I last discussed the struggles of existing as a concussed teenager.
Now I will be covering a different medical issue: anaphylaxis.
That’s right – I ate peanut butter by accident, and I am very allergic.
At the University of New Brunswick, all students living in residence have to pay for a meal plan. Said meal plan gets you access to all food services on campus: a grill, a Tim Horton’s, and a Quiznos at the student union building, and McConnell Dining Hall.
The latter is lovingly referred to as ‘Meal Hall.’
As someone with severe allergies to all kinds of food (I won’t list everything, but let’s just agree that celery isn’t a common allergy), the chefs at Meal Hall kindly make me my own meals.
I sometimes even get to choose what I get to have cooked for me, which is more than most of my classmates can say. They eat whatever has been prepared for that day.
Now we get to the interesting part of the story: dessert.
The chefs at Meal Hall don’t make me dessert, mostly because I don’t eat dessert often. However, on Monday, I was having a rough morning, so I decided to treat myself to ice cream.
Meal Hall has a constant supply of ice cream, contained in neat little tubs behind a self-serve counter. All the tubs have labels on them, listing the ingredients in the ice cream.
Still, I’m not supposed to eat the ice cream, because of mysterious “traces” of allergens and possible cross-contamination. Has that ever stopped me from eating ice cream at Meal Hall? No. It probably should have.
On Monday, I ate an entire scoop of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream, because I didn’t read the label on the tub. I read the label of the other chocolate flavour, which also had nuts. They didn’t usually put out two tubs of the same flavour, so I assumed that it was alright.
It was not.
I had to go to the hospital. I had to use my EpiPen. It wasn’t a fun time.
Any recommendations for other people who suffer from severe allergies? Read the label.
Seriously, even though it’s annoying, definitely read the label. If some really rude peanut manages to sneak into your food, the ER doctor told me the best thing to do is to take two Benadryls, Zantac (which apparently has anti-histamine properties), and your EpiPen. Then report directly to the hospital.
Even though I did everything I was supposed to do, it was still scary. I’d never used an EpiPen before, and I was terrified of it. My boyfriend and my roommate were there, and if it weren’t for them, I definitely wouldn’t have been able to stab myself with it.
However, for those out there who also haven’t used their EpiPens before, it doesn’t hurt as much as a bee sting.
It does hurt the next day, and your leg will twitch a lot, but that’s normal and will go away.
I’ve definitely learned my lesson. No more Meal Hall ice cream (unless it’s the berry cheesecake flavour, no way I’m giving that up), and always read the label.
Hopefully, my tale will help others avoid my mistakes, while also providing a little bit of humour.
Who eats peanut butter by accident when they have anaphylaxis?
Marlowe Evans is a student at the University of New Brunswick from Maple Ridge who writes about youth issues.