and are only absorbed through eating red meat. L-carnitine is one of them, and for a pretty penny, you can get supplements. I went through an entire bottle and found no effect. The next one that I tried was Lysine and the difference was instant. There is still something that my body needs in red meat, but I only need it about once a week now. The fact that I can eat something other than beef when I sit to the table is a true joy. The really nice thing is that Lysine can be had at walmart for under $10. I take about 1000mg a day and life is good. I have been on the supplements for long enough now that I can miss a day or two and not crash which is a real blessing.

            • #22 by Carradee on August 15, 2014 - 9:11 am

              Thanks! I don’t feel so freakish now. :D Poultry helps me, so I don’t need the same thing you do, but your tale encourages me.

              • #23 by charismaloy on August 15, 2014 - 6:08 pm

                It all comes down to listening to our bodies and reclaiming the right to figure out what is wrong. Doctors are not omniscient, and the pills that most of them distribute can be just as dangerous as Persephone’s pomegranate seeds. I find it’s typically better to regard physicians like I do my mechanic. Let them diagnose as best they can, and then decide if I can fix it myself (I am pretty handy in the garage) or if I need them to do it.
                And as long as you are listening to YOUR body, don’t feel like a freak, and don’t let anybody tell you “it’s not possible for you to have the symptoms you describe”. That just means they are too lazy to go on an adventure with you :)

  13. #24 by alicamckennajohnson on August 13, 2014 - 2:39 pm

    I am so sorry, and this is such a scary allergy. Mine are slowly getting worse, my reactions stronger. I just got a new kid, he’s three, and has a list of allergies and an EPI pen. I’m freaking out, poor little guy, and I have no control over the food brought into the group home. This is definitely going to be a challenge to keep him safe.
    So far everyone has been supportive. I hope you’re able to manage your allergy safely.

  14. #25 by charismaloy on August 13, 2014 - 2:39 pm

    The joys of going to a restaurant and saying “no Mayo” only to find that the mayo was applied to the bread and then scraped off. Trying to find ANY creamy salad dressing that does not have egg yolk in it, (nobody marks the little bit of egg that is in the mayo base……). The oh so very fun part of cooking two separate batches of baked goods, because the only GF recipe that we can find all the ingredients for to feed one family member contains either xantham gum or egg yolk, both of which cause a reaction for me. Even with all of that, I am still in better shape than my baby sister who is so allergic to dill that it being in the air will cause nearly instant anaphylaxis. Allergies are a serious thing, and only those who have never seen someone they love struggle through a reaction are dumb enough to think it’s a joke. And yes. I used to be that dumb.

  15. #26 by Gerri Brousseau on August 13, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    I am also allergic to peanuts, but here’s the funny thing, it came on late in life. As a kid I enjoyed peanuts and PBJ, but in 2004 when I was over 40 I had a sudden attack, much like what you described, after eating a hand full of peanuts. Now, like you, I can’t eat it, can’t touch it, or even be around it. It is no joke. I can’t even eat anything that is processed at a plant that has peanuts. Take care of yourself, and get that epi-pen.

    • #27 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 13, 2014 - 2:47 pm

      MONSANTO. I think it’s the GMOs. I think the body doesn’t recognize it and treats it like an invader. Funny how all the food with the most genetic manipulation and hormone/anti-biotics have become the most severe allergies since the 90s…foods we ate all the time in the 70s and 80s.

  16. #28 by Kait Nolan on August 13, 2014 - 2:44 pm

    Hubs and I are (as you know) both victims of adult onset food allergies. It started with hubby and discovering he was gluten intolerant. Since I’m a food blogger and happen to love to cook, I made it my life’s mission to make sure he didn’t feel left out any more than he had to be. I became that diligent (and annoying person) to remember to ask the waitstaff or friends who are having us over for dinner, to make recommendations or bring whatever he needed. I had almost four years of that under my belt before I discovered my dairy allergy. Between the two of us, we’re really FUN to try to feed. Dairy allergy IN THE SOUTH, where every single dish has cheese, sour cream, cream of soup, or some other dairy product. I’ve got well meaning friends who are absolutely STYMIED. Most people have been nice about it–the issue comes up with them not thinking about stuff that ISN’T the obvious–they aren’t trained to be the label readers we are, so that’s when I feel like I get annoying to people. And then there are people who flat don’t believe it because we weren’t diagnosed by a doctor. Let’s see–hubby eats anything with gluten, has horrific digestive reactions and feels like he’s been hit by a truck. He avoids it, he feels okay. We need to subject him to a double colostomy…why exactly? I eat dairy now and break into hives and eczema–I avoid it, I don’t itch or puff up. Again…I need the expensive (and often wrong) blood tests why? My mom doesn’t understand how I could possibly have a dairy allergy when I’ve eaten dairy in huge quantities all my life. Discussions of the food industry and how they’ve manipulated the food supply go waaaaaay over a lot of people’s heads. And I notice that older folks (like my parents’ generation or older) tend to think such discussions are absolute hokum. We’re both lucky in that if we get trace amounts we seem to be okay (something that is going to happen in small town south), but still, pays to be vigilant.

    • #29 by Lara McGill on August 13, 2014 - 3:55 pm

      Kait, I understand that people who have allergies often crave the very things they’re allergic to. For me, it’s eggs and milk. I love them. I used to drink milk all the time. I adore cheese. It doesn’t love me. (That’s better left undiscussed!) And eggs? The best breakfast food ever. It’s hard – every single day. It’s almost like an alcohol addiction.

  17. #30 by Gail Kushner on August 13, 2014 - 2:46 pm

    Kristen, I am so sorry to hear about your body’s reaction to peanuts. I agree that the GMO foods are a total unknown. I am fortunate that I don’t have food allergies, yet I’ve become wary of the ever-present corn. I am not certain that corn is still corn, or that wheat is still wheat.

    Here’s to your health!

  18. #31 by nikkiharvey on August 13, 2014 - 2:47 pm

    I have a few allergies but nothing too serious but I totally agree with you about processed foods causing these problems. There’s so much research on it when you really look into it. I’ve been having problems with my digestive system and the consultant actually suggested cutting out additives and I now only eat organic. I feel so much better but I did have withdrawal symptoms from all the chemicals for a few days

  19. #32 by pdworkman on August 13, 2014 - 2:55 pm

    My friend has anaphylactic reactions to airborne particles of pepper and eggs. It’s pretty scary when you’re in a building and someone starts cooking eggs, and someone goes into anaphylaxis.

    I have anaphylactic allergies to almonds, walnuts, some medications, etc. So far nothing airborne, but I do get a reaction just from touching almonds.

    Allergic Girl posts a lot about dating, kissing, etc. with allergies:

    http://allergicgirl.blogspot.ca/

    One of my novels has a subplot about the subject!

  20. #33 by conniecockrell on August 13, 2014 - 2:56 pm

    How awful.I have celiac and hubby is lactose intolerant. Fun times.

  21. #34 by djamesonsmith on August 13, 2014 - 3:04 pm

    Wow…well written. BRAVO.
    I have a shellfish allergy (in addition to penicillin—and believe it or not, oats).
    I have skipped meals with friends (they eat while I find another venue with shellfish free food (that includes the oils used to fry), asked tons of questions (requiring waiters to check with chef/cook) about how stuff is prepared…and thankfully, my friends all understand.
    I’ve had a fairly bad (not anaphylaxic) reaction and carry an epi-pen with me at all times.
    There is one thing I’d like to correct/amend in your post:
    It is NOT just the doctors that have caused this. After having worked in the medical field, I know first hand that there are patients (many patients) that will not take “no” from a doctor when they ask for antibiotics. Even if it’s a virus, they demand an antibiotic. If the doctor refuses, they just search until they find another that will buckle to their demands. Even if it’s not going to do a lick of good.
    And society in general has become germ-phobic, requiring anti-germ sprays, disinfectants and hand lotions that kill 99%—it’s that 1% that survives that may become the superbug…
    So, please don’t dump on doctors alone.
    But aside from that—well said! Thank you for sharing.

    • #35 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 13, 2014 - 3:18 pm

      Yeah, I knew that and agree but the post was already getting too long. One of my major peeves are people who demand an antibiotic for everything and then only take a couple doses. THANK YOU for helping make the bugs STRONGER.

    • #37 by Carradee on August 13, 2014 - 5:13 pm

      Ouch on the oats! I certainly believe you. I’m allergic to rice, stevia, Tylenol, and nitrile (the common blue or purple non-latex gloves). Among a host of other things.

      But I’ve actually had situations where I was diagnosed with a virus and had the doctor hand me an antibiotic, even after I tactfully pointed out that antibiotics were for bacteria.

  22. #38 by Chad Lutzke on August 13, 2014 - 3:07 pm

    When I met my wife, she had a couple of pet tarantulas. Over time she started developing hives when handling them. Finally it got to the point where we had to get rid of them because the hives ended up getting in her mouth and throat.

