17 Things I Want You to Know About Having a Child With a Food Allergy
1. I have two daughters. They are 14 and 10. They are both healthy. I’m so lucky to be their mom.
2. But I want you to know my youngest has a life-threatening condition. She can die within minutes if she doesn’t get her medication.
3. I want you to know she has an allergy to tree nuts.
4. I want you to know we have almost lost her twice.
5. I want you to know she has to have two epinephrine auto injectors with her at all times.
6. I want you to know she can’t eat anything unless the label has been read. Every label needs to be read every time because labels can change. She can’t eat something if the label says “may contain” or “made in the same facility.”
7. I want you to know that legally companies don’t have to label for “may contain” or “made in the same facility.”
8. I want you to know that anyone who has her in their care must be trained on CPR and how to use an epinephrine auto injector.
9. I want you to know we don’t want sympathy. We don’t want pity. We want her treated like everyone else.
10. I want you to know she has been to two birthday parties without us. The only time she has been to a sleepover is at her grandparents’ house.
11. I want you to know that everything she comes into contact with has to be scrutinized. Art supplies, shampoo, lotions — everything.
12. I want you to know that going out to eat is a process. We need to see if the restaurant has an allergen menu. We have to talk to the manager, chef and wait staff about the allergy every time we go out. We have to wonder if the restaurant makes sure her food is not cross-contaminated. Cross contamination is when her food touches other food, countertops and utensils that could have touched tree nuts.
13. I want you to know I know that you, the reader, might not have known anyone growing up who had an allergy.
14. I want you to know that yes, I know that allergy rates are skyrocketing. No, I don’t know why. And no, there is no cure.
15. I want you to know I’m super shy, and being an advocate is way out of my comfort zone.
16. I want you to know that, despite all of this, our family is brave, strong and united in the fight against food allergies.
17. I want you to know we live life to the fullest every day.
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