When I was eighteen years old I ate a small can of cashews. The next day I woke up with my lips triple their size, eyes swollen, sharp pain in my throat, and hard to breath. I developed an anaphylaxis allergy to cashews and related tree nuts and related fruit. My food allergy includes: cashews, pistachio, pecan, mangos, and papaya. I avoid all other tree nuts and tropical fruit because of how closely they are related to my allergy foods, they can even send me into minor allergy attacks. I CAN EAT PEANUTS BECAUSE IT IS NOT A TREE NUT IT IS MORE CLOSELY RELATED TO BEANS THAN TREE NUTS.
Ever since my allergy attack when I was eighteen, I have to watch what I eat. The fear of cross-contamination in foods have become my every day. I am always checking the back of products for “may contain tree nuts”. It is not just food I have to watch for, Procter & Gamble uses tree nut oils in their products, some medications use tree nut oils or mango flavoring. I have carried epiPens until they got too expensive with a monopoly on them $300 to $650 for a pack of two, which has to be replaced every few months. It became easier to just avoid my allergen than have to pay for new epiPens. I can take benadryl with minor reactions.
When I first started dating my now husband a few months after my allergy attack, one of the first things I mentioned was my food allergy. If he wanted to be intimate with me, he had to be careful on what he ate around me. He chose to give up tree nuts so not to risk me having an allergic reaction.
When my son was starting to get to the point of eating purees, I had to look at his baby food to make sure that it doesn’t have mango in it. I have to be selective on what he eats because he is exclusively breastfed and can cross-contaminate to me, making me break out in hives. When he gets older and no longer breastfeed he will be introduced to mango. Tree nuts would have to be introduced to him away from me because even the dust makes me react.
When I go out to gatherings with friends and family I am always asked if I can eat something or not. It gets old quickly always having to repeat what I can and can’t eat. I still have family who cooks with tree nuts so I am always checking with them on what they put in some stuff like cookies, they get annoyed by it every time. Living with a food allergy isn’t easy and can affect so many people in my life.