  23. #39 by Phillip Williams on August 13, 2014 - 3:10 pm

    I never imagined peanuts were THAT dangerous. I am glad to know about this. Phillip Williams in Gilmer, TX

  24. #40 by charlaynedenney on August 13, 2014 - 3:11 pm

    My oldest granddaughter has a “tree nut” allergy. Not peanuts, which are legumes, but stuff like acorns, walnuts, pecans (and we’re in Texas, where pecan pie rules). Her parents have a live oak tree outside their apartment and she has to be VERY careful when the thing sheds the acorns. People step on them or run over them and it releases into the air. She is on epi and benedryl, having to take the benedryl daily during shed season. She learned young, age 4, to be able to say “I can’t have anything with nuts, are there nuts in this” to anyone giving her food. She’s now 12 and an old hat at it, we’re taking her to an SF convention in September and I don’t worry much about her snacking in the con suite, she will ask everyone what’s in everything.

    Allergies are scary as hell. Mine’s Tylenol, penicillin, morphine, demerol,–which is medically a nightmare and formaldehyde, which made my college biology course REAL interesting…

  25. #41 by tucsonmike on August 13, 2014 - 3:17 pm

    Well I am glad you are OK. Wow! Heck of a way to find out.

  26. #42 by د/هبه طاهر تكتب on August 13, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    Ths is really funny just before receiving this email post ,today at work first thing in the morning A nurse stopped me to give me a peanut containing sweet that I can eat from and every one except one colleague who has peanut allergy , later I knew that this colleague was admitted to ICU because he used a keyboard that a secretary used after eating peanut butter, there was a lot of talk about peanut butter allergy today , one colleague said that her her husband kissed her after eating some peanut containing food and she got the hives and swelling all over her body
    Your story is really interesting

  27. #43 by Janet B on August 13, 2014 - 3:19 pm

    So many things have peanut oil or are cooked in peanut oil (restaurants). I worked with someone whose niece passed away after the local Chinese restaurant changed ownership and oil for cooking. The niece knew that she could safely order food there because the owners didn’t use peanut oil. The family found out the place had been sold (and oil changed) after she died. The epi-pen was used, but it was unable to save her.

  28. #44 by Tess Mallory on August 13, 2014 - 3:24 pm

    Kristen, thanks so much for posting about this. You made me feel like I’m a little more sane than I thought I was! I have had problems with foods since I was a kid. Almost all foods made me feel sick. I lived on bologna sandwiches (fried), PB & syrup sandwiches, and dill pickles (the giant kind). Eggs made me sick, real sick. I couldn’t eat a tomato if I tried. It turned out that I did have some food allergies–not the kill you kind, (at least it hasn’t morphed into that yet, but I’ve been afraid of that and your post made me feel a little better about my paranoia) but the kind that just make you feel like yuck all the time. Or make you itch. Or make your stomach hurt, or give you diarrhea. No biggy, right? I didn’t know till I went to an allergist how allergic I was to corn syrup (PB &S!) and nitrates (bologna!) and safflower and wheat and milk and eggs and soy and sugar and processed foods and more. I have severe reactions to MSG, and like gluten, it is hidden in many kinds of “phrasing” like “natural flavors” “spices” and long scientific names. I have given up trying to exclude all of my allergies. I just have to avoid the worst so that my throat doesn’t close up or I don’t have constant stomach problems.

    I don’t eat at many restaurants, and when I do, I pick food I’ve either had before, or that I know isn’t usually highly seasoned. But it’s getting worse and you can’t always tell. Case in point: I’m highly allergic to Cilantro. And I live in Texas. Yeah. At RWA14 in San Antonio, my friend and I ate at Chili’s. The rice pilaf had cilantro in it. Who knew? Not me. I thought cilantro was saved for Mexican dishes. I started coughing and couldn’t stop, then had the worst asthma attack I’ve ever had. It was very scary. Used my inhaler, took Benadryl, got back to the hotel and had a very bad night. So to say I’m getting more paranoid of eating out is an understatement. And even though I ate PB voraciously as a child, now the smell of it makes me sick, and so does shellfish. As a result, I’m afraid to eat either. Thanks Kristen for helping me know that isn’t a dumb thing.

    But the worst thing about all of this is the attitude of other people. I have had people look at me like I’m crazy, like I’m lying, like I’m insulting them. My ex-stepmother purposely made food with cream of chicken soup in it when we would come for supper, even though I told her I was highly allergic to the MSG in it and asked her not to. She thought my food allergies were ridiculous, that I was spoiled, and that people should eat what was put in front of them. And if I didn’t eat her food, she got mad at me. Yeah, those were fun times. NOT.

    I’ve had people laugh at me because I don’t eat cucumbers (they make me sick), or give me the “Oh-sure-you-just-like-junk-food” because I can’t eat anything raw except certain kinds of soft lettuce (because I have an esophagus full of scar tissue from radiation therapy and reflux) , and I know that if I eat something at a potluck, I am really, really taking a risk. And people . . . are insulted by this. Why??? I don’t get it. Walk in my shoes a few miles, and I guarantee, you will have more empathy for other people’s strange health stuff! :)

    It would be great if people would be more understanding, but my experience has been that until most people actually have that experience, they will be likely to judge. I don’t wish it on anyone! For those of you who don’t judge– Bless You! Thanks again Kristen, for your openness and honesty. You really made my day better! ;)

    Tess

  29. #45 by Jinxie G on August 13, 2014 - 3:27 pm

    Glad you’re OK!!! My mother is allergic to penicillin, yet I have no known allergies, to which I am very thankful. I’d had a friend long ago, however, who had a peanut allergy as well and scared the hell out of us one time. All I’m telling anyone with a peanut allergy is to stay away from the Texas Roadhouse restaurant. Peanuts are in the air!

  30. #46 by Jackie Dickson on August 13, 2014 - 3:32 pm

    Doctors aren’t the only reason there are antibiotic resistant bacteria out there. Many people simply don’t understand that antibiotics won’t kill a virus and insist on receiving antibiotics for the common cold, viral respiratory infections, the flu, etc. Also, many people do not complete their antibiotic prescriptions because they begin to feel better after a couple of days. What happens in those situations is that the bacteria that are resistant live and reproduce while the bacteria that aren’t die. Antibiotic resistant genes can be shared between species of bacteria as well because bacteria have several different ways to exchange genetic information with each other. Then there are biofilms, which are a totally different critter. Most of the time antibiotics interrupt the bacterial cell wall from reproducing properly. The bacteria in biofilms reproduce extremely slowly, if at all, so they are much more difficult to treat.

    My daughter is allergic to three different antibiotics, and it isn’t the result of being over prescribed them. She had an allergic reaction to each of those antibiotics the first time she was prescribed them. She’s just very sensitive to antibiotics.

    • #47 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 13, 2014 - 3:43 pm

      Yeah, I know. Had family members who DROVE ME BONKERS. They’d demand an antibiotic then only take a couple doses and quit when they felt better *head desk*. BUT, I do know in the late 80s and 90s, they gave you an antibiotic for EVERYTHING. I once went in and it was clear I had a virus. The doctor immediately offered an antibiotic and I was like, “Um, why? This is a VIRAL infection not a BACTERIAL.” The docs are probably just too overworked to fight with someone and explain that an antibiotic won’t help so they just offer.

  31. #48 by martinbeks on August 13, 2014 - 3:34 pm

    Scary! I often wondered exactly HOW bad peanut allergies could be, if they’re keeping them out of schools. I don’t have any allergies, and absolutely love nuts (I’ve often said if I ever found out I was allergic to nuts, I’d die a happy person, because I wouldn’t stop eating them). Glad you’re okay!

  32. #49 by pdworkman on August 13, 2014 - 3:37 pm

    I understand that the problem with antibiotics is more from the cattle/animal husbandry industry than from human antibiotics, but I don’t have any kind of numbers to back it up for you.

    But I sit here as a culprit in increasing antibiotic resistance. Not because I demand them when I have a virus. Actually, I refuse them unless I absolutely positively need them, because I am allergic or have serious side effects to them. Every time I have an infection, I get to try out a new antibiotic, and each one I react to in a different way… The last time I had strep (my son kept infecting me), I went through three different antibiotic prescriptions during the course of a 10-day treatment. So instead of getting the full force of one antibiotic for 10 days, those strep bugs got a chance to adapt to three different antibiotics over 2 or 3 days each.

    Last weekend I had a wisdom tooth pulled. Usually I don’t take antibiotics when I have dental work done (unlike my brother, who has to because of a prolapsed heart valve), but this one was brutal, leaving me with a great gaping hole and several stitches, and was very close to the nerve. So I broke down and accept the prophylactic antibiotics rather than chancing an infection in one of the nerves to my face. Within three days, I was having horrific heartburn (so bad that I could barely swallow). I looked up the antibiotic side effects, and sure enough “discontinue use immediately and consult your doctor.”

    I’ve had antibiotics that give me nosebleeds, rashes, projectile vomiting, or cause all the skin on my hands to peel. Lesser side effects include giving my sweat and saliva an awful chemical taste, making my ears ring, or giving me migraines.

    Trust me, I don’t ask for antibiotics unless I have a confirmed infection!

