Tag Archives: Ignorance

Food Allergies are Real

Food allergies are real.   Just look at the facts.

According to https://www.foodallergy.org/facts-and-stats,

“Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies. This potentially deadly disease affects 1 in every 13 children (under 18 years of age) in the U.S. That’s roughly two in every classroom.”

Those are the facts.   They are not exaggerated.  Unfortunately, sometimes people don’t understand unless they experience or witness it themselves.   With the holidays coming up, it should be a safe and special time with family and friends.   Therefore, it is important for everyone to put aside any ignorance they may have, learn the facts, and follow restrictions with an open mind and heart.

Here is an article that touches upon this common issue and occurrence. Check it out and help us put an end to the ignorance that often surrounds allergies.   Smiling on to a safe and special holiday season…

Family Food Feud

Source: http://allergicliving.com/

Making The Holidays Happy AND Allergy-Friendly

Bullying & Food Allergies

Since my son is only 17 months old, bullying is not yet something we are faced with.  However, the reality is that bullying is a huge problem that comes in many shapes and forms.  Working in a middle school for over ten years and having some first-hand experience with being bullied myself, this is an issue I take very seriously and do not tolerate.

According to the statistics listed in the following article,

“1/3 of children with life threatening food allergies are bullied.”


Since statistics tell us that this may be something we eventually encounter, we want to teach our son to not only defend himself, but also to stand up for others and what is right.

Since the first way to put an end to this type of ignorance in our society is to educate, we wanted to raise awareness and share the following article. Let’s stop bullying one person…one smile…. at a time…

Huff Supports National Bullying Prevention Month

The Truth Must Not Tiptoe

To You or Anyone out there that is ever asked to watch over my son for just a moment,

I must start by explaining how challenging this week has been. I stopped myself from writing this sooner because it would have had a much more angry tone. I do believe that emotions are much clearer once they have had a day or two to sort themselves out and time to be slept on…

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With that being said, I can no long tiptoe around certain facts but instead I must wear “crazy mom” proud in hopes that the blatant truth even grabs your potential ignorance for a second. So while I write this, I pray for empathy…

 MOCKINGBIRD

To start, let me recap.  My little guy is not eating at daycare yet again. It started on Tuesday with two days of refusing any food from 7 am- 2:30 pm. On Tuesday, he ate nonstop when he got home though until he went to bed. That did change the later part of the week when he started to refuse many foods at home too. We are not sure what is causing this?

Is he cutting more teeth? (The bottom canines are right there about to cut through and the top canines reeked havoc a few weeks ago.)

Is it the cold and cough he had?

Is it being a toddler and going through yet another phase?

Is it all of the above?

Or, is it something else…

Heck, maybe he is bored with his restricted diet and we need to start getting more creative.


Whatever the reason for this strike is …

No matter how frustrating it may get …

No matter how challenging it is to manage a child with multiple food allergies …

There are several factors that are imperative for you to know:

1) The guidelines and safety procedures that we worked on for him during mealtimes were not created to make your life more difficult. ( Click here for daycare accommodation post.) Instead, they are meant to protect my son’s life. We do realize how challenging it is to manage many active toddlers and truly appreciate that all of you have agreed to work with us despite the allergies.

2) Please don’t tell me that my son no longer likes bananas when you haven’t even peeled it for him. I do thank you for the confirmation that my son is advanced but I am not so sure any 17 month old toddler is communicating enough at this point to inform you, “I won’t be eating bananas anymore so there’s no need to peel.” I am hoping that this is just teeth and a phase which will soon pass. I send in bananas every day because I am hopeful he will start to eat them again. Hope is what I thrive on…

3) Please don’t take it upon yourself to stop using the high chair we provided for snack and mealtimes because it is inconvenient to strap him into it then have to unstrap him five minutes later when I arrive to pick him up. Your inconvenience takes up ten seconds of your time that I am willing to take off your hands and do myself. Those ten seconds can protect his life.

