It’s Teal Love This Halloween

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one – John Lennon

You may have seen a few in your neighborhood or local craft store. You may have thought they were just a new fad or decorating trend. But they aren’t.

They are so much more.

Teal pumpkins have a significant and compassionate message. They signify inclusion for children with food allergies or intolerances. They signify teal love which is what a food allergy mom feels for her child, and what a community feels for the children in it. I dream of seeing teal pumpkins in every store, at every festival, on every block. I am a food allergy dreamer, and I will not stop dreaming, planning and blogging in order to make this world better and safer for my 6 year old son who has a life-threatening allergy to all nuts.

John Lennon writes “from this moment on I know, exactly where my life will go, seems that all I really was doing, was waiting for love.” My son brought so much love back into my life after suffering 5 miscarriages. I will protect him and show him all the teal love that I can, for as long as I can.

Teal is the color that was chosen for food allergy awareness. In 2012, Becky Basalone created the Teal Pumpkin Project as a way to spread this awareness in a positive way. She began painting pumpkins teal and handing out non food items, such as glow sticks or spider rings, on Halloween.

Her wonderful idea spread very quickly and was soon being promoted by Food Allergy Research and Education. FARE is an organization leading the way in regards to educating the public and funding research of food allergies.

When I got over the shock of my son’s food allergy diagnosis, I feared for his safety, and I feared that he would not be able to enjoy many of the things his peers did. I wondered about how family vacations would change. I wondered about holidays like Halloween.

I wanted him to continue our tradition of going trick or treating, but I knew that he could no longer eat the candy he received due to his life-threatening allergy to all nuts. The first year I put some gloves on him which matched his Super Mario costume, and I let him take some candy. As soon as we got home I put that candy away for donations to local groups, and I gave him a bag that I pre-filled with safe nut-free candy.

Mario & Luigi kids 2015

He didn’t know the difference, and I was glad that my efforts had paid off. Soon after that I learned about the Teal Pumpkin Project. I was so grateful that such a thing existed, and I felt very uplifted.

Each year as we go trick or treating, we see a few more teal pumpkins, and many more non-food bowls of toys, etc being offered. I explained to my son how amazing it is to see such caring people in our neighborhood, people who are going out of their way to see that he and other children like him are included on Halloween.

We participate by painting teal pumpkins each year, and by providing some non-food treats in a separate bowl to avoid cross-contamination by the nut-free candy in our other bowl. We also try to help spread the word by talking to friends and family, and via social media.

Ryan painting teal pumpkin at FARE walk

When I find out about simple projects or ideas that I can participate in to help children, I often join in. They often do not take up much time, and can mean the world to a child.

It doesn’t matter if such projects directly affect me or my family. It matters that we all can make a difference in other’s lives.

In fact we should.

It doesn’t take much to participate in the Teal Pumpkin Project, and the little effort you put in can mean the world to a child with food allergies or intolerances.

These children often get excluded or bullied. Just because they have a life-threatening allergy to food. They would love to be allergen-free and be able to eat whatever they want, but they cannot. They learn to slowly accept their diagnosis and have to learn to function in this allergen filled world as they grow up. They cannot go to most bakeries, restaurants or ice cream shops. They shouldn’t have to give up their Halloween traditions as well.

We can all help them by providing a safe environment for them in which they can be included. If you have any questions, just ask their food allergy mom’s or families who will help you learn more.

All it takes is a few questions and a few meaningful acts to make a difference in these children’s lives.

So show some teal love this Halloween, and the world will be a much more boo-tiful place.

Just Imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Letter to My Child with Food Allergies New Teacher

Hello, it is so nice to meet you. My child had a nice summer, I hope you did too. He is a little nervous about starting the new school year, but is also excited for it to begin. He is smart, kind and has so much to learn about the world. He loves his older sister, video games and his pet hamster Zaychu.

I am glad that you will be teaching him so many new things. I am glad that you will be there for him. I want to thank you beforehand for all you will do for him. I appreciate all the sacrifices you sometimes have to make for children with food allergies like my son. I appreciate your patience, kindness and compassion.

I understand that it may be frustrating at times to have to change some things in order to protect my child. It may take more time for all the hand washing, lesson planning, and extra steps needed to make sure my child is not excluded. You may have to watch him a little more closely to make sure he isn’t having any reactions. I appreciate anything you will do to make sure he comes home to me safely each and every day.

