From the time I was a little girl, I dreamed of being a nurse. I also had a mild latex allergy. If I played with a balloon
or rubber ball and then touched my face, my skin would turn red and burn. I didn't know then that the allergy could escalate
from continued exposure.
I tried some other things first but my heart always belonged to nursing. I went to nursing school and loved it. I did
have some trouble with gloves, but nothing that was any different than when I was younger. I graduated and began working
as a nurse in obstetrics/labor and delivery. I changed jobs and that is when the allergy started to worsen. Latex free gloves
were not available for my use.
I had developed sores on my hands that were cracked and open. One night after a delivery, I began having difficulty breathing.
I actually had to leave and seek help in our emergency room. I thought that the combination of the open sores on my hands
and the latex gloves made the reaction systemic (affecting my whole body). I treated my hands and tried to avoid using gloves;
which can be dangerous in a labor room. I was always very careful and only used gloves when I really needed them.
I moved again and informed my new employer of my allergy. They did make arrangements for me to have my own latex-free
gloves. No one told me that other people using gloves would make things worse. That is exactly what happened.
August, 2001, I had an extreme reaction that began to limit my working ability. By November, I could no longer work.
They tried to put me in other jobs, but I couldn't even be in the hospital without having a reaction. In June, 2002, I had
my final work-related reaction. I was no longer able to be a nurse.
I tried to attend school to get a degree in criminal justice. I completed two semesters on the Dean's list. I had symptoms,
but thought as long as they weren't severe I would be "OK". I was wrong. February 2004, I had a severe reaction
that took me five days to recover. Before I withdrew from classes, I discovered that the housekeeping staff used latex gloves.
I also discovered that after hour use of the rooms by other students involved the presence of latex ballons. The amount of
computer equipment in each room also created an exposure to latex.
In my attempt to continue my education or somehow continue a career, I continued to run into barriers. When I sought
medical treatment after the reaction at school my doctor stated to me, "I don't know how to treat you anymore. This
is now at the level of a handicap." That really made the reality of this devastating allergy sink-in.
After several reactions, depression, anger, and bargaining with God, I have finally accepted the fact that this is a disabling
allergy for me. I started this website to reach out to others. It also allows me to feel productive. I feel the need to
share my experience with others, because I have reactions to products that are not supposed to cause problems.
I have had significant skin reactions to latex paint. This product is said to be safe. I was in a store where they
were painting. I did not discover this until after I began wheezing and having difficulty breathing. I have recnetly discovered
that latex paint does indeed contain latex. My husband and I were searching for pain that would be safe for me. In looking
at the content, latex appears on the can as a component.
I have also had reactions to some rubber in cars. This is also said to be safe. Obviously, not for me. I am also unable
to use synthetic latex and some "latex-free" gloves. The reason; there can be latex used in the manufacturing of
these items and proteins can be present on the object.
In all of this I have also developed severe tomato and avocado allergies. I develop hives, difficulty breathing, and
throat swelling from these. In December 2004, I have now added bananas to the list. In February 2005, I developed an allergy
to strawberries. If I had only known, I would have had one more banana split.
As you can see, everyone is unique. I sometimes would think I was crazy or a hypochondriac. I know now that I am not.
If you have reactions to items that are supposed to be safe, believe your body. Manufacturers have latex present in their
buildings and use it on conveyor belts and machines. This use, I believe, can put the proteins in or on the items, making
them a threat.
Stay safe and healthy by educating yourself and others. Together, we, the sufferers, can make a difference.