The Cupcake Culprit: An Allergic Reaction at School
Last updated: May 2023
Having an allergic reaction at home or while with friends and family is one thing, but having a reaction in school was embarrassing and scary.
Allergic reactions at school were embarrassing
At least at home or around people you know well, they'll understand what to expect when an allergic reaction occurs, and I won't have to explain what's going on to them or feel stupid when it happens.
While I know now that it doesn't make sense or help me to be embarrassed by my allergies, I found it embarrassing as a teenager. I did my best to keep my food allergies under control so that I wouldn't have an allergic reaction in school. Unfortunately, we can only control so much.
A school birthday celebration gone wrong
It was a classmate's birthday, and she brought cupcakes to share with the class. I grabbed a cupcake, thinking nothing of it because they don't usually have peanuts. It was a pretty small cupcake, and I'm a fan of sweets, so I finished it quickly...too quickly.
Tingling in my throat
Soon after I finished enjoying that cupcake, I noticed a signature tingle in my mouth and throat. I drank some water and hoped it was enough to make the itch disappear. I felt a little better after getting some cold water in my system, but it wasn't enough.
Nausea and swelling
Later that day, we were swimming in gym class. After a few laps in the pool, I started to feel nauseous. I asked my teacher if I could go to the bathroom.
When I got to the toilet, I threw up, and my throat discomfort got a lot worse, and I felt the walls of my throat start to swell. At that point, I told my teacher I got sick and asked if I could go to the nurse.
Running to the nurse's office
I dried off quickly, changed out of my swimsuit, and went to the nurse. I don't remember if they didn't have my EpiPen or if it expired, but either way, they called the ambulance, and I waited.
I'd never been in an ambulance before, and I had a lot of anxiety surrounding new experiences, so I had that to deal with on top of the fear I felt about the allergic reaction.
All those feelings melted away quickly after I took the drugs I was given in the ambulance by the emergency medical technicians (EMTs). I don't remember what the drugs were, but I think the EMT mentioned it was a more potent medicine that is similar to Benadryl.
The ride to the hospital was pretty quick, and I felt much better after taking that medicine. I don't remember much else after that other than being in a hospital bed, drinking some apple juice, and my parents being worried when they came to the hospital. I stayed overnight to be monitored, and the next day I was discharged.
Dealing with the embarrassment
Nowadays, if I have an allergic reaction, I don't feel the embarrassment I did in that situation as a teenager.
Sure, I feel frustrated with myself for not being more careful, but I'm a lot more forgiving of myself now than I was as a teenager. While that situation was scary and embarrassing for me back then, it further solidified the message of being more cautious around food I didn't prepare. This, and not to be too hard on myself because accidents will happen.
How often do you connect with others who have food allergies?