I know that you are highly educated and trained to deal with many different situations and emergencies. I am grateful that you will be there if my child ever needs you. I am grateful that you will help to make him feel secure.

He has never been to a full day school. It will be difficult for him to be there all day away from the person who makes him feel the safest. Away from his food allergy mom. Away from the person who will do anything to protect him. The person who spends many hours in the day doing research, reading labels, and cooking things from scratch to ensure his safety. To ensure that he remains active, happy and included in a world full of his allergens. Allergens that can kill him.

Deep down he knows this. Deep down he is frustrated, angry and scared at this knowledge. He wishes he didn’t have food allergies, but accepts that he does. He is trying hard to learn some ways to be safe. He is being proactive in many ways, but often forgets things that I tell him. He is only 6 years old and has a long way to go and a lot to learn. But he is doing a great job, and I am so proud of him.

I hope that we will have a very good relationship. I hope that you don’t see me as another food allergy mom, but as a loving mother who fears for her child’s safety when he is away. It is really hard to live with the fact that a tiny amount of food can kill your child. Your child who eats many times a day. Your child who takes a piece of your heart with him wherever he goes.

Including when he goes to school. So many innocent mistakes can happen there, I just want to try to make sure that they don’t.

I will do all that I can to help you, to answer any questions, and to make your job easier.

Just let me know what you need, any time day or night. Whether it’s more supplies, safe food for a celebration, or art supply research, I’ll be there.

A teacher lives.

A teacher loves.

With a heart as big as the sun.

A teacher gives.

A teacher breathes.

Dreams and hope into their little ones.

Thank you so much for being there for my child. Thank you for all you will do for him, and for being a teacher. Teachers are not thanked enough for all they do. They breathe hope into our little ones, and make the world a better place.

I love my son with all of my heart, and I’m sure he will work his magic and become a part of yours.

 

 

Ten Important Lessons I’ve Learned About Shellfish Allergies

This month I had two cross-contamination reactions to shellfish. They really scared me. They really opened my eyes.

I suffered a minor reaction to shellfish when I was 28 after dining on shrimp scampi in Santa Barbara. While walking back to my hotel room I felt tingly and itchy all over. I felt strange and dizzy and panicky. Something was not right. A coworker told me that it may be a food allergy reaction, and gave me some over the counter allergy medication. I never took that first reaction seriously, and I never followed up with a doctor. I just went on with my life.

That was a horrible mistake, one that almost cost me my life. That is a mistake that too many people are making. Too many people don’t take food allergy reactions earnestly, or think they will never happen again.

Later that year, while eating shrimp scampi once again, I went into anaphylactic shock and almost died. It happened very quickly, and thankfully a hospital was nearby. The staff there saved my life. I was so surprised by what happened because I had eaten shellfish my whole life, and I didn’t take into consideration my first minor reaction.

Since then I have carried my Epipens, but didn’t do more until my young son was diagnosed with food allergies. I realized that I had not been proactive enough in regard to my own food allergies, so I was more careful for awhile. But then I wasn’t. Life, illness and constantly worrying about my son got in the way.

I put all my time and energy into keeping my son safe, but I was not putting any energy into keeping myself safe. I have not done any new research, and I often forgot to tell food establishments about my allergy.

I thought just avoiding seafood restaurants was enough.

I was wrong.

One of my cross-contamination reactions happened while eating food from a local supermarket here in Virginia. The other happened while eating a Subway sandwich at Hershey Park in PA. My whole mouth tingled and burned, and the roof of my mouth swelled up. I felt weird and lethargic. I hadn’t had that feeling in over 20 years. The feeling of fear/panic/dread that I may be going into anaphylactic shock.

The feeling I will never forget.

The feeling that I never want to have again.

I clutched my Epipens both times and had my family with me. My husband watched me closely and was ready to call 911 if necessary. I was ok, but I learned some valuable lessons/tips that I want to share.

