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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Verity Powell

Twenty three year old Verity Powell, who has a severe nut allergy, shares her experiences.

Aged 13 (ish!) I had my first allergic reaction to a brazil nut in a chocolate box. Prior to this I had eaten lots of different nuts and never had a problem. Luckily, I was with my Nan at the time who knew exactly what was happening and gave me an antihistamine. After that, my habits didn't change and I ate what I wanted. 10 years on I am now 23 and it's fair to say the allergic reactions have become more frequent and it's not just Brazils anymore. With this I have become very anxious and wanted to write a blog post to reach out to anyone who feels the same. 
I think my anxiety has come from two main things. First, being scared to use an Epi-pen if I ever needed to as I hate needles and second, eating out. Last year when out in a restaurant I had explained to the waiter that I had a nut allergy and yet when the food came out it was actually sprinkled with almonds. It's the 'fear factor' and not being able to eat what you want... it affects your quality of life. So I decided to investigate and get all the facts so I could become more confident. I went to my GP and explained my difficulty and he referred me to an allergy clinic at a nearby hospital. I cannot recommend enough that anyone with allergies has a skin prick test. As you can see in the picture, my
reactions were severe but I was able to learn the exact nuts I am allergic to and surprisingly, ones that I am not. It was quick and easy and they wait for 15 minutes and then measure the lump to see how severe the allergy is. The worst reaction was to Brazils (number 8) where the lump that came out was 12mm.

Not only this, but the consultant answered all my questions and I learnt how my eczema, hay fever and lots of different factors actually all relate together. It wasn't rushed in any way and I felt so much better talking it through with someone. I also received proper Epi-pen training and I would now feel confident to do it if I had to. I learnt so much and I feel anyone suffering with food allergy anxiety could benefit like me, as long as you are clued up you can feel confident to treat yourself if and when you suffer a reaction. Life is to be enjoyed and we can't let allergies get in the way of our adventure. 

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