People who do not live with a chronic condition often have a really hard time understanding what life is like for someone who does. Things most people take for granted become long drawn out processes with many risks and dangers.
I fly more than the average person but I hate it. Not because I’m in a metal box thousands of miles above the earth, or that it’s uncomfortable and boring, or even because I might have to use the bathroom. I hate it because I have asthma. What do I do if I have an asthma attack in the middle of a 8 hour flight over the Atlantic? The first time I flew after I developed asthma I gave myself an asthma attack just from the stress! Another time I had to wear a mask the entire flight because the man next to me had gone for a smoke just before he boarded the plane and he reeked!
It’s one of those things that gets easier over time, but you can’t let yourself get complacent. One mistake is all it takes.
I don’t blame people for not understanding. Even though it seems obvious to me, I realize that it’s not even on most people’s radar. What I do blame people for is not accepting or taking risks seriously. When I read this article from Allergic Living it made me angry.
“A second case of anaphylaxis in the skies occurred in mid-August on a Ryanair flight from the Canary Islands to London. A 4-year-old girl with a known nut allergy was on board, and the crew made an announcement to passengers to refrain from eating nuts. However, about 20 minutes into the flight, the girl began scratching at her cheeks, then her tongue swelled, her lips began to blister and she began to have breathing distress.
The girl’s mother told media that her daughter briefly lost consciousness on the flight. After an announcement requesting medical personnel, an ambulance driver on board offered to inject the girl with her auto-injector, after which she regained consciousness and her condition improved. It was the first time the girl had required an epinephrine shot.
It was reported that a man had been sitting four rows in front of the family eating nuts, despite the crew’s PA requests that passengers refrain from eating nuts because of an allergic passenger. It has not been confirmed that this was the cause of the reaction, but Ryanair banned the man from its flights for two years.”
How could this man belittle a 4 year old’s severe allergy? How would he have felt if she had died? It’s one thing to accidentally hurt someone, but when you know the dangers and you make that decision anyway it scares me. When Jay and I are going anywhere with large crowds or children I always make sure all the food we pack is either peanut free or we go somewhere secluded to eat. Having to rely on strangers to keep you safe is stressful and I understand that. When I’m out in public and someone wearing a bottle of cologne gets in the elevator I pray that it doesn’t break down. I’m constantly watching people’s hands, looking for cigarettes. It’s exhausting, but I’m not going to let it stop me; I’m going to fight for legislative changes so that I can be the only one in control of my body.