Killed with a kiss??
January 2, 2009 6:32 PM   Subscribe

My girlfriend claims to love peanuts and peanut butter more than anyone else on the planet. This poses a problem because I am allergic to peanuts. Anyway we can coexist without me dying or her giving up what she loves so dearly?

We've both read the accounts of people who allegedly died after kissing their significant other who had eaten peanut products (sometimes as much as 24 hours prior to the kiss, and they had brushed their teeth!) They seem to offer scant evidence and feel a little hyped up, honestly. Right now we live in different states and see each other once or twice a month, so with a 48 hour ban on peanuts prior to seeing each other, we got it covered, but there's a chance she will be moving here within the next year. Does anyone have any personal experiences they can share from a similar situation? Does anyone know of anything she could do to avoid having to give up peanuts entirely without putting me at risk? Thanks!
posted by I, Slobot to Human Relations (26 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
My son's school bans any peanut product because of students allergies.

How bad is your allergic reaction? Can you carry an epipen? I would think she has to give up peanuts. The sacrifices you have to make for love.
posted by JujuB at 6:42 PM on January 2, 2009

I don't have any personal experience with this, but I can tell you that the risks of anaphylactic shock is nothing to sneeze over, and that highly allergic people can have reactions to even trace amounts of their allergens.

I have a friend who was hospitalized for anaphylaxis after being whipped (during sex) with a leather whip. It turns out that the whip had been stored in the same drawer, and had probably come into some contact with, some latex surgical tubing. (She was allergic to latex.)

I don't think that the killed-by-a-kiss thing is over hyped too much. It really can happen. Although a more likely outcome is a very scary ER trip, not death.

So, maybe you can mitigate the risk of death by keeping an epipen around. If you're in the US, you'll need to ask your doctor for a script (or order one from Canada and hope customs doesn't snatch it). But, that won't really mitigate the risk of anaphylaxis itself, just decrease the likelihood that it kills you.

I think she'll need to give up the peanut butter, honestly. She especially can't keep any at your house, or use your utensils... a half-washed knife could kill you much more easily than a kiss could.
posted by Netzapper at 6:45 PM on January 2, 2009

Best answer: IANAD but I'm thinking the answer will ultimately come down to just how allergic you are to peanuts. And if you are really that allergic I imagine you have a specialist treating you (or you definitely should get one) who can advise you what kind of precautions those closest to you have to take around you. If your throat closes up everytime you are exposed to trace amounts of peanuts then yeah I'd say she needs to give them up, if it's something less severe well you need to go over it with your doctor and see what they recommend.
posted by whoaali at 6:47 PM on January 2, 2009

Response by poster: I've never had an epipen because I've always been really good at avoiding exposure. I know it's a little careless but I think I will get one soon. Thanks for the input so far. We also think that peanuts will have to be off limits but I figured it wouldn't hurt to ask the ever resourceful hive-mind first. As far as how bad my reaction is, I've never had what felt like a life threatening reaction but it's always been from VERY minimal exposure. My worst reaction caused me to miss a day of school because of my brother eating peanuts on a road trip in the same car as me the day before.
posted by I, Slobot at 6:52 PM on January 2, 2009

Either way, beyond getting an epipen, make sure she knows how to use it.

Also, there are other tasty tasty nut butters out there (as you may likely know) get the good stuff and keep it around for her. It's not the same, but I bet she'd appreciate the effort.
posted by piedmont at 6:53 PM on January 2, 2009

Best answer: Are you also allergic to tree nuts? If not (and be certain about this) then introduce her to the yum-yum-joy of cashew-nut or macadamia butter. Similar taste and texture, a little more expensive, and a life/love saver for you both. Just make sure to buy the brands that guarantee that they have no peanut contamination.
posted by Kerasia at 6:55 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

One of my ex-boyfriends was so allergic to peanuts that he had to have his heart restarted by EMTs twice because of accidental exposure -- once from eating a chocolate chip cookie that had been baked on a baking sheet that had been previously used to bake peanut butter cookies AND WASHED before it was used to bake the chocolate chip cookies. Apparently it had not been washed thoroughly enough and there was enough peanut allergen left on it to stop his heart and almost kill him.

I gave up peanuts and all nuts while dating him because I didn't want to risk being responsible for accidentally killing him.

If you are this deathly allergic to peanuts too, she should either give them up or give you up. The risk is too great, especially if she is the habit of eating nuts and nut-containing products but not in the habit of thoroughly brushing her teeth and washing out her mouth afterward. Even if she can manage to develop that habit and practice it 100% of the time without fail, what if she later burps up a little bit from her stomach?
posted by Jacqueline at 6:56 PM on January 2, 2009

Best answer: Our daughter's school is nut-free (as are most these days) and her school's food provider uses Freenut Butter. We've found it to be such a great substitute that we use it at home now, figuring it doesn't hurt to be nut-free everywhere in general these days. Can't find the linky tool for the comments - but here:
posted by peagood at 6:57 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

My boyfriend's little brother is pretty allergic to peanuts, and when he lived at home he starting buying that Soy butter stuff, since it's generally the only thing actually marked peanut-free in the store. He seemed to like it okay, and it was a good compromise and a sacrifice he was willing to make so his brother didn't die.

