After 15 years of living with food allergies, you would think that I would know exactly what brands I am and am not allergic to. And you would be right. Generally, anyway. However, this belief that I know every single brand that is and is not safe has given me a false sense of security.
Friday night, I was cheerleading at my football team’s game at a field an hour from my home. A parent brought bags of chips for us girls to eat during halftime since we were missing some girls and therefore weren’t able to perform our halftime dance. I grabbed a bag of chips that I’ve had frequently in my school cafeteria. I read the ingredients at the beginning of the school year and they were safe. I ate them quickly in my hunger, but almost immediately upon completing the bag, my tongue got itchy. Believing that the chips were safe, I hoped that it was nothing. But following my instincts, I checked the ingredients again anyway. My heart stopped when I read “Contains: Milk” in dangerously bold letters. I asked my friend sitting next to me if these chips had always contained milk and when she responded yes, I was befuddled!
How could something that I’ve eaten so many times before, believing them safe and never having had a reaction to, all of a sudden cause me to react?
The situation complicated when I realized I had moved all my medicine from my cheer bag into my work bag, and forgot to put them back after work. I went up to my coach asking if our first aid kit had any Benadryl, and it didn’t. We then looked through the football team’s med-kit and still, nothing. Fortunately, one of the parents in the stands had overheard the issue and had Benadryl in her car. I ended up taking two pills. At this point I had a stomach ache as well. I called my mom, who was over an hour away picking my sister up, and informed her about the situation, but was confident in telling her I was fine. And fortunately, I was. By the end of my game, about 30 minutes later, I felt fine. On the bus ride home, I was completely knocked out by the dose of Benadryl, but I felt 100% better when I woke up back at the school.
What has this reaction taught me?
Never trust any brand, no matter how many times you’ve eaten it in the past. You could have misread and got lucky, like I did, or the company could change the ingredients without any notice.
I had a false sense of security when I opened and devoured that bag of chips. By the end of the bag, I realized that nothing is ever 100% safe.
Post-Note: I was able to determine with my friends that the brand of chips that I reacted to at the game is different than the brand that I always have safely in school. They both have similar packaging and that’s what confused me.