It's seems strange, yet somehow appropriate, to me that the start of Food Allergy Awareness Week coincides with Mothers Day.
Like most moms, I would like Mothers Day to be just about me; breakfast in bed, flowers, chocolate, a trip to the mall by myself while The Mister hangs out with the kids. But it's important to spend a little time letting others know what our family goes through because of Boo's and Punky's food allergies. That's because, as their mother, I have to be their advocate.
To be honest, I don't want to have a "cause". I get so tired of having to go through the same story with every new person that is going to be around my kids. I try to abbreviate it, but I can't. I have to list off all the foods. I have to explain what FPIES is. I have to convey that reactions can be quite serious. I usually end up having to explain how we found out, including the multiple trips to the ER, the blood tests, the skin prick tests.
Then come the questions. How did they get it? Do The Mister and I have food allergies as well? Will they grow out of it? Aren't we scared?
It's not my favorite topic of conversation. I don't want people feeling sorry for us, or anxious to be around us. But I HAVE TO inform people. Not only because the health of my children depends on it, but because more than 12 million Americans are living with food allergies.
When I think of what I personally would like this awareness campaign to accomplish, I imagine a world where it's just a little easier for a family like ours. I want to be able to better trust food manufacturers, and the labels on packaged foods. I want more companies to stop using so many fillers, like corn and soy, in their processed foods. I want to send my kids to school and not worry that someone will feed them a snack with an allergen in it. And if somehow, they do ingest something they shouldn't, I want to know that their teachers will act immediately. Most importantly, I'd like to be able to tell someone my kids have food allergies, and not have to go through the whole stinkin' story every time. I'd like people to just "get" what it means.
The Food Allergy Support Group of MN is putting out YouTube videos this week. Here's one, called Food Allergies 101, that is a great overview. It stars Dr. Helm, our favorite cartoon tie-wearing allergist!