Allergy/Asthma Information Association

Active New Brunswick Teen Living with Allergy

By Erica Betts

My name is Erica Betts. I am fifteen years old and in grade nine. I live in Doaktown, New Brunswick with my parents and my older brother Corey. I am a dancer. I do jazz, ballet, tap and hip hop. I have won several medals for dance and I won a scholarship to the Millennium Dance Complex in North Hollywood, California. I play guitar and in school I play basketball, volleyball and badminton.

I have allergies and asthma and I have learned to live with them by trying not to take unnecessary risks and by asking a lot of questions.

When my brother Corey was small he had asthma and was allergic to milk. He out grew his allergies and I took over. First I had some eczema and my grandmother, who works with AAIA, was afraid this was going to lead to other allergies.

One day my mother, grandmother and I were shopping and we stopped for lunch. I drank some apple juice and broke out in hives. My mother took me to the doctor and the doctor said "no more apple juice". After this there were other foods I had problems with, peas, almonds, carrots, corn and the medication penicillin. The reactions were pretty severe, so my doctor gave me an EpiPen and made an appointment with Dr. Kapur (pediatric allergist) in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dr. Kapur did some tests and confirmed my families worse fears. I was anaphylactic. Dr. Kapur tested me for the birch tree and discovered I was so allergic to it that this was probably the reason I was reacting to apples. This happens sometimes when foods are related to other foods or trees. Dr. Kapur said the birch tree and apples are related.

My uncle who I never knew had this same condition. The foods he was allergic to were fish and oatmeal. He died from an anaphylactic reaction after accidentally eating fish.

I carry my EpiPen with me where ever I go and my friends know about my allergies. My grandmother came to our school and spoke to our class. She told them about my allergies. We all learned how to use the EpiPen by practicing with an EpiPen trainer.

I keep my asthma under control by taking my medications regularly. Sometimes when I get a cold or pneumonia my asthma gets out of control and I usually have to increase my medicine until I get better.

I keep my food allergies under control by not eating anything if I do not know what is in the food. I ask lots of questions when I eat out. I never eat anything in a restaurant if they can't tell me what is in the food.

Some people jokingly call me a klutz, because in the last year either in sports or dance I have broken my finger, both thumbs, torn a cartledge in my knee, broke my left wrist and sprained the other one. If I could get these things under control life would be great. LOL.

Keep smiling life is good!

from Allergy & Asthma News, Issue 3 2005

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