Sunday, July 27, 2008

My first entry!

Welcome to my blog! I've been thinking about trying this for a long time. After some experiences lately, I decided this is a good outlet to share my allergy adventures and what I've learned so far. My anaphylactic allergies include peanuts, tree nuts, fish and potatoes, and less severe allergies to banana, kiwi, legumes, some raw fruits and vegetables. What I find most important with having anaphylactic allergies is trusting yourself, and finding ways to keep yourself safe. No matter what, not everyone is going to understand, and although I do hope that more people will begin to understand the severity of food allergies, I am not naive to the fact that most don't. I ALWAYS carry my epi-pen...ALWAYS! That is what will saves lives, and that is by far what I have found to be the most important way of keeping myself safe. I also wear a Medic Alert bracelet. These two items are the most important possessions I own, because they are what could save my life in the case of a reaction.

Yesterday, I went out for lunch with my family. We went to a cute little sandwich/ice cream shop that we had never tried before. I ordered my sandwich without a problem. I explained my allergies, the importance of using clean knives and surfaces to make it, and there was no problem. After sitting and enjoying a nice lunch outdoors in the sunshine, everyone was ready for an ice cream. I went in to order, and asked the man waiting on us if he had the ingredients in the ice cream. He said, "No, but I know the chocolate is Andes. There are no nuts, even though it looks like it." My first red flag in this conversation was that the man waiting on us did not know the exact ingredients. The next flag was that he said that it had "Andes chocolate which doesn't have nuts," but it does. Even with the first red flag, I would not have had the ice cream, but especially when someone clearly does not understand, or know what they are talking about, that is all the more reason not to eat it.

After everyone else in my family had ice cream and was sitting enjoying it outside, I could feel my frustration. I am always able to hide it by my nonchalant, "Oh it's fine. I don't care. I can always get ______ later" speech that I easily can spew out from years of practice. Of course, with ice cream being one of my favorite foods, that is not exactly how I feel, but there is nothing else that can be done, and I never want anyone else feeling bad for my inability to eat. For children on the other hand, who can not verbally express their feelings, their frustration can often come out in a tantrum.

Over time, I have learned how to read my gut feelings, and know when to trust what I am eating, and when not to. I have lived in other countries, traveled to many more, and never have once let my allergies control where or what I want to do. I have learned to empower myself. I have talked to many parents who are afraid of letting their food allergic child go anywhere or do anything without them. I give my parents great credit for the amount of independence and self-reliance they bestowed upon me at a very young age. For any parent, it is difficult to let your child go, but when you know they have something that could easily hurt them, it is even more difficult. The key to my own independence at such a young age, was the way in which my parents taught me and showed me how to be responsible for myself. No one wants to grow up living in a bubble, so it's all about figuring out how to make the world outside, feel safe without the bubble wrap.