A lot of people have allergies. Allergies to gluten, nuts, and eggs. I have allergies to a lot of things like nuts, seafood, eggs, and gluten. The list goes on and on. You’re probably thinking how I can survive or if I’m lying, but I’m not. I’m alive. I deal with the consequences of being an allergic person. I’ve never tasted a gooey chocolate fudge cake with gluten in it on my birthday. I’ve never had scrambled eggs on a Saturday morning, as the sun shines through my window. I deal with it. This is my life. I can’t grieve about how sad it is that I cannot eat certain foods. It’s a weight that I’ve carried on my back for years. It’s a barrier to enjoying things in life. It holds me back like a parent holds their child back from danger. In my life, having allergies is like a black stain on a white shirt that you can’t wash off. It can stay there for an eternity.
Click. The sound of the practice EpiPen makes as my mom plunges it into her thigh. For days, I’ve been dreading doing this. An EpiPen is a hero who saves people from allergic reactions. This is what the stories of kids being saved by their EpiPens have made me think. In the back of my mind, I know it is a shot that you have to plunge into your thigh.
My mom speaks, and it snaps me out of my thoughts.
“Now that I showed you how to do this, you can try. It has no needle, so it won’t hurt,” she says to me.
I take the EpiPen in my hand. The green color is inviting and almost seems friendly, but that won’t fool me. The part of my thigh throbs, as I think about how much it would hurt if this was a real shot. Deep breaths, I tell myself. This will save your life someday. It shakes in my hand. Ten seconds. Just ten seconds. Hold it only for ten seconds. It doesn’t have a needle, so it won’t hurt. It will be fine. My thoughts go through my head as fast as a jet plane.
I drop the fake shot. I can’t do it.
Even though it will save me, even though it is fake, I will not stab this shot in my leg for ten seconds. I will have to, or I might die.
“I will, I will, I will, I will,” I mumble, as I fall asleep.
“Ooh! What did you bring?” says a classmate.
The birthday boy walks to the back of the room with a bag. He holds it close to him. It’s as if there is a priceless artifact sitting in a display case inside of it. People crowd around him trying to get a peek at what’s in the bag.
“Cupcakes!” someone yells and is immediately scolded by the teacher.
The birthday boy chooses people to pass out the treats. In my head, I picture the creamy frosting covered with rainbow sprinkles and soft cake underneath.
No. I can’t eat that. Can I? Nope. It contains wheat. Darn it!
“Hi! What flavor would you like?” says a boy who is handing out the treats.
“Oh. I’m okay. I’m allergic to that. I brought my own treat though,” I answer.
“Oh. Okay,” he mumbles, looking disappointed. Wait, it’s pity.
“What are you allergic to?” he asks.
As I go down the list, his eyes go wide.
“Wow,” he says. “You’re allergic to everything!”
I look for some tone of a joke, but instead, I find that it is a statement. My cheeks burn, and I clench my fists so hard, it hurts. He walks away, leaving me to sulk about this for the whole party. Everything. The way he said it made my anger flare out. If I was allergic to everything, I would be dead. Nobody has ever said that to me before. I’m allergic to everything. I bet I’ll be on the news. “The Girl Who is Allergic to Everything.”
“Hey. Do you want a Twizzler?” asks a teacher.
I look at the shiny twist of red color. I can smell the sweet aroma coming from the package of Twizzlers. I hesitate a little. Am I allergic to this? No. The teacher wouldn’t give it to me if I was allergic. It calls to me, and I slowly inch towards the smell.
“Sure!” I exclaim.
I can’t wait to try one! I unwrap the packaging and take a giant bite out of the sweet candy. A burst of flavor burns its way down my throat. It tastes delectable. After I finish my treat, I go back to play. After a while, my throat starts itching. My mind races, and I start to panic. This has never happened before! I shrug it off, and I figure it will go away. A few minutes later, my skin starts itching. It’s like a million ants crawled under my clothes and started biting me. I need a teacher. I stand up, but I stumble because a wave of dizziness hits me. I feel as though I’ve been on a roller coaster that goes in a loop-de-loop for hours. I slowly make my way to where the teachers are standing.
“What’s wrong?” one asks.
“I don’t know,” I say, panicked.
In a few minutes, my mom comes bursting into the room like a madwoman. Worry is present on her features, and I immediately feel sympathy. She must be so worried. I spill the beans.
“I’m so itchy, and I don’t know what’s happening!” I exclaim.
I start to tear up, and then I begin to cry. My mom hands me a medicine cup with pink liquid in it that I identify as Benadryl. I curl up into a ball, and I sob.
Why does this happen to me?
Before bed, my mom baked me a cake from a mix.
“Can I please eat one tiny piece?” I plead.
“Ok. Fine! Only one tiny piece,” she says, smiling.
She hands me the piece of cake, and I gobble it up in one bite. My taste buds yell in excitement and pleasure.
“Thank you, Mommy!” I exclaim.
I crawl into bed and drift off into a deep sleep.
All I remember is the itchy, scratchy, red hives that cover my skin, a towel on the floor picking up the dinner and dessert I had that now went up the other way, and a pink liquid that slides down my throat. Blackness creeps up on me, as I slowly fall asleep with my itchy, scratchy hives, as I am surrounded by the lingering sour smell of throw up that has just been cleaned up.
Allergies are not my burden. They are not my enemy. They have made me stronger as a person. I deal with rude comments and pity looks, but I don’t care. I don’t care if I’m allergic to everything. I don’t care that you can eat some foods, and I can’t. My life is not your life.
I wrote this memoir so that I could share my thoughts and struggles of being an allergic person with you, the reader. This is a small part that is neither good nor bad. Even though this has been something I hated earlier in my life, I won’t ever let anything get in the way of me and others being happy. I will live my life to the fullest. I am me. I refuse to worry, and I will not let something like allergies bring me down. When I go out to a store with my friends looking for snacks or go out with my family, I laugh it off when someone makes a rude comment. I take this as a lesson, a challenge that I will face over the course of my life. I want to be those people who walk down the sidewalks, laughing, joking, being themselves, without a care in the world.
I have learned that when life gets hard, you can’t just sit there and cry. Push through it when life gets hard. I know my friends and family will always be there and will support me, so I stand strong. I hope everyone does. Be happy. My mom always says, “You have one life. Make it count.”