Let’s go out for a burger,’ my mum Rena, 53, said one Friday night.
‘Sounds great, Mum!’ I replied.
So she took me and my sister Amber, 16, and my school friends, Gemma and Susan, 18, to a local fast food place.
I’ve always been vigilant about what I eat as I have a nut allergy.
When I was three, I had a bad reaction to peanut butter and ended up in hospital.
Ever since, I’ve avoided anything that might contain nuts, even foods cooked in nut oil.
And in restaurants I always check there are no nuts in the dishes before ordering.
So I chose a chicken burger I’d eaten lots of times before.
When the waitress brought it to our table, I noticed it looked different.
‘It’s our new low-carb bun,’ she explained.
‘I didn’t order that,’ I said.
Not wanting to cause a fuss, I ate most of it anyway.
It didn’t cross my mind that a bread bun might contain nuts.
Afterwards, Mum left me and my friends to go shopping.
Suddenly, my eyes felt irritated and itchy.
‘Your eyes are puffy!’ exclaimed Gemma, saying there were welts above and below my eyes.
Rushing to the bathroom, I checked in the mirror.
Oh no, I thought.
My face was completely swollen!
I was having a reaction.
Fumbling in my bag for antihistamines, I took them then called Mum.
‘I’m having an allergic reaction!’ I sobbed.
The only new thing I’d eaten was the burger bun.
‘It must be that,’ she said, hanging up to phone the restaurant and find out what was in it.
It turned out almond meal was one of the ingredients.
By now I could barely see, so my petrified friends led me out to meet Mum.
She bundled me in the car and sped me to the hospital.
Shaking with fear, I couldn’t breathe properly.
I’m going to die, I thought.
At Emergency, I was admitted straight-away and my breathing, temperature and pulse were monitored carefully.
Gradually, my reaction started slowing down.
After a few hours, I was allowed to go home but it took three days before the swelling went down.
I’m telling my story to warn others with anaphylaxis that nuts can be in foods you don’t expect.
There’s a trend now for using almond milk or almond meal in drinks and dishes because it’s seen to be healthier than dairy.
I was lucky, but someone else may not be.