I feel your eyes roll.
I know you don’t believe you do it. You probably think you’d never be the kind of person who would be irritated or annoyed by a child, let alone an allergy a child has no control of whatsoever. And even if you did catch yourself getting put out by it, you certainly wouldn’t say it out loud. But I feel it. I sense it. I know how high maintenance we are.
I’m very high maintenance. I check every label and every ingredient five times. Before I buy, while in line, and even after I’ve put food in the cupboard. Just in case I missed it. Or in case someone else bought it. In case it was a gift. In case aliens crept into my home and contaminated it.
I call restaurants ahead, check menus, check with a waitress, ask for the chef to sign off on it. I search under the seats and the in the cracks of the booth. I re-wipe cleaned table tops and get down on my hands and knees. Because someone who sat there before us might have had a walnut or cashew. They might have dropped a crumb or two or maybe the legume flew from across the room.
I’m paranoid and protective. And I get that. And I know it frustrates you. I know why you think nothing of leaving a bag of M&Ms open on the coffee table or why you’d buy a bag of donuts from the baker and not get why that wrecks havoc on my blood pressure.
You weren’t in the ER when we were. You didn’t see the swelling take over. You didn’t pour bleach in the bath or practice an EpiPen on the thigh of your toddler.
So you can’t really be bothered. But you’d never say that. You don’t want to be that person who is that apathetic. Only a monster would get inconvenienced by the life threatening toxins that could bury another mother’s child. You simply aren’t heartless.
And yet, your eyes roll.
Just a little.
So let me try to put it into terms that help empathy take over:
If I left an open bottle of prescription meds within reach of your two year old, you’d rightfully believe I was irresponsible.
If I bought a bottle of Drano and mixed it in with the Prego, you’d have me locked up for being a psycho.
If I kept loaded guns in a playroom or sharpened steak knives in the rec room or didn’t dutifully double check locks and gates near the pool, you’d have just cause for suggesting I was negligent and no good.
And that’s what it’s like being an allergy mom. What you see as harmless, we know is lethal. And it’s constant and compulsive and redundant and annoying — we know. But that’s our world.
And it’s hard enough to teach our child why when the grocer offers a cookie we have to say no… let alone the day we drop him in the care of another… or the reality that someday, the decision is his and his alone…
So could you maybe print this out, share it with a friend and just try on our lens when you know we’re coming over?
Because whether you realize it or not, the high maintenance, borderline mental you have to deal with from us because maybe a pistachio rolled under the bed over a year ago?
I promise you, we hate it more.
- Food allergies affect roughly 2% of adults and upwards of 8% of children in the U.S. An estimated 150 deaths from anaphylaxis every year are attributed to food allergy. Anaphylaxis results in 30,000 emergency room visits and 2,000 hospitalizations.
- According to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), the eight most common allergenic foods (of the 160 known) are: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans.
- Consumer packaged food products containing two or more ingredients are required to list all top allergens on ingredient labels. However, if a product is manufactured near allergens or in the same factory, that information not required.
- Food allergies are not the only allergens impacting the health and safety of children and adults. For more information on food allergy and other allergens, visit the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease.