rich emollient used in the management of eczema, psoriasis and other dry skin conditions.


I could probably write a whole book about this and maybe I will, but for now this is more about a kind of therapy for me. In September I ate out in a cafe in America and had the worst allergic reaction of my life.

Anaphylaxis - Fear of using auto-injector
Anaphylaxis, Anger and Fear

I often joke about it when anyone asks me, “When was the last time you had a reaction?”
I’ll say something like, “A few years ago, I’m due another one!” and try to laugh it off.

Because that’s how I cope with it.
I have to live with it so I kind of ignore it. I never stop being vigilant but I always think that nothing bad will actually happen to me.

Well this time it did.

My previous reactions have been terrifying.
They’ve been painful.
I’ve felt scared and fought for my breath and wondered if this is the time. If this is the reaction that will get me.

But I’ve never had a reaction which came so suddenly and out of the blue.
One that left me with literally only minutes to react.
An attack which floored me completely.
Left me unconscious and meant my friends, who I owe so much to, had to take over and get me the help I needed.

I am so very very grateful that they were able to get to me and phone for help.
I did try to but after administering two adenaline injectors I knew I was passing out.
I knew I had moments left. Nothing was helping. Inhalers, antihistmines… nothing made any different.

The last conscious thing I did was send a whatsapp message to my friends. We had a chat group to help us meet up while we were away. And I wrote these few words.

“Help me. I’m having an allergic reaction…”

As I sent this message I had the sense to prop my door open and I don’t remember much after that. I had managed to crawl to the bed, to the hotel room phone, but I was phoning the wrong number. The UK emergency number.

Nothing prepares you for the crippling fear of knowing you might be dying.

And that, my friends, is as far as I’ll go on this subject for now.
Because I can’t talk about this yet to anyone with out breaking down in tears. Writing about it is strangely calming. I can delete, rewrite, think and understand how I’m feeling. Faced with another human and I just get so emotional.

I’m slowly pulling together interviews with all the people involved so I can make sense of what happened and learn from it.

I have lots of upbeat, happy, helpful posts planned too which have nothing to do with allergic reactions, but for now you’ll have to join me in my therapy. I think writing about this is going to help me recover, come to terms with it and move on.

And if it helps anyone else who has had a similar reaction and feels fear, anger and rage like I am, you can work through this with me.

I’m hoping to find a therapist and some counselling as well as reading about anger management. Talking and writing have always helped me so this will be key to my future health and well-being. Don’t bottle it up. Talk about it. Tell people how you are feeling. Don’t suffer in silence like I’ve been doing. You don’t have to do this alone.

Special thanks to Hazel and Rebecca who both helped me to realise I need to get some help this week. Angels.



An allergy and health writer and freelance copywriter, Ruth is passionate about helping those with allergies and food intolerances take control, embrace their condition, and learn to live with and love who they are. It can be very lonely finding you have allergies and discovering what helps you can be a life long journey. What works for one person won't work for another, so after trying nearly every allergy treatment under the sun and finding hours of research necessary to keep abreast of what's going on, Ruth started writing her blog, What Allergy? in April 2009. Ruth has life threatening allergies herself to all nuts, all diary, tomatoes and celery and knows first-hand what it's like to have an anaphylactic attack. Voted in the Top 5 UK allergy blogs by Cision UK in 2011, What Allergy is packed full of interesting articles, hints and tips and product reviews which are a must read for anyone with allergies, food intolerances or sensitivities, asthma and eczema. From subjects such as "What is celery allergy?" to "Surviving a holiday abroad with allergies", it's packed with useful and interesting information. You can register free for a weekly newsletter by visiting her website and also keep in touch by following her on Facebook and Twitter.

One Response to What anaphylaxis feels like and how to live with the fear

  1. Kathy Corcoran

    Hi Ruth!
    There is a lot to learn from your experience. After I read your blog, I googled anaphylaxis to learn more
    about it, it is a serious issue. You are very lucky to have such helping and supportive friends. Thanks for

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