  33. #50 by noraadrienne on August 13, 2014 - 3:40 pm

    My oldest grandson has severe nut allergies… In nursery school ALL the teachers were told about this problem and an epi pen was left in the secretary’s office in case something happened. IT DID! One of the idiot teachers gave him something with peanuts… There were signs all over the classroom that he was allergic. My son in law (an educator) read them the riot act and threatened to sue the school into bankruptcy. The next week we had him in another nursery 2 blocks away and never had a repeat of the problem. He’s 16 now and your typical wise ass teen.

  34. #51 by Barbara Rae Robinson on August 13, 2014 - 3:41 pm

    Oh, Kristen. That’s scary. I’m another canary with multiple allergies, to foods, chemicals, pollens, pets, etc. So far I haven’t had an anaphylactic reaction, thank goodness. But I’m definitely gluten intolerant and allergic to many other foods, including most grains. Two years ago I found the Paleo diet. No grains, no legumes, no dairy. I eat grass fed meats, lots of vegetables, a little bit of fruit, and good fats. I do all my own cooking, including making my own olive oil mayonnaise. In the Portland area, we have a natural foods chain, called New Seasons. They buy local and fresh as much as possible. They will not sell anything that is not certified non-GMO. In November Oregonians will be voting on requiring GMO labeling for all foods that are modified. Eating out means compromising a bit. Most restaurants use soy oil. I eat plain foods when dining out. I may have lunch out once or twice a month. The rest of the time I cook at home. And I’m healthier now than I have been in many years. We can live with allergies and ignore our critics who don’t get it. But we do have to be super vigilant. Good luck managing your own allergic challenges.

    Barb

    • #52 by Lara McGill on August 13, 2014 - 4:03 pm

      Thanks, Barbara, you’ve really given me something to think about. I had no idea the Paleo lifestyle could help with allergies.

      • #53 by pdworkman on August 13, 2014 - 4:09 pm

        Then there are those of us who are allergic to meat. LOL. Beef will make me throw up for three days. I am vegan, grain-free, and have multiple food, environmental, and medication allergies, oral allergy syndrome, and other fun stuff.

        • #54 by Lara McGill on August 13, 2014 - 4:12 pm

          Wow! Has being a grain-free vegan helped your allergies at all?

          • #55 by pdworkman on August 13, 2014 - 4:28 pm

            No, hasn’t reduced my allergies. But I have an autoimmune reaction to grains, so I avoid them in order to avoid those symptoms/damage to my system.

  35. #56 by casblomberg on August 13, 2014 - 3:45 pm

    Wow, how scary! I’ll admit, I never thought a peanut allergy could be so dangerous. My husband plays games with a group and there are signs all over the place saying, NO NUTS. I told him the snickers in my bag couldn’t possibly harm anyone :-(. Now I feel like an ass :-(. I get hives when I eat mangoes and the past two times I’ve taken penicillin. I’ve read how these hives can progress and each time you’re exposed become more serious, but I never assumed just being in the same room as peanuts could cause a reaction. I think it’s because many people claim a reaction, and others discount it, I’ve become desensitized. For example, every time my daughter ate ketchup she immediately got a rash on her face. Then with tomatoes. Then with fish. Every single time. A bad rash, too. Weeks turned into months. We tested and tested her. The specialists finally told us she was ‘sensitive’ to certain foods, but it wasn’t allergies and not to get ‘worked up’ over it. They gave us this big speech about how many concerns are not that big of a deal. I walked out of there feeling like I had wasted their time. Years later and my daughter no longer has a reaction. But your warning about peanut allergies has helped me know how serious it can be.

  36. #57 by lalouziane on August 13, 2014 - 3:50 pm

    Okay, I confess I used to be one of those who thought people with allergies were just big babies. Then I got asthma in my 30’s. I got two second opinions. I could not believe I had developed asthma at that late age. More women develop asthma late in life. More boys are born with it. Yes, some children outgrow it.

    I am much more considerate of people now. Do you mind if I wear perfume? My daughter in law is allergies to flowers and perfume, so I don’t send her flowers anymore. I get other things for her and I don’t wear perfume when I visit her. When the grand babies come over, they head straight for my perfume. I make them wash it all off before they go home.

    My daughter had serious reactions to anything hydrogenated. Yes, even partially hydrogenated is hydrogenated. Read the labels on everything in your pantry. If it says hydrogenated, she couldn’t eat it, and honestly, you probably shouldn’t either. Yes, it’s a hassle.

    We avoided the fast food places. I still do. I know it was difficult for her on trips with her friends, but she had to be careful.

    My husband is one of the leaders of a scout troop. He almost always takes cookies to their meetings. This past year he’s been taking name brand cookies instead of the cheap ones. When I asked him why this group rated name brand cookies, he told me they had a boy with peanut allergy in the troop this year. Being considerate of others is just the polite thing to do.

    Fortunately, I don’t have allergies to nuts and I love them. What the doctor told me though… is that allergies are like a cup and if you continue pouring water in a cup, sooner or later it will run over and you will be allergic. None of knows how big the cup is and many people go a lifetime with no allergies. Some of us, don’t.

    I was never hostile to people with allergies and now that it’s happened to me, I appreciate when people are kind to me about mine. But then again, I stay home a lot. By myself.

    I feel your pain when you travel. That has to be awful, but you write a great blog and this was another informative post.

    Thank you. Oh, I’m also linking to your blog from mine, cpd-inc.com

  37. #58 by oddlynn3 on August 13, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    While I don’t have anything really but pollen allergies, this is scary and shouldn’t be taken lightly. People are rude and cruel when they don’t understand something but if it happens to them, they change their story really fast. My DIL has lots of allergies and has an epi-pen with her all the time. We’re hoping the grandkids aren’t hit as worse. And thanks for sharing. It helps when those who have had the experience shares with those who haven’t. Gives us all a new perspective.

  38. #59 by Shea Ford on August 13, 2014 - 3:55 pm

    Oh my! So sorry that you had to suffer to find out about your allergy, but like you said, it was a blessing that you had help when you had a severe reaction!

    I’m extremely sensitive to gluten, though I don’t have the intense reaction that you had to peanuts. But it’s painful and lasts for five weeks. I actually just released a new book where two of the characters have celiac disease. One is a boy from the year 1715 and accidentally travels to 2023. When he tries to eat modern bread, his body rejects it and the girl from the future explains about GMO crops because he didn’t have trouble with bread in 1715.

    Anyway, it’s a small, but critical factor in the plot and it’s my little contribution to the awareness of what we are actually eating.

    On a side note: I cringed when hubby came home from the grocery store the other day with “cheese product.” *shudders*

  39. #60 by prudencemacleod on August 13, 2014 - 4:00 pm

    Allergies are brutal and can appear at any time. Also, you’re not wrong about GMO turning our beloved peanuts against us. I suggest a full range of tests for allergies both for you and your offspring.
    Oh, some folks, who are allergic to peanuts can eat almond butter without any bad effects at all. Sorry you had to find out the hard way. Hope you’re back in action real soon.

  40. #61 by Ruth Ann Adams on August 13, 2014 - 4:03 pm

    I have a daughter with a peanut allergy and have taken all kinds of precautions over the years. It is a very difficult thing to deal with. She is also allergic to soy and a few other things. Just make sure you carry an eipen all the time. It could save your life.

  41. #62 by Lara McGill on August 13, 2014 - 4:04 pm

    Glad you’re feeling better, Kristen.

  42. #63 by Ms Hanson on August 13, 2014 - 4:08 pm

    Some years back I eliminated dairy from my diet, as an experiment to see if it affected my late-onset asthma symptoms. And it did!

    Fast forward: Things change. Now I understand why the doc wants to see you at least once a year – because things change. Blame it on processed food, environmental factors, pregnancies, whatever your research or inclination favors. Today that sensitivity to All Things Dairy constricts my throat.

    Conversely, the debilitating hay fever and pet allergens I suffered through my 20’s…disappeared. Things change.

    My tiny column in a local newspaper will carry the link to this particular post, as the first day of school draws near again. Thanks for putting things into perspective.

    http://www.hometowndebate.com/toledo-news-08-13-14-cms-3902

  43. #64 by The Road to Joy on August 13, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Kristen, and I hope you can get your epi-pen as soon as possible. I carry one with me everywhere and showed my husband how to use it. I used to try to tough things out, but didn’t realize until recently what a toll inflammation takes on the body. I have some deafness now due to severe ear infections when my allergic asthma was untreated because I had no insurance. Spawn might like to try some of the tree nut butters, if you’re OK with nuts. Nutella ice cream is yummy! God bless you, Kristen. Nothing is scarier than not being able to breathe.

  44. #65 by tracikenworth on August 13, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    Hugs. Hope you’re feeling better!!

