Call me Peanut Boy — Living with a Food Allergy

“Everyone is born with an Achilles Heel. We get well-acquainted with it, and we learn how to deal with it.” — Dr. Ron Mariotti, my mentor

You and I have unique susceptibilities to certain conditions and illnesses based on our genetics and environment.

Some of us can’t be within a few feet of second hand smoke without getting headaches and feeling nauseous.

Some of us drink a half-pint of beer and feel like they got hit by a bus the next morning.

I’m allergic to peanuts. One of my college friends endearingly called me “Peanut Boy” in undergrad.

The hard part is in social situations when it’s hard to feel normal.

I would often get pity when I mentioned my peanut allergy — “Awww it sucks that you can’t eat peanuts.”

Imagine going to grab a pizza with friends and requesting a pizza without cheese every time or not eating it at all.

Or imagine having to ask for a gluten-free beer at a bar.

Or having to announce your peanut allergy at every Thai or Vietnamese restaurant with a big group.

My former girlfriend would often over-emphasize the fact that I had a peanut allergy to our waiter — and for good reason. I felt embarrassed as it felt like everyone else had to cater to my special need.

I realized that the alternative is having my airways swell to the point where I couldn’t breathe and having my peripheral blood vessels dilate to the point where there wasn’t enough blood getting to my brain.

I wasn’t missing out on anything, really. There was no reason to be embarrassed about it. My peanut allergy doesn’t make me some special snowflake. It’s just something I’ve learned to deal with.

Each of us has an Achilles heel we carry throughout life. It’s part of being human. It takes self-awareness to figure out what it is, and it takes resolve to do what is necessary to deal with it as best we can.

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