4) Actually, let’s go back to the topic of actual food again.   Please refrain from telling me he no longer likes any of the food I ever provide. I can assure you that I know my son best and understand how his diet is very repetitive. I too believe he is bored with his food and I promise you we are working on it.  We don’t have as many options as most do and introducing new foods is often a frightening task.  With that being said, please also hold back from telling me to cut back on the amount of food I send in. What inconvenience does it cause if I continue to send in what he was typically eating at home during the summer?  …Once again, I am breathing on hope…

5) My son had an anaphylactic reaction to a tiny amount of yogurt. His dairy IgE levels are still very high as are the components of it that are more likely to cause anaphylaxis.  Therefore, there is a greater chance of a life-threatening reaction if he was to ingest it again. Many foods (more than you think) that people of all ages consume contain dairy.  Soooooo…..

He should never ever ever be playing next to another toddler or young child who is eating. The webcam shot is beyond terrifying especially since it wasn’t an adult who removed him from the area but instead, my 17 month old son himself. This is his life we are talking about. One taste of any of it and he needs his EpiPen or Auvi-Q administered. If he is the one removing himself and not an adult seeing this situation, I am not so sure how that can happen. It causes my fear to challenge my faith…

Please tell me how to make this easier for you to monitor him. We tried getting him a private one-to-one nurse for mealtimes … We bought him his own high chair for meal times … We will buy gates to separate the eating and playing areas if need be. I will do anything to ensure his safety and help all of you. I pray throughout each day that God guides me through all of my decisions and actions especially those that relate to my little guy. I pray you tell me how I can help you protect my son. Prayer drives my faith…

I know there will be close calls in general because of sending him to daycare.   Right now, it is not an option financially for me to stay home with him and protect him. I wish there was an easy answer to all of this. I wish that there were daycare facilities out there free of the top 8 allergens, not just tree nuts and peanuts. People don’t just have anaphylactic reactions to nuts you know? (Why aren’t there facilities like this especially with the prevalence of food allergies so high and increasing?)

If you or anyone out there is ever asked to watch over my son for just a moment, I pray that you can stop focusing on me as the crazy mom that I know you have labeled me as already.  Instead, I pray that you turn that focus to my son’s best interest and when you have questions ask me or suggestions suggest them to me.  Trust me that I am more than you think I am….

DAVID GOKEY

Instead, put aside your ignorance for a second and remind yourself that this is about life. My son’s life depends on it. So, open your minds and hearts by first tuning in your ears and actions.There are already too many “what ifs” in life to have to worry about factors that can be controlled.  Is it wrong of me to expect this? Are my expectations too high?

Until I have more answers next week, I am challenged by some fears. I fear that I will start to hear daycare facilities tell us that they cannot have my son. I worry that he will not be able to have the same experiences in life as others his age. I want to make his life as amazing as possible and teach him that food allergies like any challenge in life, can’t define you.   Only YOU can define yourself! 

But I need your help…

I am no longer angry at anyone… for I never stay that way for long. Instead, I am more motivated than ever to continue this journey of advocating and protecting my little “Cutes.”

LOVE

I hope that my honesty can help shut the door on ignorance for at least one person.  In the meantime, we thank you God because it is very evident that you are walking right beside our son, holding his hand through this valley, this journey that we can’t tiptoe around.  But with your strength and the truth, we can battle and smile on…


See more about allergy levels here:

Allergy Level Post

Dairy Components

Bagging Our Yogurt Separately

Having the day off from work today, I took my son to Shoprite.  Since TJ is currently allergic to many common foods that fill these aisles, I do take extra precautions.   (For awhile, during the winter, I would not bring him to any stores with food by myself.   I was still very fearful and not ready yet.)

However, we always go grocery shopping together now.  I do follow certain precautions though because I find comfort in being over-cautious.

