It’s a new season now. I have an EpiPen. An EpiPen, or epinephrine autoinjector, is a device that quickly administers a dose of epinephrine. It is an emergency treatment for anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction.
I got this EpiPen because I told my doctor about my allergy to cats. When I was 9 years old, I was at my piano teacher’s house. I would go to piano lessons with two friends, and we would take turns getting lessons. I was sitting in the backyard waiting my turn, petting the calico cat, Tiger. Tiger looked at me, and a drop of saliva dripped from her mouth onto my leg. Immediately, my eyes swelled and my throat tightened up. I could hardly see and couldn’t breathe. I ran into the house, and my teacher had me sit down and drink some water. After a few minutes, it went away. That was the most severe allergic reaction I’ve ever had; nothing like that has happened since.
I occasionally visit friends who own cats, and I’m generally fine. If I spent too much time there, I can feel my eyes itching and breathing becomes more difficult. I try to avoid cats for this reason, although I’ve even petted cats with no problem.
What comes to mind with this EpiPen is that it is a tangible reminder that I could very easily die. In my case, it is pretty easy to avoid cats. I have friends who carry EpiPens for severe nut or shellfish allergies. The EpiPen is meant to save my life in case of an unfortunate feline encounter, but it is also a physical totem of my fragile mortality. If the cat doesn’t get me, something will. Somehow, it’s oddly comforting; having a physical item that reminds me of death makes it less abstract, and thus less removed.