Those of you who know me well, or have been to a restaurant with me, probably know I have food allergies: some serious, some moderate, and some mild. I like to think I do a decent job of navigating the minefield that is the modern food industry, and striking a balance between not getting myself killed and not hiding away in my house like a shut-in.
I carry emergency medication whenever I eat somewhere. I don’t go out for Thai food or visit restaurants that hand out peanuts like chips and salsa. I check ingredients in the grocery store, and I ask the waiter about them when I order food. If I can’t eat one item on the menu, I look for another dish that I can.
Even so, sometimes something slips through (most recently: this past Saturday) and I have to spend an anxious couple of hours hoping that the medication I’ve taken will be enough, that I’ll keep breathing and won’t have to jab myself with an auto-injector (or have someone else do it) and go to the ER. Thankfully, it’s been years since I’ve had a reaction bad enough to send me to the hospital.
I’ve also got a not-quite-one-year-old son. I’d like to spare him from having to deal with all that, if I can. And if I can’t, and he develops serious allergies like I have, I’d like to help smooth the path for him as he learns how to live with them — or, better yet, help find a cure.
So I’m participating in the FAAN Walk for Food Allergy to raise money for research and education, and I hope you’ll sponsor me.
Modern medicine understands how allergic reactions work, but we still don’t have a good handle on why some people have allergies and others don’t, or why some people react to one food and some react to another. And since the causes are so poorly understood, parenting advice is all over the map: Keep your house as clean as possible. No, keep it somewhat clean, but not too clean. Introduce risky foods early. Introduce them late.
Raising money for research? Great idea!
Then there’s awareness and education. If you’ve ever read the comments on an article about people with allergies — or worse, people with allergies who have the gall to leave the house and visit a restaurant once in a while — you know that there’s a lot of misinformation and just plain lack of consideration out there.
A lot of people don’t understand that food allergies can be serious. Some don’t even believe they’re real, just the actions of a bunch of hypochondriacs looking for attention. (It doesn’t help that there are people out there who do lie about having allergies because they’re afraid people won’t honor their preferences, which just convinces that group that they’re right.) Or they get hung up on whether a condition is an allergy, an intolerance, or some other condition.
And finally there are the people who get it…sort of. They understand that food allergies can be serious and life-threatening…then proclaim loudly that you have no business taking part in society, and should just stay at home all the time, and how dare you expect some sort of accommodation like making the cook use a separate spoon for the kung pao chicken and the beef with broccoli, you entitled jackass.
Yes, those people are out there. And very vocal. I’d like to change their minds.
Please support my fundraising efforts with a donation. Your tax-deductible gift will make a difference in the lives of the estimated 12 million Americans with food allergies and their families. You can make your secure credit card donation by selecting the Support Me Button on my profile page for the walk.
Any amount helps me reach my fundraising goal. I greatly appreciate your support!