Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Am Not An Attention-Seeking Psycho

I haven't written about peanut allergy too much lately, but we're still living the dream--making sure we have Epi-pens (and Ryan is stepping up and taking more responsibility in this area), calling restaurants to inquire about their menu and food prep procedures, talking to waitstaff, reading labels, learning that another PA kid in one of Ryan's classes had a contact reaction and wondering how we got so lucky.

I probably talk to someone new about the food allergy thing at least once a week. Often, someone will note Ryan's bracelet, or we'll be in line at the grocery store and one of us will mention peanuts somehow, or a friend will put me in touch with another parent who is struggling with it.

Living with Ryan's allergy is very integrated into our family life--it's never far from my mind, especially when we're out and about--but it is not the sole focus of our family life.


Not really, of course. :o) But that's what this guy thinks. Apparently, I'm caught up in some kind of "mass hysteria." I'm a Yuppie, who lives in a "rich, lefty community." Yup, he's got me pegged, all right.

Okay. I get that he thinks he's trying to be funny. But he's really not (although I did manage a chuckle about how fishsticks are gross).

He even interviewed an actual doctor who said: "It's anxiety-producing to imagine that having a snack in kindergarten could be deadly."

Truer words were never spoken, even though that remark was included in a paragraph meant to depict parents as unnecessarily terrorizing their poor innocent children. It is not a fun way to live. We'd all be lots happier without this allergy.

Maybe the reason I don't feel like joking about it is that just last night, Ryan uttered words that sent ice through my veins. We were riding home after eating in a restaurant that's not one of our "normal" restaurants--although we've eaten there successfully before, and had a really great conversation about the allergy with our waitress, who has a little boy with PA and really knew the drill. We had had a nice time with our friends and were heading home when Ryan said,

Mom, Dad. I'm itchy all over. Everywhere in my body.

First, so you don't worry--everything was FINE. Not a hive on him, nary a cough--he has incredibly dry skin because he puts up such a stink about lotion and he was just itchy. And you know how, once you start thinking about an itch, other itches start popping up all over? It was one of those kind of things.

Well, when we heard those words . . . I can't really describe my feelings. "Mass hysteria" naturally took over our brains and we tried to find someone to feel sorry for us. (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

We were on the highway (of course) and Brendan quickly flipped the lights on in the back of the van. I tried to see as best I could from the passenger seat and he looked fine. We asked him all the questions: "Does your throat itch? Does your tongue feel hot? Is it hard to breathe?" Brendan pulled off at the next exit, we pulled over, put the hazards on and I flew back there with Epis in hand. We inspected and interrogated him for a good 5 minutes, decided it was the dry skin thing, and I rode in the back with him for the rest of the way home.

So, I guess that's it--it's not funny at all to know that your kid could die on the way home from a restaurant. Unless I'm actually a freak who is enjoying all of this attention, in which case it's obviously super great fun to ride this wave of Mass Hysteria to Spotlight Island, just to add a little spice to my boring life.

I know these types of articles are written all the time (I've got my Google Search set to "peanut allergy") and usually I choose to ignore the foolishness. But every once in a while, it all really irks me. What an idiot. Sigh.

And now I can go on with our family life in a constructive way, having got that out of my system. Maybe someone who thinks they agree with this guy will see this post and rethink their position on the matter. It's the best I can do for now. Thanks for listening.

Via Louise on the Left (who runs a Facebook group I'm a member of)


Mrs. C said...

Yeah, I'm sure your number one priority is getting lots of attention and love from strangers when your kid breaks out in hives!! People are so STUPID not understanding that there *are* some people who have this allergy. You know, just because it doesn't affect you doesn't mean it isn't real.

Rational Jenn said...

Thanks, Mrs. C. I truly appreciate the support. :o)

Lalania Hall said...

Wow, UNBELIEVABLE!!! That is why I deleted my blog on blogspot. Someone said similar things of my blog about my fight with cancer. Only I didn't take it so calmly. Honey, I surely didn't know the gravity of yall's situation. Didn't even know you had a blog. (it's now bookmarked) I, make that my family will pray for you guys daily! You are a truely remarkable woman! And sounds like you have a truely remarkable family!

Kelly Elmore said...

Jenn, it makes my heart pound to think about that happening to you guys on the way home, even knowing that it was a false alarm. I am so glad that he is okay.

Anonymous said...

The article in question was the first thing I saw when I woke up this morning and I have been seething all day (my daughter has LTFA as well). I'm sorry about your ride home last night! I'm currently sitting here with a knot in my stomach because DD's cheek looks red and we just had takeout pizza so I TOTALLY understand. Love your blog!