  45. #66 by Sara on August 13, 2014 - 4:19 pm

    It’s interesting, to me, that you shared this at the tail end of a long conversation with friends about Robin Williams death. My mom and I have egg allergies. For my mom, the reaction comes in the form of depression. If she eats them, it starts as a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach and then progresses to a deep despair (the more she eats, the worst she is). For years, the doctors had her on a diet heavy with eggs because of her diabetes and anti-depressants. When she wasn’t getting better (she has multiple health problems including an undiagnosed auto-immune disease), she switched to a homeopathic specialist. Their first “treatment” was to strip her diet of all allergens and see what changes happen. She said for the first time, she felt euphoric – all that depression was gone.
    I found out I had an egg allergy in a fluky way – I’ve developed an allergy to something in my office and had to eliminate everything I ate before work before moving on to the possibility of an environmental allergy. That week, something positive had happened so I thought my absolute joy was from that. I felt the best I had in ages. The world was so sunny and I wasn’t unhappy at all (not that I was all that unhappy to start with). Now if I eat eggs, I get a migraine and my personality actually changes. Because of that, my family is practically terrified that I will be exposed. My husband watches everything I eat carefully and makes sure to ask before getting me anything to eat when we are out.
    I keep thinking that research needs to be done on food allergies and mental illness. I don’t believe everyone who has a mental illness has a food allergy but if, even, 10% of them could be “cured” through a careful diet the world would be a much better place. I can’t imagine how it would change their lives. It certainly has changed my life.

    • #67 by Shea Ford on August 13, 2014 - 4:39 pm

      I 100% agree with you on this. One of my symptoms with gluten is anxiety/depression. I would never have known this if I hadn’t started with the digestive pain and cut gluten out of my diet. I had been on antidepressants before. and it would have been nice to have a doctor say, “Well, try eating less of this and see what happens.” Instead, I was given an easy fix pill. grr. Glad I don’t have to take them anymore.

    • #68 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 13, 2014 - 6:46 pm

      They medicated me for a long time for anxiety and panic attacks. All it was was gluten. If an allergen affects the stomach or skin, why not the brain? Maybe there could be a percentage that could be liberated from bipolar, depression, anxiety without any or as much medication.

      • #69 by Shea Ford on August 13, 2014 - 9:08 pm

        My dad is bipolar. I wish he would try to cut gluten. His mother is diagnosed with celiac, and yet he scoffed at me when we went to a pizza place that had “gluten free” pizza and I wouldn’t eat it. I asked a thousand questions and decided they weren’t careful enough with cross-contamination. Grandma was never truly gluten free. She still eats regular Rice Krispies and toasts her GF bread in a shared toaster. :/

  46. #70 by Carradee on August 13, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    *shudders* Memories. My allergy isn’t peanuts—I can actually have peanuts in small amounts; the high fat content is what does me in—but I’ve developed a comparably severe allergy to strawberries…with a few details that make it really odd.

    A little background. I used to have no allergies to worry about. Okay, so I’d itch if I touched grass, and I could tell what season a flower came from by sniffing it (because spring flowers made my nose itch), and something (which I later identified as hibiscus) makes me woozy and disoriented immediately upon exposure, but that’s uncommon where I live.

    Okay. I was ill, with stage II adrenal suppression, because my adrenal gland had pretty much stopped producing secretory igA. My levels were maybe 15% of what they should’ve been. I was developing further issues as a result—example: allergic to nitrile, one of the latex alternatives—and the next thing I knew, I was eating one of those real fruit (strawberry-blueberry) fruit pops and my skin got dry and itchy.

    My mother had recently discovered that dry, itchy skin had been a warning sign of a worsening raspberry allergy, so I was a bit concerned—but I’ve always had sensitive skin, so I figured I could keep an eye on it but it was likely just the laundry detergent or some such thing.

    A few days later, I ate a strawberry-lemon one. The inside of my throat started itching. I then avoided strawberries until I could set up a controlled experiment with fresh strawberries and Benedryl in hand, because that’s how I roll. I had a single sip of my friend’s homemade fresh strawberry smoothie.

    Breathing got uncomfortable, but it plateaued. I left it alone, no meds. I left it for hours. It didn’t get any better. I finally took some Benedryl, and it promptly went away. Yep, allergic to strawberries. And that was enough of a reaction that, when my skin seemed to get dry and itchy from blackberries and raspberries, I started considering myself allergic to all aggregate berries.

    Simple enough, right?

    Well, then a friend was getting married, and my mother dragged me in the bathroom to wax my legs beforehand. The only wax she had available was sangria. She started waxing my legs. I noticed the hives promptly and pointed them out. Mom insisted it was just irritation from the waxing, until it got worse. She ended up sticking Benedryl on my legs, insisted I wear hose to a casual outdoor wedding (it was miserable), and always insisting, whenever the story came up, that she’d figured the strawberry was artificial.

    Now, consider the previous paragraph’s story and what stress does to the adrenal gland.

    Yeah. I got worse. And the story gets “better”.

    I don’t remember when I first realized that I got the breathing difficulty just from being around strawberries. I remember family scoffing at me, insisting it was psychosomatic, despite my pointing out (repeatedly) that I react to things even when I don’t know they’re present, and I’m fine with artificial versions.

    This family reaction led to things like…

    A friend of mine’s husband decided to “help” me by sticking a plate of strawberries in my face. He was appalled when he realized I was actually allergic. He’d been told it was all in my head, and he apologized for that for months.

    One of my friends remembers another incident where my mother neglected to tell me she was working with strawberries on a wedding cake (she’s a decorator) and I walked right into a kitchen full of them.

    Even after my family finally accepted my allergy, someone left a bowl from strawberries in the sink when I was on kitchen cleanup duty (which was almost every night), and when I got hives and unwell from it, I was scolded for being so sick all the time.

    Grocery shopping is a PAIN.

    • #71 by Carradee on August 13, 2014 - 4:22 pm

      Since I’ve stepped away from family and started improving my adrenal health, I’m not nearly as sensitive to strawberries. Oh, I still have to be very careful, but I no longer have to grab the anithistamine just to hurry through the produce section when shopping. I still can’t hang out in a room with them without a lot of help, though.

  47. #72 by Dana @ Celiac Kiddo on August 13, 2014 - 4:28 pm

    My six year old daughter has celiac so we are all gluten free. As tough as it can be for her at times (socially, feeling excluded because of food happens a lot) I’m super grateful and relieved that she doesn’t have a life threatening allergy like some of her friends. I’m sickened that people would put peanut butter knowingly near warnings. My super picky son pretty much only eats peanut butter yet I would have NO problem restricting him if other people’s lives were at risk. I mean, duh! I’m sorry about your reaction and hope you can get an epi pen soon. Scary stuff!
    -Dana

  48. #73 by cromercrox on August 13, 2014 - 5:10 pm

    It runs in families. My wife’s grandmother was an insulin-dependent diabetic. My wife’s aunt is allergic to virtually everything. When my wife and I were dating we went to a favourite restaurant of mine whose speciality was a huge heap of prawns cooked in garlic. We tucked in. Yum. A couple of days later she went very pink and swelled up like the Michelin Man. That subsided but in the months following she got all sorts of very weird symptoms. Pins and needles. Odd internal pains. We ran through the gamut of possibilities from multiple sclerosis to ectopic pregnancy. And she just got thinner… and thinner … and paler … and paler …. and more and more tired. It was the raging thirst that gave it away. Yep, diabetes, probably an autoimmune reaction to those prawns. What happened then? Reader, I married her.

  49. #74 by Jackie Vick on August 13, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    Thanks for sharing the info. I didn’t know you could have a peanut reaction from THREE FEET AWAY! I would never be a brat about someone’s food allergies, but now I understand their fears.

  50. #75 by Robin on August 13, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    I almost did a double-take when I saw this topic on your blog! But I’m glad you wrote it; really, really sorry you have this allergy though. I have a child with this peanut allergy and have been living the life. Thankfully where we live, we don’t run into angry mean-people, but I work hard to help others see what it’s like to live this way–it isn’t fun and we don’t want to be a burden, and nobody asks for these allergies. I never had any. Nobody in my family either. My kid was breastfed for 2 years, lives in the country and gets his hands dirty like he’s supposed to gain a better immune system. We make all homemade foods, never fast food, have a veggie garden, nothing processed. But I still got a kid with a peanut allergy! So I have no idea the cause, or the blame–it just is what it is and along with lots of other disabilities, people really need to understand the severity of it–it’s not something they really want to see for themselves! And it’s not all about whiny helicopter moms trying to hover over their kids and make things their way….

    Anyway, about you–do go to the Dr and get that epi–it’s expensive but could be your life. Benadryl is great and I carry it for my son along with the benadryl and inhaler, but neither help with full on anaphylaxis….probably someone mentioned that above but I don’t have time to read everything. Please go do that for you and your families sake! Good luck and let me know if you need any resources. I wrote a piece on this last fall if you want to check it out: Much more than a Sneeze, a lot of people really thought it was helpful to gain understanding….

  51. #76 by sue marquis bishop on August 13, 2014 - 5:24 pm

    Stuff happens is so right….Glad you are better… shocking responses you showed from some others…! Sue
    womenlivinglifeafter50.com

  52. #77 by Catherine Johnson on August 13, 2014 - 5:24 pm

    Wow those Memes are awful! Jerks. Peanuts are discussed a lot at my kids’ school and having fussy eaters that love nutella it has been frustrating at times not sending them with it. I also know someone who deliberately flouted the rule. I really should have grassed her up. Strangely the school doesn’t mention it as much as it used to. It is simply written on the front door. Do you know if a child eats nutella for breakfast they are endangering kids at school? Your story is frightening, it must have been really scary.

