As mentioned in my previous blogs I have only been suffering from anaphylaxis for just over 4 years. However, those 4 years have been one massive learning curve. I quickly learned that people can be extremely insensitive. Sometimes they try to give you advice about your allergies, thinking it is helping you, but the reality is it is only making things worse for you. Most of the time people do not mean to not understand they just find it exceptionally difficult.
I did not grow up with anaphylaxis so from the word go really I was in charge of my own condition rather than my parents. I was the one who had to make others aware of my diagnosis and try to get them to understand. It has truly not been easy and even now, 4 years later, it is hard to get people to truly take it seriously.
I think one of the main issues people have is they think it is a simple case of just avoiding food that has the allergen in it, Whilst this is a major part of stopping allergic reactions from happening it is not the full picture. People often fail to realise that even trace amounts of the food can cause issues. People also can not seem to get their heads around the fact that it is not just ingesting the allergen that is a problem, but often people have the issue of their allergy being airborne or a contact allergy where simply touching something or even breathing in the allergen itself can cause major issues.
If I were to think about what the hardest part of living with allergies has been, in my personal opinion it would have to be the lack of understanding others have. A lot of the time they truly think I am just plain over-exaggerating when I look at the packaging on something and say "I cannot eat that as it may contain nuts". Trying to explain it is more than not like talking to a brick wall, or it will go in one ear and straight back out the other. It gets extremely frustrating as we are not talking about a simple reaction that involves a rash, we are talking about a reaction which if not treated properly could have dire consequences.
Just the other day I was at in my boyfriend's flat. Like me he lives in student accommodation and shares with 6 other people. We were in his kitchen/living room and 2 of his flat mates as well as one of their friends were their. We were all having a drink together and one of his flat mates had asked someone to go to the shops to buy him peanuts. I said to him could he refrain from buying peanuts as I have a severe allergy to them. I went away for 20 minutes and came back to him eating a bag of peanuts. I stayed well away from him and made sure not to touch things he had come into contact with.
I think one of the problems with trying to make people aware is anaphylaxis as a condition is not very well known. For the most part people know allergies exist however more often than not they associate an allergic reaction as being an itchy rash or even as hayfever. Whilst these are both annoying they are not considered to be life threatening.