  1. Learn what foods are considered shellfish. I was completely shocked recently to learn that calamari (which is often fried in the same oil as french fries, mozzarella sticks, etc) is in the shellfish category. Some other kinds of shellfish are – prawns, crayfish (crawfish,) crabs, lobster, shrimp, oysters, scallops, clams, mussels, octopus, sea urchin, escargot (snails,) cockles, abalone, conch, periwinkles, whelk.
  2. According to FARE – “Approximately 60 percent of people with shellfish allergy experienced their first allergic reaction as adults.” This happened to me after eating shellfish for over 20 years. Please be careful because it can happen to you too.
  3. ALWAYS tell your servers that you have a shellfish allergy whether you are at a restaurant or sandwich shop. Make sure that they let the chef know and that they can safely accommodate you. Ask them if their establishments share fryers/grills with seafood.
  4. I also tell anyone who comes into contact with me that I have a shellfish allergy such as dentists, doctors, hairdressers, xray technicians, etc. You never know what ingredients are in products used to treat you.
  5. Avoid seafood restaurants, or maybe even most Asian or Thai ones. Their menus are full of shellfish or shellfish ingredients/spices/extracts/broths. I had a scare last year when I was given shrimp spring rolls instead of vegetarian ones. I ate one and had to stick my finger down my throat to vomit it out. This is not a good way to prevent anaphylaxis because it was ingested, but I did it anyway just in case it would help. I was okay, but have not eaten at an Asian restaurant since. Call or visit all restaurants to determine if they are food allergy friendly before dining at one.
  6. Avoid clambakes, oyster festivals, or any celebrations with seafood everywhere if you can. Just being around these events can produce reactions. Don’t handle/touch any shellfish.
  7. Avoid cooking areas where seafood is being prepared. According to FARE the proteins in the shellfish can become airborne. That is why it is best to avoid these areas since these proteins can produce a reaction in some.
  8. Read the whole menu at places, and be aware of any additions, such as the new seafood sensation sandwich at Subway. I had no idea that there was shellfish at Subway, and it was the source of one of the cross-contamination reactions I mentioned earlier.
  9. Read the labels/ingredients to anything you will consume every single time. Things/recipes/factories often change. While I was at my doctor’s office she offered me a vitamin supplement that had a shellfish warning on the bottom, as does many vitamins/supplements. I also avoid anything with Omega 3 Fatty Acids such as pre-natal pills with them. They made my heart skip beats and made me feel bad so I switched to a different kind, this is my own personal experience though, check with your doctor. My local grocery store chain has a shellfish warning on their fried chicken, and I had a reaction to some cut vegetables. I no longer buy anything they repackage/prepare in their store. There is too much risk for cross-contamination as they share equipment.
  10. BRING YOUR EPIPENS/AUTOINJECTORS WHEREVER YOU GO!! Whether you are on land, sea or in the air bring them! Keep them at room temperature always, and protect them in cases/insulated bags/waterproof pouches. You never know when you may need them, and they may just save your life some day.

Please check with your doctor or allergist for any medical advice. Get tested, do research and be prepared. There are more things containing shellfish or cross-contaminated with shellfish than you may realize. It is for that reason that I have also chosen to avoid all kinds of fish.

We are just like little fish swimming in a great big sea of food allergens.

Tread carefully, but don’t be afraid to live your life.

Kathy ❤

Nuts About My Son

 

I Just Want My Child With Food Allergies to Come Home Safe

Last year my 5 year old son fell asleep on the couch. I was lying next to him and fell asleep too. I woke up around 3AM to the sound of him having a croup-like cough, and he was struggling to breathe. I was terrified as I listened to him gasp for air. I didn’t know for sure if he was having a food allergy reaction or some other type of reaction, though I suspected it was illness related since he felt warm and hadn’t eaten in hours. There was no time to figure that out though, only time to act.

I immediately shouted for my husband, who is a registered nurse, to come downstairs. He ran down in a panic because he knew from the tone in my voice that this was serious. He turned on the light and didn’t like how my son’s coloring was very pale. He could see that my son could barely swallow, and that his breathing was very labored. He told me to call 911 right away as he cared for him and monitored his vital signs.

I felt like I was in a horror movie of sorts. I was somehow outside myself as I called 911. I felt like someone else telling them that my son could barely take a breath and to get here fast. I remembered to tell them to make sure there was epinephrine on the ambulance since there was a slight possibility this was food allergy related. I held on to the phone as I watched the life slowly drain out of my son. I had never been so afraid.

