"In sitting here in the icu after being inhubated due my food allergies. I am in icu for at least 24 hours more and I've lost an entire day due to being inhubated.i am not reckless like some of you eating things I am semi allergic to."
The post was wedged between articles about Simon Katz, one of the most recent teens to loose their life too soon because of food allergies. Every time there is a food allergy death, it seems like the message is clear--teenagers are reckless and they don't do a good enough job avoiding their allergens.
I want to set the record straight, anaphylactic reactions are no one's fault. The fact of the matter is, people with food allergies have wacky immune systems. Most people's bodies don't go into shock from a peanut or a drop of butter. People don't have reactions because they are careless or stupid or reckless--they have allergic reactions because their bodies make antibodies to food proteins. Unfortunately, there is no real way to change that.
So until we have found a cure, we need to stop reaction shaming. Personally, I always get that feeling of guilt when I have an anaphylactic reaction as if it was my fault. I worry about what my parents will say and if I am keeping my friends from having a good time. I know for me, when I start to feel guilty about my reaction, I start to ignore it and pretend like it isn't there. I try and push through so that I don't ruin anyone else's fun. After talking to lots of teens about this very topic, I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. So here is my proposal. Let's end reaction shaming.
From now on, whether you are a parent, or a friend or a person with food allergies, I want you to remember, food allergies AREN'T a choice. No one made you or your child or your friend's body react the way it does when it gets exposed to food. If we look at food allergies in this perspective, it helps remove blame and feelings of failure from the individual and places them on the real root of the problem--the food allergies.
It is human nature to avoid failure. If an allergic reaction represents failure and epinephrine represents the acknowledgement of the failure, then chances are we are going to take longer to administer the epinephrine. If instead though, a reaction solely represents a biological phenomenon, we are much more likely to use epinephrine fast because it's sole job is to reverse the biological phenomena, not fix our failure.