    • #78 by Carradee on August 15, 2014 - 11:02 am

      I’ve heard people say those things and mean them as legitimate suggestions, particularly “Maybe people that sensitive are supposed to die.”

      • #79 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 15, 2014 - 9:50 pm

        That’s the stuff that pisses me off. This Darwinian attitude that’s bred a sense of narcissism into our culture.

  53. #80 by mandawritesthings on August 13, 2014 - 5:27 pm

    I *really* enjoyed this blog entry and I’ll be following you after reading it.
    I don’t have any food allergies that I’m aware of, but I only eat sprouted grain bread, I don’t eat preservatives (buy local, buy fresh!) and if I want out of season foods I can them myself, and I don’t go to the doctor for colds to be needlessly given antibiotics — and that’s just to name a few. I’m constantly being made of by other people (even though I have never, ever tried to force my way of eating on someone else), and it’s insane. People are ridiculous.

  54. #81 by Marilyn Quigley on August 13, 2014 - 6:01 pm

    It’s a frightening allergy that my 2 grandsons have. I know a couple who lost their 16-year-old son because he ate something at a family pot-luck in his own home. I suppose they didn’t have the epi pen because he had done so well for so long. I’m not sure, but it scares me for my grandsons. Glad you survived.

  55. #82 by Wendy Dewar Hughes on August 13, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    I’ve had anaphylaxis just from eating then going for a walk. (Both raise the histamines in the blood apparently.) I used to carry Benedryl and little adrenalin tablets all the time, and several times ended up in emergency. The good news is, in my fifties, I grew out of allergies entirely. I don’t even have hay fever anymore and I live in farm country.

    So, I just wanted to say, there’s hope, Kristen. You might also leave them behind one day.

  56. #83 by karenmcfarland on August 13, 2014 - 6:06 pm

    Kristen, I sympathize with your allergies as one who has had many adverse reactions throughout my life. It’s very scary going through something like that. And you begin to feel paranoid. What’s next? You develop a heightened awareness of your surroundings wherever you go.

    The chemical companies in this country are ruining our food source between GMO seeding and the spraying of pesticides. It’s making everyone sick.

    I am allergic to petroleum. It is in almost everything including fragrances. Try navigating around that. Yes, life has its challenges.

  57. #84 by Larissa on August 13, 2014 - 6:09 pm

    Oh man. I feel for you! I have gluten intolerance, but so far, that’s it. I’ve taught kids with severe peanut and other allergies, though. I still remember when we made our 2 year old classroom peanut free. One parent said, “But Lori LIKES eating PBJ!” And I was like, “Yeah, well, Jack likes to breathe.” SMH. People don’t get it.

  58. #85 by Karen Lynne Klink on August 13, 2014 - 6:29 pm

    I so feel for you. I have so many food sensitivities because of migraines. No chocolate, no nuts, no preservatives, no onions, no avocados, no citrus, nothing fermented which includes aged cheese and vinegar and on and on. I hate asking the waiter and hate even more asking my friends when I go to their homes for dinner. Most of them know by now, but I feel asking is such an imposition.

  59. #86 by katewyland on August 13, 2014 - 6:34 pm

    Glad you were able to get it handled and now know what to do.
    We’ve lots of allergies in my family, but my brother is the only one with one that puts him in the hospital–lobster. Generally easy to avoid. But one time his wife ate some left-over lobster in bed and left the shells in the room. He ended up at the ER. (Pre-epi-pen days)
    People give me a bad time about not being able to tolerate fragrances, but peanuts are so much more serious. Does this mean no more PBJ for the spawn?

  60. #87 by Imelda Evans on August 13, 2014 - 6:40 pm

    Sorry to hear this, Kristen, but glad you know what it is, so you can stay safe! I just wanted to add a couple of things.

    One is about epi pens. If you are ever using one, make sure not to put your thumb over the end. In the heat of the moment, it’s not unheard of for people to try to inject the wrong end. If you grip the pen around the sides, no harm, you can just turn it around and try again. But if you are injecting someone else, you do it the wrong way and have your thumb on it, you’ll inject yourself, rather than the patient. Which could be deadly, if you don’t have another pen.

    The other is my frustration with people who jump on the latest health fad and mis label themselves as having ‘allergies’. An allergy is an immune system response. It’s rapid and definite and dangerous. An intolerance is more of a build up thing. It causes discomfort, nausea and feeling like death, but not usually risk of actual death. Coeliac is different again. It is both uncomfortable and potentially deadly, although not as fast as an allergy. All are real and require caution. But they are devalued by idiots who claim to be ‘allergic’ to whatever the latest magazine article has said its trendy not to eat. It doesn’t excuse people not listening to people with real allergies, but when, as a waitress, you’ve seen enough people who claim to have (say) an egg allergy, tucking into their neighbours aioli, without any ill effects, it makes you cynical and that’s dangerous for the real sufferers. Please, people, educate your friends to use the right words when expressing food preferences. Don’t call it an allergy if it isn’t. The next persons life may depend on it.

  61. #88 by lwalterskramer on August 13, 2014 - 7:38 pm

    Many years ago I saw a segment on 20/20 (I think) about allergies to peanuts and that was one TV show that convinced me to not scoff at folks who are allergic and to respect those institutional requests to not contaminate the area with peanut products. There is an organization called FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) that supports research on food allergies and anaphylaxis. I learned about this organization recently when a friend donated it in memory of my Mother in Law. On July 1 my MIL was stung by a bee. Within minutes she went into anaphylactic shock. She was on a respirator and in a deep coma not long after. 3 days later life support was stopped and she passed away. She did not know she was allergic to bee stings. Needless to say, my kids were tested for allergies less than a week after her funeral. Thankfully, no allergies were revealed. Yet, I know that allergies can develop at any point in your life. Doctors actually told us that she may have been stung by a bee when she was a child (she grew up on a farm, I would think that would have happened) and that it is often the 2nd or 3rd sting that produces the anaphylaxis. This is beyond scary to me.

    • #89 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 13, 2014 - 8:22 pm

      Actually that FARE organization is the link I provided at the bottom. BRILLIANT site. So sorry for such a loss ! :( ((HUGS))

  62. #90 by laurieawill on August 13, 2014 - 8:27 pm

    So many people do not understand what allergies can do. Besides having allergies to cats, dogs, trees, weeds, grasses and molds I also have a casein and yeast allergy. People who are allergic to yeast are often misdiagnosed for years because a yeast allergy can make you, spacy, tired, muddled thinking, messes with your hormones, gives you stomach problems (nausea, gas, bloating), joint aches and more. That I can at least control, but my other allergies keep me indoors most of the time. If go out with my kids, and I sometimes do, it means that I will feel terrible for the rest of the day. I will exhausted and have a headache and have to change my clothes and take a shower just to get some relief. Also, the yeast allergy eliminates, most flours, all sugars and most sugar substitutes, vinegar, cheese, peanuts, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, anything refined, and I have limit even fruit because of the sugar content. So yes, when I am not at home at a meal time there is rarely anything for me to eat. Now my son has food allergies and asthma. So I understand.

  63. #91 by Pat on August 13, 2014 - 9:16 pm

    Thank you for this story about what can happen around peanuts. I still like peanut butter (the real stuff, not Kraft), and I will admit I did wonder why so many kids are allergic to the very food I relied on for years. On the bright side, with bread being practically inedible now even for non-gluten-sensitive people (it just tastes like cardboard), there aren’t a lot of places to put said butter.

    The replies to your post have further illuminated the new situation re food in North America. What a shame that big business farming is wrecking our daily bread, meat and peanut butter, not to mention the other crops. Between farming and pharma, we seem to be heading to &%(#d!

    I think the strength of your blog is that it informs by storytelling, rather than explaining. You do make a terrific protagonist. Thanks again.

  64. #93 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on August 13, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    Allergies in general have gotten far more common in North America. A friend who moved here from Germany told me he’d never had an allergy problem at home. Within a day of landing, his eyes were weeping, and his nose running. This is apparently a common story. I don’t know why, but it seems that North America is the winner.

    I have environmental allergies. When I was in China, none of them bothered me. I assume that’s because I left the plants behind, but don’t know.

    I’d suggesting removing peanut butter from Spawn’s diet. Strongly. A second attack could be worse.

    Wayne

  65. #95 by Addy Rae on August 13, 2014 - 10:21 pm

    I’m so sorry you had this pop up! Food allergies are really difficult (not that you didn’t know this already!), and an anaphylactic one is scary. I have a deadly reaction to mushrooms, and they hide everywhere as garnishes and mix in or toppings and Oy! Pasta sauces are a particularly sneaky location, or on a grill where mushroom Swiss burgers have been cooked. I have a milder reaction to wheat with full body hives but no breathing issues.

