Thalina Houghton from Daventry, Northamptonshire, shares her experience of being diagnosed and living with the threat of anaphylaxis at 16 years old.
The nurse shaped words which were foreign to my ears. ‘Anaphylaxis. It’s a severe all-‘ as the words left her tongue, I remember a gale of questions swarming at me in all directions. Leaving the outpatients ward with nothing but an adrenaline auto-injector and a growing series of questions, little did I know, I had embarked on one heck of an allergy journey…
Hello, I am Thalina Houghton, sixteen years of age and I have multiple severe allergies. The scenario I mentioned above was when I got my first diagnosis of anaphylaxis. At the time, I had no idea what that meant or what it consisted of and I feel many others will or would have left the clinic with the same questions as I did. ‘How will this affect me?’ or ‘Will I ever have to use this pen thing?’ to mention a couple. The best advice I can offer for anyone feeling like they were in a similar position as I was in – confused, worried, concerned – is to remember YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
There are so many living with anaphylaxis and being told you have a condition which is potentially fatal, will of course spur some queries and worry but you are not in this journey alone. Charities such as the Anaphylaxis Campaign are amazing at ensuring you get support and a helping hand if you feel you’re struggling. Gratefully, the Anaphylaxis Campaign provide support groups across the country where other allergy sufferers open up about their personal experiences and exchange useful tips. Other means of support they offer are Allergy Buddies. They provide support on a one to one basis, this can be done either via email or on the phone, something I’d highly recommend if you’re a parent to a child with allergies. Their team are there to help and don’t ever feel ashamed for reaching out. You’re doing what you need to, to adjust to this new diagnosis. You’ve got this!
Admittedly, I find the most difficult part of living with anaphylaxis to be the spontaneous, random reactions. Over half of my shocks are due to a trigger unknown – commonly known as idiopathic anaphylaxis. As much as I try to rack my brain of a possible cause, I’m commonly left pondering why my body reacted when it did. What had I been exposed to? With these reactions becoming frequent, I found myself avoiding certain environments or situations where I thought there was risk. Realising this approach to living with anaphylaxis was placing barriers mentally, I came to terms with the fact that no area or situation will be completely risk free. There will always be a fraction of risk. I soon switched my mindset from ‘what if I react?’ to ‘I know exactly what to do if it happens.’ It’s so vital not be consumed by your allergy and give it the power to dictate. There will always be an element of risk but how you manage and adjust to that is so important. Adapt, not avoid.
Living with anaphylaxis has impacted my life but it has developed me as a person in numerous ways. I am beyond grateful for the opportunities it’s allowed me to do and hope I can inspire others to be vocal about their allergy.
Thank you, Anaphylaxis Campaign, for giving me the opportunity to share my story and for continuously providing support to those living with anaphylaxis. Remember, you are never alone. You’ve got this!