He used to come over to my place and just eat PB&Js constantly.
posted by SoftRain at 7:16 PM on January 2, 2009

Best answer: My friend recently went to the funeral of her healthy, happy, handsome 30 year old coworker. He was anaphylactic to peanuts, and went on a camping trip with friends who knew about his allergy & took precautions- no nuts, epipen in bag, etc. He accidentally ingested some teeny trace amount of peanut despite the precautions. Because they were camping, the distance to a hospital was too great and despite using the epipen, he died. At 30 for pete's sake. I wouldn't mess around.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:37 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

To be an echo of people upthread, it really depends on just how allergic you are to nuts. One of my best friends is crazy allergic (she spent a day in the hospital after the people next door deep fried a turkey a couple thanksgivings ago in peanut oil). She doesn't come to my place THAT often (we live in different cities), but even I have a separate peanut butter knife that I keep in a different drawer and everything. I've been one one too many trips to the ER with her to know that it's not something to toy around with (granted, we have been friends for 20ish years, and I've been in the ER with her a grand total of 3 times, but still. It's really effing scary shit watching your friend not be able to breathe.)

Also, get an epipen, and make sure your friends and family know how to and have the balls to actually use it if you're not able to. You said it yourself, it's stupid that you don't have one. Get one get one get one. Hopefully you'll never have to use it and think it's a waste.

For whatever it's worth, my friend developed an allergy as an adult, probably around age 19 or so, and it's gotten worse with age. She used to eat PB all the time in high school and never had any allergy problems, then it was an annoying "I get a rash" situation, now it's something else all together. I'm guess if someone in the car eating nuts caused you to lose a day, you're on the "more allergic than not" side of the spectrum, but I'm not a doctor bla bla bla.
posted by AlisonM at 7:48 PM on January 2, 2009

She won't give up peanuts to keep you from possibly dying? WTF. This is not a serious relationship for her, obviously.
posted by ctmf at 9:41 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

Sorry, bit of an overreaction. Still, I don't think that's really an appropriate time for the try-it-and-see approach, if she moves to town. Assume your current rule works - will she love peanut butter enough to have no contact with you for 48 hours every time she wants some? How often will that be? Seems easier to just give it up.
posted by ctmf at 9:47 PM on January 2, 2009

I'm not "can't be in the same room" allergic, but I have had constricted breathing reactions from inadvertent ingestion (and finally got the damn epipen, stupid me.) I make wife brush her teeth after peanut contact, and it seems to work. If it was worse I'm not sure what steps we would take.

Of course, avoidance can be practiced too. Dedicate a knife, make sure she washes it instead of leaving it around, keep the peanut butter jar away from your snack foods, etc. Also she could take advantage of times you're not around to plan her indulgences.
posted by stevis23 at 10:04 PM on January 2, 2009

Best answer: I'm allergic to peanuts as well.

What makes my life easier is Sunbutter, which is a sunflower seed butter. It's made in a facility that is completely peanut free, and of all of the nut butter spreads out there, it tastes the most like peanuts. It has a nice, rich nutty flavor that goes well on sandwiches. Maybe she could check out that?

You can even order the product online, if you can't find a local distributor.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:09 PM on January 2, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't know how helpful this is, but I'll put it out there.. I used to work with a woman who was allergic to damn near everything, so much so that she used to make all of her own meals, could never even dream of going into a restaurant, etc. She was part of a test group for a new treatment that actually made her less deathly allergic to almost everything across the board, which was going on at the University of British Columbia. In the end she was still allergic to dozens of things, but her sensitivity went from "touch this speck and you'll be a corpse in five minutes, epipen or not" to "touch this speck and then epipen yourself and then you can probably make your own way to the hospital". So it wasn't a cure by any means, but it did make her safety buffer for contact with an allergen increase by a couple orders of magnitude in her case. Unfortunately that's all I can recall about it, except that this was being tested in the late 90s, maybe your doctor may know about it if the treatment went past the experimental stage, and if so it might be something worthwhile?
posted by barc0001 at 3:03 AM on January 3, 2009

Is this "more than anyone else on the planet" stuff her own words? It's curious that she feels the need to make such a strong testimonial about exactly what you're deathly allergic to. I suppose on some level she might feel leveraged by your needs and... but wait, that's going too far with the speculations. It just seems like frikking peanut butter is not worth being made into a wedge issue.
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 4:07 AM on January 3, 2009

I really love peanuts and peanut butter, and when I was dating a peanut-allergic guy I did give them up completely. It just wasn't worth the risk, in my view. I think exposure to minuscule amounts may also exacerbate the allergy, as well, which is why so many schools are peanut free.
posted by miss tea at 4:44 AM on January 3, 2009

Yeah, this is simple. She gives up the peanuts, you get an epipen just in case she slips up, and you live (important word in this situation) happily ever after. No-one loves peanut butter that much.
posted by impluvium at 4:48 AM on January 3, 2009

She won't give up peanuts to keep you from possibly dying? WTF. This is not a serious relationship for her, obviously.