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Joel Stein is ignorant of biology and quite arrogant as well. There are numerous reasons why an increase in diagnosed peanut allergies may be occuring that have nothing to do with gene mutations. Better diagnosis. Better determination of the cause of symptoms. Environmental triggers to changes in gene expression.

A few years ago, I attended the funeral of a young mother who died of anaphylactic shock from a peanut allergy. It was heartbreaking to sit looking at her two young children who sat bewildered on the mourner's bench, with their white-faced, red-eyed father.

Anyone who considers the ordinary care taken to prevent this as some kind of mass hysteria is an idiot. There is no point arguing with idiots. Parents who are charged with protecting the well-being of their children must simply soldier on.

Although my children do not have food allergies, I have gotten ignorant, hurtful comments about my parenting because my son has a neurological disorder (Asperger Syndrome) that causes abnormal reactions and responses to normal stimuli. But he looks normal. Even radio commentators with no expertise in the area have seen fit to diagnose over the airwaves!

Jason said...

The flippancy of that article baffles me.

Kelly said...

I'm so glad your sweet kiddo is ok, Jenn! That must be so scary for you. My nephew has an allergy where my sis has to keep epi pens around, so I know I've been scared about it with him.

That said, you really are an attention-seeking leftist hippy and I scorn you. :-P

Allergy Mom said...

I love how WE'RE the ones with the psychological problems, not the commenters who suggest the increase in allergies is Darwinism in action. (If you can wade through the spew that continues after the column.)

Thanks for taking this moron on, since I wasn't up for writing another of these posts after responding to the reappearance of Meredith Broussard in my Google alerts.

I'm so glad the itch was a false alarm. Give yourself a pat on the back for having the Epi's and going through the drill like a pro. If it had been for real you would have been ready. (You drama queen, you!)

Monica said...

What a moron. A "tiny proportion" of kids have peanut allergies. How about 1%? That's actually pretty large.

It just goes to show you that so much journalism is complete crap!

lissabird said...

I really liked the part of his article where he talks about people with these allergies needing to be responsible for themselves. Interesting, in that a lot of us are talking about children under the age of 5!! We are the adults - we are responsible for looking out for them.
That said, my 4 year old is well versed in what he is allergic to (and the list is long) and is very careful to tell anyone who offers him food all about it). I can't deny that I am proud of him for being so willing to accept his situation gracefully... but somehow I'm sure that proves that I'm attention seeking as well.

Jane Anne said...

I randomly landed on your blog. I have a google alert for "peanut allergy" too but I don't always get to those links. This time I was on "BlogFrog" which pointed me to AllergyKid, where I found a link to you. Whew - just a bit of crazy surfing! I enjoyed this post... enjoyed isn't the right word. I can relate. I hadn't read that article but, of course as a mom to a PA kid, it doesn't surprise me. I am not quite sure what the point of this comment is except to say Hi (wasn't it Delurker day recently??). Nothing has caused more anxiety in me than when my has said, "my mouth feels funny". I am glad that you child was okay after the visit to the new restaurant.

Rational Jenn said...

Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment. I do appreciate it!

We were able to use this incident as a teaching opportunity for Ryan, which is good.

I have no idea why food allergies as such get people so riled up. It occurred to me shortly after I wrote this post that as angry as Stein's piece made me, how much worse I'll feel the first time Ryan stumbles across an article like this. :o( Maybe people will have gotten the nasty comments out of their system before then--but I doubt it.

And Lalania--!?!?!? That's awful.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, because attention for life threatening allergies is so damn worth it.

Crimson Wife said...

I think that there is a real misunderstanding out there about the seriousness of food allergies today vs. those in the past. People remember back to their own childhood and how their acquaintances with food allergies typically just had to avoid ingesting the allergen. It fortunately wasn't necessary to have the whole environment be free of the allergen the way it often needs to be today. So they see the precautions needed today as an overreaction. I actually used to feel this way until I started meeting people parenting severely allergic kids.

I don't know why allergies today are more serious than in the past, but my suspicion is that it has something to do with the increase in GMO's in our environment.

Jenny said...

I'm reading this late in the day but I truly loved your response and it even made me laugh.

I also responded to "Dr. Stein" on my blog but I truly enjoyed your take on the whole thing.

Anyone who thinks that a parent would seek out a life-threatening medical condition for their child is clearly delusional and you stated that case very well!