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There's No Room for Error When it Comes to Food Allergies

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My son is 12. He’s had life threatening food allergies to milk, egg, peanut and tree nuts since he was born. He’s finally to the age where he can look at packaging himself and know whether or not he can have something. He often still asks me to double check it and will trust an adult if they say something is safe.

It is in his 504 plan at school that all food in the classroom has to go through me. This covers the butt of the school and allows me to have some say in keeping my son safe. When preparing for a field trip recently, the teacher failed to follow this rule. It was an after school event and he genuinely forgot to ask me. I wasn’t too terribly upset until he emailed me to make sure Mason could have Frito Lay products. I told him it depended on the product. He didn’t understand. I told him Cheetos would be a definite “no” being that they have cheese on them which is a milk product. Only then did it start to sink in what a serious issue this is.

Even things like crackers can have milk. Nerds candy have egg in them. It’s the little things that you may look over, thinking, “there’s no way he could be allergic to this,” that can get you in trouble. Until you walk in the shoes of a parent or child who lives this every moment of every day, there’s no way you can fully understand. I get that. Heck, I don’t even fully trust our own family to understand because they don’t live it every second of every day.

It’s hard. It’s exhausting, anxiety producing and frustrating at times. Going out to eat is a nightmare. Not knowing if all safety regulations are met in differing kitchens is a mess to try and keep up with. We stick to certain restaurants and he eats a fairly routine and mundane soy diet because on top of the allergies, he’s a picky eater.

I gather that every illness and every disorder follows the same rule: you don’t understand it fully until you live it every second of every day. I try my hardest to be patient and understanding, but it can get frustrating at times when it’s my child’s life that is on the line. There’s no room for error. We keep on keeping on and I can only hope that this illness has led me to be a better person with a more open mind regarding chronic illnesses and their varying struggles.

Getty image by CarrieCaptured

Originally published: April 9, 2018
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