When I was younger, I had a friend with a shrimp allergy who seemed determined to overcome his food allergies by sheer willpower. I’m sure you’ve heard of allergic people like this, perhaps you’re one of them. These are the people who know they have a food allergy but disregard food labels and maybe even actively try to prove they’re no longer allergic to the food they reacted to as a child. In any case, my friend stopped his antics after purposefully ingesting shrimp on New Year’s Eve and ended up in the hospital. This was around the time when everyone in our social group refused to eat with him any longer. None of us wanted responsibility for his playing Food Allergy Roulette.
I’m sure many of you are thinking this young man was foolish and I don’t disagree with you. But if you are thinking that he is rare, think again. Governments everywhere around the world are reviewing food allergy statements on ingredient labels after alarming studies showing that many of the food allergic ignore those warning statements. These are the manufacturer’s voluntary “may contains…” that we see on pretty much every food label, ours included.
A recent UK survey indicates that only around 50% of British parents that shop for their nut allergic child heed the precautionary ”may contain traces of nuts” warnings on food labels. 20% of those same parents ignore the “may contain nuts” warning on food. Yet studies conducted a few years ago indicated that roughly one third of chocolates labeled with the “may contain traces of nuts” statement actually contained measurable amounts of nut proteins.
It may be that the majority of foods labeled with precautionary warnings don’t have the protein in them but many do. Or what seemed fine last time may not be fine this time. Is it worth the chance?
I am childless! After sending one child off on a plane on Saturday and delivering another to her grandparents for a trip to auntie’s house in Calgary on Tuesday, our house is really quiet. And for someone who is now supposed to be eating ice cream until midnight and bouncing on the bed, I find myself somewhat rudderless.
Gone are all of the electronic noises, teenage groans and sibling arguments. I no longer have to prod children to complete chores, I simply have to do them myself. No more fighting for time on the family computer, the phone isn’t being used when I want it. But it’s too quiet. I got a call from my allergic child last night since I’d requested she phone once she arrived after the 3 day journey. She had the audacity to want to get off the phone quickly so she could rejoin her uncle’s birthday party. Hmmph!
As my husband said at dinner last night, “so this is what it will be like in a few years”. I’m not so sure I’m liking that too much. Because all of this silence isn’t exactly worry free you know. Tween and teen children (allergic and otherwise) in the care of other people and perhaps taking on personal responsibility? That would mean I’ve done my job well and they don’t need me anymore. Ack!
Maybe it’s time to go get that ice cream out.
I’m not sure what to think about a recent clip that I viewed on YouTube showing a young man having an allergic reaction to peanut. I had just come home from holidays and had several enewsletters waiting for me as I subscribe to many from the allergy and gluten free worlds. One particular enewsletter had a link to a clip showing a peanut reaction. I thought it might be informative for both my husband and my allergic child and so forwarded the enewsletter to my home address for viewing later that night.
When I got home, I discovered that my husband had already watched the clip and that my allergic child had refused to watch so I sat down to watch it by myself. As I was watching, my husband came in to sit beside me and guage my reaction. At the end I was really quite disturbed.
You may have seen this clip but if you have not, the young man has a reaction over several hours after accidentally ingesting a peanut candy bar hidden in a cake. His filming over these hours shows him gradually having a skin reaction (hives and flushing), stomach pain and vomiting, facial swelling and difficulty breathing. I’ve seen this in my own child so, while not easy to watch, it was not surprising to me. What was surprising was that after indicating he was having difficulty breathing, he went and “passed out” on the couch for several hours.
It would appear from the opening and closing remarks made by this young guy that his reason for posting the reaction on YouTube was to educate others as to what happens when those with food allergies have reactions and why they should be taken seriously. So why, you ask, would I find this upsetting? Because I think that the opposite of his educational intention is clearer in the clip. His accidental message is that he can essentially “ride out” the allergic reaction and that after having systemic reactions, it’s okay for an allergic person to go lie down.
If you read the posted reactions to this clip, you’ll find other people asking the same questions that I did. From his responses to those questions, it appears that he did have antihistamines and epi-pens available but it isn’t clear exactly what he used and when, if anything, in the clip. So the message that clearly comes across is that a wait and see and lie down on the couch approach is a good idea. Not in my book! So in the end, I’m very glad my allergic child didn’t see the clip and I don’t want her to except perhaps to point out at which time in the clip that using the epi-pen and calling 911 would have been a good idea.
After the clip, there are several other posted videos on allergies but I couldn’t bring myself to watch any of them. Not if what I was going to see was potentially the last video that person would make.