Methinks, a tongue in cheek approach to one’s food allergies makes it way easier to handle social stresses. Aah – those moments when I am subjected to annoyed stares if I make the severe faux pas of asking more than once if a slice of cake has nuts in it or request for special food arrangements for my son so he can be safe. The challenge becomes bigger when we travel abroad to places where food allergies are unheard of. Case in point – India! In such places people have a bemused, indulgent approach 🙂 Many look at me…’the overprotective mom from the overly sanitary US environment’. Hard to explain to them that food allergies are as real as any other physical ailment even though the symptoms manifest themselves only when one ingests something the body cannot handle. That means, food allergy sufferers have to be careful 24/7. Telling people that the wrong food might cause anaphylactic shock and sure death if a dose of epinephrine is not given with 5 minutes just makes me look ‘paranoid’ and I must add – most people don’t even believe me. For most a food allergy is still just a rash or an itch which food allergy sufferers should learn to tolerate rather than make a hue and cry about it – oh yes!
That’s why the recent case of parents in a Florida school staging a protest because the school is taking the required measures to keep children with severe food allergies safe comes as no surprise. CNN has a very compelling report titled ‘Parents fight school’s peanut policy‘. I can only imagine the trauma kids with food allergies and their parents must be going through given such an environment. A must read for all allergy sufferes and care givers. Helps us understand that we not only have to be careful about what we eat, we also have to be prepared for a lot of resentment from some in the larger society.
Makes me wonder – what is the best approach when trying to keep kids with food allergies safe…a gentle, non-confrontational but firm approach or, a strict, up-in-arms approach. Or, does the answer lie somewhere along the curve?!