The ninja lunge (and food allergies)

Over the school holidays, a great friend and I took a trip to Al Barsha park to exercise the children. It’s a park I’m fond of, with bicycles for hire, a (manmade) lake with a track round it and ample play areas.

It was sunny, warm and, without the routine of the school day to contend with, there was a relaxed atmosphere among the mums, who’d spread blankets on the grass, brought picnics and were exchanging details about their plans for the holiday.

“We’re staying in Dubai, how about you?” “Lapland, just for five days – we’ve booked a glass igloo!” The conversations were peppered with the names of far-flung places, visiting relatives and venues serving turkey.

mom with eyes in back of her headI can’t remember exactly what B and I were talking about as we watched our children play, but, all of a sudden, she leapt up, ninja-style, and ran to her two-year-old son – reaching him just in time, before the snack a nanny had offered him touched his lips.

“I’m sorry,” she said, politely – but urgently – to the lady in question. “He’s got food allergies and can’t eat the things other kids eat.” The moment passed, little K got back to digging in the sand, and the nanny he’d wandered over to turned her attention back to feeding her tribe.

But the episode, which all happened so fast, has stayed with me. Not least because, now that my children are a bit older, I don’t have to watch them quite so closely. I can sit in the park, chat, even read a book (it’s so much better). My friend, on the other hand, needs eyes in the back of her head to keep her severely allergic tot out of harm’s way. That kind of vigilance is a full-time job.

B put a post on Facebook yesterday and I’m sure she won’t mind if I copy it here, as it sums up perfectly some of the frustrations that the growing number of parents of allergic children go through, and how people (including celebrities) can help.

“It really bothers me when a celebrity comments on something important that they know nothing about. For instance, writing about having food allergies and being able to add these foods in and out of their diets.

I understand unless you are affected by food allergies, you may not know the difference between a food intolerance and a food allergy. However, if you are influential, you should learn the difference before you affect the way so many view food allergies and their potential consequences.

My child has severe food allergies. Ingesting a peanut, milk, or eggs could kill him. Not just upset his stomach. KILL HIM. The first time we had to inject him with an Epi-Pen, within minutes of coming in contact with the allergen, he had quarter-sized hives all over his little body, then his voice changed and we knew his throat was closing shut. He hadn’t even turned 2 yet.

It was the scariest experience of my life.

I think about his food allergies constantly. And although it’s become second nature to read every label, worry about cross-contamination, and make sure he always has safe food to eat, it still can be a daily struggle.

My child is never more than 5 feet away from an Epi-pen. We are never able to go to a restaurant here and order food off the menu for him. They either don’t have anything safe or they really don’t understand how serious the consequences could be if they made a mistake, or cross-contaminate his food. I don’t want sympathy. My child is just like every other child; he is happy and full of life. His food allergies don’t define who he is. I need everyone to know that a food allergy is not a food intolerance.

Would you know what to do if you stumbled upon a child who was going into anaphylactic shock? I hope that even if you’re annoyed with my long rant, you will take the time to read how to use an Epi-pen because it could save someone’s life.

It could save my child’s life.

So please, Mr. Celebrity, before you go off complaining about how your “food allergies” are upsetting your stomach, please learn what the hell you’re talking about.”

How to use an Epi-pen: Click here


About Circles in the Sand

Sun worshiper, journalist, mother, pilot's wife and distracted housewife living in the land of glitz and sand
This entry was posted in Children, Family, health, Parenting and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to The ninja lunge (and food allergies)

  1. Well said – I hope lots of people read what she has written. We are lucky in our family that no-one suffers from food allergies, but working as a teacher, I have come across many, and also have to be careful about what I eat for lunch at work, or even when I am marking their excercise books at home.

  2. Dubai Mum says:

    Great post! More people need to read this. Although my son has an epipen, his allergy does not relate to food. For this I am grateful. Having to be on call 24 7 with eyes in the back of your head must be so exhausting. I feel for your friend. Epipens should be a standard part of first aid kits everywhere. I pray your friend’s son never has to use the epipen and that, if possible, grows out of his allergies.

    • Thank you Dubai Mum -I will pass your message on to my friend! I hope your son never has to use his epipen- remind me what is his allergy? I remember you posting about it (was it medicine?) and really feeling for you as I’ve had two semi-anaphylactic shocks myself and they’re so scary! x

  3. Dubai Mum says:

    Thank you Circles. I hope you never have to use your epipen. It was a suspected ibuprofen allergy. However, given subsequent issues, the specialist now thinks it was a case of chronic hives which flare up when he has any form of virus (and pollen from my observations). My own research shows chronic hives + ibuprofen can cause anaphylactic reactions. Just now, he ran outside barefoot and came back in itching his swollen, red feet (and we have artificial grass!!). Although the chances of him having such a reaction again are slim, I am not giving up the epipen!!!

  4. Dasa says:

    Fully understand and know what you’re talking about. Facing the consequences of allergies is not easy. It’s difficult for an adult and I cannot imagine how difficult it is for a child.

    Some time ago I thought that I only have an allergy to pollen. A few days ago my doctor discovered that I have allergies on 1000 other things: eggs, chocolate, berries, nuts, pork, beef, sunflower oil, milk, sugar, coffee, rye, wheat, quinoa, rice, mushrooms, peas, beans, broccoli, leeks, olives, carrots, spinach, parsley, turnip, cauliflower, dates, pears, mint, nutmeg, penicillin, roses, asparagus, juniper, dog hair, feathers, house dust, etc. So, my life turned upside down 🙂 Fortunately for me all these things only cause problems in the body and they are not deadly. But still it’s not easy 😉

    • oh what a list – poor you, having to avoid all those things. That must be really hard. I’m VERY glad to hear these aren’t life-threatening allergies, but even so, I can imagine excluding them must be a full-time job.x

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