Saturday, December 25

Food Allergies - Journal Entry

I will soon be posting some "new home" pics for those interested. But, in the meantime, I read an article from one of the food allergy websites that I frequent and I want to share it with all of you.

A 13-yr old girl in Chicago died a few weeks ago from an allergic reaction to food served at a school party. Now, I have a lot to say on this topic and I don't know where to begin... but I somehow feel like this blog is also an outlet for me and my thoughts! :)

You can read the article here. The reader's digest version is this: A teacher was throwing a Thanksgiving party for her class and was ordering Chinese food. She called the restaurant ahead of time to tell them specifically to make their food with no peanuts. After ingesting some of the food a 13-yr old girl (with a peanut allergy) went into anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction where you stop breathing). She was rushed to the loacl hospital but did not survive.

Some people, and maybe even some of you, may think that I am a little nuts about what Jonah eats. People at the supermarket look at me funny when I pick up a package of tortillas or hot dogs to read the ingredients label. Even then, most food labels that contain products or byproducts of allergens are not always listed. (i.e. caramel color and caramel flavoring are both potentially derived from milk products... however, when a food contains either of these ingredients it does not say that it contains milk on their allergens list.)

I am very uneasy about giving my adorable son any new foods and even if I have read the label a million times in the store, I still look it over another 3-5 times before actually giving him the food to eat. Once it's on his plate I watch him like a hawk for any signs of a reaction. People think I am nuts, and I am sure that even my husband looks at me strange sometimes... but I would much rather be overly cautious than to let anything slip by.

I feel so sad for the family of this little girl and also for the teacher who thought she had done everything she could to prevent any food allergens from being in her classroom. I am petrified at the thought of Jonah attending public school (eventhough he is still more than 3 years away from it). People who don't know just don't take food allergies seriously. Hopefully this article - if you choose to take the time to read it - will help everyone we know to realize what a serious issue this is!

I absolutely love, appreciate, and thank all of you who have been such a BIG help in planning meals or parts of meals that are "Jonah friendly" so that I can feel a little more at ease. I still feel like I am a nervous wreck anytime we go anywhere to eat. Holidays, birthday parties, and ward parties are so stressful for me. I don't like to let Jonah more than an arms reach away from me ... just in case he decides to reach for something. As those of you who have followed our blog know, all it takes is for him to touch something he is allergic to for him to break out in hives and be completely miserable. If he ingests any of it I run immediately for the epi-pen and rush him to the bathtub.

I dread babysitters, and every Sunday in Nursery I start to panic around snack time. I love this little boy sooo much that it breaks my heart to think of him and to see him reacting to foods he can't eat/touch. When I look at the few pics we have of him during a reaction my eyes tear up and I feel the same helplessness that I experience while going through that experience.

So, please, if you invite us to your home, don't be offended if I bring him his own food. Please don't be offended if I don't eat some of your foods - for fear of getting it on me and then on him. (I always try and eat with one hand so the other is allergen free - no matter what I am eating - just in case I need to help him with anything).

Jonah is allergic to milk, eggs, and peanuts. He cannot eat anything processed in a facility that also processed any of those items, nor can he eat any food processed on equipment that also processes any of those items. Thankfully, product packaging is fairly good about notating those things which makes it a little easier for me... but it also severely limits the ready-made products we can purchase for consumption.

This post was entirely brought on by this article and in no way reflects feelings about any recent activities. Again, I am so thankful to all of you who share some of my stress in helping this cute, loveable little boy to lead a normal life!


GMDonovan said...

We know alergies are serious and think you are wise to take any safeguards possible for our little hero JM!

Leanne said...

I am a mom of a peanut/cashew allergy and while ours is not as severe as what your little guy has, I feel your pain, and anxiety. It does get easier as they get older and can "fend for themselves" a little more. if you know what I mean. That's the only thing I have going for me while my son is at school for the whole day.