Tuesday, March 30, 2010

All By Myself

There is a time when every parent has to let go, and allow their child to go out on their own. A few days ago I went out on my own without any friend or roommate. I was craving some gelato on a beautiful, warm and sunny day, with no friends around.

I walked down to my neighborhood gelateria. I gave the woman my allergy card and then explained in Italian and hand motions to wash the scoop. I wasn't sure about the word for 'under' in Italian, to explain to scoop from underneath to make sure there is no cross-contamination. When I went for a run that morning, I remembered noticing a sign for an underpass, and hoped I had understood the sign correctly. "Sotto" I said, hoping it meant under. I was correct!

I successfully bought my second gelato all by myself! :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Day Trip, Another Experience

I spent the day in Austria on Sunday. As awesome as it is to say that I can spend the day there, it is also just as difficult to deal with another countries language and food differences. Of course, as always, I packed myself a mini-picnic of snacks. I did not anticipate eating anything there, since I didn't have a way to print out a copy of my German chef card (and the decision to go was made about an hour before leaving). I made sure my meds were in my bag, then headed out to meet my friends in the car to drive to Austria.

The drive only took us two hours out of our dirty, air-polluted city, and into some fresh Austrian air! There was a considerable difference when we opened our doors and breathed in fresh, breathable, healthy lung, smoke free air. It was amazing!

The air in my Italian city has been really bothering my environmental allergies and asthma lately. I am an avid runner, and when I go out for my run in the city, I can feel my lungs just trying to find fresh air to breathe. It is terrible!

Something that really stood out to me, was that I didn't see anyone smoking! Where I live, it is more difficult to find a person that isn't smoking, than that is!

Even as we walked by cafes, I didn't have to pass through any clouds of smoke!

When my friends were finally hungry, we found a restaurant for dinner. All I ordered was a drink, but I didn't mind because I had been snacking all day!

Even with a spontaneous day trip outside the country that I live, I can still figure out ways to make my allergies work, and not stop me from doing what I want!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Out to dinner!

Last night I went out to dinner at a restaurant called Rosso Pomodoro (Red Tomato) for one of my friend's birthdays. I had been to the restaurant once before when it was extremely busy. That night they were afraid of cross contamination, so they told me I could order this massive ball of mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. It was good (one of my favorite salads), but it was expensive, and not what I was in the mood for, especially when I heard the pizza was excellent there!

The restaurant is actually a chain in Italy, kind of like Olive Garden in the U.S., except classier, with real, fresh Italian food. I was hoping that when I went back this time, they would be able to figure out pizza or pasta for me. I found out though, when I tried to order pizza last night, that they use vegatale olio, which is not okay in Italy for people with nut allergies. The vegtable oil here, sometimes has nut oils in it, so you can never tell if it is okay or not, which is why I always have to avoid it.

I ended up getting a salad with chicken breast in it, which was good, but double the price of the pizza, and not what I wanted. This hasn't happened too often though, so now I know I just can't get pizza or pasta there! Lesson learned.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Severe Allergies Are A Disability?

I just finished reading this article on Capenews.net about a school that banned all nut products. The school has already taken precautions of 'nut free classrooms and lunch tables.' I am curious to know what parents think about this?

The ban was very controversial in the article. One parent believed that she was speaking for the majority by asking why her child couldn't bring a peanut butter sandwich to school. Others also agreed that it gives a false sense of security, because ensuring that it is nut free is impossible. I agree with this. I think it certainly does give people a false sense of security. No where will you find a definitely 100 percent guarantee that a place is allergen free. I think it takes away the responsibility from the child, and helps them to believe that in life they will always be in environments where no allergens exist.

Since I have always been the minority, having allergies since I was a baby, and not knowing anyone else with them, I was never raised in an environment with this false sense of security. If my children some day have allergies, I will also want to raise them in an environment where there is no false sense of security, and where they must learn to take responsibility. It is truly up to the parents to empower their children to learn how to take responsibility for themselves. If parents do that, then no matter where their child is, they will be safer knowing how to keep themselves safe, and by knowing what they need to do. Whereas if children are raised thinking they are always safe when they are not, and are not shown how to take care of themselves, then how will they be able to go out in the world one day on their own? Parents can not always be by their child's side every step of the way. They also need to learn to let go.

Educating people about allergies is important, and taking precautions is certainly significant. I think which precautions are taken is what is most important. Education is really the key to helping your child. It is the way to empower them!

One of the woman that was quoted in the article, also commented after another woman commented, how that woman in the article didn't understand. The woman in the article commented back saying, "I learned so much about these disabled kids and the lives they have to live. But I am just a normal person with normal kids, so it took a little bit of time." I have to admit I was extremely offended by this woman. Normal? Am I not 'normal' because I have allergies? These kids are 'disabled?' It doesn't sound like she has learned much since! She is someone who truly needs to be educated about allergies!

When I read this article, I was truly startled by the word 'disability.' I don't feel like I have a disability. Sure, I have something that I have had to learn to cope with, but never once have I felt like I am disabled in some way. I feel very lucky for what I can eat and do. I would never say that I have a disability though! I just don't think that is the right word, because I can still do everything I want to do for the most part. I don't feel any inhibition to do anything. I travel, I live in other countries, I work, I live a 'normal' life. Yes, I can't eat anything I see, but I don't feel disabled by that. Certainly I feel disappointed sometimes, but not disabled, because I know how to take care of myself, and I was given the tools that empowered me to believe that I can do what I want to do, allergies or not!