Food Allergy 101: Don't confuse possible with probable


What if my food allergy was a real, live person? And what if I could talk to him about what he's taught me over the years? Every Thursday, I get that chance...

BLOG POST #180 — I'm sitting at the restaurant when Mr. A., my allergy, arrives. He's smiling as he pulls up a seat. 

"Why the smile?" I ask.

"As I was walking here, I was just thinking of all the ways I can disrupt your life," he says.

I just shake my head back and forth. 

He  points to the sandwich I'm eating. "Is that sandwich safe?"

"Yep," I say. "I checked with the chef beforehand."

"But even if you check, is there still a chance something could go wrong... like maybe the chef messed up or something?"

"Sure," I say. "There's a chance. It's possible but not probable."

He smiles. 

"And what about those chips," he says pointing to the bag. "Safe?"

"Yep," I say, pointing to the ingredient statement. "Safe. I eat these every day."

"But," he continues, "something could have gone wrong somewhere along the line and you have a reaction, right?"

"Sure," I say. "Whenever you're dealing with people, something could go wrong."

He smiles.

"It's possible," I continue. "But not probable."

For the next 15 minutes, he fires off a series of questions, each one seeming to question IF I could have a reaction. Each time, I give him the honest answer.

"Anything's possible, but if I'm careful, something going wrong is not probable," I explain. "Over my life, you've taught me the importance of knowing difference. When you have an allergy, you have to realize that things can happen... but if you're prudent, things probably won't happen."

He just stares at me, as I continue.

"And even if something does happen," I continue as I pull out my two AUVI-Qs. "As long as I get these in me quickly, the probability of something terrible happening to me is small."

"Anything's possible, just not probable, and that fact empowers me to live every day to be all I can be!" I add. "That's why I'm not scared to live!"

I reach into my pocket and pull out a penny.

"Call it in the air," I say, flipping it high above.

"Heads," he says.

I catch it. "Correct."

"What are the chances of this coin landing on heads 20 times in a row?" I ask.

"I don't know," he says. "Could that even happen?"

"It's a million to one," I say, reaching into my bag of chips and crunching one. "It's possible. But not probable."

I flip the coin again.

"Call it in the air."


JJ Vulopas is a rising senior at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. An advocate for young people, JJ has lived with food allergies his entire life. He is the author of the children's book, Land of Not. You can read his daily blog at Follow him on Instagram & Twitter @thelandofcan.