    I’m so glad you found this with someone else there, and I would definitely encourage getting an epipen! I have had to give mine in a crowd once because people were screaming for one, and I pulled mine out. I have no idea who got it or if it helped, but you don’t say ‘no’ to that!

    As for the nasty peanut allergy haters… so dangerous. I hope your post has opened at least some eyes. (And I see that it did in at least one response above! Kudos to them!)

    I hope you stay safe!

  66. #96 by ashokbhatia on August 13, 2014 - 11:01 pm

    Allergic rhinitis is what hits me from time to time. Have learnt to manage.

  67. #97 by Nana on August 13, 2014 - 11:54 pm

    Reblogged this on Nobody's Grandmother and commented:
    A MUST read!…

  68. #98 by John Holton on August 13, 2014 - 11:54 pm

    As far as I know I have no allergies, but I’ve heard that obesity could be caused by them, so I’m not really sure. Mary has allergic reactions (albeit mild ones) to certain foods, but bread and peanut butter don’t seem to be a couple of them. We’ve also had a couple of cats over the years that had allergies. So we’ve dealt with them one way or another.

    Antibiotics are great if you have an infection that’s caused by bacteria (strep throat, UTI, URI, etc.) but they’re useless against viruses like colds and flu. Why doctors will prescribe antibiotics for those things is beyond me. Maybe they get pressure from the parents who can’t take time off from work and have to leave the kid at day care. Maybe that’s why day cares are little hot zones. The other thing is that too many people figure that, once they start feeling better, they can stop taking the antibiotic. I’ve always heard that if the doctor says to take two pills a day for a week, you take two pills for a week, that just because you feel better doesn’t mean you’re cured.

    I’m with you on the food allergy thing. We never heard about food allergies years ago to the degree we hear about them now. I never met a kid who couldn’t eat peanut butter when I was in school, and now it seems like half the kids can’t have it. It’s got to be something they’re doing to it…

  69. #99 by Nana on August 13, 2014 - 11:55 pm

    Oh my! I’m so glad your okay how terrifying!

  70. #100 by Emily Witt on August 14, 2014 - 1:27 am

    Wow, I had no idea that allergies got treated with such vitriol! (Though on reflection, I do sort of remember the “Why should my child be deprived?!” reactions when they first started bringing in those rules in schools in my area). Yeesh.

  71. #101 by Wonder Woman on August 14, 2014 - 1:59 am

    Glad to hear you are better. My children’s’ school is a nut-free zone as result of one child’s severe allergies. I’m proud of the school for doing so. His parents had left a previous school because they refused to make it a nut-free school. Hopefully more and more parents and institutions will grow to understand allergies better.

  72. #102 by Amy Eyrie on August 14, 2014 - 3:03 am

    OMG. That is intense. So glad you got through this in one piece!

  73. #103 by Lara Gallin (@laragallin) on August 14, 2014 - 5:26 am

    I don’t have any allergies but I do have plenty of experience with the attitudes of others that you’ve described. I have epilepsy and there are a number of things which will trigger it but trying to get people to understand that is difficult. You can tell from the looks they give you that they’re thinking you’re either making it up or exaggerating, especially when it clashes with what they want at which point you become an inconvenience. The last place I worked was heavily social, they were always going on nights out and having parties but because late nights are a huge issue for my brain I didn’t go. After the first time I declined they seemed to write me off as dull and boring and found myself very much on the outside. Being a big sci-fi fan in an office full of reality TV and soap watchers probably didn’t help either.

    Unfortunately people putting peanut butter on door handles doesn’t surprise me. On an epilepsy forum there were people who would post flashing gifs because they thought it would be funny to trigger people’s seizures.

    There’s always been people who believe that taunting those with conditions is great for a laugh but these days it seems to have been taken to a whole new level of cruelty. The human race is becoming more twisted and vindictive by the day.

  74. #105 by pancakelady3 on August 14, 2014 - 6:50 am

    Certain times of the year I am forced to not eat crab. Now I love seafood,actually most food I see(bad pun I know but it fits!) but I get those hives up the neck and on the jaw so, no crab for me. Why it is crab that only does this, not sure but given how pricey crab can be nowadays, I do without. Really glad you survived,world doesn’t need to lose you!

  75. #106 by Kelly Roberts on August 14, 2014 - 8:53 am

    I do not understand people’s hostility toward other people’s allergies. It’s just asinine. So those people’s kids can’t have PB&J at school. Really? That’s what they have their undies in a bunch over? Please. You do what you need to to keep yourself and your family safe, and forget about everyone else.

  76. #107 by Heather on August 14, 2014 - 9:43 am

    My allergies aren’t as commonplace as yours, but I am allergic to a lot of antibiotics and medicines. How do I know? Rashes that I got once I was prescribed them. At this point, it’s hard to tell if it’s because the generic ones are cut with Sulfa, or if I’m allergic to the drug itself. Penicillan, Amoxycillan, Erythromycin, Sulfa, Alti-Clyndamycin, Codeine. It hasn’t been too bad on my own because my doctors have been creative in how to treat me, until I became pregnant. I had an infection, and very limited options between what was healthy for the kid and what I could actually take. I was supervised in a clinic taking the first few doses. It’s also made the thought of labour interesting, because I asked if I could go on to anesthetic or narcotics. But since I’ve been under once for wisdom teeth, I should be okay. It was the Codeine on that one that got me. Once I’m done nursing, my doctor is going to subject me to full on hospital testing, because medicinal allergies can’t be tested the way food and airborne allergies can be. But at least then I’ll know for sure what’s in and what’s out.

  77. #108 by ruthholroyd on August 14, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Reblogged this on whatallergy.com and commented:
    I have a peanut allergy, amongst others and totally get where you are coming from I watched that horrible comedian’s video and I too have been poisoned at restaurants, by friends, even my family. Until the see me get ill and in some cases they have even put me in A&E. Sometime it’s my bad decisions that get me in A&E but sometimes people do it to me because they either don’t understand or don’t get just how serious it is. From one delicate flower to another. From one waiter and chef’s nightmare to another – hear this people – if you treat us with respect, believe us and just show a little human kindness you might just get a very nice tip!

  78. #109 by Ruth Holroyd on August 14, 2014 - 9:54 am

    I have peanut allergy, amonths other things and I love this blog. Attacks can hit you so fast and out of nowhere. Stay safe and watch out for those peanut kisses – imagine what happened to me after a peanut snog? Whole face swelled up. Luckily I was at home, imagine being out on a date somewhere? Thanks for writing this – it really gets the point across.

  79. #110 by KM Huber on August 14, 2014 - 10:23 am

    Perhaps you and Piper will consider the food supply and pharma as your platform for 2016?!? Maybe it will bring this country–and the world for that matter–back to being able to discuss issues with one another, Yup, I still am an optimist but just reading through these comments shows how global these issues are.

    Truly, I am sorry to hear of your reaction and glad you are okay. I agree it is the GMOs and the over prescribing of antibiotics as well as people’s general reliance on pills to “fix” minor issues that the body will take care of in its own time. Actually, this sets up an interesting conflict lock, doesn’t it?

    Again, glad you are okay. You have been through quite a lot lately.

    Karen

  80. #111 by Kit Dunsmore on August 14, 2014 - 10:28 am

    I have a quilting friend who has a terrible peanut allergy. Our entire guild respects it by not bringing anything with peanuts in it to potlucks or workshops where we eat our lunch. I’ve never heard anyone complain or talk her allergy down as wimpy, etc., and I’m horrified that people can be so insensitive about something someone has no control over.

    I have lots of food sensitivites that mean I eat like a person with allergies, but I don’t suffer as badly if something gets into my food by mistake. I can sympathize with the wish to “just be normal” and able to eat pizza and ice cream with everyone else. But if I want to be a healthy, happy, productive human being, I can’t do that.

    I’m so glad you got through this episode safely and had people to help you and care for you while you were out of it. And I hope the Spawn doesn’t get too cranky about the fact that PB is no longer going to be in your pantry.

  81. #112 by Denise McInerney on August 14, 2014 - 11:27 am

    Five years ago. totally out of the blue, I ended up in the ER after eating blackberry ice cream. Saw an allergist, who eventually determined I’d developed an allergy to blackberries/raspberries and sent me home with an epi-pen, since a second exposure might result in anaphylaxis. Seriously? I was raised on blackberries and raspberry jam! I adore Chambord, and raspberry vinagrette is…WAS… my favorite dressing. If I had to develop an allergy, why couldn’t it have been sardines?

    I hoped the allergist was mistaken, but two months later during a writing conference dinner, I accidentally ingested about 1/4 of a blackberry before I realized it was lurking in a mouthful of fruit salad. I chugged down some Benadryl and sat up all night, willing myself to breathe and putting cold towels on the hives. I had to teach an early-bird workshop the next morning and did, though to this day I barely remember it. Thank goodness for that degree in acting!

    Fast-forward to writing conference 6 months later. Ordered breakfast from menu which showed picture of french toast with raspberries arranged on side of plate as garnish, and specifically asked waiter to make sure there were no raspberries on my plate as I was highly allergic to them. Plate arrived with juice-dripping raspberries not only on side, but tossed artfully across the french toast.

