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Newly Discovered PA

Hello All!
I'm new to this site and also very new to the world of peanut allergies. I am a healthy 22 year old female and was recently diagnosed. I've had issues over the last 4 weeks with peanuts and thing containing them. Hives, wheezing, heavy chest, closing airways, etc. I went to the doctor this week and finally got my epipens and instructions on what to lookout for and to keep out of my home. The problem is, I live with 5 other people, who LOVE nuts. Even tho they are my parents and family and I know they love me, I think they're in denial about the true severity about this allergy and what exactly can happen. My dad makes comments like "I love peanut butter and can't live without it. I'm just hoping that you'll grow out of it soon." And it makes me feel alone and scared. I have yet to feel supported by him in all of this. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to nicely explain things? Or does anyone else ever feel alone and isolated like this? I guess I just need someone who understands completely to talk to..

Thanks in advance for any feedback and for reading through my questions/venting.

By momofpeanutallergic1028 on Tue, 07-02-13, 18:57

I know exactly how you feel. I have an 8-year-old son who has a life threatening allergy to peanuts. His numbers are way off the chart. He also has the same life threatening allergy to pistachios and cashews. Other nuts are not quite as bad but he avoids all of them. Over the years, I have had a lot of difficulty with my in-laws. Every Christmas, she puts out trays of unsafe treats, some with nuts. She then puts out a "safe" tray for my son and tells me to make sure I watch him so he doesn't get into the other trays. On Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law always makes her "famous" pecan pies, which again is served at the same table my son is sitting at. And recently for father's day, we were at the in-laws and or dessert, they were serving a peanut infested frozen dessert. My mother-in-law told everyone to make sure they wash their face and hands before getting near Josh. I absolutely could not believe it. And I couldn't say anything because their feeling is he is fine if he isn't eating it since he has never had a full blown reaction while at their house. And they always feel I am blowing his allergy out of proportion. I was so angry but again was not able to say a word. Even my husband was eating a piece as he has the same thought process as his mother. My mother-in-law even put a piece in front of me. I'm sitting right next to my son and she puts it right there. I told her I would not eat it, and she just kind of looked at me and walked away with the plate. I know she was mad but I really don't care. I ended up taking my son down to their family room away from everyone so they could eat their peanut dessert. It just makes me so angry that people can be so self centered. And to put that kind of fear into my son is not right. He was absolutely scared that someone was going to touch him and he was going to have a reaction. I kept him isolated the rest of that day.

I'm not sure what you can say to your dad but maybe it would help if your doctor talked to him. People just do not understand that a peanut allergy is not like a dust allergy or some other environmental allergy. Maybe be blunt with your dad and ask him how he would feel if his peanut butter addiction is worth putting your life at risk just because he "can't live without it." Unfortunately I don't know if he would listen as I have had the same conversation with my in-laws without much success. They still have the philosphy that if my son doesn't eat it, he won't have a reaction and I think a lot of people think the same way.

Sorry this is so long. I just wanted to tell you some of my story so you don't feel alone. My son has felt that isolation and has been scared too many times. It just doesn't seem fair that people are more worried about themselves these days, and it shouldn't be that way, particularly with your own family.

Good luck with your father and your other family members! Keep us posted on what they say.

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By Saralinda on Mon, 07-01-13, 17:56

My 3 siblings and I all have peanut and other allergies so at home, it was never an issue. Our parents looked after us. There were peanuts in the home, but not comsumed in front of us.

It was a different matter in the "real world" but I could handle things on an individual basis.

Then I got married. My inlaws were aware of my allergies and would make jokes about it. My husband of many years still insists that he can not survive without peanut butter in the house.

When my kids came along Mother-in-Law and my husband "ganged up" on me. They insisted that I provide peanut butter and other peanut products in my home or I would be the "bad mother" not letting my kids experience what it means to be a true American kid.

Long story short. I taught the kids to make their own PB&J sandwiches and to thoroughly clean up after themselves, not to contaminate the jam jar, and generally be respectful of all people who may be different then they are.

I don't think it is even possible to change grownups set in their ways. The only person you can change is yourself. Speak up gently if you are afraid of a reaction, teach family and close friends to recognize a reaction and how to use an epipen, and don't be afraid to live just because peanuts are no longer your friends.

I am now 62 years old, still married to my mostly wonderful husband, and now my grandkids eat PB&J but never around Grandma. Remember that you are not your peanut allergy. It is just a small part of the rest of what makes you, you.

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By thekilij on Mon, 07-01-13, 16:59

Hi promiseparrish! My daughter has a severe peanut/tree nut (cashews) allergy.

People in your life will handle this medical issue differently from one another. For example, I do not keep any peanut or cashew products in my home. I won't even consume them when I'm not in my daughter's presence. However, my daughter's father does continue to keep peanut butter in his home and will even consume it while he is spending time with our daughter.

Many institutions (daycare, school, camp, etc.) have been cooperative in looking out for my daughter's well-being, but they have not necessarily gone so far as making their institution peanut-free.

One of my daughter's aunts has a severe allergy to dairy. She does not keep dairy out of her home and my daughter's father's family only goes so far as to prepare separate dishes for this aunt during holidays, etc.

My suggestion is, if you cannot talk your family into going peanut-free - at least in the home - use the situation to better prepare yourself for living in a society that uses peanut products regularly. Otherwise, if having a peanut-free home is a major issue for you, you may want to consider moving into your own place.

I hope you find what works best for you!

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By PeanutAllergy.com on Fri, 06-28-13, 18:26

Question of the Week: Answered!

Every week, PeanutAllergy.com will be answering one of the questions posted on the community page!

Our Answer:

We are very sorry to hear that your family is not being supportive. Your family obviously doesn't understand just how severe and life-threatening a peanut allergy can be.

It is important that you educate your family. You should feel supported and safe in your own home, and having peanuts around is simply not an option.

To educate your family, we recommend providing them with information (through youtube videos, blogs, and articles) which will hopefully show them just how dangerous a peanut allergy can be. We have included a few links below of some helpful videos and blogposts to better educate your family.

If doing this still does not help them to understand, bring them to the doctor with you and have the doctor explain just how dangerous a peanut allergy can be. Having the advice of a medical professional could change their opinions.

Another thing we recommend is showing them how to use an EpiPen in case you do have a reaction and what steps to take in case of an emergency. You certainly don't want to have a severe reaction for them to finally realize just how dangerous a peanut allergy can be!

We are always here for you and we know just how difficult it can be to deal with a food allergy! Unfortunately, many people treat food allergies as a joke and don't recognize how big of a threat they truly are. We also posted your question on our Facebook page and about 60 people responded, offering words of support and encouragement.

Check out the Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/PeanutsAllergy/posts/563968750308387

Helpful Resources

Here is a helpful website that they can read through to recognize the symptoms of anaphylactic shock: http://firstaid.about.com/od/allergies/f/08_Anaphylactic.htm

Here is a food allergy memorial blog: http://foodallergymemorial.blogspot.com/p/memorials-2005-2012.html

Here is a helpful book called "The Peanut Allergy Answer Book": http://www.amazon.com/The-Peanut-Allergy-Answer-Book/dp/1592332331/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372367240&sr=8-1&keywords=the+peanut+allergy+answer+book

Here is a youtube video about how to manage a food allergy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VukGWHd1XA

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