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I'm Still Allergic to That, Mom!

Recently, my mother - an amazing and talented cook - fried up some tilapia for dinner. Just one slight’s one of the fish I am allergic to.

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Learning about my allergy to fish

When I was younger, my parents owned a restaurant named after me - Ashley’s Restaurant. (I was the baby and only girl so it was only right :D) This meant many after school trips, yearly birthday celebrations, and lots of “Can we go home now, please?!” It was here that I learned about my allergy to fish.

One day, at the age of 4 years old, I casually walked into the back kitchen of the restaurant curiously looking at what mommy was doing. She was cooking per usual, but this time I caught her and the cooks while they were frying catfish.

My first allergic reaction

The reaction was immediate. My body reacted as if I had swallowed the fish entirely. I still remember to this day panicking, my face and body heating up, and my nails relentlessly trying to rip through my skin. Fortunately, my parents were able to calm me down that evening. The next day, we ended up at the doctor's office where I was allergy tested and officially diagnosed with an allergen to fish, shellfish, and anything living underwater.

The “accident”

So just two weeks ago, I walked into my home and immediately smelled the same thing that created the allergic reaction 24 years before. My body went into shock. The four-year-old girl in me panicked. “Mooooom, why are you cooking catfish?!” I yelled from the entry door.

Asthma coming back in full force

Just the smell of the catfish sparked a reaction within my body. Immediately, I began mentally preparing to stay as calm as possible. Although my eczema did not react as it did the first time, my asthma came back in full force. Mind you, up until this point, I hadn’t experienced asthma in over 5 years.

I began coughing and wheezing. With no inhaler or breathing machine in sight (I threw those out years ago), I knew I had to remain calm and just breathe it out as best as I could. In the meantime, I could feel my emotions getting the best of me.

Feeling disappointed and confed

To say that I wasn’t upset with my mom, would be a lie. I was more disappointed in her than angry with her. Some thoughts that ran into my mind at that time were:

“How could she cook the one thing I’m most allergic to?... Doesn’t she know her daughter is allergic to catfish?... Is she trying to kill me?” 

Of course, that last question was rhetorical and over-exaggerated. But I was upset and had to face those emotions so that I could release them as soon as possible. I was eventually able to calm down and sustain my breathing after about 45 minutes.

A learning lesson

With anything that happens in life, I always do my best to try and reflect on the situation and see how I could have been responsible for what had occurred. Did I cook the catfish? Of course not. But what was in the gap that led my mom to think it was okay to cook the one thing I am most allergic to? Clearly there was a misunderstanding.

Here are a few things I learned and that may be able to support you the next time you’re in a similar position:

Get allergy-tested

Over the years, our bodies change, which also means that our allergens change. About three years ago, I learned that I was no longer allergic to shellfish, but still highly allergic to white fish and salmon.

As a reminder to myself and yourself, re-up on your allergy testing. See what has changed or remained the same. Then, be sure you communicate this to your friends and family.


Communication is KEY. My mom had assumed that the catfish wouldn’t be an issue because my skin had been healing and clear for quite some time now.

However, there is no room for assumption when it comes to your health. Be clear about what you’re allergic to and communicate that with your friends and family. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

Take preventative action

Work on your eczema and body even when it is smooth and clear. Like professional athletes, just because you’ve won one game doesn’t mean you stop training and practicing. Check out a past article on how I take daily action to build a healing mindset that helps me take preventative action.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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