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Food Allergies… they suck

Posted by Erika

Apologies now for any offence I may make in my mom rant that is about to happen but if you have been in my shoes, ever, you will most likely agree.

But first for a little background; When I was three my dad and a good friend were sitting at the dining table cracking walnuts. I was standing there like most kids that age willingly taking and wanting to eat whatever their parents were eating. Unbeknownst to everyone then, that would be the start of a forever worsening battle that would not only face myself but now some of my children as well. Now some people can grow out of food allergies. Tree nuts typically are not in that category. In fact my allergy has progressed over the years from severe rashes, and my mouth itching like no tomorrow when I was a little kid, to now where it will put me into anaphylaxis, requiring me to carry an Epi-pen and Benadryl on my person at all times. When you come to my house I will typically inform you of where the Epi-pens are located. Because my last interaction with a tree nut through a miss labeled sample at a “large wholesale store”, I had a very bad reaction. I did not have an Epi-pen in my purse because it had expired and the pharmacy at the location we were at could only give me a small dose, for reasons I can understand and do not blame. However it was probably the scariest moment of my life. We immediately headed home to get more Benadryl to hopefully end the reaction. A double dose of it in the past had worked no problem and basically ended the reaction. We were about five minutes from home and I could feel the now hives spreading everywhere and my breathing was starting to be affected when we came upon a cop who had pulled someone over. My husband flagged him down and within a few minutes we had quite a large amount of flashing lights going on around us. If that officer ever reads this, apologies for allowing that person to not get their ticket. But aside from that, I got an immediate trip to the local hospital with probably the most painful iv insertion I have ever experienced. But on the better side of it they were able to give me epinephrine on the way there when it looked like I would not have made it to the hospital in time to get it there. I would not have made it to the hospital let alone our house to get the necessary medicine I needed to keep the reaction from pecans that I ate from killing me.

That experience is the reason I get paranoid at church cookouts, birthday parties, military spouse potlucks, dining out, or any time that I am eating someplace where I didn’t cook the food. I don’t expect people to bend over backwards to accommodate me, but some understanding and knowing that it actually can be life or death for others around them is a huge deal. To put it in perspective, I once had a bad reaction to a family member giving me a hug. We couldn’t figure out why I was reacting because the place we were at had already made sure tree nuts were safely put away. Turns out that family member was cracking tree nuts prior to coming to the family event and had the dust from it on his shirt that came into contact with my face when he gave me a hug. Just the dust… the dust! That is how bad reactions can get. It really can be scary. It’s odd to think how much it has changed my food habits. Tree nuts just aren’t allowed in my house, and to us that’s normal and no big deal. Okay so that is more or less my history and some of my personal experiences with my tree nut allergy…

Both of my boys have peanut allergies, one had a small reaction to tree nuts on a test. The other is also allergic to eggs and dairy. But thankfully neither of their allergies are severe or show any signs of getting worse with time. In fact the older of the two at his last testing showed that he is a candidate for the peanut therapy to possibly be tolerant to peanuts. My other son gets breathing issues from peanuts. We originally thought he had asthma but turns out it was just from the peanut butter he would eat. Also thankfully that son just has an intolerance to eggs and dairy. I actually had that same issue/allergy when I was his age but grew out of it. He can have it mixed in something but having it alone, like scrambled eggs or yogurt is generally not a good idea for him. Then there is our youngest. She has severe allergies like mine. Wishful thinking would be us saying that she will grow out of it but she has severe allergies to eggs and peanuts. She can’t even have foods that have eggs mixed in. We have adjusted our baking to things that are either naturally egg free or have found substitutes cause she is only two. Telling a toddler that she can’t eat something for reasons she doesn’t quite comprehend is frustrating. So if we can avoid that scenario, we do. And make it safe for everyone in the family. Right now our favorite egg substitute it apple sauce. Some of the older kids even have started to prefer the egg free version. For example cinnamon apple muffin mix with apple sauce has become one of the kids favorites.

Like most people with food allergies, you get used to it. You know what to look for on the ingredient lists. And you just get into habits that you don’t even realize till you have to deal with someone who has never experienced a food allergy. The frustrating part is when people brush it off, or my favorite… You can just pick the nuts out, it’ll still be fine to eat. No… no it wont, you idiot. If I reacted to the dust particles from a hug on someone’s shirt, what makes you think I wont react to a salad that has nuts mingling with all the other ingredients. Thankfully I have a husband who knows the full down and dirty frustrations with my food allergies and has been so supportive that he even avoids shell-fish that he loves just to keep me safe, because I am also allergic to that. He is in some words, my taste tester. It’s gotten to a point that sometimes we don’t even realize what we are doing unless someone points it out, but he will test certain questionable foods, most often deserts to make sure it is nut free and safe to eat. Over the years I have had and have some friends who will often help, when the hubby is not around, without being asked and check foods before I even asked if they are safe and I am so thankful for that.

So now with my kids having food allergies, one resembling my levels of severe reactions at an early age, it can cause me to be paranoid. I make sure that people know what their allergies are and know how to contact me if she has a reaction. I appreciate the forms that plainly state what any allergies are at places I may leave her. Like the church nursery for example. I appreciate that some schools require only store-bought baked goods to be brought to school. And that peanuts are simply banned at some schools. Now don’t get me wrong. I do not hate peanuts, I actually love peanuts. However if banning a food product or filling out a form keeps my child from a potential life threatening reaction, I am all for it. Now on the other hand, we recently experienced what can happen when someone doesn’t pay attention to those forms or just doesn’t understand the severity that some allergies can be a scary situation let alone dangerous. With our recent experience, it simply should not have happened, and could have been avoided easily. Our daughter was lucky that I saw it before she shoved it in her mouth. But what if it was anyone else watching her at that moment. It just looked like chocolate, but in reality it had a peanut butter center. If the people in charge of the nursery had checked their forms that they made me fill out they would have seen that she had allergies because I honestly don’t remember if I had done my usual “she’s allergic to this..” spiel or not, they also could have done what most places do now and not allow kids to pass out foods that have common allergens to the other kids. The blame could be placed on me just as much as on those who were watching her. She fell through the cracks and it was almost disastrous. The administration tried to tell me while in momma bear mode that it’s not that big of a deal, it’s not like she had a peanut in her mouth… you sir need to learn how allergic reactions can happen or re read the above story how the child in question’s mom reacted from an allergen dust transfer. It is real, it is serious, and I will never be silenced when it comes to any of my children’s health and safety. This momma bear will always be an advocate for food allergies.

If you or anyone you know has food allergies. The best advice I could give you is to always be cautious and be sympathetic. Sadly a lot of people do not know how serious it can be still, which surprises me due to the rise with peanut allergies in children. On that note people need to stop getting their panties in a wad when someone asks whats in their “prized” dish at a potluck/cookout. It is more likely that they are just making sure that it wont kill them. If you ever need to rant about a frustrating experience with your own food allergies, or want to know how to help someone who has food allergies. Feel free to message me. This is a topic we are very familiar with. Also to read about the journey to figuring out our youngest’s food allergies check out our post on why Baby Eczema Sucks.

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