Talking Allergies

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Author:  walooet [ Wed Aug 31, 2011 1:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Siblings...

Long-winded story here and wondering how others deal with the sibling without allergies in this situation.

My 13 y/o daughter went camping with friends and had a great time. When telling us about it she told us about the biking and tubing as well as lots of food that her sister cannot eat and therefore we as a family do not eat - e.g., ice cream shop, cinnamon buns at a bakery, salad with almonds. Our daughter has many food allergies but tree nuts are the only ones that we all avoid.

Her sister, with allergies, said "We went out for ice cream too." which was Chapman's novelties sold at an ice cream store - we had gone in to get a drink and were delighted to see Champan's. Although 15 she was happy to have had ice cream away from home.

Afterwards I told my husband that it upset me that our daughter would talk so much about food knowing that her sister doesn't even know what some of the items taste like and more importantly, cannot eat. He agreed and I spoke with our daughter and told her that while we love her excitement it was hard to listen to so much about food. Our daughter with allergies would not have been happy that I talked with her sister even though it was obvious it was hard for her to hear so much about food. While she says "Go ahead and eat what you want because I won't be there." she really appreciates us not talking too much about it.

Anyway... our daughter really didn't get it so I talked with her the next day again. She said that she does get it because she has to live with her sister's allergies every day. Appreciate the 'compassion' but seriously - she has an iron stomach and can eat anything and has never had restrictions. I said that when we go to a restaurant, we can choose from 50 items on the menu whereas her sister can choose from usually 3. A lightbulb moment then happened when I said "While I have had restrictions before, I do not know what it is like to eat food wondering if it will make my heart stop."

By that point, my 13 y/o was crying along with me. :cry:

Wondering if others would have been bothered by their child without allergies gushing about food??

Author:  BC2007 [ Thu Sep 01, 2011 8:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

Walooet, I have to say that our children - non allergic siblings -are really remarkable. Your situation had me tearing up. I can appreciate the circumstance from each of your perspectives and I think I would have handled it the exact way you did. You had me tearing up as this really is the perfect example of how an allergy in the family does in fact affect the entire family. For good for bad for just every day to day life. Your kids love each other and I can see that neither would never intentionally want to hurt each other , that is very apparent. At their age I can see how this just really does suck at times.

Now our kids have a big age gap so thankfully DS isn't aware of all the places DD goes to and eats etc. but there are still times she'll come home and start talking about food to the point we have to remind her that we were glad she had fun and it is ok to be excited and share but we also have to remind her that DS is just sitting there staring at her listening. But for us it is no where close to your situation as DS is so young and he doesn't fully understand...but he will which is why we try and censor what is said around him at times.

huge hugs and your post is a very very very good discussion starter as it pulls at the heartstrings from a sometimes forgotten perspective. :huggy Great story line for Allergic Living!!!!

Author:  walooet [ Thu Sep 01, 2011 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

:huggy to you BC. Really appreciate your post. Most of my friends would listen to my story but not truly get it which makes me even happier to have my forum friends here!

:thanksign because I was wondering last night if we had over-reacted. My sister-in-law thinks we are mean to our non-AL child by restricting her yet other than no tree-nuts in the house she has little restrictions. When we dine out, she orders whatever she wants; at friends' homes she eats tree nuts and goes out to DQ; she has more 'stuff' in her room than her sister (AL daughter also has dust allergy) etc.

This time of year is also tough for my AL* daughter because she cannot eat fruit... Yet she knows it is also tough for me as I cannot roller-blade, do long bike rides etc (back injury :cry:). I do not think that my physical restrictions are comparable to her food restrictions but we truly empathize with each other.

When we eat out at restaurants I sometimes order like my AL daughter to feel what it's like to be so limited in menu choices. It is definitely a different experience. At dinners at home we now, as a family, eat primarily what our AL daughter can eat and she really appreciates that (very limited selection of veggies). This holiday season I would like us, as a family, to have a week or similar time to fully live as our AL daughter does every day to give us a better understanding of the challenges.

* AL is my new code for anyone with food allergies as they are "Allergic Living" :happydance

Author:  _Susan_ [ Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

I only have one child, so this has never been an issue at our house. I think you raise an important issue.

While everyone in the family was thrust into the world of allergies with the initial reaction and diagnosis, we as the adults have decided how to set up our home. If we keep allergens or not, what we purchase, and when we eat out. The non-allergic sibling only gets what we explain to the and even then, only as much as they can absorb given their age and experiences.

I think it's a great idea to take each child separately and talk to them about allergies. Each developmental phase brings new challenges and abilities. At 13, your daughter probably has a better understanding on what death means. She is also wanting to fit in with her friends and might be able to appreciate how hard it would be to be different.

Author:  BC2007 [ Sat Sep 03, 2011 12:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

I have had comments also with others feeling we are mean (for lack of a better word) for restricting DD's diet in our home. The fact is, we all in our home eat what is safe for DS. His allergies are so severe that the few times we tried to bring something home (not safe- even if we eat over the sink and clean clean clean ) he ended up with rash/hives, just not worth the risk as well as it ruins the meal as we all feel awful while we are eating. And the fact is, she may be limited at home but we don't have to worry about her having a life threatening reaction.
But outside our home we allow DD to eat out with friends, her team, we let her eat anything she wants in the food court, DH and my daughter have gone almost weekly for a special lunch, dim sum, Indian, sushi, hot pot etc..

