To the People Who Don’t Take My Wheat Allergy Seriously

I can’t eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. If I do, my airway will shut down. I am, in fact, quite allergic to it. But it’s not what you think. I don’t have a peanut allergy. I’m allergic to the bread. I’m allergic to wheat.

I can eat peanut butter all day long and be perfectly fine, but the moment I take a bite of the whole wheat bread you’ve spread the peanut butter on top of, my airway will begin to shut down and I’ll have an allergic reaction.

I’m glad to see society responding to severe peanut allergies by making schools and events peanut free. I’m glad to see the world taking care of people. But my wheat allergy is just as serious, just as severe and still one of the eight most common allergies, according to Food Allergy Research & Education.

If I’m eating with a big group, I usually have to go to another room or at least three feet from anyone else just to be able to breathe. I don’t get to enjoy the social time at meals during events. I spend that time moving around with my inhaler in hand and wondering if I’m going to need it.

My allergy is serious. I’ve had to take medications from an allergic reaction to wheat multiple times, and occasionally, I’ve even ended up in the emergency room. I carry an Epi-Pen everywhere I go because of my wheat allergy. I have to take all the actions and preventative measures as someone with a peanut allergy.

Why is it that my common, severe allergy isn’t taken as seriously as others? Maybe, in part, it’s due to the many people who eat gluten-free as a fad diet, causing people to assume it isn’t serious. Perhaps it’s because wheat is so prevalent in our society.

I agree with parents who have taken a taken a stand against peanut butter sandwiches in schools due to their children’s nut allergies. No sandwich, of any type, should be worth a child’s life. No pasta, no crackers, no sandwich, no toast, no cake, no cookies and no brownies are worth a child’s life — my life. I deserve the same respect and care as anyone else with a life-threatening allergy.

Please give me the respect and care I deserve, too.

The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? If you’d like to participate, please check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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