Imagine you walk into a room at one of your favorite places, maybe a restaurant in which you’ve enjoyed many meals or a park at which you’ve spent many afternoons daydreaming. You notice that this time your favorite place is different. Something feels off…it feels dangerous. You look around trying to identify what is different. You can’t tell at first but soon you start to see it…a minefield of explosives.
Most people would run in the other direction. You’d have to be crazy to walk into a minefield, right?
Yet, this is exactly what those with food allergies face every time they go to a public place. A minefield.
Now, imagine that it’s not you walking into your favorite place that is now so extremely dangerous…but it’s your child. Your sweet, innocent child that is not prepared to identify dangerous situations as an adult would.
Think of this place as a park with a playground. What was once a place to have fun and “be a kid” is now filled with explosives for your food allergic child. Innocent, unaware children are walking around eating a PB&J sandwich, wiping it off their face and then touching the slide that your child is about to go down. Never-mind that there is a picnic table nearby, the parent isn’t paying attention and the child is roaming around eating. Another child is running around with their sippy cup of milk, dripping it on the playground equipment. Your child has a life-threatening allergy to all of these foods that are now all over the playground. This place is no longer fun. It is dangerous.
Do you steal your child’s experiences of “being a kid” to keep them safe? Do you take them to the minefield and hope for the best? How do you handle this situation? It’s one that food allergy families face daily.
Until you come face to face with the fact that the same food that is considered healthy for some will in fact kill your child, you might not be able to imagine the dangers present in everyday life.
Until you’ve had to witness your child struggle to breath, scratch their tongue vigorously with both hands, look into your eyes with a primal fear, vomit and go limp….all from one bite or drink of the wrong food, you might not understand why it’s so important to prevent exposure. Until you’ve feared that one epi-pen jr isn’t enough to stop the anaphylactic response in your child, you might not understand why it’s so important to prevent exposure. Until the hospital nurse has told you they have called the chaplain to come speak to you, you might not understand why it’s so important to prevent exposure.
Let me explain this clearly: it is CRUCIAL to prevent exposure.
Each anaphylactic response can become more rapid and deadly with each occurrence. It’s as if the body’s response gets stronger each time. The best way to prevent quicker, stronger anaphylaxis is to avoid exposure altogether. It’s not as simple as just giving an epi-pen. Sometimes they don’t work. Sometimes it’s too late to stop the anaphylactic shock. Sometimes the child does not see the other side of anaphylaxis. It is a sobering truth that many need to hear.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39
Food allergies have become a punchline to some, a weapon to bullies and death to it’s victims. More concern, love and sympathy for each other would make all of our burdens easier to bear. And maybe just a little safer for those who need to be loved and protected.