Living Well with Life-Threatening Allergies: A Customer Story of Hope
A few weeks ago, we had the privilege of meeting Erin Landry, a 28-year-old mother living in Phoenix, AZ. Erin lives with an array of severe and life-threatening allergies that have made a huge impact on her day-to-day life. But despite her hardships as an adult with severe allergies, it's Erin's optimism, strength, and hope that define her, not her allergies.
What is your occupation?
Due to the complicated nature of my allergies, working outside of my home--or even my extremely hypoallergenic room--is proving to be difficult, especially since I become anaphylactic easily and require A LOT of flexibility with my schedule. I worked for years in the salon industry before we realized how allergic to all of the chemicals I am, and I had to leave it.
My doctors and I are beginning the process of applying for disability, and I'm only 28. In a couple of weeks, I will be traveling out of state to a specialized hospital for testing because my allergies are inexplicably severe. However, I am ever hopeful, and I love working, being productive, and leaving a positive impact on people, so one of my good friends and I are in the process of trying to open a restaurant together. We both have this amazing passion for business and creativity, and she is the most amazing chef and has this infectious personality, and while I may not be able to be in the kitchen--or the restaurant at all--I can put my PR, marketing, computer, and other valuable business skills to use and be a useful member of society.
How did you find Lauren’s Hope?
Google, of course! I searched 'medical alert jewelry' after my first bout of anaphylaxis, and LH wasn't clunky, old man jewelry, and I've been hooked on LH ever since. [It’s a] total bonus that most of it is interchangeable. Probably my favorite feature.
Why do you choose to wear medical ID jewelry, and why should people with your condition(s) do so?
As my tags say, "Multiple Allergies" (understatement of the millennia). I've been fortunate so far in that I have never been in a situation where I was unable to provide myself with life-saving treatment and get the help I need; however, I wear a medical ID for the situations I hope I never find myself in, so someone else knows how old I am, what could be wrong, what I carry, and who to call.
Currently, the leading theory is that my allergies are autoimmune, and that they are due to the IGE-receptors malfunctioning (so to speak). I am literally allergic to EVERYTHING under the sun, and I am at a point where I can eat less than 20 foods, including seasonings, and suffer from frequent anaphylaxis. I even had an incident while composing this and had to administer epi.
I cannot even take my 5 year old to the park! Not to worry, I find other things to do with her--we're members of practically every museum in town--so she is certainly not deprived. But it still breaks my heart to tell her no, we cannot go play outside, or at the park, which is one of the most basic parts of childhood. I cried while teaching her to say the phrase, "Mommy has special pens in her purse than can wake her up," and to say that until someone finds my epi-pens. Another reason I wear MedID jewelry is so that she never has to say that phrase in an actual emergency.
A girlfriend of mine has a young child with an allergy for which she carries an epi-pen, and the other day I asked her if they had MedAlert IDs for the child, or for her and her husband, and, to my surprise, she said no.
As the caretaker, if they wear the bracelet as well, and a responder sees it, he or she can quickly identify the child, and be aware of the situation.
Why do you think wearing medical ID jewelry is important for you and/or for people in general?
My theory is, it's the little things that make the biggest differences in the world. It is a piece of jewelry, and while it is a small investment, anything can happen in an instant. Most people do not have or know that they have their condition from day one, so their life already changed, and what's to stop another life-changing instant? All it takes is that one time... Which is why I make sure that I always wear my LH jewelry, and I have my epipen case on me, with my other info, including up to date allergies, conditions, and meds with dosages and times of day.
What Lauren’s Hope products have you purchased? What did you like (or not)?
My fave bracelets are glitterati and the cable link... the cable link and blue leather are my newest ones, and I've been wearing the cable most of the time lately. It is so sophisticated, especially with the silhouette tag, and I am always getting compliments, then, 'OMG! That's a MedAlert! Wow!'
The glitterati with the Gatsby is my other standby, especially when going out. Being young with any medical condition is difficult enough, but clunky grandpa jewelry can really make you feel "sick" and leper-esque, even if you're not. It attracts the "wrong" sort of attention, and that is why I am constantly touting LH; of all the things that I deal with on a daily basis that suck beyond words, I am so grateful that this company exists to give me an ounce of normalcy, when I feel so abnormal. In a way, it is my little bit of hope... Like I said before, it is the little things.
What would you tell people who think medical alert jewelry is all unattractive or uncomfortable?
Showing is better than telling! I either show them my wrist, or send them a pic of my wrist! BAM! Problem solved!! And as far as uncomfortable, I'm the t-shirt and jeans sort. Ok, I do love my heels, but I'm a total sucker for cozy. The LH bracelets are so comfy and easy, that I barely notice that I'm wearing mine. I still think it's a hoot that people stop me to compliment my bracelet and are shocked that it's an alert bracelet.
What would you like our readers to know about you?
I am often told that I have a really great, positive attitude about the whole ordeal. This is all relatively new to me, as I have been dealing with it--knowingly, and to this extent--for less than a year, and my response is almost always, my situation is not a choice, but my attitude is.
I'm a go with the flow, kind of girl, and I'm trying to take what I can from this, and give it meaning in any way I can. What is the point of suffering, if there is no lesson, or no meaning behind it? I've been paying more attention to others frustrated by their allergies lately, and we commiserate, and share the good stories, the horror stories, help when asked when we can, and try to live even when it is barely existing at times.
Rather than, I can't eat anything, I say that I get to eat an all organic, whole food diet, that is mostly fruit and some vegetables, and BACON (!!!), and coffee, wine, and some beers, and I can eat as much of it as I want, and never gain weight. And I get to wear cute bracelets and jewelry to boot!
Among the most difficult things about being an adult with severe allergies, and any allergies (especially to foods), are that people are always telling me:
that I'll grow out of them;
that its all in my head, or I'm exaggerating, or I just want attention, or I'm a hyperchondriac, or, well, you get the idea;
oh, you have allergies, this is what my mom/dad/aunt/cousin/sister/favorite dead uncle twice removed's dog had, and it sounds like what you have, so it must be the same, and this is what he/she did, and it worked for him/her so it will work for you, and you have to do it.
I usually smile and nod, and exchange pleasantries as appropriate, but I try not to engage beyond, because it's condescending and hurtful.
It is just another way for someone to negatively differentiate me and make me inferior to him or herself, or, he/she is in utter denial (and I do get both). I've read about this happening to children with allergies in schools too, where they are bullied horribly, because of their allergies. It's awful. Just another reason I am so thankful to have my LH bracelets, because they aren't immediate advertisement that I am "different", and I don't have to let anyone if I do not feel comfortable, because the bracelet does the talking for me.
Among the best things about being an adult with severe allergies are:
my LH jewelry!
the strangers who come up to me and initiate conversations over the odd items in my shopping cart... like young coconuts;
the people who do go the extra mile to help me out, especially when they don't have to;
there is some adventure in this... not always fun, but definitely adventure, including travel;
people rarely surprise me, good or bad, and yet, they are surprising me more lately, on both sides of the coin.
You would not believe the recipes I have come up with, that actually taste good. I make "chocolate bars" without cocoa butter or chocolate powder. I have ways of making frozen treats with hard shell. I made tangerine pork the other night. I've made pork tenderloin with a reduction sauce and glaze I created, that I call Sangria Sauce (you can guess why). I make my own coconut milk AND yogurt!
Because I'm not really able to work outside the home, I get more time with my daughter, and that is amazing.