Monday, April 29, 2013


Do you know how difficult it can be to explain food allergies to others?  My conversations often sound like this:

My daughter has food allergies.
Ohh, to peanuts?  We don't have peanut butter in here.
Well, she is allergic to peanuts and to many, many other foods.
Like nuts?
Yes, and more.  Here's her list.
She's allergic to all that?  What does she eat?


My daughter has food allergies.
We won't give her any of that food.
Well, she can't even be around those food items.
What do you mean?
She can't be in the same room.  It's not just eating the food that gives her problems.
Blank stare...........


My daughter has food allergies.
So, what happens?  Does she get itchy or something?
No, she goes into anaphylactic shock.
Blank stare.............

When you try to explain food allergies people immediately assume that peanuts are the one and only culprit.  People refuse to believe that just by being around the allergen, Bee can have a problem.  (Hello!  It's called a contact allergy!)  Or they assume that allergies = itchy.  And everything itchy can be cured with some Benadryl, right?

I am so fearful that people will misunderstand the severity of Bee's allergies or the extensive allergy list.  All it takes is one little mistake or one small miscommunication and Bee is served the wrong food or is in a room with one of her allergens.

When I'm misunderstood it can mean a trip to the ER and can mean that Bee's life is in danger.

I need people to actually listen when I'm describing the allergies.  They need to understand that her allergy list is unique to her and they should never question it. They should understand that food allergies can be life threatening.

Is it that people don't understand or refuse to try to understand?  Sometimes I wonder.........

It's become clear to me that there are so many people who are simply ignorant regarding food allergies.  I was one of those before Bee was diagnosed.  However, I'm happy to explain about our allergies and educate them.

There are others who refuse to understand.  Food allergies are an inconvenience to them - they find it an imposition to change their plans just for the sake of your food allergies or the allergies of your child.  Other parents are angry that your child dictates what snacks can be had.  People are angry when they have to change the menu to accommodate you.  Some are offended when you don't come to an event because of the food.  They refuse to understand the gravity of the allergy situation.

We're just misunderstood over here.  We aren't trying to be difficult or a pain to deal with.  We don't try to complicate things.  We don't try to suck the joy out of celebrations and get togethers.  We don't come up with these crazy allergies and allergy action plans.  We don't make things up.  No, this is serious and this is someone's life.  Clear communication is so important.  Bee's safety requires that everyone understand and be on board with our plan.  I hope that others will listen not only with their ears but with their heart so they can show a little compassion and understanding for our situation.  Please don't misunderstand, don't misjudge, just listen.

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