Unless you have a child that has food allergies or you have food allergies yourself, then you have absolutely no clue what it is like. Let me tell you that being a food allergy mom is no walk in the park. As hard as it is for the mom, I just can't imagine how hard it is for the child.
Our son Raylan was diagnosed with a peanut and tree nut allergy at 14 months old. We had ate Chinese and shortly thereafter, we landed in the E.R. Raylan's eyes had swollen and he was broke out from head to toe. Thank the good Lord above it didn't turn into anaphylactic shock. He had ate Chinese noodles and rice that had peanut additives in them. Who would have thought that noodles and rice would have peanut additives! He had never had peanut butter at such a young age or anything with nuts in them or been in direct contact with nuts before this incident and thank God he hadn't. It could have been deadly. After the trip to the ER, Raylan's pediatrician decided it would be best to do an allergy blood panel. It showed up peanuts. We were then referred to an asthma and allergy specialist for further testing. There, Raylan had to endure 15 different skin tests which by the way was very hard to keep him still. It was pure torture holding him down while they pricked our baby 15 different times. The skin allergy testing proved that Raylan was severely allergic to peanuts. The severity level goes from 0-5 with 5 being the worst. On that scale, Raylan tested at a 4. This severity level could lead to anaphylactic shock or even death. We were told to keep him away from peanuts and tree nuts. The doctor said to just keep him away from all nuts. We now carry two Epi Pens and Benadryl everywhere we go.
Here is a list of things to show you just how difficult this journey has been and will continue to be.
- We pack 2 Epi-Pens and Benadryl everywhere we go.
- Allergy moms do more research than the FBI.
- I have to read every single label before Raylan can eat it.
- My husband and I can't eat anything with nuts around Raylan.
- If someone were to touch Raylan after they had ate something with nuts without washing their hands, it could cause him to breakout in whelps or go into anaphylaxis. The same goes for kissing him. They would have to brush their teeth very well first.
- Raylan can't go to steakhouses or restaurants where nuts are on the tables and floors. If we want to go to a steakhouse, we have to find a babysitter.
- He can't eat anything that has been processed in the same facility where nuts are. There could have been cross contamination.
- Holidays are so scary. There are so many things that he can't eat.
- Church dinners, family reunions and birthday parties are terrifying because you don't know if someone has fried something in peanut oil or put nuts in a dessert.
- Trying out new restaurants are not good experiences. Even though the allergen menu says peanut and nut free, I'm holding my breath and praying the whole time Raylan is eating. You just never know what could be in the food.
- Nuts are in everything! Take the Chinese food for example. Who would have thought it had peanut additives! Even some BBQ sauces have nut additives.
- Ice cream parlors are a big NO! There are only a select few places where Raylan can have ice cream at and it's no fun telling a child they can't have ice cream.
- It's hard to explain to a child why they can't have certain foods when others can.
- There isn't a lot that he can eat. I'm sure he gets tired of eating the same things over and over again.
- Even birthday cakes from Walmart and Food City aren't safe. They have been made on the same equipment that nuts have been on. So I make Raylan's cakes. I thank God that I took a cake decorating class before I had Raylan.
- You have to deal with uneducated people. Some people just don't understand the severity of food allergies. They think it's no big deal and all that will happen is that he will get a little rash or that if he does have to have an Epi pen then he will be fine after that.
- Hand sanitizer doesn't remove peanut proteins from hands. It takes actual soap and water.
- School will be terrifying. Even though most schools are nut free, what if some careless parent sneaks in their kid a Reese cup or peanut butter and jelly sandwich and Raylan gets his hands on it or eats it. I pray that all these lunchboxes and backpacks will be double checked.
- Sleepovers at friends houses may not happen unless the parents are well educated in the severity of his food allergy.
- I worry he will feel left out or bullied.
There are so many more things that I could list but I will spare you the time. I'm speaking from my experience with Raylan's nut allergy, but I'm sure any food allergy mom would agree with my list. Having a child with food allergies is a terrifying journey. You pray every single day that God will protect and keep your child safe. I have cried and cried from worry that one little bite of something could kill my son. I pray that a cure for food allergies will be found one day or that Raylan would outgrow his allergy. With God all things are possible!
Please take the time to research food allergies and the dangers of them. Get people more educated about food allergies. Food allergy moms aren't crazy and we aren't just being overprotective, we are trying to keep our children alive. Please pray for a cure to be found. Our children deserve to live normal healthy lives too!
To learn more about Food Allergies please visit http://www.foodallergy.org/