Anxious feelings of distress gutted my stomach as I stepped foot into the doctor’s office. I navigated my way to a chair while droplets of sweat dripped their way down my body. While sitting in that chair all my thoughts began to jumble up. When the doctor announced my name this resulted in an immediate tingle in my throat signifying the horrors that were about to appear. I mustered up enough strength to stand up, but as soon as my feet planted into the ground my knees buckled back down. I knew that overcoming this allergy to shrimp was going to be a battle, but I didn’t know the strength it was going to require.
I was going to a food challenge where my allergies were put to the test. I was attempting to overcome my allergy to shrimp by eating small amounts at a time. Eventually, after those small amounts increased with no reaction, my shrimp allergy would be officially nonexistent.
The doctor’s office was the home to my worst fears. As I collapsed onto a rolling chair, no amount of reassurance could calm down the storm erupting in my chest. As the beats grew faster, the door flung open and my fears came to life. The doctor stepped into the room to explain his intentions regarding how the procedure would go. During that time, my mind wasn’t focused on his voice, but rather on survival. I desperately glanced at my family for a source of consolement, where I began to realize the importance of the next hour. I reassured myself that all I needed to do was swallow a piece of shrimp and it would all be over. My thoughts slowly became clearer, until I looked at the poster to my left, which highlighted the importance of calling 911 in an emergency.
Suddenly, my mind jumped to six years earlier… “HELP!, Call 911!” My last encounter with shrimp resulted in a near-death experience that I’ll never forget. Flashing lights flaring ahead of me, combined with six large men sprinting in my direction were my last memories before I blacked out. Waking up in a hospital, barely possessing the ability to breathe, introduced me to a world of fright. The scariest night of my life, all stemmed from a singular bite of shrimp. The little piece of food caused immeasurable amounts of trauma in my life.
Flash forward to the food challenge where all those horrifying memories came flooding back to me. My breathing became uncontrollable, and I fearfully whispered to my Mom, “I can’t do this.” It was going to take more than a couple of positive words of reassurance for me to put my life on the line again. At that moment, the door sprang open with the doctor holding up a plate of shrimp.
As death, served on a plate, appeared in front of me, I knew this was going to be a test of my mental strength. Once the shrimp got placed in front of me, I stared at the orange curled-body organism. This piece of food had caused so many issues in my life that I had to set my fears aside. My brother was the first to bite it, and as his teeth sunk into its body there was no reaction. That boost of confidence was necessary for me as I closed my eyes and held up the orange crustacean. I clenched my body as hard as possible and opened up my mouth. I inhaled once then my teeth seared into the shrimp’s body. Its rubbery texture slid across my tongue as my taste buds got entangled in the shrimp's juice. As its curled structure got mashed up inside my mouth, its remains glided down my throat. I immediately became paranoid that my body was going to react. Every ten seconds, I was inhaling and exhaled, as well as frantically checking my body for rashes. As seconds turned into minutes ticking on the clock my hope began to replenish. The doctor burst through the door and checked for any symptoms in me. Once I got cleared, I realized that my immune system had won this hard-fought battle.
As my family and I strolled out of the office, an exhale of relief filled the air. My teeth were unmasked behind my puckering lips, and a grin smeared across my face. These past thirty minutes not only signified overcoming an allergy but were a test of resilience and perseverance. My fears were now put behind me, as I now gained the confidence of knowing this food would not send me to the emergency room. Moments ago shrimp in my eyes would be seen as a source of death, but now it’s being admired as a chewy piece of food that I could regularly add to my diet.
-Lukas Kaplan, Freshman, Newark Academy