Talking Allergies

Never let food allergies stop you...
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Author:  Julie [ Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Never let food allergies stop you...

The summer 2005 issue included an article entitled "In Control" which was very inspiring. I wanted to comment on a quote which was included in the last paragraph on page 51... "Food allergies should never, never stop you or your kids from doing anything you want to do... There is always a way to cope with it, there is always a solution".

I truly wish I could say our family lives this way, and we do try our best to have a "normal" life, but I have to admit there are a few activities we no longer take part in - travel (to any great extent as our son had two severe allergic reactions while our family was on holidays) and eating in restaurants (virtually never). We find living with a 3 year old child with severe food allergies to peanut, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame seed, sunflower seed, mustard, green peas, pineapple and an avoidance of all beans and lentils has made the idea of travel or eating out a restaurant a daunting thought. Having said this, we have travelled on overnight trips, day trips, visits with many friends and family, but I find the idea of a "real trip" to be frightening since our son had allergic reactions on both of our last two trips - requiring a trip to the ER on the one trip and an ambulance call on the second.

Are there others out there that feel you can do everything you want to do? Travel was once something I loved to do with my husband and our non-allergic 6 year old daughter, but having all these food allergies to contend with in our 3 year old son has drastically changed our lives, and I no longer find we can do everything we want to do. Is there a way to "gain control"?

Thanks for listening. I look forward to hearing how others feel and if others can relate.

Author:  youngvader [ Wed Aug 03, 2005 8:58 am ]
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Nah, I think that's bull. Unless you are prepare to go to the hospital, which I am not, you have to accept your condition and deal with it as best as you can, but that also means accepting that there are certain things you can't do. Even all the precautions in the world can't prevent an accident from happening.

Author:  _Susan_ [ Wed Aug 03, 2005 9:02 am ]
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Can you remember what caused the reaction those two times and how he came in contact?
Getting sick in a strange city is a scary, if you didn't speak the language it could be terrifying.
My husband would tell you that I'm a control freak. :roll: This comes in handy at times especially when it comes to allergies.
I don't think that I would want to travel outside of Canada and the USA because I'm not familliar with other medical systems or even label laws.
If I could afford to travel, I think that I would stay at hotels that have kitchenettes or maybe rent a condo (timeshare?). There are very few restaurants that I feel safe eating in and even in those, I don't really ever relax. I'd much rather pack premade meals or cook myself once there. (Think of camping out in the city)
I hope to take dd to Disney world in a few years and I'm sure we will research the local hospitals, map it all out as a contingency plan and prepare our own meals.
Mostly though, we just do daytrips.

Author:  Julie [ Wed Aug 03, 2005 10:22 am ]
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On the first vacation after our son's diagnosis in 2003, he was only 17 months old and still crawling. We had rented a cottage, brought all our own food and bbq, had just arrived, and were unpacking. Our son was crawling around the cottage and exploring (I cringe to think of this now... how much we didn't know at the time!). All of sudden he was COVERED in HUGE hives all over his body and was screaming with distress - we had NO idea what he had come in contact with inside the cottage. We gave him benadryl (in hindsight we think we should have administered the Epipen) and rushed him to the nearest hospital (25 minutes away). All in all, it was terrifying, and because we didn't know what he had come in contact with, we felt we had no choice but to pack up and go home.

On the second vacation in 2003, our son was 19 months old. We had booked this place a year prior and almost cancelled after the incident when he was 17 months old. The reason we decided to still travel is because the place assured us they could accomodate our son's allergic needs in their on-site kitchen (again, I cringe at this... how can we expect others to so quickly understand and accomodate?). At the very first meal (turkey, potatoes and dressing) he had a major allergic reaction. An ambulance was called, and again another terrifying experience. The kitchen was unable to tell us what may have been the problem food, but we suspect it must have been something in the dressing.

So, that's been it for holidays for us. We think we will try again when our son is older and has a better understanding of the necessary precautions we all must take, including not putting his fingers in his mouth, etc....

Author:  Mylène [ Wed Aug 03, 2005 12:52 pm ]
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One thing I still don't understand is how people feel that eating at restaurants is a must to have a normal life... I haven't eaten in a restaurant for years and do consider myself as having a normal life (for most of it).

I haven't had time to read the article yet, but will over the weekend. But I can say that after a couple of years of sitting on my behind and telling myself I can't do anything anymore because of my allergies, I decided I had enough! It didn't happen in a day, but over the past couple of years, I managed to feel safe going to work (which I didn't at one point!), found safe grocery stores where I can go, found a way to travel (for 2 weeks this summer!) and enjoy spending time with my friends! I took control of my life and decided to do something with it despite my anaphylaxis to even the smell of fish! I haven't had more reactions that I did when I was almost not going out of my house because of my fear of the unknown, I just have to get to know my environments and the different things that can varry.

Like you are probably doing for your kid, my friends are keeping an eye open for me when we go places together in case I missed something. Your son will soon be old enough not to put everything in his mouth or crawl under a table. Then you will be able to travel to places where they have kitchennettes or even bring your own kitchen with you and do what I call indoor camping! Last weekend, I left with a few friends to spend a day at a concert downtown Montreal, in a neighbourhood I didn't know! This weekend, I'm leaving for 3 days again to go stay at one of my friends' parent's house. I bringing everything I need and asked them not to make any fish starting today and until I leave on Sunday and they respect that. I won't be touching everything in the house and all as I will bring my dishes and food and all, but I will be there and enjoy my stay! Since I started to bring everything and accept nothing that I didn't bring, I have never had a reaction while on a trip! No airline, trains or bus are willing to take me onboard, so I travel by car, but that's all I need to regain the freedom that the allergies tried to take away from me!


Author:  Helen [ Thu Aug 04, 2005 2:31 pm ]
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I agree with you all on this one. I don't think that anyone should feel that they aren't handling things well if they don't want to take the risks associated with living a "normal" life (whatever that is).

Author:  Julie [ Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:23 pm ]
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Thanks everyone for your much appreciated words of wisdom so far. It's great to chat with others in the same boat. I guess every person or family finds what is "normal" for them, (or a new normal for them) and then just gets on in a way that best suits them. Lisa, I'm actually one of those women that very recently gave up a demanding career in order to focus on the needs of our family, so I really appreciated hearing what you had to say. It sounds like you're a student yourself, so I admire your insight into anothers situation. I also liked your comment regarding "just accepting limitations for what they are" - sounds like you've got a really reasonable attitude about it all. And youngvader, I liked your comment "accepting that there are certain things you can't do". I feel our family is still working on this, this is why I felt this article was suggesting that you can still do anything you want to do, and I just don't think this is always possible. I think altering the way we do things is necessary, and as Mylene said "regain the freedom that the allergies tried to take away".

If there's something I've learned over time, it's that every person has difficulities to deal with. Those of us in the Allergic Living community happen to share this common difficulty, but I don't believe anyone just sails through life.

Author:  Helen [ Mon Aug 08, 2005 10:32 pm ]
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Thanks, Julie--it's good to know that I *sound* like I have a reasonable attitude towards the allergy situation. I'm working on it in any case :)

Author:  krasota [ Tue Aug 09, 2005 1:58 am ]
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I'm comfortable travelling. I just opt to camp and pack my own food.

The only thing I don't do is go out to eat with friends and attend religious events (pagan events are almost always food-centered). I don't miss those things that much--if I want to hang out with my friends, we do it at someone's house or a club.


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