Recently, I heard from Elynne Gold, the mother of a 15 year old who is now speaking out about life threatening food allergies. She wanted to get the word out about her daughter’s advocacy.
Talia’s parents raised a strong and beautiful advocate. No one choose this condition, it chooses you. What you then choose to do with it is up to you.
We hope that Talia’s letter will serve as an inspiration. It is introduced in an email that we received from her mom.
My 15-year-old daughter suffered her 5th severe anaphylactic reaction within the past year and a half this past weekend. Post reaction is filled with extreme anxiety about food allergies. One evening after this reaction, while not sleeping, she sat awake in bed writing her thoughts on her phone. She really believes she needs to do something.
As a 15-year-old what she feels she can do is help raise awareness. Awareness about the severity of food allergies and how they shouldn’t be taken lightly. How they should be understood. How they shouldn’t be a “joke.” I awoke in the morning to the following text.
She sent to me what she had written laying awake at 3:00am. She wants to share. We want to share. This is the text:
Here is a little something I think is so crucial for everyone, no matter who you are, to read…
I am included in the 1 in 13 children who was born with severe, severe anaphylactic food allergies.
To most people on the street, they don’t think much of it (“Oh it’s not a big deal, she just won’t eat nuts”), and others even call it a blessing in disguise (“You’re lucky you are allergic to all those things and can’t eat it because you don’t give in to unhealthyfoods”). If I learned anything from a young age, it’s that you can’t always blame those who don’t understand, and that is the point of this message. Anaphylactic reactions, like the kind I have, are life threatening, and in the heat of the moment it is a battle between life or death.
I’ve had five severe reactions in the past year and a half, and each time it doesn’t get any less scary. Since I was a little baby, my parents knew about my severe allergies, which were to many foods. They knew the severity of it, and kept me safe. I only ate what my mom cooked, brought my own food to restaurants, and followed the simple rule of “no ingredients, no eat.” Luckily as I grew older I outgrew some of my allergies, leaving me with remaining allergies to peanuts, all tree nuts, eggs, dairy and peas.
As I grew more independent the reactions began to start. I won’t go into major detail of the events of each reaction, but each one included the same symptoms of horrible stomach pain, nausea, confusion/dizziness, loss of consciousness, and most importantly I was not able to breathe.
My epinephrine auto-injector, a life line for an allergic person, saved my life four times. But the thing about all these reactions is I was being diligent. I was being careful. I thought I was being safe. But it was the lack of understanding of anaphylactic allergies in the world that played a huge role in all my reactions.
I always express to everyone always how severely allergic I am to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy and peas to take precaution; and at restaurants to clean out the equipment so I am safe. And I can say it 1000 times, but in truth I am trusting these employees with my life. From accidentally ingesting almond milk that is contaminating my fruit juice, because the employee didn’t listen and clean out the blender, or from a granola bar packaged on poorly cleaned equipment that was shared with nuts, I suffered severe repercussions.
I am 1 in 13 people who live with this curse, who feel as though it’s not fair they can’t grab a juice with a friend without risking crossing the line of life or death. Life with allergies is not glorious, or lucky, and it never will be. But with the spreading of allergy awareness we can help save so many lives and protect those that do have to live this way.
Knowledge and awareness can turn a person’s life with anaphylactic allergies from a doomed ending to a hopeful one, to a happy one. Life with allergies stinks, but we have the power to save many, with only the price of knowledge. So contribute. Spread food allergy awareness. Turn someone’s fear into hope, and give them, people like me, a happy ending.
—Talia Gold – 15 years old