I will never forget the look on my son’s face as he stared at us to help him. So desperate, so innocent, so heartbreaking. But all I could do was hold him tightly and tell him that I loved him, and that help was on he way.

I told him that he would be okay soon, but deep down I was not sure.

The ambulance arrived very quickly, and my husband ran out to them with my son in his arms.

I knew that my husband was medically trained and handled these situations better than I did, so I was glad he was the one who was in the ambulance. I also knew that the EMT’s would be doing all they could to help him.

But, as I hurried to get my 10 year old daughter into the car so that we could meet them at the hospital, I was fearing the worst.

What if they couldn’t get him to breathe? What if they couldn’t save him?

I had no idea what was going on in the ambulance. The 10 minute drive to the hospital felt like an eternity.

As we arrived, I asked them if my boy was okay, and if we could see him right away.

I felt like I was going to faint as I awaited their response.

They said he was doing okay, and walked me back to his room.

I felt like I could breathe again.

I had never seen a more amazing sight than that of my son lying on that ER bed, able to breathe and moving around. His color looked better. He looked better.

He was alive and my heart sang.

Tears ran down my face as I ran to hug him. He had oxygen tubes coming out of his nose, and he was clutching a little blue teddy bear that the staff had given him.

I gave him a big hug and kiss and told him how much I loved him. I brought my traumatized daughter over to him to see that he would be okay. I could see the fear leave her face, and relief replace it.

Though my son had a bad case of croup, and was later found out to have asthma, the scene I described above was similar to what food allergy families often go through.

Many terrifying trips to the ER, many doctors visits, many false alarms, many severe and mild reactions.

It is a daily minefield we walk through, and unless you have witnessed your child come close to dying, you cannot possibly understand how it feels.

There is nothing worse than a parent losing their child.

Like most parents, I wake up every day trying to make sure that doesn’t happen.

I have the extra burden of keeping my son away from food that can kill him. Food that surrounds him, like ticking time bombs.

I am there to try to find and detonate each one. I am there to slowly teach him how to do this himself.

But he is only 6 now. This will take some time.

He must live with life threatening food allergies to all nuts. His allergist said that it is doubtful he will outgrow it, and that he is too allergic to qualify for the new treatments out there.

I often read tragic stories of children dying from food allergies. I pray that my son won’t be one of them. I often read stories of children being bullied for having food allergies. I hope that my son won’t be one of them. I hear cruel jokes in the media about kids/people with food allergies. I hope my son will be strong enough to deal with such heartless people.

I hope he will grow up to be a kind, thoughtful man. The way so many people with disabilities, or so many who care for those with disabilities often do. They know what it is like to face tough times. They know what it is like to climb mountains that often feel insurmountable.

They are the best, most considerate people I know.

We are still hopeful for a cure. But for now we must walk this minefield of a life, and hope he gets to live his wonderful life for as long as possible.

He has the disabilities of food allergies and asthma. And like many others with disabilities, hidden or not, he requires some help, understanding and lots of love.

All children deserve this. Let’s make sure they get it. Let’s make sure we teach our children how to survive, thrive and show compassion.

My mind often goes back to that night I almost lost him. I know that what happened to him could happen again if he eats something containing his allergen, and/or if he has a bad asthma attack.

I will never forget that look on his face.

I just want my baby boy to come home safe.

 

 

A Food Allergy Mom’s Plea

Kids are dying from food allergies.

People are dying from food allergies.

Kids are being bullied about food allergies.

A kid died last week from possible food allergy bullying.

People are being removed from planes due to food allergies.

People are being discriminated against due to food allergies.

Your child can develop food allergies.

You can develop food allergies.

Is that the only point at which you will care?

Is that the only way you will wake up and finally listen to our pleas?

My son developed food allergies to nuts when he was 4 years old. I found out after he took a bite of a brownie topped with pecans. He immediately vomited and got hives and eczema rashes on his body and was rushed to the ER. He never had food allergies before that day. He is 6 now and will always have them, unless a cure is found.

Our lives are very different now. I must consider all of the possible things that may harm him on a daily basis. Things that don’t just involve food. Things like shampoos, lotions, mulch, art/science experiments, and dentist appointments.

It is an overwhelming task at times because there is so much to learn and I often think – what if I make a mistake?

A mistake that could cost him his life?

