A couple visitors have expressed interest in hearing about reactions I have experienced. Following are brief accounts of the two more serious reactions I've had, as told in Food Allergies For Dummies:
When I was growing up, my school system baked the best brownies. Even better for me was that they were peanut free. For nine years, I had eaten the brownies without experiencing a single reaction or even a tinge of suspicion. All that changed in my sophomore year of high school. That's when the high school cafeteria modified its age-old brownie recipe to take advantage of a peanut butter surplus. I never thought to ask if the brownie was safe, because I had eaten the "same" brownies for so many years. As soon as I ate that peanut-butter-laced brownie, I started to feel its ill effects, which ultimately led to a severe reaction. From that day forward, I made it a rule to never eat a baked good that I didn't personally prepare myself or that my mom baked for me. (I've never had a single reaction at home since the time I was diagnosed with a peanut allergy--when I was only about nine months old.)
I made an exception to the rule just once, about 15 years ago . . . after I had become an allergist and had learned a great deal about peanut allergy. We were celebrating the holidays with a number of my co-workers and a colleague of mine--a world-renowned authority in food allergy. My colleague presented me with a gift of beautifully decorated cookies. As he handed them to me, without me even asking, he reassured me--in fact, he promised me--that these cookies were peanut free. Unfortunately, however, he didn't know that his wife had also made peanut butter cookies that morning and that she had used the same spatula between those cookies and mine. The level of contamination was enough to cause a very severe reaction. In fact, this was probably my most severe reaction ever. Over the course of that evening I needed five shots of epinephrine. The doctor, his wife, and I are still very close friends, but I have not broken my "no cookie rule" ever since. And thankfully, I've had no reactions since that time.