Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Battle in my Body: Ryan Talks about Peanut Allergies

It occurred to me that big important part of Food Allergy Awareness Week is making sure that your food-allergic children and other family members are aware, too! Yesterday, I interviewed Ryan and Morgan as a way of trying to assess their level of knowledge about peanut allergies. And I thought it was interesting, so I'll share it with you, too!

I tried to capture Ryan's answers as well as I could. Those of you who know him in real life understand that it's hard to keep up with him once he gets to talking about something that interests him! I took the liberty of editing his answers for clarity--substituting nouns for some of his pronouns, for example. I tried to capture the "spirit" of his answers, if you know what I mean. My comments are in italics.


What is your food allergy?

Peanuts only.

What happened when you ate peanuts?

Well one day--here's the story. When I was just a tiny baby, my Mom had a peanut-free ice cream and my dad did not. They both shared their ice cream. I liked them both, but then the next thing I knew, I woke up and started coughing and had red hives all over me and I was sneezing. Then Mom called 911. And then there was this fire truck and an ambulance, too. I didn't know what they were both doing there and I got to touch the trucks. They gave me Benadryl and that helped me. And then I also turned blue a little and went to the hospital and they fixed me up.

[He doesn't actually remember this--he was 2 years old at the time. But we've told him this story a zillion times and he never fails to mention that he got to touch the fire trucks. It's true--and he was so excited at the time. And then we went to the hospital.]

What do Mom and Dad do to keep you safe from peanuts?

My mom and dad double check on everything they buy; they try not to buy peanuts; they look it up online to make sure the companies didn't forget to write "peanuts" on the package before I eat it. They check with the store owners if they aren't quite sure, and call the peopleguys at the restaurants and ask if they have peanuts there. [That's pretty good. I didn't know he was aware of all of that--and it's nice that he noticed!]

How do you keep yourself safe?

Whenever there's a kid who offers me [a snack or a treat] and says it is peanut-free, I'd tell a grownup, because what if the kid wasn't right--what if it did have peanuts? I try to avoid peanut shells, peanut snacks, and don't touch them or do anything that could cause a reaction. If I go to a store with lots of peanut things, I'd buy the peanut-free thing. I try to stick with that. [Good Answer.]

Do you know what peanuts look like?

Sort of like an 8 but a lot tanner. [LOL!]

Where do you see them?

In stores and gas stations that sell food. [Thought for sure he'd mention the peanut shells we see at the park sometimes.]

What would you do in a peanut emergency?

I'd just start walking to Mom and tell her. [Good Answer.]

What would a peanut emergency feel like? What might happen to you?

Well, I'd start feeling cold if I was turning blue and I'm pretty sure it would be hard to talk because it swells up my throat. It might feel like a battle in my body. [ :( ]

What is something you would like people to understand about peanut allergies?

I would like them to know about everything about peanut allergies. The most important thing to know is to avoid peanuts or anything that could be a peanut allergen in your food. I have bad luck because I live in Georgia which is the Peanut State. [LOL!] I hope I'll get the medicine that will stop me from being allergic to peanuts.

Do you like having a food allergy?

No, because it's no fun at all when I have to go to the doctor. Because I don't like having epipens, because you know those are a kind of a shot and I don't like getting shots at all. I hope one day they will have the kind of shots like in Star Trek and it's pppsssss like that [motioning]. [That one just about killed me. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!]

Are there any good things about having this allergy?

The good thing is that there are two kind of medicines that can pow it good--the first is Benadryl and the second, Epipens. I don't want to even try the Epipens, but I know one day I'll have to if I run into peanuts and have a reaction. [pow: a verb meaning "to kick some Bad Guy Germ booty"]


What's Ryan's allergy?


What can you do to help keep him safe?

Not eat peanuts around him. [Good Answer.]

What's a good way to get peanuts off of your hands?

Washing them. [Another good answer. Did you know that basic regular old handwashing is the best way to get rid of residual food allergens? Morgan did!]

What is something you would like people to know about peanut allergy?

That peanut allergy is bad. [Yup.]


Nowheymama said...

What a great idea. I love this.

Monica said...

"I hope one day they will have the kind of shots like in Star Trek and it's pppsssss like that [motioning]."

Hilarious. Just like Stargate, too. :)

Jenny said...

Sounds like you're doing a great job with them. I really enjoyed reading a kids' take on food allergies.

rachel said...

what a fabulous interview! I love it.

the pow-ing was very cool. My epi-pen girl totally agrees about the ppsss shots!

I'm going to have to do something like this with my girls. Once I can wipe away my sappy tears, the "battle in my body" got to me.

Jane Anne said...

I love the idea of interviewing the kids. I may have to try it. The responses are really interesting. A battle in his body - those are powerful words.

It is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Read my latest allergy post: Works-for-Me Wednesday: Medicine Bag

David said...

My son Max also has a peanut allergy. I try to do as little as possible to protect him from peanut products. Some parents at his school tried to ban peanut butter sandwiches but I was VERY much apposed to that. My reason is simple: I want Max to protect Max. Too many parents spend more time protecting their children from the world than teaching their children about the world and how to deal with it. This is also why I teach my children to be Objectivists - learn what is real by your own efforts and thinking not just what someone tells you is so.

Jenn Casey said...

David, thanks for stopping by!

I certainly agree that there is way too much helicopter parenting going on in today's world. And I also agree that children need to learn to manage their own allergies independently.

However, I wouldn't say I do as little as possible to protect Ryan. We do quite a bit, and then as he's gotten older we are transferring those tasks (including vigilance) to him. The reason I can't take such a hands-off stance, especially when he was very small, is because of the severity of his allergy and the very real risk of death.

What I do is take reasonable precautions (not as few as possible) and we are slowly teaching Ryan how to take his own precautions.

He's not in school, so I don't really know what I would prefer for a school policy if he were in school. I think a ban is often overboard in many (but not all) situations, but I don't think precautions such as a peanut-free table, washing up, or non-food class celebrations are at all unreasonable.