As I discussed previously, elementary school was basically completely handled by my parents and teachers, and resulted in a nearly allergic reaction – free youth (if you don’t count my diagnosis). Junior high, however, was not.
My junior high school was the melting pot of a few different elementary schools in the area. That meant I was meeting a ton of new kids all the time. Kids that didn’t know me or my situation.
This is when I had my first allergic reaction.
I was sitting at lunch with some of my new friends and we were all passing around a water bottle. Not to drink out of it, but to look at it. Because there was some seahorse looking thing floating around in it.
That’s when one of the girls sitting there realized something: one of the girls sitting at the far end of the table – who had previously handled the water bottle – was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
At this point I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms, but I also didn’t want to. I was experiencing sheer fear – as some of you reading this might be able to relate to. Fear of the unknown, I guess. Because I had been so well guarded in my formative years.
I instantly took out my cell phone (I was one of the only kids with a cell phone back then. And I was only allowed to make 2 calls on it: 9-1-1 and home) and dialed 9-1-1. I told the operator where I was and what happened. I also told the operator that I wasn’t experiencing any symptoms at the moment but would meet them in the nurse’s office – where I took my epipen.
Panicked, I called my second sanctioned number: home. My mom came immediately.
Sitting in the office waiting for my mom and the paramedics was hell. I wasn’t feeling anything, but then… when would I? I had never experienced an allergic reaction before (I mean… I don’t remember my initial reaction, I was only 11-months-old after all), and I didn’t want to.
Luckily, I didn’t. As it turned out, the peanut butter was never transferred onto the water bottle, and I never came into contact with it. But in the flurry of the emergency, I didn’t stop to take a second to ask. I just instantly moved into emergency mode. As did my friends.
I was lucky that day. I wasn’t so lucky a decade later on the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel.