Skip to main content

"Did I Mention My Kid Has Food Allergies? I Did?"

I went to one of those "pyramid scheme" parties last week. You know what I'm talking about...the kind where you go to a friend's house and pay her friend (who just happens to sell XYZ Products) 4x more than you should for stuff you never wanted in the first place?

I felt pretty angry and resentful about attending this party. I've been to a ton of them in the past. Plus, I'm not working at the moment so money is pretty tight. But...I went and I bought something because that's what you do. Social obligation.

However, within minutes of crossing the threshold, I did something I hate, but that I seem to do every time: I uttered the words food allergy.

I don't know how it happens! I have an interesting life, I think. The sum total of my identity is not my oldest child's health issues. And yet...it seems my conversation always comes back around to it. This time, it started out innocuously: have to leave early, getting up early, college tour in the morning. Next thing I knew, my anxiety about dealing with food allergies and college came leaping out of my mouth.

The effect was immediate. Those who already knew about my "issue" edged away. Those who were in the immediate conversation group glazed over. That old saying about how people judge you within the first 30 seconds of meeting you?  With food allergies, it takes only a nanosecond before you're labeled that kind of mom.

O.k., so maybe some of this is a bit of an exaggeration, but it's easy to feel the socially-isolating effects of food allergy. Why does it happen to us and not the mom of the diabetic child? Food allergies have characteristics that you don't find with other illnesses:
  • They're invisible. There's no way to know whether a child truly has a food allergy unless you're unlucky enough to see a reaction unfold right in front of you. "Food Allergy Parent" and "Crazy, Controlling Hypochondriac Parent" look exactly the same from the outside.
  • They're scary. No one likes the idea of a child dropping dead at their house during a play date. Much easier just to avoid child and parent of child.
  • They're limiting for others. Kids with FA have to think about everything they eat and everywhere they go, and anyone who associates with them is pulled along. That's a real drag. 

I know all this, and I know better than to talk about it. Yet, it's a Catch-22. As the cook and cruise director in my family, the burden of my child's safety falls on my shoulders. There's a huge amount of stress associated with this and yet talking about that stress with others - the normal safety valve - is something that's verboden if I want to keep my friendships going.

I understand. It's scary and boring and ultimately it's not their problem. On the other hand, I just bought magic silver mops at your crazy party! Isn't that worth something in the currency of social obligation?

Just give me two minutes to get it out and then, I swear to God, I will self-regulate and we can go back to talking about Kim Kardashian.

Popular posts from this blog

Best Food Allergy Tweets/Posts From 2013 ACAAI Meeting

Sorry, guys...I've been very busy the last couple of weeks, but just over a week ago one of the largest allergy and asthma conferences, the annual American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, was tweeting its brains out.

Here were the tweets and (virtual) presentations I thought were most interesting:

ACE inhibitors are often used to treat high blood pressure. I believe Lisinopril was the one specifically mentioned. This goes hand in hand with the idea that older patients, especially men, can see changes in the severity of their allergic reactions as they age.

Here's an answer on the question many of us asked about component testing. Just as with RAST, the number itself doesn't matter; just the positive result.

Gross! But yes, give your kids the bobber after the dog/ brother/ mailman licked it.

Conversely, tree-nut-allergic individuals have a 30% incidence of concurrent peanut allergy. 
So stop blaming yourselves, FA mommies! I've said this consistently - Mother Natur…

Taking The High Road With Food Allergies (Sometimes)

I was getting all ready to write a post about how grateful I am. You know...one of those count-down-to-Thanksgiving posts where I list all the people or things that have helped me along the way.

And I am grateful. Really. Having virtual friends who have traveled this same food-allergy road is a wonderful gift. I can name so many times when my panic and frustration were alleviated by someone I've never even met in real life, but who took the time to give me a tip, or to console me.

But frankly, my lovely gratitude post went out the window when I received this email from a relative:

What can we bring to share? I have some ideas: Sweet Potatoes glazed with Chutney and Ginger, Green beans with Dijon and Caper sauce, Creamed Green beans with Dill sauce, or whatever you request.   I am aware of [FAB's son] dietary restriction.

My son is allergic to beans. We avoid all beans. Even green beans. The doctor was surprised by this, as green beans are the least allergenic of the bean family, b…

Beans, Beans and More (or Less) Allergenic Beans!

We have a little good news this week: my son passed a home bean challenge for both pinto and cannellini (white) beans last night. Hooray!

At our last allergist visit, they ran the numbers on a number of varieties of beans and many were Class 0, with values like 0.68. My son's doctor thought it was reasonable to try these at home.

Going to stop for a moment and interject: DON'T DO THIS WITHOUT YOUR DOCTOR'S DIRECTION. A lot of things go into whether home challenges are a good idea for your child: how serious the allergen typically is, how far the hospital, how experienced the parents are with recognizing reactions. Many doctors are not comfortable with this at all. But, in our case, it makes sense to do some challenges at home because my son tests slightly allergic to dozens of foods.

He has avoided all beans since around age five, when he started developing new allergies. First it was tuna. Then cashews. Then (to our great surprise), he suddenly became allergic to garbonzo be…