Can you imagine the heavy burden that is to carry?

The answer is no. You have no possible idea. Until it happens to you.

And it may. One out of thirteen kids has food allergies. One of these kids could be yours.

My son cannot eat at an ice cream shop. He cannot eat at a bakery. In fact, he has never been to a bakery. He cannot go to a majority of restaurants. He cannot eat anything at his friend’s birthday parties. He has to sit at the end of the lunch table at school, separated from his closest friends. He has to avoid nut filled baseball games and nut filled airplanes. He can only eat what I cook for him, or what products I have researched painstakingly to be safe.

He has to live with the fear of dying from eating the wrong thing on a daily basis.

We must all eat. We are constantly surrounded by food. Food is a part of every celebration, it is meant to be joyful.

But, for many with food allergies it is not completely joyful. It is joy mixed with some sadness, fear, and anxiety. You cannot eat whatever you want. You cannot eat wherever you want. You must plan your life, career and vacation time around your food allergies.

Unless you are surrounded by people who care, people who make sure that the allergen that can kill you is not nearby or in your food, you may feel scared and let down.

Let down by a society that thinks it is okay to joke about life-threatening food allergies. A society that often gets the facts or information about food allergies wrong. A society where online bullying or in person bullying by adults, often leads to children bullying other children about food allergies.

Every nasty or uncompassionate comment you make, or action you take, may be seen or heard by your children or other children. Children who may then think it’s okay to make fun of the kid at school with milk, wheat or nut allergies, or to throw nuts at the food allergy kid on the bus, or to smear peanut butter all over the doors or local playground (which happened in my community in Virginia.)

Kids are like sponges. They soak up a lot of information on a daily basis. Why not try to make the information factual and full of good intent? Especially when that information can potentially be used to harm others.

That information is being used to harm others. Many children don’t realize that their actions in bullying can lead to hospitalization or death, as is the case with food allergies. Throwing an allergen at a kid, or wiping it on a surface they will touch, or giving them something to eat that you know has their allergen, can injure or kill a child. These actions can also lead to expulsion or criminal charges. Such as in the tragic case of Karan Cheema who died at 13 years old last week in London. Another 13 year old boy was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder. The case is currently under investigation.

Everyone who deals with, influences or has children must make sure that they know that food allergies can be fatal, and are no laughing matter. They must be told that auto-injectors do not always stop anaphylaxis, especially if there is a delay in administering the life-saving medication. They must provide them with the proper information, such as from Food Allergy Research & Education.

This includes teachers, principals, coaches, doctors, priests, daycare providers, and the media and entertainment industry.

What kind of example does one who jokes about, or bully, someone online or in person due to food allergies set?

Do they realize that they can be putting someone’s life in jeopardy? Do they realize that they are bullying someone with a hidden disability? A disability that they were either born with or developed, through no fault of their own?

It is not okay to bully or harm people with disabilities. It is not okay to bully or harm anyone.

My plea is for anyone who has food allergies, or who has children, or who influences children, or who has any type of media platform. Please use your knowledge, words, actions and celebrity to teach others, and to help those with food allergies lead an enriched, safer life.

If you have food allergies- talk about it. Let everyone know the facts and how they can help.

If you know someone with food allergies- discuss it, and let them know you care and want to assist them in anyway you can.

If you have a bigger platform- use it. Let others know that you have food allergies too and/or about the dangers of food allergy bullying and misinformation. Spread awareness in a way that most of us without fans or followers cannot.

If all of us come together to help those with food allergies it will make a huge difference.

It will save lives, it will stop the sad cries. The cries of the children who are being bullied or excluded. The cries of the millions of food allergy parents who want to be seen, heard and understood.

The cries of the parents who want their children to be happy and survive a life with food allergies.

Parents like me, who want their children to live in a better, more compassionate world.

It all starts with you. It all starts with what you do or say. What you project onto others. What you put out into the world. What difference you want to make.

Won’t you please help us?

Kathy ❤

Nuts About My Son/Poetologie

 

 

 

 

A Food Allergy Mom’s Mistake

Last April, while on a short spring break vacation to Hershey, PA, I made a mistake. A mistake that I don’t usually make. One that could’ve sent my six year old son to the hospital, or worse to an early grave.

