We Are Not Alone (#2)

Katherine, Duchess of Cambridge reportedly has a wheat allergy.  Wheat is one of the top eight food allergens in the U.S.

princess kate


It’s NOT Funny

Food allergy bullying is common among food allergy kids.  In fact, more than a third of children and teens have been bullied about their allergies.  Many of these cases of bullying involved threats with the food.  (For example, trying to make the person touch or eat their allergen.)  Over half of the kids who were bullied never told their parents, making it much more difficult to put an end to the bullying.

Luckily, I never had many issues with bullying.  In elementary school, there were some kids who thought it was funny to dangle their PBJs near me, or offer to share their peanut candy with me.  I would calmly and politely ask them to not do such things.  These were wonderful opportunities to remind them that “yes, I am allergic to nuts”, “no, I cannot touch peanut butter”, and “yes, I can actually die from this”.  That last one usually worked- none of my classmates wanted me to die, or even go to hospital from a reaction.  Not all allergy kids are as lucky as I was.  Food allergy bullying is NOT a joke.  Please watch and share the below video!

Food Allergy Bullying: It’s Not a Joke PSA (Full Version)

Video from FARE

The Peanut Free Table

The Peanut Free Table

Kids with peanut allergies always talk about the peanut free table (or lack thereof).  Here is my experience with it.

My school (which I have been attending since kindergarten) had a peanut free table when I was in elementary school.  It was a lonely place far from where my friends sat.  I chose to sit with my friends, all of whom were aware and conscientious about my allergies, and who did not eat nuts in front of me.  This continued in middle school.  The peanut free table was not such a lonely place anymore, however.  One of the after school care kids had an allergy, and each day a few of his classmates were assigned to sit with him.  (“Assigned”… is that not an awkward situation?)  Then high school came, and my friends stopped eating in the cafeteria.  We eat in a classroom together now, and they still refrain from eating nuts next to me.

Peanut free tables are a great idea meant to keep kids safe.  Practically, they are fabulous.  You don’t have to worry about what the kid before you ate, or how well the tables were cleaned.  Emotionally, however, I disagree with the premise of the table.  You become an outcast.  The teacher may assign a few kids to bring safe food and sit with you, but that is awkward.  I would rather sit with friends who are careful with what they eat, and clean the area where I plan to sit first.

What’s In My Bag… Allergy Kid Edition

What’s In My Bag… Allergy Kid Edition

I started carrying a purse when I was younger than my friends.  My eight year old friends asked me what on earth I filled it with.  As a response, I pulled out my giant EpiPens and explained that as an allergy kid, I always have to have emergency epinephrine in case I have a reaction.  When I was a kid, the nice and compact Auvi-Qs had not been invented.  Instead, I had these giant needles stored in my bag that baffled all of my friends.  Then wristlets became popular.   But no, I could only ever wear bulky purses.  Then Auvi-Qs were released.  I was so excited because now, at last, I can carry around the cute wristlets (well, the slightly larger ones, at least).

This wristlet from Urban Outfitters fits my Auvi Qs perfectly!
This wristlet from Urban Outfitters fits my Auvi-Qs perfectly!

Over the years, I have found some wonderful EpiPen and Auvi-Q holders.  It is recommended that people carry two injectors at once, so holders make this much more convenient, especially for boys.  Click here for some great Auvi-Q holders, and click here for some great EpiPen holders.

Now I have a combination of EpiPens and Auvi Qs.  I keep some in my backpack, some in my choir bag, some at home, some in my purse, etc.  I always try to have backup epinephrine!  I have learned to not be embarrassed when someone asks about epinephrine injections.  It becomes a wonderful teachable moment, and I can spread the word about food allergies.

My Diagnosis Story

My Diagnosis Story

It took about five years to figure out that I was allergic to peanuts.  I had several reactions before my parents took me to an allergist (although none of them landed me in the emergency room).  The first was when I was a baby.  My family had gone to a restaurant that served peanuts to every table.  Peanut shells littered the floor.  Before long, I got sick.  My parents (understandably) assumed that I just had a stomach bug.  As a toddler, I refused to eat peanut butter.  I always pushed away peanut butter crackers and if ice cream had peanut butter on it, I would keep my mouth sealed shut.  I did not, however avoid chocolate covered almonds.  I ate them all the time (and now I know why they always gave me stomach aches).  I was roughly four when my parents took me to see the Nutcracker.  During intermission, I bought a candy that I thought was filled with chocolate.  The moment I bit into it, I realized that it was in fact filled with peanut butter.  I spit it out immediately, and did not swallow any of it, but it did not take long for me to feel extremely ill.  I was about the same age when I bought a bag of M&M’s from a girl on my street.  The first candy I pulled out of the bag was yellow.  As soon as I put it in my mouth, I realized it was a peanut M&M and spit it out.  Nevertheless, I was soon extremely lightheaded nauseous.

My parents became suspicious of these events.  They took me to an allergist when I was five.  They did a test that involved a huge tray of needles being scraped on my back and that traumatized me quite a bit (I was five and had a fear of needles).  Each needle had a sample of a common allergen.  The spot that corresponded to peanuts swelled, and I was sent to get a blood test.  The results came back that I was deathly allergic to peanuts.  I was also allergic to tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, etc.).

Ever since, I have avoided all nuts like the plague.  My peanut allergy is worse than my tree nut allergies, but I do not eat any nuts in order to avoid cross contact.  I also do not eat food cooked in peanut oil.  My epinephrine is always with me.  I have also gotten involved with FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education).