Monday, June 29, 2009

"When I was growing up, NOBODY had food allergies!"

This is a statement that most of us who have or care for someone with food allergies, hears all of the time. From my experience, this usually is delivered two ways. One comes from a sympathetic friend or relative as they have a genuine look of concern on their face. The other comes from a person that says it in a way that suggests that we are all crazy and making something out of nothing. This is the response that gets my blood boiling.

Recently, I have encountered this reaction twice. One person, even rolled their eyes. We were discussing a mutual friend who has a few allergies but whose children has extensive food allergies. This person whom I was speaking to does not know about my particular situation so I felt like they were being even more honest with their response. Which is disturbing. And we were talking about true allergies, as diagnosed by a doctor, not some imagined dislike for a food. Even if we had been discussing a food intolerance, the reaction was completely unfair and cold.

It seems that we all have an uphill battle that we are fighting. It adds insult to injury when people treat our disease as if it were not real. Just because food allergies were not formerly as prevalent as they are now, does not make them any less significant. And they are on the rise. In my world, they seem to be increasing daily. Sadly, more and more people are contacting me and calling me seeking support and what little advice I can give. It is so painful to hear all of the stories and to know how difficult this situation is for so many. And often we are not talking about one or two food allergies, now it seems that people have a list of things that could kill them or make them very sick. Again, I am so thankful to have access to a forum like this blog and many of those that I follow.

People tend to assume is that our children are allergic because we have food allergies. Again, this is not always the case. I think that people do not want to accept that something needs to be done. People are getting sick. Ignorance is no longer bliss. Is it environmental? Is it the medications that we take? Is it the overuse of pesticides? Could it be caused by over processed food? There are no answers but I hope that someday, we will have a cause. And people are going to have to wake up to what is going on in the world.

Until then, gravitate to those who show genuine compassion. And do not get hurt feelings by those who are wearing blinders. Hopefully, education is the key to ending all of this insanity!


Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I've heard this too. I've had people ask me what's causing all these food allergies, I didn't know anyone with food allergies while growing up. This question is interesting because if I had the answer, I'd have the remedy to cure.

My daughter is 6 with tree-nut and peanut allergies. Unless people have to deal with this in their lives,then they just don't get it.

Although, I've been very fortunate with the parents at my daughter's school, when it comes to class celebrations, they ask me what can the bring for my daughter that's safe, or apologize if they bring something she can't have :). The school district has had a peanut ban for several years, so the awareness is there.

I think that people especially relatives, think I'm over protective. At gatherings, I always make sure that either my husband or myself is with her. Because they still offer things which aren't safe and then I say, did you read the label, response "Oh, I forgot" (problem is forgetting is never an option). Also, for people that understand that oh, she can't eat the actual nut, it's tricky. Like if someone has a cake from a bakery with no nut ingredients, there's the cross contamination issue, which I try to explain, but I don't think people really get that.

Family gatherings are the hardest, because people think that they can still have the nut based deserts if they keep it away from her, UGH. I hate being the difficult one, but it is that severe. Only my husband and I were with her when she had her first reaction to pistachio and I never want to see that happen ever again.

If my daughter didn't have any food allergies, I would not be the food police. But it wasn't until I had to start monitoring all the food selections at gathering, did I realize that wow, people really love their nuts (:

Sorry for the long rant.

Nikki said...

What kind of low life actually thinks that allergies are made up?! What an uneducated arse-hole! I hope none of those types of people actually have kids with allergies.

Heidi Miller said...

Truth be told, the gal that I was talking to IS a doctor. Yep. And a mother. It disturbed me on many levels. It really shook me up. Thankfully, I now have this blog to blow off steam! Thanks for reading about it, sis! Sorry I missed your call tonight. I was out having dinner with Dawn. I'll call you tomorrow. XOXO!

Anonymous said...

Dear heidi

thank you for sahring your blog and for the experiences. I am Jo-Ann and am writing all the way from Malaysia.. my 1 year old niece has allergy to wheat and now bananas... so reading your blog has been enlightening.

Thank you so much for sharing !

Heidi Miller said...

Welcome, Jo-Ann! So happy that you are enjoying the blog and reaching out!