How serious allergies can be

This is a sage reminder how serious and awful allergies are. This is me eight hours after an allergic reaction.

Cruising for a reaction

This picture was taken at 2am in the bathroom of a cruise ship cabin. It’s the European summer of 2016 and we’re cruising from Venice to Croatia and Greece. It’s our second dinner of the cruise. During the first dinner I was told they would make a nut free dish that night, then to choose the next night’s meal and it would be specially prepared. Cruise ships have a great rep for allergies. You can get your day trip food packed for you, chefs will help out at a second’s notice and walk you around the buffets showing you what’s safe.

A special meal

Unfortunately for me, I had a terrible experience. That first night, I selected my dish for the second night – the entree was arancini balls. The menu description said pinenuts in the sauce, but they were going to make me a special version. I was served the next night and I started digging in, but I knew something was wrong immediately. It was such a special version that it had nuts in it.

My reaction

We went to the ship’s hospital. By this point I’m crying and getting super panicky – a reaction does that to me. There’s something going around your body that’s trying to kill you, so the body goes a little haywire and for me I get flustered, very shaky and a bit hysterical. I’m also stressing out that I’m going to die in a floating city a million miles from home. I was in the hospital for a while, they gave me drugs and tried to make me laugh. I tried though the tears. We eventually went back up to our room and they sent us some dinner. Can’t say I felt like eating it.

And then my face swelled up

A few hours later, my body flushes hot. I turn bright red. Redder than I’ve ever been. It looks like I’m sunburnt all over my body. Then, my eyes start swelling shut. If you have a script for adrenaline you get two epipens on one script. And this is why – secondary reactions. I felt ok but we sat and watched the swelling get worse and worse. It was fascinating in a sick way. We called up the doc and was told take another anti histamine and I’d be ok. Righto. I tried to go to sleep but wasn’t really feeling it. Hence being up at 2am and taking a photo.

The value of my life

I’m not going to name and shame the cruise company, besides having the most lacklustre response to them feeding me an allergen and the compensation they offered ($150 voucher towards a future cruise hahahaha – yeah nah!).

It’s a simple reminder for those with allergies to carry your medication at all times, carry the spare (preferably get someone very close to you to do this in case a bag gets lost or stolen), and be alert even when served an ‘allergen free’ meal. For those without allergies, I’m anaphylactic but only if I ingest nuts. I consider myself lucky. Please be kind and considerate towards anyone in your life with allergies and help them by being vigilant on their behalf, they are no joke.

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