It's Food Allergy Awareness Week! While I think I do a pretty decent job raising awareness of this life-threatening, life-altering medical condition, I can't pass up yet another opportunity to educate those who might not know anyone who is afflicted with a food allergy.
As you probably know, Ryan has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts. His allergy affects all of us every single day. Let me count the ways....
- We don't bring one bite of food into our home that isn't researched and inspected.
- Even so, we are keenly aware that mistakes can happen--mistakes at the manufacturing plant, mistakes at the factory that produces the packaging and labels, mistakes that might be made during the transportation and display of the food at the grocery store, mistakes that we might make in reading labels and inspecting the food. I know that if Ryan ever has a reaction under my watch, it will most likely occur due to such an error and not from a lack of vigilance.
- We don't eat at Chinese or Thai restaurants. Or Indian restaurants. Or ice cream places.
- Every time we go to a playground, I check out the grounds for dropped bits of food (found leftover sandwiches and pistachio shells last time), and wonder if the kid who was on the slide or the ropes before Ryan had possibly eaten peanut butter that day.
- Last soccer season, Ryan could not approach Morgan's soccer field because of the peanut shells strewn all over the place.
- Even a walk around our neighborhood has brought us into chance encounters with peanut shells, where people have dropped them after having a snack.
- We've never taken the kids to a circus or a baseball game.
- We bring Epi-pens with us wherever we go, and if we forget them, we stop what we're doing and go home to get them.
- Currently, I have a stack of expired pens, and we'll invite our friends and family--and maybe even Ryan--to practice using them on apples, so they will hopefully remember that you need to remove the gray cap first or the needle won't fire.
Morgan is not allergic and has eaten peanuts a few times out of our house away from Ryan. She has had to give up treats she's received because of the risk to Ryan. (I think that as they get older and more reliable about washing up that we can develop a different plan for such occasions.) When she pretends to be a chef, she always serves peanut-free cupcakes.
Sean hasn't been exposed to nuts, peanuts, fish or shellfish and won't be until he's 3. The process of introducing new foods to a baby is more stressful than fun for us. Each time he gets something new, I watch him very carefully for any adverse reactions. He does have mild eczema, which along with a sibling with a food allergy, increases his risk for food allergies.
It affects us all--but no one more than Ryan. He is 7 years old and he knows that this could kill him. :o( He is very good about not accepting food from anyone unless Brendan or I (or a select few trusted friends) approve. I'm glad he is cautious, but so sad that he must face this. His blood test scores are very high, making it unlikely for him to outgrow this allergy. We are hopeful for a treatment--if not a cure--but until then, we must be extremely vigilant.
That's all for now. For more information, see my earlier posts Facts about Peanut Allergies and I Am Not an Attention-Seeking Psycho!
For a liitle food allergy humor (yes, there is some!) see this post at Gravity of Motion and a classic moment from last year at our house.
Don't forget our Twitter Party this Friday!
Finally, a big THANK YOU from all of us to everyone who has asked us about safe food for Ryan, has taken the time to comment or link to my blog posts about peanut allergies, who has made alternate menu plans because of Ryan's presence at an event, who has referred others to me so they can learn about this condition. It really means a lot that so many people--some I've never met!--care enough to help keep Ryan safe and educate themselves and others. Truly.