Saturday, January 30, 2010
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
The good news is, researchers around the world are currently searching for new therapies to treat, and one day cure, food allergies. Many scientists believe that with proper funding, a cure could be found in less than a decade. Unfortunately, food allergy research in comparison to autism and other similar afflictions is at present grossly underfunded and in need of dire some attention.
As such, I was excited to recently discover that the Food Allergy Initiative has made it easier than ever to send a letter to Congress requesting funding for food allergy research. It takes less than two minutes! Log on and let your voice be heard at FAI Advocacy and be sure to share this link with others who want to help. Yeah!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Still, as much as he has been able to help teach us how to care for our daughter’s food allergies, he will be the first to say that he does not live with it day in and day out. That’s why I’m here to tell you that support groups can be so important. I must admit, in our first few year’s of Mollie’s diagnosis, I pretty much rejected the idea of them. I pictured everyone sitting around like they do in the AA meetings portrayed on TV where we’d all have to confess our struggles and talk about the doom and gloom of what it’s like living with food allergies.
Since joining the Food Allergy Association of Wisconsin, I am am pleased to say this is not the case! We have great topics of discussion, featured speakers, product samples and other meaningful information to share with each other. Much like those classes you take before childbirth, it’s clear that every person’s experience is different and I love being able to learn from them all.
For example, in a recent meeting, I discovered for the very first time what the side effects can be from an epinephrine shot. I have thankfully never had to use one on my daughter, but a family in our support group explained how they were not so lucky. During their story, I learned that this life saving shot can often turn the child blue or ashen and cause them to tremble and shake…
Really? Of all the hours of using Epi-Pen trainers and talking to our doctor, this little fact never had come up. Until now. And I’m so glad it did, because if I’m ever in that frightening situation myself, I feel like I’ll be a little more prepared to handle it, simply because I’ll know what to expect.
Gina Clowes of www.allergymoms.com has compiled a wonderful, comprehensive listing of support groups that may be in your area. Check it out on (on the bottom of her home page). Thank you, Gina!
So this is my heartfelt pitch to anyone who has never attended a food allergy support group meeting: Consider giving it a try. Even with the best doctor in the world, I think you’ll find you still have something to learn – or better yet, something to share.
Monday, January 11, 2010
When I think back to how much I’ve learned from the first day my daughter Mollie was diagnosed with severe food allergies, it is staggering. At that time, I thought if I just carried her Epi-pen, read ingredient labels and remembered to inform wait staff at restaurants of her food allergies, everything would be fine. Four years later, I now know it’s not that simple. There is no black and white in the world of food allergies, just a lot of gray areas where parents need to ask questions and advocate for their children.
I’ve also discovered that there are a lot of people out there who really love peanut butter – enough to fight for it, sign petitions against banning it, and other serious stuff. Some believe that a mere 3% of the population (which equates to approximately 12 million people I must add) should not dictate guidelines that inconvenience the rest, and that “hysterical” parents who fear for their children’s lives should just remove themselves from society to “raise them in a bubble”.
This controversy over food allergies was yet another factor I had not expected but have learned much more about in recent years. I have personally experienced the eye rolls and obvious resistance to making any special accommodations for my daughter where food is concerned. On the flip side, I have also experienced overwhelmingly thoughtful parents and teachers who have gone above and beyond to help her feel included.
So my New Year’s Resolution for 2010 (and every year after that) is to help educate and promote understanding and acceptance of people living on both sides of the issue without judgment or frustration. Because before Mollie’s diagnosis, I was one of those people that just didn’t “get it”. I never gave a second thought to the kind of candy I purchased for Halloween trick-or-treaters, or worried about the open bulk peanut bins at the grocery store, or paid attention to which utensils I used to prepare or serve a meal.
And while I concede that some parents can be a little overbearing about their child’s food allergies (myself included), I have to ask, can we really blame them? If you’ve ever seen your own child swell up beyond recognition or struggle to breathe because a small bite of food, I don’t think you would. I sincerely believe there’s a happy medium out there and I’m on a mission to find it.
Isn’t it Oprah that says “When you know better, you do better?” I love Oprah! And I truly do want to do better for all the little buggers who are out there living with food allergies. So I’m gonna try. Because as much as I used to love to eat peanut butter sandwiches myself, I obviously love my daughter a whole lot more. Is there really a comparison?