Thursday, April 2, 2009

Daily Life with Food Allergies



A year ago, I would have looked at this tantalizing picture of peanuts and licked my chops before I dug in. Now, all I see is poison and fear.

Olive has a peanut allergy. I had no idea what a different life you lead when you have to worry about every food you taste. Dennis and I both LOVE peanuts. Some of his favorites are peanut butter and Reese's Cups. Some of my favorites are boiled peanuts (a Southern delicacy) and my world-famous (ok, not really) peanut butter pie. When I was pregnant with Olive, I ate trail mix every day as it was one of the only things I could stomach. Now we have to avoid peanuts. But not just peanuts, all sorts of nuts and other things that do not contain nuts but were processed in the same facility as nuts. etc. etc. It's an exhausting process but one you learn to deal with.

Recently though, there have been a few occasions where it was not so easy. While in Florida, I sat down with my parents and went over everything about her allergy, showed them lists of things to avoid, taught them to use the Epi-Pen and the appropriate dosage of Benadryl, and what things were typically pretty safe. While they listened, their joking response was, "I'll just take her to McDonald's every day." Haha, except I'm not sure how joking they were. I want them to be comfortable feeding her if we're not around and I'll really need their help when Baby #2 comes and it won't be much help if Olive is running up to me every little while asking, "is this safe?" I know, people who don't have to worry about this on a daily basis don't get it (I surely didn't until I had to) but it's still frustrating.

On the way home from our trip, Olive and I were nestled in for a little snooze on the airplane when all of a sudden my nostrils were filled with the delicious scent of peanuts. WAIT! PEANUTS??? I thought all airlines quit serving peanuts on planes?!? I have not been on one flight since we found her allergy (about 6 months ago) that had peanuts! And I realized that the man sitting next to us had just finished his bag. I almost went into super panic mode. My blood pressure started rising and anxiety kicked in. Luckily, Olive slept through all of it, unscathed. She was not directly affected by the peanuts in the closed air but it made me worry about her exposure and was this adding toxins to her system (raising her IgE levels) so that her next reaction will be more severe and she will have more of it in her little body??

We arrive home and a couple of days later, I went to have a bite of my healthy chocolate (dark chocolate plums, a great antioxidant) that I've given to Olive several times. For some reason, I decided to look at the label again and almost dropped the bag on the floor. Right there on the bag it did claim that it might contain peanuts and tree nuts. OH NO!! However, it was not listed near the ingredients as it usually is so somehow in our other eatings of this, I had missed the warning. Again, panic attack.

So as you can see...as if there aren't enough things for us to worry about as parents, food allergies are a frightening and constant worry. If there's a kid at school or coming to a playdate at your house etc., please be aware that these can be life-threatening and are a major concern to every parent who deals with it. Be sensitive to our seeming hypochondria as we are just doing our best to protect our precious children.

1 comment:

Robyn A. said...

I have a son with a peanut allergy so I know exactly what you are talking about. Peanuts hide in the most unsuspecting places!!

I always tell my husband that if my son doesn't have a reaction to something I don't trust, I will! (Of course mine is in the form of an anxiety attack!)

People without PA kids just cannot understand what it is like to live with these fears everyday!!

-Robyn
www.peanutallergykid.com