Della Devoted!: A Day in the Life of a Food Allergy Mom

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A Day in the Life of a Food Allergy Mom



We've all heard of Food Allergies, but probably haven't given the term much thought and consideration. I was the same exact way. I never actually took the term seriously until my son was diagnosed with Severe Life-Threatening Food Allergies. When Raylan was only 15 months old, a simple bite of chinese food landed him in the Emergency Room with rashes from head to toe. He also had another incident that brought on a full blown Asthma Attack which also resulted in another trip to the ER. It was then that his pediatrician decided to order blood work to find the cause of such reactions. The blood work revealed a Peanut Allergy. We were then referred to an allergist who also did blood work and Allergy Skin testing. It was in fact a Peanut Allergy but also Tree Nuts too. On a scale from 0-5, with 5 being the worst; Raylan's severity is a 4 which is really severe and potentially life threatening. When Raylan turned 3, we  learned of another food allergy that he has developed. He is also allergic to several types of Fish so we try to stay away from all types of Fish for the risk of cross-contamination.

Being a Food Allergy Mom has not been an easy task at all, but as hard as it has been for me I cannot imagine how hard it is for Raylan.  We carry two Epi-Pen's everywhere we go and Benadryl as well. You never know when he can react to something. He is also skin contact allergic and has had outbreaks from people simply not washing their hands well enough. I feel like I am constantly having to stress good hand washing measures to people explaining that they have to wash with soap and water. Hand sanitizers do not do the trick when it comes to food allergies. There are so many things that he cannot eat. People assume that just because a food doesn't have nuts in it that he can have it, this is not true. So many food are made on the same assembly lines and have been processed in the same facility where peanuts and tree nuts have been. He must stay away from all of these types of food because the risk of cross-contamination is so great. Let me just say that the list of foods that he can't have is much longer than the ones he can have.  This momma has the list of foods memorized by heart.

Parties are hard for us to attend. I always make his birthday cakes, because a lot of cakes from bakeries and deli's  have been made on shared equipment where nuts have been.  If he attends a friend's birthday party, he usually can't have the cake. I always try to bring him a snack  to a party, so that he doesn't feel left out. There have been times that I have forgotten to bring him a snack and he could only eat one or two things at the party. Foods that you would never dream of contain nuts or have cross-contamination from nuts and it's not just desserts.  He's been to Story Time at our local library and other events that have snacks and it has absolutely broke my heart to see other kids being able to eat something while he can't. He has asked me over and over again why he has food allergies and why can't he have a certain type of food when others can. That hurts my heart so bad! However, most people have been so mindful and understanding of his allergies and always try to make him feel included. I can't even begin to tell you how happy that makes me! I wish everyone were like this! There is a lady in our county at our local dairy drive in that is so awesome! She has alerted her staff of his allergies and they always take such careful precautions when fixing his ice cream. She has even fixed him up his own nut-free trick or treat bag. Story Time parents have also fixed him nut-free things for holidays and that has meant the world to us.

We carry snacks everywhere we go because most places and events have things that he can't eat. It's hard for people to understand that something so harmless as a bite of food could attack someone's body. I feel like I am constantly having to explain  and repeat his allergies to everyone. I also have to research restaurants and their menus before going, so mostly we stick to the restaurants that we know and feel comfortable with.

As a food allergy mom, I have a lot of anxiety and it is crippling. I'm sure that all food allergy mom's can relate.  I really dread when he starts pre-school in the fall. There are so many precautions that I have to inform the staff of as well as leaving an Epi-Pen and Benadryl on site for Raylan. School is going to be a long journey for us, but I do feel comfortable with the school that we have chosen to send him to. I've heard such  great things about their school being nut-free and the precautions that they take for other food allergies as well such as his fish allergies. The school is a longer drive for us, but I'm willing to take the drive to ensure Raylan's safety.

Being a food allergy mom is scary and lonely. It's hard being the only mom who has to bring extra snacks to a party. It's also hard when you're at an event where children's plates are being made and you have to speak up and say that you have to fix your son's plate yourself because of his food allergies. When we want to swing through a drive thru instead of cooking, we usually have to make another stop for Raylan's food because he can't eat at the restaurant where my husband and I want to get our food from.

Like I said, being a food allergy mom is super hard, lonely and scary. I always worry that Raylan will be bullied or excluded and I pray for his safety daily. The allergist said that with the severity of his allergies, it is not likely that he will outgrow his. I pray that God intervenes and takes his food allergies away. I love my son with all of my heart and soul and I would never change anything about him, except for his food allergies.  His food allergies are not a disease, but it is just as life threatening. My hope is to spread more awareness and shed light on food allergies. People need to be more informed and take food allergies seriously.  Some people have gotten upset because they couldn't eat their Reese Cup around Raylan, but my child's life is far more precious and important than the snack that person wants to eat. My child should not have to feel excluded and he deserves to have fun and enjoy life the same as everyone else does.

This is my son Raylan...Age 4



Please take the time to gain some knowledge and understanding on Food Allergies.  Food Allergy Mom's aren't trying to be difficult, we are only trying to protect our children. We want them to be happy, healthy and feel included!

Please visit the following websites for more information on Food Allergies 
https://www.foodallergy.org
http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org 

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