    Summoned waiter, re-explained my allergy, and asked for a fresh batch of french toast with NO RASPBERRIES. Plate re-appeared 20 minutes later. The berries had been removed but there were juice stains all over the french toast, obviously not a fresh batch, sigh. This time I summoned the supervisor and told him if they didn’t want 911 medics rushing their elegant dining room, I really, REALLY needed a new plate of french toast sans berries.

    Twenty minutes later, when my breakfast still hadn’t arrived, I gave up because I didn’t want to miss the opening session. I’m sure some kitchens feel it’s a pain to deviate from their menu, but how hard could it be just to leave off the garnish? I can only imagine what people with more subtle allergies that aren’t as immediately obvious as a bright red raspberry (i.e. gluten, wheat, peanuts, etc.) have to go through on a daily basis! It must be utterly exhausting to be on-guard all the time.

  82. #113 by Rev. Gramma on August 14, 2014 - 12:08 pm

    Sorry about your horrible experience, Kristen! About thirty years ago I ended up in intensive care after gallbladder surgery from an antibiotic, and have only used them (another kind) two times since. That last time it was either that or die from a septic infection in my elbow. :) Since that first reaction I’ve had a history of hives, and now over the past 5 years, severe allergic reactions called angioedema from no one seems to know what. Seems like the triggers keep changing. It’s helpful to hear from your readers above, as it’s somehow comforting to know you are not alone in this.

  83. #114 by locustbean on August 14, 2014 - 12:16 pm

    Oh my goodness, so glad you are ok!
    I am allergic to shellfish. I ate stuffed crab all the time as a kid and never had a problem. My dad makes things with shellfish regularly and I grew up eating it. Then I went out to a seafood place with my grandmother when I was in my teens, had a seafood pasta bake and noticed that I was pretty itchy, my face a little red. Thought it must have been something else because I LOVE stuffed crab and ate it all the time. When I was pregnant with my oldest, my baby shower was at this seafood place that had an amazing shellfish queso (that sounds weird, I know, but it was so good). Ate the heck out of the stuff and got more red and itchy as the day went and didn’t think anything of it until someone else suggested maybe it was the dip. I knew that allergies can develop over time and found out that pregnancy can exacerbate them or cause them to develop more quickly. Decided that maybe I ought to quit shellfish at least until my little guy was born.
    Months later, in the delivery room, I was asked if I wanted an epidural. Went ahead with it and didn’t think to mention that I had reactions to shellfish previously. The anesthesiologist rubbed my back down with betadine and gave me the epidural. Oh.my.gosh. My body felt like it was on fire. I had my second son without pain meds and plan to have the lite guy due in January without them too. The burning was so bad that I’d prefer laboring and delivering med free again to ever chancing having to do that again. They had to give me so much benadryl that my poor little guy got a lot into his system before he was out and he slept for the first three days of his life. The nurses would come in at all hours, just distressed that he wouldn’t wake to nurse and tried everything from flicking the bottoms of his tiny feet to rubbing him down with freezing cold wash cloths. He’d fuss for a second and go right back to sleep. He’s almost four now. He has a terrible shellfish allergy. It’s not a huge deal for every day, preschool, most restaurants, etc since shellfish isn’t typically in things that don’t have a warning label, but it is no fun if he accidentally eats something that has been prepared anywhere near a surface that has had shellfish on it or where shellfish is also being cooked.
    I have never heard of people throwing peanuts at kids with allergies, but oh my gosh, how horrible is that! Someone would have a very angry momma bear to deal with over here.

  84. #115 by Julie Glover on August 14, 2014 - 12:38 pm

    Hey, I’m glad you’re okay! And I know I’m totally late to the conversation. But I have a question. A honest, genuine question.

    For a while there, my super-picky son would only, only, only eat PBJ sandwiches. If I couldn’t pack that for his lunch, I truly don’t know what he would have eaten, because there was no refrigerator or microwave at the preschool. Thank goodness no one in his class had peanut allergies. Later on in elementary, there was a kid with such a severe allergy that peanuts at his table were banned, and precautions were taken to sterilize the table before he sat to eat lunch. By that time, my kid had developed a wider range of tastes and sat with his friend at lunch, never once wanting a peanut.

    But my question is — how do we do this? Under no circumstances would I ever want to cause problems for an allergy sufferer, but I had major parenting issues getting my kid to eat and PBJs were our answer for months. I’d love to hear from people with ideas on how to approach these situations. Thanks, Kristen! Once again, I’m so glad you’re okay and you now know what to avoid. I’ve never experienced a scary allergy, but I have great sympathy for those who do.

    • #116 by locustbean on August 15, 2014 - 3:07 pm

      I don’t know if it would work, but almond butter is super yummy and has a similar consistency. I’ve thought about that, too, because pb&j’s are a staple for my boys. If we had to stop sending them to school, I’d probably try switching to almond or hazelnut butter. You can make those at home and avoid any of the weird additives, too, which is great.

      • #117 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 15, 2014 - 9:52 pm

        I picked up sunflower butter for The Spawn and it’s safe for me to be around and even eat. Actually I never liked peanut butter (or peanuts) and this tastes better in my POV. Thank you for taking the time to offer suggestions. You guys are all so awesome.

        • #118 by Carradee on August 16, 2014 - 5:02 pm

          Nut and seed butters are pretty easy to make, too, if you decide to do that. Usually all you need is the nut or seed + some oil and seasoning. Sometimes all you need is the nut or seed.

          • #119 by Julie Glover on August 18, 2014 - 3:41 pm

            I guess I never thought about those alternatives to peanut butter. Thanks for the suggestions!

  85. #120 by vertebraequeen on August 14, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    I get shit all the time for my dairy intolerance and my hard vegetable intolerance (corn, beans, tomato skins, etc and now I’ve stopped drinking. People take it so personally and it has nothing to do with them. I’ll did something else to eat and I’m not dissing their cooking or their fav restaurant. I just don’t want to be in pain later :-( I’m allergic to a lot of fruit too and people think I’m making it up, so I feel you. Allergy awareness!

    • #121 by Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter on August 14, 2014 - 6:06 pm

      I quit drinking nearly thirty years ago. I’d been drinking way too much, but I wasn’t an alcoholic. Quitting drinking was easy – far easier than quitting smoking.

      But I got tons of grief over it, especially after I started travelling on business. There were people who just couldn’t understand the choice.

      If you do anything that people think is odd, well, you’ll hear about it. Still I think we as a society are less judgemental than we used to be.

      Wayne

  86. #122 by Maryann Miller (@maryannwrites) on August 14, 2014 - 4:06 pm

    I’m lucky in that I do not have food allergies, but several of my children did and still do. It has been interesting to see how those allergies have morphed as they grew into adulthood. It is so sad when people get so hateful toward folks with these severe allergies, but they are probably just as hateful toward a lot of people for a lot of things. Some people are just plain hateful. Sigh…

  87. #123 by Kathryn Chastain Treat on August 14, 2014 - 7:32 pm

    As you know from following my blog, I am allergic to EVERYTHING! My husband found out the hard way when he gave me a kiss after drinking a glass of wine. (MOLD, SULFITES).

    Factor in the fact that our total body load is off balance from all the chemicals we are being exposed to on a daily basis as well.

    I am sorry you had to learn the hard way. The thing is that if you are allergic/sensitive to something each time you expose yourself, the reaction can be much worse until you experience what you experienced.

  88. #124 by Leanne on August 14, 2014 - 7:38 pm

    Wow. I’m blessed to live in an area with this allergy is respected. We even have candy for our kids made in a peanut free environment and it sells like crazy at Halloween….. Glad you’re feeling better!

  89. #125 by Kathryn Chastain Treat on August 14, 2014 - 8:04 pm

    Reblogged this on allergictolifemybattle and commented:
    As my followers know, I am allergic to EVERYTHING! My husband found out the hard way when he gave me a kiss after drinking a glass of wine. (MOLD, SULFITES).

    Factor in the fact that our total body load is off balance from all the chemicals we are being exposed to on a daily basis as well.

    I am sorry you had to learn the hard way. The thing is that if you are allergic/sensitive to something each time you expose yourself, the reaction can be much worse until you experience what you experienced.

  90. #126 by knotrune on August 15, 2014 - 4:28 am

    I am shocked by what you say about people having a bad attitude to allergy sufferers. It is totally not acceptable to be so cruel. Smearing peanut butter on door handles? Not a funny joke – attempted murder! If they got caught they should be locked up. And the people who say you should just die or not breed? THEY are the ones who should not breed to avoid passing on the mean gene! So glad I live in Europe.

  91. #127 by Raani York on August 15, 2014 - 7:22 pm

    I often read about different kinds of allergies – and I’m always shocked… I belong to those few people who aren’t allergic to anything… thank God!!

  92. #128 by makergoddess on August 16, 2014 - 10:14 am

    Reblogged this on MakerGoddess and commented:
    This is VERY serious business and my hat’s off to Kristen for taking the time to tell us her experience. :-)

    Please read Kristen’s story. The scariest thing of all is this kind of allergy (peanuts, antibiotics, shellfish, gluten or lactose intolerance, etc.) can rear it’s ugly head at any time of life to any one of us, regardless of how often we are exposed to it previously.

