Monday, September 2, 2013

My Labor of LOVE....Helping to Increase Food Allergy Awareness...

This is Lovey Dovey.

When he was three months old he developed terrible eczema. As we were nursing, I tried to individually remove milk, wheat, nuts and egg from our diet with no results.

We spent months trying to resolve what was going on not knowing that he was allergic to all of them!  Our pediatrician really dropped the ball of this one too and we finally were seen by an allergist before he turned one and he was tested for numerous food and environmental allergens.

I remember as I was holding my sweet little one, pleading with God, please let it be anything but PEANUT.  The thought of that terrified me {still does six years later}.  As I watched the little welts on his sweet little back grow in size I knew in my heart that he was allergic to both peanut and wheat even before they told me.

And he was.  He was allergic to peanut, wheat, milk, egg and dust.  Since then we have tacked on all tree nuts, sesame seed, tree, pollen, grass and ragweed.

After receiving the initial diagnosis, I immediately removed all of the offending foods from my diet as I wanted to continue to nurse.  It was not his fault that the foods made him ill and I could not see weaning him immediately because of it.  We continued to nurse for a year and I truly feel for him as being one who has loved wheat and milk all of my life I missed it for that next year.  It was well worth it though :-)

So here we are six years later with more food allergies along with seasonal allergies too.

I have spent countless hours being afraid of my son coming in contact with nuts.  The whole thing has made me nuts, sorry about the pun, but it's true.  We are very strict here about nuts.  None of us eat ANY and they are not allowed in the house.  We rarely eat out, due to the fear of contamination.  I cannot tell you how many people in the food service industry just don't get it.  When we inquire about the ingredients of food or how it is made and explain we have a potentially fatal food allergy...most times people look so confused and just flounder for answers.  We on occasion do encounter diligence and it is very welcomed!

This is our way of life now.  With food allergies, you are always on constant alert. ALWAYS.  There is no two ways about it.  You HAVE to be proactive and alert and watchful.  You just do.  You have to read labels. ALWAYS.  Labels are not always the same and change alot too.  We have noticed that over the past six years that although manufacturers are required to state if an allergen is in a food, that some companies seem to ride the slippery slope of stating that their product "may contain or may have been processed in a plant, or on equipment that may have been contaminated with peanuts."  Of course they don't use the word "contaminate." That is my own spin.  It is the truth.  People with life threatening food allergies cannot come in contact with that allergen. EVER.  Therefore it is a contaminant...poison to their system.

Over my past six years I have come in contact with some very well meaning, but, misinformed people who think that if they wash their hands or brush their teeth that everything is fine.  Most of us do not know that when we eat peanuts it stays on our breath for SIX hours.  That means if you were to come in contact {let's say kiss} someone who is allergic, then it could be very, very bad and no amount of Crest is going to change that!

Exposure to peanuts can occur in different ways:
  • Direct contact. The most common cause of peanut allergy is eating peanuts or peanut-containing foods. Sometimes direct skin contact with peanuts can trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Cross-contact. This is the unintended introduction of peanuts into a product. It's generally the result of a food being exposed to peanuts during processing or handling.
  • Inhalation. An allergic reaction may occur if you inhale dust or aerosols containing peanuts, such as that of peanut flour or peanut oil cooking spray.
I knew a mom whose son was in daycare and someone open a bag of Chex mix and just the dust alone was enough to send her son to the ER due to his peanut allergy and he did not even eat any of it!

People need to know these things and we need to increase awareness.

The chance for Anaphylaxis is always there. Once someone has had an anaphylatic (life-threatening) reaction, they are most likely to have a more severe reaction if it happens again.

We need to be diligent with anyone who has a food allergy and  ALWAYS take it very seriously.

We've been VERY fortunate where we've never had such a reaction, but, I am always prepared and we carry our Epi Pen and Benadryl everywhere with us.  It has just become our way of life now.  We never, ever leave without it.  

The reason I am posting this today is because my heart goes out to these parents.

Please, please, please take a moment to watch the short video from parents who just lost their teenage daughter to eating Rice Krispies with peanut butter in it.  It is a very educational and honest video into the lives of people with food allergies.  It is the second video, about half way down the page.

This is the second time in six months I have seen this type of death.  I cry each time I see it, because I know that life is so precious and this is my biggest fear and I also know that right now, I control most of what Lovey Dovey eats, but, some day I won't and I will have to trust him and others with that job and that scares me too.

So...please if you have someone near to you with food allergies, or ever come across someone who does...take it seriously!  It can be a matter or life and death.

An allergic response to peanuts usually occurs within minutes after exposure, and symptoms range from mild to severe. Peanut allergy signs and symptoms can include:
  • Skin reactions, such as hives, redness or swelling
  • Itching or tingling in or around the mouth and throat
  • Digestive problems, such as diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Shortness of breath or wheezing
  • Runny nose
Anaphylaxis: A life-threatening reaction
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food-induced anaphylaxis, a medical emergency that requires treatment with an epinephrine (adrenaline) injector (EpiPen, Twinject) and a trip to the emergency room.
Anaphylaxis signs and symptoms can include all of the above, plus:
  • Constriction of airways
  • Swelling of your throat that makes it difficult to breathe
  • A severe drop in blood pressure (shock)
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or loss of consciousness

Seek emergency treatment immediately if you have a severe reaction to peanuts, especially if you have any signs or symptoms of anaphylaxis.Symptoms can rapidly change so please

Call 911 or your local emergency number if you or someone else displays severe dizziness, severe trouble breathing or loss of consciousness.

You may just save someone's life :-)

Lovey Dovey and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts!


  1. Ann Marie, that is so tough! But what a gift your son has in you for taking the steps to keep him loved and out of harms way! My oldest has a lactose allergy and soy intolerance, both of which make me anxious. He had hives everywhere with yogurt, and since then we have been erring on the side of caution with everything. Fortunately, he shows no signs of an anaphylaxis reaction with other allergy prone foods, but the little that we have experienced has made me more sensitive to those around. Prayers for you and your family. And, thank you for such an informative piece!

  2. Hi Amanda,
    Thanks so much for stopping by and the kind words :-)
    You are right, all of this does make us anxious doesn't it! I know it does with me. I have been on a heightened state of alert since it all began years ago. I am sorry to hear of the experiences with your son. I am glad that he does not show signs of any other food issues. It is always a good idea to err on the side of caution as kids/people with one allergy or sensitivity are more likely to have others as well. Thank you so much for the prayers. We love them. We will pray for you as well. I see you visit Suscipio as well. Isn't it a great place to be? Hope to see you again soon. Blessings!