I sometimes order like my AL daughter to feel what it's like to be so limited in menu choice
This almost reminds me of Susan's daughter's melt down last week after the karate party. We forget that although our kids have what sometimes seems like lots of safe foods they are in fact limited. The same 2 granola bars ,the same 3 menu items (from the same 2 restaurants ), add to that the age of reality of what will happen if the food is not safe. For what our kids have to accept and just deal with I think they are all pretty gosh darn remarkable. And that goes for the siblings also!!!

Author:  walooet [ Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:06 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

BC2007 wrote:
For what our kids have to accept and just deal with I think they are all pretty gosh darn remarkable. And that goes for the siblings also!!!

:thumbsup And the moms and dads too! :happydance

Wow, it sure helps to have others that understand. :huggy

Author:  alberta advocate [ Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:46 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

I'm late adding my 2 cents on in with this one....we do not cook or eat eggs in our house at all...DD does not feel well at all (fumes?) and the last time I thought I could get away with it in the house (many years ago) DS threw up big time all over the kitchen at the other end of the table from DD and that was enough for me...clean, clean clean....and a couple of years ago I cooked eggs out on the bbq but it is just not worth the clean up so we all try to get an egg or two in on holidays. The food part is not what I think about much. More on our minds around here (I feel) focuses on the 'out and about' and travelling. I find it so different being able to just say "yes" to DS and away he goes with out another thought ( :) you know what I mean). He just gets to do way more than her, always will.....and that just makes me good and mad sometimes......(at no one in particular)and sad. I travelled and lived on the road for months at a time back when I worked. It was such a great experience and I hate that my girl has so many other things to worry about than just the regular stuff of life.....and then I always think "well, it could be worse, other people deal with so much more". Life always has its ups and downs.....but it sure is easier knowing you guys. :huggy

One thing I do know is that this has made my DS thankful that he is not living with this in his life and sometimes when he is gone :goodidea (last month he went to camp for 3 weeks) I really spoil her (in that good way).

Author:  Sarah388 [ Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

I often have this discussion with my parents and sister. My sister is 31 and I am 26 so we are both living on our own and away from each other a lot. This past week my sister and I met our parents at Sauble to stay at the trailer. My dad got a shock when he went to get his mixed nuts and I asked him very nicely not to eat them around me bc it makes me nervous. He understood and put them away in a cupboard that we don't use and washed his hands. He didn't say anything about them the whole week but when I called last night he was eating them. I know he likes them and eats them every day when I'm not around and thats fine with me as long as I'm not there. My sister joked around the whole week that we couldn't go to the ice cream store and get ice cream, that she couldn't have her reeces pieces for a treat, and when we went to Tobermory for the day we didn't go into the sweet shop to get a treat like we always have. I know she's just giving me a hard time but sometimes I wonder if she actually understands how hard this is for me. I really miss ice cream from an ice cream store, I miss my peanut M&Ms and I had a really hard time walking by the sweet shop in Tobermory. At least she can go and have these things when I am not around but I will never again get to have any of that stuff (yes I am having a little pity party right now :cry: )
My family is really good at understanding since I have always had restrictions in the food I eat but when I was younger my restrictions were only mine. No one else in the family had to restrict themselves. I could come into contact with the food I couldn't eat and I wouldn't have a reaction. We didn't have to worry about cross contamination or may contains. I would love to see my family go one week eating like me and having to deal with an upset stomach after not watching milk and gluten intake as carefully as I should.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that everyone with allergies experiences family members who don't always realize that their food talk does hurt at times even if it is meant as a joke.

Author:  alberta advocate [ Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

Oh Sarah.... :huggy you said
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that everyone with allergies experiences family members who don't always realize that their food talk does hurt at times even if it is meant as a joke.
Maybe even more when 'its a joke'.

Author:  walooet [ Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

:huggy to you Sarah

Thank you for sharing your story because it is nice to hear from an adult about it.

That is taunting to me rather than joking when your sister says that. I hope that you could let her know how it makes you feel - although I totally understand the rude sibling issue as I've got a few of them myself.

Every day I am thankful that my daughter has good friends who support her completely and only go to safe places when she is with them. Thankfully, most of the time her sister is pretty good but definitely a ways to go in the empathy department --- although it is not just with food allergies so at least she is equally non-empathetic :pipe

Author:  BC2007 [ Wed Sep 07, 2011 6:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Siblings...

Good point Alberta. I think the fact it is a joke and not just a comment hurts a little extra as salt is already being rubbed into the wound and then add to that the fact that a life threatening reaction is being mocked (even if they don't think of it that way).
At least she can go and have these things when I am not around
And Sarah :huggy , I enjoyed your perspective as sometimes we forget that such comments from siblings/family hurt the allergic adults as much as the allergic children.

Walooet re:
Every day I am thankful that my daughter has good friends who support her completely and only go to safe places when she is with them.

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