Bona fide of dealing with a food allergy
I have been sitting over this post for quite a while now. Doing some proper thinking and finding the right arguments takes some time, and after completing the post, reality once more caught up with me, and had forced me to gradually adapt my wording, my thinking and my opinion.
This was supposed to be about how to deal with food allergies in a calm and rationale manner. It turned out to be quite different, as you may notice when reading further on. I was all convinced how stupid it is to get hysterical about foods allergybabe is allergic to, but, I admit, I adjusted my point of view. It is now a more complex approach I laid out and if you agree, I am happy. If not, I would love to hear about your views.
As a mum of an allergic child who had 6 anaphylactic reactions by the time he was 7 month old, not knowing what had caused his extreme reactions, I consider myself to completely understand the emotions and thoughts that constantly run in a parent’s head when taking care of an allergic child.
To any of you reading this from an outsider’s perspective (a friend of a friend with allergies, a care nursery teacher, a parent of a friend of an allergic child etc.) just let me try to explain why we are the way we are. Why we are so apprehensive about foods our children are allergic to, especially with peanuts.
The rationale behind the emotions involved in food allergy or: why we are entitled to occasionally freak out…
Anyone witnessing a proper anaphylactic reaction of his child will by any means avoid it to happen again. It is a very daunting and frightening experience.
Peanuts are one of the eight most common food allergens and are one of the foods that cause anaphylaxis, the most severe form of allergic reaction, which can lead to the individual’s death. And it does not matter how rare this event may be, if it could be your child.
Peanuts can hide every where, small amounts, invisible to the eye, can stick to a door handle, a toy at nursery, a food tray, a table cloth, a takeaway and can hide within an innocent looking biscuit. Tiny amounts can harm, and it is a natural reaction to be extra cautious about it.
Media and charity groups are covering the issue extensively, constantly reminding how lethal a tiny amount can be.
Twitter and other social media tools easily amplify and distribute an individual’s biased opinion.
As it is difficult to predict the likely severity of food-induced allergic reactions, parents and sufferers are on constant alert mode to avoid the allergen.
Statistics help to judge the likelihood of a reaction within a wider population, though they cannot predict an individual’s risk profile.
Is it in any way helpful to get hysterical over a legume?
Impartiality is the widely accepted approach to any medical issue.If doctors would panic, we would not get the appropriate care. That is why there are doctors, nurses and other professional medical staff. It is not the parent who has to act as a medical professional. But what to do if the parent happens to be a trained doctor? Who has had several encounters with life threatening situations, who quite routinely ran to a CPR when the telephone rang in that all to familiar high pitched sound, listening to a computer animated voice which told you where in the hospital the patient is about to depend on your skills and professionalism to get back to life? Doctors are trained to stay calm, not to emotionally get involved, to forecast what could happen next and decide how to proceed. As a professionally trained parent, you try to stay calm and still provide the emotional support for your child without overseeing best medical care.
Others may say as long as you do the right thing, nothing seriously can happen. And I believed it, too. And than, a young girl dies in a camp in California. A young child who knew about her allergies, who did not take changes, who was very aware of the dangers.
Once I read a mother’s comparison of her child’s food allergies: Imagine a chef would prepare your meal, and just before doing so, he filled a rat trap with poison. He did not wash his hands afterwards, he used the same equipment, he used the very same plates etc. You would be horrified because there would be that real danger of getting severely poisoned. See the picture. That is how we, the parents, see food allergies. We are on high alert. Always. Every single day. Because you just know, that one day, out of the blue, your child will have a reaction.
We all agree now that we have to avoid all contact with allergens. Do we have to avoid it by all means? I strongly believe in an individual’s right of freedom. Do not do anything for your own sake that involves restricting anyone else’s freedom. That is part of Germany’s Grundgesetz (German Constitution) and I am a strong believer in its profound value. How can it be applied to protecting food allergy sufferers? Where does individual safety and freedom end? Is society to be restricted for the sake of an individual’s health? Should the majority of people be denied to enjoy food because of a minority getting uncomfortable being surrounded by it? Where do we stop to demand and support from society? Is it ok to ban peanuts and other nuts from school halls and nurseries? Should the majority of people be denied to enjoy food because of a minority getting uncomfortable being surrounded by it? Do food allergic people have a right to ask for peanut free buffer zones on a plane? The questions do not stop here.
Can we allow grocery stores to sell peanuts? Is it ok to deny a child to feed the squirrels a handful of peanuts on the playground? Can we accept that other children will have a snack while playing on a common ground? Can a fellow tube rider have a guilt free snicker?
If you expect an answer, you are mistaken. I do not have an answer. But if you have ever witnessed a life threatening reaction, you will do anything to avoid it a second time.
You will do anything not to risk your child’s life ever again. Full stop.
I guess in the future, society will have to decide how high on a pedestal they put the individual’s needs and how much we are willing to limit freedom of the majority.
*This post was inspired by all the brave parents who care restlessly for their food allergic children and the following two articles:
This blog and its entire content is by no means intended to represent professional medical advice. Please contact your medical professional for any medical concerns you may have.