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I've been severely PA my entire life but wasn't officially diagnosed 'til I was almost twenty ("luckily," my allergies have gotten much worse with time, so I wasn't anaphylactic to peanuts 'til I could avoid them on my own). For the six years after my diagnosis, I was really stupid and lackadaisical about avoiding peanuts - I'd do things like eat co-processed foods and just take benadryl, and consistently put other people's convenience over my safety. It was mostly a matter of dumb luck that I didn't land in the hospital - or die - until this past December, when I accidentally put actual peanut product in my mouth for the first time since my diagnosis and went to the ER twice in two days. Since then, I've been diagnosed with a slew of other allergies, food and otherwise, and I've been trying to catch up in terms of information and precautions.

So, I'm an old hand at being peanut-allergic, but new to handling it well. Still struggling to come to terms with just how many hoops I need to jump through just to stay remotely safe (in addition to peanuts, I'm severely allergic to garbanzo beans, sunflower seeds and oil, and sesame, and I seem to be developing new food allergies by the dozen, which is really scaring me), and learning to trust my instincts and speak up for myself.

On Jan 30, 2008

I was apparently also allergic to peanuts and tree nuts my entire life wasn't diagnosed until I was almost 19. Eating out at restaurants and dealing with dorm mates/suitemates who don't understand that with minimal contact I will be quickly sent to the hospital in anaphylactic shock has been the hardest thing for me to cope with. I'm a naturally shy person and talking to strangers beyond what food and drink I want is not my cup of tea. Best advice I can give you is to READ LABELS! If you do not have a MedicAlert bracelet get one. And if you have to, carry around a list of foods and ingredients that you need to stay away from when grocery shopping. Hidden ingredients are the worst.

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