    Cheers!

  93. #129 by makergoddess on August 16, 2014 - 10:20 am

    Kristen, this is so scary, what an ordeal you suffered!! I’m so glad your friend was with you, what a nightmare if you had been alone with your young son!

    Thank you for sharing, and I’ve shared it with all that I possibly can through my blog, twitter, and Facebook feeds. The general public need to know we are not making this up!

    Last year I worked in an office with two ladies who would shake their head or roll their eyes when I talked to them about my hypoglycemia, not because they were rude or annoyed, we got on really well, but because they didn’t get it. They couldn’t understand or even imagine the issues I was facing.

    This year there is another gal with hypoglycemia in my office, and funny as it may be, I did the happy dance. Someone who gets it. :-)

  94. #130 by Leila Boukarim on August 16, 2014 - 11:16 am

    I’ve always known how bad peanut allergies can be, and it’s awful you had to go through all of that! But what shocks me is how mean people can be… and about peanut allergies? Seriously, I don’t even know what to say. Flicking peanuts at kids with allergies, that’s just evil.

  95. #131 by erebusetnox on August 16, 2014 - 11:21 am

    My son is allergic to mango, egg white, and a couple nuts. The mango reaction he had was after touching it, then his eyes, which both swelled shut. The ER staff then informed me that he must have just had an “irritation” reaction. Good thing I already had an allergist in place, who confirmed the allergy.
    I have celiac, as do other family members, so yes, it’s amazing how that junk hides in the tiniest places. My sister is allergic to soy, and again, crazy where it can hide.
    You might find Moises Velasquez-Manoff’s book a little bit more of an enlightenment on how we got to where we are. It’s called An Epidemic of Absence. Smithsonian Mag ran an article last year touching on the same thing – that it’s greatly due to our overly hygienic society (as with the antibiotics you mention, so too with the antibacterial craze), and that we have eliminated from our bodies the innate defenses we once all had.

    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-unintended-and-deadly-consequences-of-living-in-the-industrialized-world-5324305/

  96. #132 by laurieawill on August 16, 2014 - 12:44 pm

    An ironic side is that people tend to consider allergies not serious, but consider asthma to be life threatening. Yet, most people with asthma have allergies and allergens are often what set off asthma attacks. My son has asthma and it is caused by allergies. We’ve been to the ER six times this season already. I can control his exposure to the foods he is allergic too because his food allergies are not that severs. But I can’t control the pollen from the grass, weeds, trees. I can’t control the mold and since he is allergic to so many things I can’t even tell what sets off an attack. There is always more than one allergen present and attacks can happen from immediate exposure or two hours later and sometimes have an accumulative effect over days. This is all caused by allergies. People who are prone to allergies are also prone to asthma and eczema. My son has all three and it all started with allergies.

  97. #133 by lynnkelleyauthor on August 17, 2014 - 12:18 am

    How horrible and frightening, Kristen. Thank God you’re all right. I’ve read newspaper articles of young dying from peanut allergies. One was a teen girl who kissed her boyfriend. He’d just eaten peanuts. So sad. It’s outrageous that people would purposely put peanut butter on door handles to make someone with a peanut allergy sick. What sickos. Hello, idiots, you deserve to be charged with manslaughter if someone died because of that.

    Daughter has Celiac disease and is learning gluten isn’t the only thing that causes problems. It’s just part of it. Grandson is allergic to eggs (has an epi-pen) and also peanuts. After the reaction to eggs when he was one, the pediatrician ordered the allergy blood test, so they found out the other things he’s allergic to.

    What’s strange is that soy affects his behavior. He gets aggressive and angry. Such a change in personality, it’s strange. I’d heard soy is bad for little boys anyway, but this takes it a step farther. He also acts up when he ingests dyes in foods, too. There’s so much involved in all these issues, you could write volumes of books related to this stuff. And the GMOs, don’t even want to get started on that. And the estrogen that’s in our water from birth control pills, it’s insane. When I read about how more than one species of male fish have been found to have eggs and are becoming feminized, that’s fodder for some good dystopian tales.

    I hope you’re feeling better, Kristen, and I hope you never have to deal with anything like that again. Very scary.

  98. #134 by Anthony Lee Collins on August 17, 2014 - 9:33 am

    It’s a shame that the word “allergy” covers some things which are potentially fatal (peanuts, bee stings) and others which are no big deal (lactose intolerance and wool allergies — both of which I have). That helps people who don’t have the more serious ones dismiss them much too casually,

    I’ve known people with both peanut and bee sting allergies, and they’re really apples and oranges compared to the “allergies” I have.

  99. #135 by David Bennett on August 18, 2014 - 3:30 am

    The WP.com Reader page recommended I come here and read your blog because of ‘similar interests’ – and then there is this terrifying post about how death can strike from looking at a peanut butter sandwich.

    My sympathies for your nut allergy.

    Here’s a tip – Don’t go searching for an image of the inside cover of the Jefferson Airplane double album ‘Volunteer’

    I think the caption – ‘Actual image of Kristen’s Guardian Angel’ – is very funny. :-)

    • #136 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 18, 2014 - 9:01 am

      Great to meet you and….yeah. I think the Guardian Angel image is scarily accurate.

  100. #137 by justanotherdecade on August 18, 2014 - 2:35 pm

    I do believe in food allergies. I do, I do, I do, I do believe in food allergies. It has taken waaayyy too long for the medical profession to get that these allergies are real. I despise the way you can’t trust the food giants to be truthful about ingredients or how those ingredients are obtained.
    I don’t have a food allergy (okay, I can’t eat balsamic vinegar, go figure) but know for sure they exist and they can be deadly.

  101. #138 by ldaffin on August 19, 2014 - 6:25 pm

    Very interesting. I have experience with anaphylaxis due to penicillin, and a host of environmental allergies. I’ve noticed lately that a few foods are bothering me, not sure whether to attribute to allergy (since I haven’t had food allergies in the past), but I’m keeping a food journal to check it out. Thanks for the link to FARE!

  102. #139 by M T McGuire on August 21, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    I’m allergic to mushrooms and heaven knows that’s hard enough. I think I read somewhere that they’ve been doing research at Addenbrooks about this and have managed to stop the allergy in some kids. Not sure how long it’ll take to roll out though.

    Cheers

    MTM

  103. #140 by Donna Marie on August 22, 2014 - 3:42 am

    I feel you about allergies. My daughter manifested severe allergy to eggs when she was a baby, and right about the time we’ve read about a teenager dying from a peanut butter kiss (boyfriend kissed girl after eating peanut butter), so we were very careful to the point of idiocy. Thank goodness it was only during babyhood, or so we thought. Last March, my daughter got hospitalized because of the same allergy. Eye swelling, even her conjunctiva and cornea were affected. And then it happened again just this Sunday night, one of the times that I am glad I am a work-at-home-mom. My daughter was so distraught, and I can only imagine what you must have went through during your attack. Allergies are no joke, and thank goodness you had your wits as well as someone take care of you.

  104. #141 by Marianne Spitzer on August 22, 2014 - 8:56 am

    Thank you for sharing your experience and letting people know these allergies are real. My grandson is allergic to peanuts and sits at a peanut free table at school. He doesn’t like it since other kids laugh at them. The more people understand about the severity of this type of allergy, the more likely it will be that they will begin to understand, I hope. Again, thank you for sharing your experience. Be well.

  105. #142 by Daphne Shadows on August 23, 2014 - 6:12 pm

    I think it is so cool how you stand up for the things and people you do.

  106. #143 by Cyndi Perkins on August 24, 2014 - 9:09 am

    I just pinpointed my nuts allergy a couple of years ago. Such a bummer, but better than having to swear off shellfish. The thing that ticks me off is that it’s clearly tied to food additives. GMOs gotta go! These issues aren’t cropping up, pun intended, because of accumulation – not when they’re attacking kids, who haven’t been eating nuts for half a century.
    I have even had to give up my beloved Lay’s potato chips which claim to use oils other than peanut but will blister my nose faster than pine nuts in my pesto (FYI I make it without pine nuts using basil from our garden and it’s quite tasty without). Formulations have changed in many products and the body doesn’t lie, can’t lie, in expressing a virulent reaction. Same with health and beauty products: my mom is now allergic to mascara. Life goes on and I’m glad you’re OK and speaking out. Ultimately that’s the answer: When a product makes us sick we need to let others know.

  107. #144 by tedhenkle on August 29, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    I’m sorry to hear about the onset of your peanut allergy. My second ex-wife is gluten intolerant, so I can relate to being out & about and not being able to eat, or being poisoned. Best wishes to you!

  108. #145 by Louise Wilson on September 22, 2014 - 4:28 am

    Another – FYI

  1. Blogs I follow | Swamp Sass
  2. Professional Authors Need H.E.A.R.T.—What It Takes to Make It In The Digital Age of Publishing | Kristen Lamb's Blog
  3. Eating out with food allergies | CreakyJoints

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