My son was diagnosed with life-threatening food allergies at the age of four. He must avoid all nuts and Stevia to be safe. He also has environmental allergies, and asthma which further complicates things.

Now given this information you may think that it wouldn’t be a good idea to take him to Hershey’s Chocolate World in Pennsylvania. But as I became informed about food allergies, I realized that I could not keep my son in a bubble. He must live his life and enjoy the wonderful things life has to offer.

We have been going to Hershey, PA since my son was a baby. It is like a second home to us. It is our place for fun and relaxation, and family time. When we learned that our son had life-threatening food allergies to all nuts, we panicked. We also thought that we would never be able to go back to our favorite vacation destination. A destination that is filled with chocolate and nuts.

We slowly learned that we can keep him safe there thanks to the chefs at the Hershey Lodge and Hershey Hotel, and the food management team at Hershey Park. Whenever we go away we have these six basic rules:

  1. Always bring the Epipen auto-injectors everywhere we go. We keep them at room temperature to ensure their efficacy. We bring back up Epipen two-packs in case anything goes wrong, or in case more are needed in an emergency.
  2. Always wash my son’s hands before he eats. If we can’t get to a sink quickly, we use baby wipes which are effective in removing allergens. Hand sanitizing gel does not remove allergens.
  3. Make sure he knows not to eat anything that we do not give him. We read ALL labels of food that we give him, and do extensive research before eating out/trying new foods. This includes all food samples.
  4. We try to wipe down his table before he eats, or put down napkins under his food.
  5. We tell him often to try to keep his hands out of his mouth, nose and eyes to avoid contact with allergens.
  6. We only stay at places which are in close proximity to a hospital, with a quick ambulance response time.

We have been living by these basic rules for years now, and so far we have kept him safe.

I am especially vigilant when it comes to his food allergies because I have a food allergy myself, and almost died from anaphylactic shock after eating shellfish at the age of 28. I know what it feels like when your throat begins to close, and you feel death approaching rapidly. I also know what it feels like when the epinephrine starts to work, and you are able to breathe again.

I never want my son to go through that, so I do the best I can to try to keep him safe.

I sometimes fail though because I am only human.

I failed as an advocate for my son last week at Hershey’s Chocolate World. When we go there we always avoid the chocolate making activities, and always tell our son to say no thank you to any offered treats or samples.

After the fun free ride that takes you through the chocolate making  process, they always offer a free sample of chocolate. I always tell them no thank you on behalf of my son, and am teaching him to do the same. This time after I said “no thank you he has nut allergies,” the nice woman offered him a Twizzler instead. I know from experience that Twizzlers in a box or package from Hershey are safe, but that different sizes or samples are not. For some reason, maybe because I was all caught up in the vacation fun, I took one for him. I wanted him to have something and I momentarily forgot my rules.

As I stood there watching him take a bite, I realized what I had done, but it was too late. He took a bite of the Twizzler, then immediately spit it out because he didn’t like it. It was old or spoiled or something. Moments later he complained of his mouth feeling strange and his belly hurting- both of which are classics signs of a food allergy reaction.

I felt panic start to set in as my heart raced. I had tears in my eyes as I realized what I had done. I felt like the worst mom in the world, but I had to keep it together for my son.

I told my husband that we had to sit him down on a bench and watch him closely for awhile, Epipens in hand. We monitored his breathing, checked for any hives or tongue swelling. We made sure he was not acting strangely or panicking.

He said he could not get the bad taste out of his mouth so we gave him some apple juice. That seemed to help.

After fifteen minutes he seemed fine so we breathed a sigh of relief, though we weren’t totally out of the woods. A reaction could take hours to occur. And biphasic reactions could happen days later.

I kissed his cheek and gave him a big hug, then kept him close the rest of the day.

My baby was safe and all was right with the world.

I had to forgive myself though, and quickly get back in the game. The game of keeping my child safe, while educating him how to keep himself safe. The game that we are always playing, even while on vacation.

The game that never ends with food allergies.

The game we must win.

 

 

Food Allergy Wars

“In a dark place we find ourselves, and a little more knowledge lights our way.”  – Yoda

There is a secret, or not so secret, war going on between people who have food allergies and people who don’t.

Some of us who have children with food allergies have no choice but to be involved. We must win this war, because the alternative is unthinkable. The alternative is our child dying from eating regular food that their bodies treat as poison.

