In regards to my sons food allergies, I worry all the time about the food residue that might be lurking around unseen. When we attend a party or other gathering that includes food, my anxiety level is hightened because the offending food is within eyesight. After reading Heather Legg’s article, Allergens Are Everywhere, Arn’t They? I discovered why I am still feeling unsettled in other settings.
There are countless times when food residue may be present but invisible! Heather mentions places like the grocery cart at the store and door handles at school where the “peanut free zones” do not apply. This reminded me of an experience we encountered just yesterday. I took my son to a local high school play. During intermission many people visited the snack bar and brought some of their snacks into the theatre for the remaining performance. Just after we sat down, my son grabbed my arm and said, “Mom! That girl (sitting next to him) is eating candy and it IS NOT SKITTLES!” I explained to the girl why he was worried, and I had him move to the other side of my seat. I, of course, started wondering if his new seat might not have the presence of something he is allergic to. While people with mild food allergies may not be as frightened by these scenerios, my son has a severe peanut allergy and will have a potentially life-threatening reaction witin seconds if the offending food residue were to enter his system!
It was kind of refreshing for me to read Heather’s story because I have been struggling with this thought for a while now. There are many people out there who do not truly understand the subject of food allergies. Some of these people have claimed to be doctors and have even written articles claiming that food allergies are a hoax! This causes people like me, the parent of a food allergic child, a lot of stress for a host of reasons. The reality is that food allergies DO exsist, and every food allergic child is different. Some children will experience only mild symptoms during a reaction, and others more extreme and life threatening. I witnessed my son almost lose his life during his first reaction. This was only after a pea-sized taste of peanut butter! I guess I will never be able to get that image out of my mind.
I have finally come to terms with the fact that I am a parent of a child who is severly allergic to peanuts. I have made the choice to follow my gut instinct when it comes to protecting him and to stop worrying about what the rest of the world thinks. After all, isn’t that our number one goal as parents… keeping our children safe?