Monday, November 28, 2005

Kiss of Death

This is such a sad story: Christina Desforges, a 15-year-old girl died from the Saguenay, went into anaphylactic shock and died last Monday after kissing her boyfriend. He had eaten a peanut butter sandwich earlier in the day; she was deathly allergic.

I once had a close call in just such a situation when I was in university. My girlfriend at the time was about to make herself a peanut butter sandwich when she remembered that I was coming over. She stopped herself, but absent-mindedly ate the peanut at the top of the container. When I kissed her hello, my lips started to swell up and I knew immediately what was going on... I had only a mild reaction, thankfully. (I've only gone into real anaphylactic shock once that I can remember and an Epipen held me over until we got to the hospital.)

It's embarrassing to have to ask your girlfriend to go brush her teeth before you make out, or pull back from a kiss at a party to ask what the other person had for lunch -- especially when you're a teenager. Teens need to know that having a food allergy is nothing to be embarrassed about.

The entertainment industry doesn't aid the situation... Screenwriters almost always depict allergy sufferers (and asthmatics, for that matter) as unattractive, geeky weaklings who won't ever have to worry about kissing anyone. Recent movies have featured allergy attacks as cheap punch lines, which takes away from the seriousness of food allergies.

Hopefully, Christina's death won't be in vain and this tragedy will provide an entry point for parents and teens to talk about the not-so-obvious dangers of food allergies and the need to inform those around you about your allergies and what to do in case of a reaction.

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