We don’t want to be at war with people, but we will be if necessary. We have to protect our children from life-threatening allergic reactions. We did not choose this path, but we must tread it carefully. The force is strong with us food allergy moms.

Most people are kind and understanding, but there are some out there who either don’t believe that children/people are dying from food allergies, or don’t really care because it doesn’t affect them. They represent the dark side of food allergies.

I will tell them to take a look at this list then get back to me. This list is real and heartbreaking, and doesn’t even contain all those we have lost to food allergies worldwide:

http://nonutsmomsgroup.weebly.com/blog/remembering-those-we-have-lost-to-food-allergies

I have seen a few of these types of unkind people roll their eyes at me, or walk away when I’m discussing food allergies. I have read online comments on my blogs saying that maybe my son isn’t meant to survive if a nut can take him out.

Those types of comments are why we sometimes get angry. They are completely ignorant and devoid of any compassion. How could anyone want a child to die from a food allergy reaction? Why wouldn’t anyone do all they can to try to prevent this?

These types of comments or encounters put us in defensive mode. We never know what type of person we will encounter. We never know if those around our children will put their lives at risk without a second thought. Or if someone will instead offer their friendship and assistance in keeping our precious children alive.

Some of us also have children with no food allergies. I have a daughter who so far is fine. But, I know that could change any day. I didn’t become allergic to shellfish until I was 28 years old. I don’t worry about my daughter as much at school, etc because I know that she isn’t surrounded by food that can kill her. And though I still worry, it isn’t a constant fear like with my son. He cannot live a food free existence.

Some parents who don’t have kids with food allergies also get defensive right away. They think “who the hell are you to tell me what my kid can eat?” or “why do you have to ruin things/events/celebrations for all of the other kids?” I can understand having lots of questions concerning food allergies, and wondering why food has to be banned from classrooms, because my son wasn’t allergic to nuts until the age of 4.

What I cannot understand is why upon learning a child can die from food or food residue, some people get hostile and mean. Some people tell and share cruel jokes, and bully food allergy kids and their parents. Certain schools, airlines and sporting/entertainment venues have no consideration for those with food allergies.

This would not be acceptable for any other life-threatening condition or disease. So why is it okay concerning food allergies?

Are our children’s lives less important?

The answer is no. And if any moms were in our shoes, they would feel the same and do all they could to protect their child from harm. Unfortunately what harms our kids is certain foods that are everywhere, so we require help and understanding.

The force of good and trying to keep our children secure should be with all of us.

I promise you that I will do whatever I can to help keep your child safe. If you tell me that your child is allergic to bees- I will stand in front of them before I let them get stung. If you tell me your child runs out into the street a lot- I will keep an eye on them to make sure this doesn’t happen when I’m around. If a dangerous dog approaches, I will shield your child. If your child reaches for poison, I will quickly take it from their hands. The list goes on and on.

Why won’t some people do the same for me or my child? Why don’t they care about the lives of the 1 out of 13 children who have life-threatening food allergies? Why won’t they help to ease the burden of the millions of food allergy moms out there who are terrified of losing their children? Why won’t they at least listen or try to educate themselves about food allergies before pointing their fingers and rolling their eyes?

Seriously, why won’t they try to help instead of hurt us and our children? Please let me know, because I cannot think of one good reason.

Maybe these parents do not know all the facts, and how even a few particles of peanut or tree nut dust can harm or kill a child if ingested. They do not know that ingestion of an allergen like milk or egg can include just a little bite.

All they have to do is ask. All they have to do is believe us when we tell them our child’s lives are at stake.

I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t. If a parent walks up to me and says please put that away, or don’t eat it on the plane because it can kill my child- I’ll say sure, no problem. I’d say it now and I’ve said it before my child had food allergies.

It’s called common sense and decency. It’s caring about others, not just ourselves. It’s about not wanting a child to die. It’s about protecting children from harm.

That is what we all must focus on. The fact that children are dying from food allergies, and being rushed to hospitals every 3 minutes due to severe reactions.

So, let’s all put our preconceived notions and lack of information aside, and focus on helping children who have to live with food allergies day in and day out.

They desperately need our help. And a more compassionate/civilized society is their only hope.