For Allergy Awareness Week, we asked around the ilumi office for members of staff to tell us their allergen story. First up, we spoke to Sarah...
Hi, I'm Sarah. I work in Customer Services here at ilumi. I'm 24 and live with my partner and little girl, Olivia. I was diagnosed with a serious nut allergy aged 6, as well as a mild allergy to milk and strawberries. More recently, I also found out I am mildly allergic to wheat.
Before I was diagnosed, myself and my parents were unaware I had a nut allergy as it was not something I was given to eat. I then had a severe reaction when I did eat them. Blood tests also showed I was mildly allergic to strawberries and milk, I but hadn't noticed any symptoms. My wheat allergy was only diagnosed after I had my daughter. I became very ill with numerous problems, and this was something that showed up in a test I had.
Because my wheat, milk and strawberry allergies are very mild, I continue to eat them unless I'm under the weather. I find that if I'm ill I am much more susceptible to having a flare up with them. My nut allergy is a different story, as I now have my daughter as well as myself to think about. Olivia also has a nut allergy, so for both our safety, I don't allow anything in my home that is contaminated with nuts. When I first met my partner 6 years ago, he loved KP Nuts and Snickers, but that soon stopped! He's got used to it now and realises the importance of making sure Olivia and I are safe. I find shopping quite easy as I have been allergic pretty much my whole life. The only thing I have to watch out for is takeaways. Sometimes Chinese takeaways cook things in nut oil, so I have to check or only use ones I know don't use nut oils.
When eating out, we usually stick to the same places and don’t have any issues, however there have been times where things have changed on menus and the restaurant haven't said anything. We often go to Harvester and in the past whenever I visited I always ordered the same burger. One particular time, they had changed meat supplier and not updated the menu. The updated burger had spices in it which caused me to have a severe reaction. Luckily I had my tablets with me. If I hadn't, an ambulance would have had to have been called. I find restaurants don't really make it clear when something on their menu has changed, which does make it difficult at times.
Although having a nut allergy can be challenging, my diagnosis and especially my daughter's diagnosis have made me really aware of how to deal with our nut allergy's. I am now very knowledgeable on what signs to look out for and how to deal with any situation quickly. In a way this also makes me worry, as when I leave Olivia with other people I have to hope that they pick up on any symptoms as quickly as I can! Being allergic myself makes it easier to see if there is anything wrong with Olivia and I can also pass on what I know to her.