Beth Tweedy bursts out in laughter as she makes a list–a list of things to avoid.
She makes a list of the numerous allergies that are a companion in her life. Her peanut allergy ranks as the most severe. Kiwi, watermelon, almonds and various things following close behind.
She smiles as she mentions her favorite allergy: gorillas.
Words of past experiences fill the air.
Her mouth, ears, and throat became itchy. Before long, her throat began closing. The feeling of air trapped and not reaching her lungs.
Peanuts, even the smell, sets off a severe reaction. Everyday she sports a red backpack full of medicine and EpiPens.
Throughout the day, she consumes allergy medicine almost as frequently as air. She takes the medicine cheerfully hoping today will be a good day; no accidents involved.
She doesn’t always giggle and smile at her allergies and medical problems. Sometimes dread takes over.
Sometimes dreads sets in when she thinks about the knee surgery she’ll have to have at the young age of 25.
Sometimes dread sets in when she thinks of the medically induced asthma she got in 6th grade.
“My grandma cries every time someone brings up my problems,” Beth says, but smiles burst from her face when her difficulty is mentioned.
She laughs at her severe peanut allergy and absently rubs her neck, memories of past flare ups being remembered.
She laughs at the scar on her thigh from being jabbed with an EpiPen.
She laughs at the IV scars and the memories of months spent in the hospital.
She laughs at being that girl sitting alone in the corner, preparing to leave on a whim, just in case.
She’s not nuts; she can’t have nuts.