Posted in medical

let’s talk about latex

no, not like that. get your minds out of the gutter people.

i found out i was allergic to latex at a party after i went into anaphylactic shock. it was scary and not fun at all. kind of ruined the party, too. this necessitated a lot of changes in my life. some of them weren’t so bad, some of them were amazingly complicated because they involved things i never really thought about before. i already carried an epi-pen because of a fight with a bee while in college (i lost). back then, though, it was a kit with a red box containing an actual syringe filled with epinephrine, two chewable antihistamine pills, and a red string (no kidding, it was a tourniquet).

next came the complicated part. going through my life and sorting the latex from the non-latex items. now, think about all the things in your life.

-do you eat? call all your favourite restaurants to find out if they use latex gloves. you’ll need to speak to a manager, though, and you’ll need to find out about the food prep area and the dish room because they might use different gloves in different areas. it’s rare but it happens. and you’re done with spontaneously dropping into a new restaurant and/or having surprise parties because you need to find out about the glove issue first.

-do you wear shoes? the soles and/or uppers of your shoes probably contain latex.

-fond of office/school supplies? they contain latex like you wouldn’t believe. erasers on the end of pencils, those cool shaped erasers that smell good, those pink blocky ones (yeah, pretty much all erasers is what i’m saying), the keys on some calculators, the squishy thing on pens where you hold them.

-do you wear underwear? (hey, that’s a rhetorical question so please don’t feel obligated to answer it.) there’s latex in the waistband and maybe in the material itself depending on what brand you buy.

-are you a woman? there’s latex in your bra (see above).

-do you swim? yeah, it’s there. in your swimsuit material and/or the elastic.

-do you like haunted houses/halloween in general? i’m sorry. i’m so so sorry. you’re done with haunted houses. they’re filled with latex, absolutely filled. there’s no way to avoid it and if, like me, you react to it when it’s in abundance in the air you won’t even make it a quarter of the way through. on the bright side, you can find non-latex costumes but you can’t control what other people wear or decorate with at parties or what kids wear when trick-or-treating. i don’t particularly care for halloween in general but i really miss haunted houses.

-do you go to the doctor and/or treat minor things at home? the first words you say when scheduling an appointment and when you walk in the office is now, “i’m allergic to latex.” band-aids contain latex. ace bandages contain latex. medicine droppers contain latex.

now here’s the good news, only about one percent of people are estimated to have an allergy to latex and there is tons of information out there about it. in the beginning it’s annoying as hell but once you’re used to it, it’s second nature to ask about products, check labels, and make it the first thing you say to medical personnel. here are some links to get you started:

american latex allergy association consumer products list
american latex allergy association medical products list
decent exposures (bras, underwear, swimwear, etc.)
medicalert (trust me, you need the id)

p.s. a lot of people who are allergic to latex are also allergic to bananas. thankfully, i’m not one of them.
p.p.s. did you know that poinsettia plants contain latex?