  1. Of course, I carry his Auvi-Q/Epi-Pen
  2. He sits in a shopping cart with a cover over it that I bring.
  3. I put all of the foods he is allergic to far away from his reach.  (I even put yogurt, creamer, and milk for my husband under the cart.)
  4. I always bring water, Puffs, or toys to occupy TJ.
  5. When bagging my items, I bag all dairy objects in a separate bag. 

If the cashier wants to bag herself or himself, I ask if she or he can do #5.  Bag separately. No one has ever had a problem with this before today.   This morning when I almost forgot that I had yogurt on the bottom of the cart, TJ reminded me by pointing to it, saying “Uh oh.” Therefore, I apologized and gave it to the cashier who had just started scanning up my items.

I asked, “Can you please bag the yogurt in a separate bag?”

Giving me a look already since I had almost forgotten them on the bottom, she questioned, ” Why?”

Even though I should not have had to explain, I responded, “My son has an allergy to it and so I try to be extra careful.”

Her responses baffled me and yet again reminded me that too many people out there are still ignorant in regards to food allergies. “He is allergic to the container?”

Because I suddenly felt a strong urge to hold back how angry and upset I was, I smiled instead and replied, “He is allergic to dairy.  Yogurt is dairy. So, no it’s not the container; however, containers can open by accident which has happened to me before with yogurt.  So, we bag separately.”

Oh and she did not stop, “I never heard of anyone being allergic to yogurt.”

I informed her that, “Actually, milk is one of the top 8 food allergies and top one for children.”

(In America – I know that these top allergens are different in different countries.)


This is the type of ignorance that I wrote about this week.  Education is the key to opening minds and then hearts.   In the past, an experience like this would have made me break down crying in the car on the way home and then run to my husband about it, probably still crying.   It sounds dramatic but it is scary. However, something has changed and is continuing to shift in me through all of this.

Instead, I am hopeful that either this worker will think about what I said or maybe the people who were close by and heard our conversation, learned something by it.  (It wasn’t exactly a quiet conversation…ha) However, even if no one else learned anything, I did. I learned even more about this role of being TJ’s advocate and because of that alone, our faith goes beyond ignorance so we smile on.


MOO

Your Ignorance is Not Bliss

According to Wikipedia,Ignorance is a state of being uninformed (lack of knowledge)  The word ignorance is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware and used as an insult to describe individuals who  deliberately ignore or disregard important information or facts.”

IGNORANCE


With that being said, I do not mean any of this as an insult, instead it is meant in a way that will educate others so that TJ can enjoy a safe, healthy life like he deserves. While food allergies and eczema do not define TJ, it is important that others understand how they currently affect his life.

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Yes, if you are allergic to milk, it is not just milk you avoid, it’s the millions of foods that contain milk too. It’s cheese, it’s yogurt, it’s goldfish crackers, it’s endless foods….You don’t know how many times people innocently have made related comments to me like the one above. I challenge you to read some labels and you’ll be surprised as to what you find.

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I get it. I totally get that sometimes people would rather not know of all the dangers to save themselves from the worry…the pain… the possibilities… the reality. I get it because sometimes I have found that not knowing is way easier than facing reality. Heck, I use to think it was super cute that TJ would reach for my pizza on Friday nights and often debated letting him touch or lick it.  At five months, he was so curious and interested; therefore, I felt like he was very ready to start solids. That was my own ignorance. Something always held me back from allowing that though.   That was my mommy’s instinct.

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However, in the world of food allergies, ignorance is deadly. In the past, I have read, heard, and even thought to myself, “this is a little much” when asked to comply to a related request. In those times no matter how much of an empathetic person I am, I was ignorant. I chose to text on my phone and half listen during meetings about food allergies and EpiPens. That was not okay. Just like it is not okay to “multi-task” during any talk, meeting, or workshop about anyone’s health and safety especially when people’s lives depend on it.

