We have come a long way from the days when my little one’s diet consisted entirely of rice and Neocate. Awesome!!! 🙂 However, that also means -mommy has to be extra careful. So often, it seems like he can almost have everything and yet ‘not quite’! This is the stage when food-allergy sufferers/ caregivers cannot let their guard down. We cannot afford to forget that an anaphylactic shock brought on by a food allergy needs emergency care within 5 minutes. And that shock is equally severe whether the person is allergic to one thing or a whole host of things. So, even though one might have overcome a host of food allergies – just one severe allergy is enough to kill them. This fact assumes greater significance when we are not within easy access of emergency care – air travel being one of them. Add International air travel to the mix and it assumes scary proportions – imagine going into an anaphylactic shock when flying over countries the plane cannot land in or over the vast oceans and mountains – whoa! Sorry to sound apocalyptic but if that’s what it takes for us to be on our guard – so be it!
Most summers, my son and I visit India all the way from US of A (a distance of almost 9000 miles!!) for a few weeks so he can spend some quality time with his grandparents there. Seems like a super idea?!? But, at the end of 18 hours of flying traversing 10 time zones, 2 flights, a long layover in Europe and landing in India at an unearthly hour – it does not seem like such a great idea afterall. That is, until we see the unbridled joy in my parents’ faces at the prospect of spending many a leisurely hour with their only grandchild 🙂 However, that does not diminish the stress of flying long-distance because to further the stress, I have to pack food for my boy for both legs of the journey and also consider complications like an emergency situation akin to the volcanic ash disruption in 2010 that grounded flights in little known airports for days together.
To alleviate the stress I would pack food diligently so as to last 3-4 days. Here is one area where over-packing is completely warranted and my 2 cents on the topic:
1) Pack a huge variety of dry, non-perishables: noodle packs (all they need is hot water), oatmeal packets, chips, cookies, dry cereal, dry non- dairy milk sachets, allergy-friendly snack packs like pretzels and more!
2) For the initial part of the journey when the food is not likely to get spoilt, pack in items your kid loves : I pack in dumplings, boiled potatoes, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, pasta, tortillas and more. Not large quantities but let your child have variety so his tummy is happy and full.
Despite having been so particular in past years, this year I made a major faux pas!! My son has outgrown many of his food allergies and though I did pack food for him, I was open to the idea of letting him sample a little bit of the airline food.Big mistake…never, never, never eat food served on a flight – cannot emphasize that enough! Especially, if they are not labeled. Most airlines do serve food containing nuts (the most notorious of food allergens) especially as a hidden ingredient in desserts. Though most airlines today are too cheap to serve nuts in the economy section, we were lucky to be hiked up to business class and not so lucky to be served nuts and a variety of nuts based desserts as a special treat…go figure!
No – I did not make the mistake of giving him a nuts based dish! However, I did make the mistake of letting him eat what looked like grilled chicken on a bed of vegetable rice. No clue what the dish really contained but almost immediately my poor little baby started complaining that he dint like the dish though he loves grilled chicken. I should have sooooo listened to him because he, like most food allergy sufferers is very tuned into how his body feels after food-intake and is usually right. Unfortunately, I put it down to him being a whiny 6 year old! Half an hour later, he had thrown up all over the place. Luckily, it stopped at that but it did give me a much-needed warning…though, my son had outgrown a lot of his allergies, I could not afford to be careless ever. I had lucked out this time but it could have been very serious…
Be careful ‘each time, every time’!
Useful Links on prepping for air travel:
1) About.com has a very informative article on ‘Can you find a nut-free flight?‘
2) FAAN has some excellent input too on Airline travel with allergies