Monday, May 10, 2010

Food Allergy Awareness Week: An Interview with Ryan

It's Food Allergy Awareness Week all over again! It's particularly poignant for us that FAAW is in May, beginning with Mother's Day, since Ryan's Big Peanut Kaboom Anniversary is the 16th. But part of me wishes FAAW fell in September, because I see all of the activities listed on the website and think that there is such an opportunity to do these in a classroom setting at the beginning of the school year. But that's what they get for not asking me my opinion.

You may recall that last year I interviewed Ryan and Morgan about food allergies for FAAW. I recently interviewed them again, and I plan to do this each year. As you'll see, their answers are interesting and revealing in their understanding of what food allergies are and how to manage them.

Today I'll post Ryan's interview and in the next couple of days I'll post Morgan's. (Sean declined to be interviewed on account of the fact that he is not yet two years old.) My additional comments are in italics.

What are you allergic to?

Peanuts. Nothing else.

Tell me what your life is like having a peanut allergy.

Well it's very tempting and I go to the grocery store and I want to get prizes (out of the machine) and try M&Ms that are peanut. But I know they're not safe. But it's still really tempting

[Tempting! I was alarmed to hear him say this. I can't really blame him for being curious about peanuts. But wow. See the things you learn when you interview people?]

Do you think you'll take that risk?

Personally, I'd say no.

[Well that's something. And btw, that was a direct quote. That's how he really speaks.]

How come?

Well because I'm allergic enough that if I do it again, I might die and I don't want that to happen.

[Okay. Felt much calmer after hearing that. But still.]

What might happen in a reaction?

My mom said what would happen in a reaction would be red hives coming all over me, sometimes my skin would turn blue, sometimes I would be sneezing but mostly I would be coughing. and it's so serious I'd have to go to the doctor's.

[Note: he hasn't had a reaction of any kind in several years. He really doesn't know what would happen, so I like to remind him what the symptoms are.]

What else would have to happen?

I'd have an Epi-pen and I like them because they can save my life, but I don't like shots. Seriously, dude, and Epi-pen is a kind of a shot.

[Again, a direct quote.]

Do you know how to use an Epi-pen?

Yeah, you take it out and stab it into your hip and wait for 10 seconds and then take it out.

[It's the outer thigh, not the hip, and I took the opportunity to correct him on that small detail.]

When should you use an Epi-pen?

The only time I should use an Epi-pen is if I accidentally ate peanuts. I'd never eat them on purpose because my mom would say I couldn't and we'd look online to see if things are processed with peanuts. So pretty much I'm safe, so if I ever need an Epi-pen that would be if I accidentally ate peanuts.

[I was going for a list of the symptoms, but that was an acceptable answer too.]

What is something you'd like friends and family to know about food allergies?

Some people don't think food allergies are dangerous at all. I want my family and friends and my family's friends that I don't know [think he means my blog readers here] to know that you can actually die from food allergies and I want them to tell their friends so more people know that.

[Got that, Dear Readers? Good. :) ]

Thanks for reading Ryan's interview. And thank you to everyone who has helped keep him safe over the past six years, and to everyone who has helped educate others about food allergies by commenting on my blog posts and linking to them. It means so much.


Kelly Elmore said...

I'm slightly alarmed that he is tempted to eat peanut-y stuff too, but it makes sense. Of course he is. I just never thought of it before.

I also noticed that he said "dude." I hope he is picking up that awesome phrase from me and using it all the time!

Food Allergy Assistant said...

Well done, Jenn. Ryan sounds like a very mature aware kid!

Jane Anne said...

Fantastic interview. I'm planning to interview my peanut allergy kid this week, too. I never thought about interviewing my other kids. I might just do that. The "tempting" part scares me...sort of makes me feel sick, if you know what I mean. I realize it's human nature but it's too much to think about.

Jenn Casey said...

Yes, I still don't know quite what to do with this apparently new feeling of being tempted to eat peanuts. At first I thought maybe he didn't know what "tempted" means, but I think he does.

Just last night he was pretending that his almond butter toast was peanut butter toast! I asked him why and he said something about how he was just imagining what it might be like to eat peanut butter. !!!!

I think part of this is because he is old enough to be aware that he's different, and missing out on something, and I do think it's understandable that he's curious about it. I don't know what, if anything, I need to do about it. He does clearly understand the risks and what will happen if he eats peanuts. I think that's the best I can do.

It is really alarming though. But I took care not to overreact to his statements. I sympathized and asked questions, and reiterated the facts.

ChupieandJ'smama said...

What a sweety! It was a bit scary when he said he was tempted to eat them, but I think he means that he wishes he could eat them. At least he sounds later on like he wouldn't.
Thanks for posting this Jenn. I love to hear how our kids feel about their food allergies. We always give our input, feelings and advice but it's nice to hear it from the kids who actually have to live it.
I interviewed my guy last year and I plan to do it again later this week.

Marlis said...

I have a daughter who is allergic. Not to foods, thank goodness, but basically everything else. Just about every animal, trees, grasses, molds and of course the scourge... dustmites. I feel very fortunate. The only problem... she can't stop breating so she gets her allergens all the time. Her best friend though has several life-threatening food allergies. We are always careful when she visits and our home is one of the few places her parents feel she is safe at(what an honor, honestly). We are very cautious but it can be done. She is almost 10 and very aware of her allergies. She compulsively reads everything, and even though I buy safe snacks for her that I still ask her read the labels in addition to me reading them. She is a phenomenal kid and we love having her around!

Your Ryan sounds very grown up and the 'Dude' like totally rocks :)

Allergic kids rule.....

Anonymous said...

My older brother works with an engineer who has, on a business card, printed in 21 languages (because he travels abroad for Boeing.)

Warning: I am deathly allergic to all mushrooms in any and all forms!

Actually, it's a separate card that he hands out with his business card.

C. Andrew

smilinggreenmom said...

Awww...what a sweet pea. Our little guy also has serious food allergies and carries an Epi-pen. It's so scary but I am thankful for FAAW. He used to be so bad that all he could eat was chicken, peas and rice. He just could not tolerate anything else and all foods seemed to really make his Eczema so bad. Finally, our miracle came when we gave him Belly Boost children's chewable probiotics and his skin cleared right up. It was rather surprising and my hubs and I were just plain shocked. It has been so good for him though and now he can eats all kinds of foods except for those severe food allergens. Nice Post!