It took about five years to figure out that I was allergic to peanuts. I had several reactions before my parents took me to an allergist (although none of them landed me in the emergency room). The first was when I was a baby. My family had gone to a restaurant that served peanuts to every table. Peanut shells littered the floor. Before long, I got sick. My parents (understandably) assumed that I just had a stomach bug. As a toddler, I refused to eat peanut butter. I always pushed away peanut butter crackers and if ice cream had peanut butter on it, I would keep my mouth sealed shut. I did not, however avoid chocolate covered almonds. I ate them all the time (and now I know why they always gave me stomach aches). I was roughly four when my parents took me to see the Nutcracker. During intermission, I bought a candy that I thought was filled with chocolate. The moment I bit into it, I realized that it was in fact filled with peanut butter. I spit it out immediately, and did not swallow any of it, but it did not take long for me to feel extremely ill. I was about the same age when I bought a bag of M&M’s from a girl on my street. The first candy I pulled out of the bag was yellow. As soon as I put it in my mouth, I realized it was a peanut M&M and spit it out. Nevertheless, I was soon extremely lightheaded nauseous.
My parents became suspicious of these events. They took me to an allergist when I was five. They did a test that involved a huge tray of needles being scraped on my back and that traumatized me quite a bit (I was five and had a fear of needles). Each needle had a sample of a common allergen. The spot that corresponded to peanuts swelled, and I was sent to get a blood test. The results came back that I was deathly allergic to peanuts. I was also allergic to tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.).
Ever since, I have avoided all nuts like the plague. My peanut allergy is worse than my tree nut allergies, but I do not eat any nuts in order to avoid cross contact. I also do not eat food cooked in peanut oil. My epinephrine is always with me. I have also gotten involved with FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education).