Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Food Allergy Awareness Week
May 11-17 is the 11th annual Food Allergy Awareness Week (sponsored by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases). I imagine that in future years I will probably take advantage of this week and spend the time with David educating his class or peers about his food allergy. I started to write a list of "Did you know" facts about food allergies and how prevelant they are in our country. Instead, I will pass on a link to the Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network. Instead of making you more aware of food allergy issues, I will educate you on David's daily battle with his peanut allergy. After all, if you are a friend of mine and David's, you need to know what his peanut allergy means for him. I don't really have a great place to start so I am going to make a list.
- We found out David is allergic to peanuts when he was one. He had the smallest imagineable taste of a peanut butter sandwhich. He broke out in hives and his voice became hoarse. We gave him benedryl and waited to see if we should take him to the ER. We made him an appointment with an allergist.
- David was tested for allergies soon after that outbreak. At that time he was allergic to peanuts, fish, eggs, and wheat (which explained the numerous times he got hives as a baby). He outgrew the rest of the food allergies.
- Every time he has been tested for the Peanut allergy, his reaction has gotten worse.
- David is required to have his EpiPen with him at all times. He would most certainly go into anaphylactic shock if he ate peanuts or a peanut butter product.
- We also keep Benedryl handy because he gets hives from contact reactions (for example--if he touches something that had peanut butter on it).
- We do not have peanuts or peanut products in our home. This includes peanut butter. This also includes ANYTHING with a peanut allergy warning.
- Grocery shopping requires reading labels. I must always check for allergy warnings. I cannot think "once safe always safe". We have seen safe products (no warning) become unsafe (nut warning). Also, labels are not standardized. Sometimes you have really search for a warning OR simply read all of the ingredients.
- We cannot get anything from a grocery store bakery (or any bakery). This means that my kids do not know about the free cookies that many stores give out. More importantly, going to friends birthday parties are tricky. David cannot have store bought cake. Even if it is homemade, he cannot have the cake if I don't know if the mix has a peanut warning.
- We cannot safely eat at Oriental or Mexican food. We cannot go out for Ice Cream at local Ice Cream shops.
- It is impossible to protect David from all peanut contact. He has been exposed to peanuts through physical contact - He was exposed from a child booster seat (at a restaurant that served PB&J to kids), he was exposed at an airport (touched something that someone who had eaten peanuts had touched and then rubbed his eye), he was exposed in a kid cart at Walmart, and he has been exposed at a friend's house. Contact exposure (except when rubbed in his eye) causes hives.
This is just a list...not an inclusive list... of some of what David's peanut allergy entails. Before David's allergy, food allergies didn't mean anything to me. Now, I am constantly aware of the possible danger. It is mind boggling to think that a food could harm or kill my child. If you are reading this (unless you just happened up on my blog) you know David. I hope this post makes you more aware and more compassionate for his allergy.