Wednesday, January 21, 2015

More than the sum of my allergies

This Allergies are Bullshit article got me annoyed.

You see, I have food allergies.

But I've had them since the 1970's--before they were cool.

I am allergic to nuts (all of them), tomato, and seafood (all).  I literally don't know what it is like to go shopping and not check out a label. I've never had the luxury of trying a new food without asking what is in it. I remember when the Roy Rogers restaurant chain used to put peanut butter in their hamburgers. I know because I couldn't eat them.  The latest thing--fish oil in milk.  Yeah, milk with the Omega 3, that has fish oil in it. YUM!

 I've been very fortunate that my food allergies are such that ingesting food I am allergic to will ruin my week and not end my life, but that still means a few days where me and the toilet are best buds. It means a rash and scratching in places you don't want to itch.  It is not a fun scenario.

The woman in the article was upset when her oldest kid's school went nut-free. Now she has a youngest kid with a nut allergy. Now she gets it.

I remember another mother. I was at a friend's birthday party. They served pizza for the kids and something else for the adults. I don't remember what it was, except I could eat it. I remember I was about seven or eight years old. I told the birthday girl's mother that I was allergic to tomatoes. She dismissed it and said if I wanted to be picky, that was my own problem. I asked if I could have a small amount of what the grownups were having. She said no. She also was very firm on the fact that I couldn't have cake if I didn't have lunch. I wanted cake. I was seven or eight years old. I figured she was an adult and knew better so I had some pizza. I remember watching my hands break out. Every time I blinked I saw more hives on my hands. Another friend who was furious with all of this, dragged me to the mother and showed her my hands as they broke out in hives. My mom was called. She came to pick me up as I was eating my hard-won cake. Mom was beyond livid and I wasn't ever allowed to play at that girl's house again.  I often wonder if the mother in question thinks about me when she hears about food allergies, probably not.

I've heard the allergies are bullshit line before, and all I can think is--I wish.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry you had such an awful experience at what should have been a fun occasion. Why would anyone speak to someone else's child that way??!

    I don't remember if we've had this conversation before, but I also have a tomato allergy -- I have written about it on my blog. It's kind of an unusual one, isn't it? It popped up about six years ago and complicated my life enormously, given that I am married to an Italian, lol. Like you, I am fortunate that it is not life-threatening -- responds to antihistamines (or at least, it always has) -- but scary enough (& of course always the prospect that my reactions would escalate). It took awhile but I have learned to live with it (& to carry Benadryl & an epipen, just in case). Through careful avoidance, I have not had a reaction in more than four years (knocking wood). I have been back & forth to the allergist for retesting, most recently last year -- and while the prick test showed no reaction, I did an oral challenge. I managed to eat almost an entire tomato (in increasingly larger pieces) before a hive popped out. I was advised to continue avoidance & come back for another test in two years (= a year from now). Fingers crossed!

    I know I used to think some parents were exaggerating & being overprotective about their children's allergies. I don't think that way anymore. It's scary stuff and not to be messed around with.