To be fair, it wasn't just one peanut, it was a group of them. In a Snickers bar. Snickers have been my favourite chocolate bar since I can remember. I was eating one in the car park of the shopping centre as we were packing the fortnights shopping into the car, when I started to feel strange.
Suddenly I was out of breath, my heart was trying to jump out of my chest, I was in a panic, and my lips and tongue were tingling. Turns out I have developed adult onset allergic reaction to peanuts. Hubby, who is a nurse, told me later he was about 60 seconds from taking me to the hospital when my symptoms eased.
My GP later told me she thinks it is a borderline anaphylactic reaction, so she prescribed me an epipen to keep with me at all times and instructed me not to eat anything with peanuts, or even anything that "may contain traces of peanuts", until I can get an appointment with an immunologist.
And so another new kind of normal begins for me.
My GP also informed me that I need to let her know if I have a reaction to anything else, which hadn't even occurred to me as being a possibility until she mentioned it. I didn't expect I'd be ringing her back later that day to tell her I appear to also be allergic to sesame seeds. Her comment that she wouldn't want to be trying to buy food for me now really hit home when I went to buy bread the next day.
Did you know that (in Australia) Coles Supermarkets stock only one kind of bread that does not have risk of containing either peanuts or sesame seeds? And it costs $7 a loaf!! In fact almost all food processed on a production line is now unsafe for me to eat. Yep- even the popular GF/friendly/healthy aisle is pretty much a no go.
I have managed to find 3 kinds of chocolate I can still eat but I'm scared to look and see if I am still able to eat it ethically. I prefer to avoid palm oil and in the past have only bought Fair Trade chocolate, but it seems now my choice is to either eat safe-for-me chocolate and risk the death and/or exploitation of others or eat ethically produced chocolate and risk my own death.
I know I should probably be feeling grateful that I did not have a more severe reaction as my first experience and happy that there is still so much healthy food available for me to choose from. But, honestly, right now I am feeling overwhelmed, a bit frightened of food in general, and just plain irritated that I can't even eat porridge or toast for breakfast any more. We already make a lot of our food from scratch, but I realised yesterday a lot of the herbs and spices we use everyday are now on the too risky list because they are processed on the same lines as peanuts and sesame seeds. So long apple cinnamon muffins......
I am cranky that choosing food is now an exercise in avoiding things that will try to kill me and that preparing food is going to have to be a time consuming process when I am already stretched.
I am sad for my kids that they now can't have foods they love because of me.
I am disappointed that it is not safe for me to eat out with friends or on a date with my Hubby.
I am frustrated that the wait to get in to see a specialist who can do the appropriate tests and get me some answers is going to be months long.
I am worried that there will be more things I can't eat and that finding safe foods is going to be prohibitively expensive.
I know all these feelings will pass and things will be OK ultimately, but I suspect one thing that won't pass is the strangeness of the awareness that there are foods that will try to kill me if I eat them. That is unsettling and uncomfortable and not something I am convince you can get used to.