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Since some of my earliest childhood memories, I admit that I do have a tendency to worry and overreact at times. I admit that what many people may have viewed and may still view as overreacting and being dramatic is really my passion and voice shining through. I don’t know how to take on something without putting my heart and soul in it. With protecting my son, ignorance, even for a second, thinks that I’m being dramatic. It’s not drama, it’s about safety, it’s about life.

As parents, I am learning that part of us will always worry. We will worry in moments our children are near and those times that they are far. When we survive their first day of preschool, then we will come to all the other firsts. First day of kindergarten… First day of middle school.. First day of high school… First day they drive … First day of college… First date… There will always be a new first which will bring on a wonderful new stage of this journey; however, with it will come a new reason to worry. I get it and I am ready for it. The part of it that I wish wasn’t working against us is the ignorance.

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Now, this ignorance that I worry about is more than just the people who roll their eyes behind my back or talk about how I need to relax. It’s more than the people who even though they may not mean to be, are and have labeled me as “the crazy allergy mom,” thus, labeling TJ as the adorable guy with overprotective parents. It’s more than that. To be honest, that’s not that ignorance that really terrifies me.

  • Instead, it is the person who believes that not washing their hands one time before feeding TJ is no big deal…
  • It is the person that believes giving him a kiss on the cheeks after eating lunch before brushing their teeth is not going to do any harm…
  • It is the person who thinks allowing him to use the finger paint for a “quick” art project is okay…
  • And the scariest one … The person who thinks that TJ eating one Cheerio or goldfish that he found hidden on the ground is no big deal especially if he doesn’t have any initial reactions. In that case, because his known allergies are present in that one tiny piece of food and allergic reactions can be delayed and sooooo unpredictable,  according to his Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Emergency Care Plan, someone must administer his Epi-Pen or Auvi-Q and call 911. Reactions don’t have to be immediate but action must be in order to save lives.

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I pray that although ignorance exists everywhere, that I am helping to educate others by breaking down these walls and opening eyes and hearts instead.

I pray that you battle down that ignorance and allow your mind and heart to really listen, to really understand, to respect. When you are sitting in the next meeting at work learning about safety procedures including signs of an allergic reaction and administering an Epi-pen, ignorance is torn apart a bit more when put your phone down for a minute and truly listen.

When you are informed that your child’s school or classroom is peanut and tree nut free, Ignorance is battled away if you ignore those “another crazy allergy parent.” When you hear anyone or read of people still sending food that may contain nuts in or admitting that they don’t really check labels like their daycare asked them to, ignorance is slapped in the face when even a parent who does not have any children with food allergies speaks up.  Or, when the teacher checks the food labels in the morning and calls for a replacement lunch.

When you start to write off listening to any talk about allergies because you understand how annoying they are since you have always had seasonal allergies, ignorance begins to be erased when you acknowledge it’s more than these seasonal allergies.

Last but definitely not least, as I sit in my school’s Epi-pen training at the start of this school year, it will reach me in a way that it has never before. It will bring me back to TJ’s first taste of yogurt and to his anaphylactic reaction that happened instantly. In that moment, my own ignorance was exposed as I was forced to defeat it in just a moment. In a moment when I did not know what would happen next as we rode in an ambulance to the hospital. In that moment, my life was forever changed. It’s not only my job to advocate and protect TJ, but also to educate and defeat the ignorance that exists about the world of food allergies. I pray that you will think twice before dismissing a letter from school or a meeting at work. Instead, I pray more people will listen with an open mind and heart.

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The reality is this is more than just TJ’s story, it is the scary truth of food allergies.   Anyone can develop a food allergy at any point of their lives.   Therefore, the first step is to put your ignorance aside and allow yourself to become educated.

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One of my favorite quotes is the one above.   It talks about the importance of being empathetic and kind always because you never know what the person next to you is truly battling.   While I try to live my life according to that advice, there are some battles like food allergies that are out in the open. With so much information to share about it, a person like TJ should never have to battle against people turning their heads to it.  Please don’t let my son’s battle be your ignorance.

As always, thank you for reading my post.  As we continue to educate others, we smile on…