"Anaphylaxis not taken seriously"
About: Oxfordshire PCT Oxfordshire PCT Oxford OX4 2LH
Posted by *M* (as ),
I was in my first year of sixth form, on my own, in the common room after school hours. I had a yoghurt in my lunchbox that I'd saved for a snack before attending a play rehearsal. I started to eat the yoghurt and immediately felt unwell. I felt agitated, had hot and cold flushes, swelling of my mouth and throat and had difficulty breathing. I ran to sick bay where, thankfully, the school nurse was still around. She gave me some piriton and helped calm me down.
I had no history of any allergies or asthma and was upset and confused about what happened.
Upon reading the label of the yoghurt pot I saw that there was a chance it contained traces of nuts. This also confused me, as I regularly ate Nutella for breakfast, and had previously eaten Toblerones (containg almonds), pesto (sometimes containing cashew nuts), and chicken korma (also containing almonds). And surely you can't just develop an allergy overnight, right?
I had a further two similar attacks, one of which was on a school geography trip where I felt embarassed and frightened.
This is when I decided to book an appointment with a GP at my local surgery. He did not listen to what I was saying, could neither confirm nor discount whether I'd had an allergic reaction to nuts or not (but was not willing to send me to a specialist to find out), thrust a prescriptions for two epi-pens at me - without showing me how to use them, and told me as I left the room that I was 'a drain on the health service'.
I am not a hypochodriac and I would never dare waste a doctor's time without due concern. My father, uncle, cousin, mother, aunt, and grandma all work as either doctors, consultants, nurses, or OTs so I know how important their time and expertise is. I was deeply upset at how I had been treated, so booked an appointment with another GP who immediately referred me to a specialist.
After being tested for reactions to many different nuts, it was confirmed that I have a very serious, potentially fatal, allergy to both nuts and sesame.
I now have to carry an epi-pen with me at all times and wear a medicalert bracelet.
I have no idea why this allergy may have developed and I am terrified that I will die because I don't understand what anaphylaxis is or what has happened to me or what (other than guessing what labels on packaging mean) could prevent it.
I need someone to guide me because I'm really not coping with what has happened to me.
I'm shocked and deeply worried about how the first GP I saw treated me - what if he deals with other people in the same way and they have a very serious reaction? This is unacceptable and appalling behaviour.
I would love just a simple leaflet explaining what my condition is and outlining clearly how it should be dealt with and I think it's not too much to ask that people take allergies a little more seriously.