Student raises awareness about severity of nut allergies

By Matty Hume, February 6 2018 —

University of Calgary student Jeff Kommen has recently come forward with his daily battles with a life-threatening nut allergy. The severe allergy, which results in symptoms ranging from hives to anaphylactic shock, is unconventional, Kommen explained.

“There’s a lot of misconceptions about nut allergies. Firstly, peanuts aren’t even nuts, they’re legumes,” Kommen said. “Secondly, I’m not allergic to nuts. I’m allergic to nutting. I might die if I nut.”

Kommen’s development of a nut allergy may seem like a unique case, but the allergy is becoming more common. Severe nut allergies have become prominent enough that some schools are even taking a pledge to become ‘nut-free’ campuses.

“It’s really cool to see places take the allergy more seriously — lives are at stake,” Kommen said. “The first time I saw a ‘NUT-FREE ZONE’ sign on campus, it really felt like a big win.”

Sympathy for those suffering from nut allergies seems to be taking the internet by storm, with people across multiple social media websites participating in acts of solidarity such as ‘No Nut November.’

But not everyone is coming around on nut-reduction initiatives. Fifty-seven-year-old continuing education student Russ Fertig says such pledges only make the situation worse.

“I think there’s a generation of parents to blame — too clean and too antibacterial,” Fertig said. “When I was a kid, we’d play outside eating dirt and we could still nut no problem. Banning it outright is a bust. If no one nuts, we risk more people losing immunity.”

Kommen states that the most debilitating aspect of his nut allergy is its effect on his intimate relationships. Even when prepared with epinephrine, explaining the allergy to his sexual partners has caused confusion in Kommen’s experience.

“Most people didn’t understand when I asked them to jab an EpiPen in my leg after I nut,” Kommen said. “And to be honest, if they seem really excited to do it, it’s a pretty big red flag to me.”

Because of the risk related to the allergy and the difficulty it causes in sexual relationships, Kommen hasn’t nutted in almost three years. According to Kommen, his nut-free lifestyle has improved both his physical appearance and intelligence.

“The self-control I’ve developed due to my allergy is quite a marvel. I don’t even want to nut anymore. I’m becoming very powerful,” he said. “The longer I go without a nut, the stronger and smarter I become. People should become nut-free simply for the health benefits.”

The U of C has yet to declare itself a nut-free campus in any formal capacity. Approximately two per cent of Canadians have a nut allergy — keep this in mind when in busy areas and avoid a public nut.

This article is part of our Humour section.

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