This sounds like the OP is just trying to see if there's anything he can do so that his girlfriend doesn't have to give up peanuts, not that she'd demanding that he find a way for her to eat peanuts.

And, I, Slobot, don't mess around just because your reactions haven't been too major in the past. Isn't this one of those allergies that gets worse every time you have a reaction?
posted by Airhen at 7:08 AM on January 3, 2009

Response by poster: She is definitely willing to give it up. It is not a wedge issue at all. I'm just looking for HER sake just in case someone had experience. And her insane love for peanut butter was declared before we were even dating, so this is not a serious relationship issue. Like I said, just looking at my options so I can make her as happy as can be.
posted by I, Slobot at 9:05 AM on January 3, 2009

My boyfriend was in a show where the lead was allergic to peanuts. During one performance, she kissed the male lead (on cue), stiffened, and stumbled off stage (definitely not what the next line in the play was). Backstage, moments after kissing him, her face was red and puffy and she was short of breath. She had to be taken to the hospital.

It turned out that the male lead had eaten a caramel apple covered with crushed peanuts nearly eight hours previously, and even brushing his teeth had had no effect.

Keep the epipen near, and make sure she knows how to use it AND can get you to the nearest ER quickly and competently. Also make sure she understands what a big deal this can be for you. Perhaps, like my uncles who are a vegetarian and steak-ivore, respectively, there can be separate preparation and storage items for the peanut butter contaminated and not? Buy her a new cutting board, knife, storage containers, and a box to keep it all in, write PEANUT BUTTER DO NOT USE on each item, and anytime you have guests cooking make sure they leave that box alone.

Get her to keep her PB another container.

And buy her some other handground delicious nut butters- maybe she can be converted to liking them, too!
posted by arnicae at 9:23 AM on January 3, 2009

My husband is mortally allergic to tree nuts. Naturally, I love nuts. I don't keep them (or anything containing nuts) in the house but keep a tin of mixed nuts in my desk at work. I can snack to my heart's content, and since I always brush my teeth after lunch we've never had a problem.
posted by workerant at 6:24 PM on January 3, 2009

If you're really that allergic then by all means take precautions.

But especially those of you clearing out all peanuts from homes and schools should be aware that you may be falling for a hoax akin to penis theft hysteria, and in fact reducing children's tolerances to a delicious and nutritious foodstuff. You might as well be taking Cipro for every sore throat and sniffle.
posted by vsync at 1:01 AM on January 6, 2009

Best answer: My father-in-law is allergic to most nuts. My mother-in-law is a nut lover - peanuts, almonds, cashews, you name it. She keeps all the nuts she wants in their kitchen. They've lived together for almost 50 years, and they're just careful that he doesn't eat the nuts. He's had those scary runs to the ER, but they've always been the result of eating something that someone outside their home prepared and which contained nuts. He has never had an emergency from being exposed to his wife's nuts, even though she has the nuts right there in the same small kitchen where all his meals are prepared and eaten too. I am pretty sure they kiss each other (they had three kids, so ...) and that there isn't some 48-hour rule.

This isn't to suggest that this is the optimal solution for you (or anyone). But you asked for us to share our personal experiences. This is mine -- a happy couple, her eating nuts, him not eating nuts, him not dying.

Personally, I'd have a really hard time giving up nuts. It seems selfish, but they're just something that I reach for so often that not having them there would genuinely be a loss for me. I could not possibly give up milk (not that you asked). But there are just limits to what changes in my life I personally could make, and giving up peanut butter approaches that limit. I admire you for doing what you can to spare your GF this.
posted by Capri at 11:19 PM on January 7, 2009

Response by poster: I ordered two jars of Sunbutter from the link that spinifex23 provided and had them shipped to her house. She absolutely loves the taste of it and says maybe more than peanut butter. Now she can't wait to make me some of her favorite peanut butter treats using this as a replacement so I can see what I've been deprived of my whole life. Thanks a ton, spinifex!!!
posted by I, Slobot at 3:15 PM on January 8, 2009

« Older Primary care doctor in Breckenridge, CO   |   Murder on the dance/office floor Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.