Being reaction free breed apathy with family??

Posted on: Thu, 05/22/2003 - 6:31am
MattsMommy's picture
Joined: 07/29/2002 - 09:00

Hi all,

Just a quick question. Since moving back to my home state a month ago, we've been able to spend lots of time with family members (mine and my in-laws).

We've never had to deal with family for more than a week at a time and so for them, although they know about the PA, I think they are still trying to grasp the situation.

But I'm frustrated and here's an example as to why. My sister (well educated, loving, aunt to my son) was eating cashews the other day when we arrived to visit. They were out of Matthew's reach and I didn't know she was eating them (off and on as she passed by the can) during our visit. I saw her eat some and then realized that she had just taken my son's hand to go outside.

I asked if she'd washed her hands as the cashews were a prime example of cross-contamination and that to top it off, they'd been cooked in peanut oil!

She was sorry and said no she hadn't...and then made a joke out of "see, he's okay..don't go overboard with it all the time".

That's just one example, but many similar instances have happened since got here. I actually had the irrational thought of "I almost hope he DOES have some kind of reaction so that she'll see how dangerous this is".

I felt as though that keeping him reaction free this past year (well, 10+ months) has only led our family to believe that it's really no big deal.

Have you all come across this? How did you handle it? Dealing with other adults (so many of them anyway) interacting with Matthew on a regular basis is a whole new ballgame and I have to admit it's driving me crazy!

To add to dh in the Air Force is serving a year long tour in Korea right now. I feel as if I'm the ONLY "peanut police" and it's quite stressful since he isn't here to help.

Advice is appreciated...don't knwo what I'd do without this bb.

Matthew 23 months

Posted on: Thu, 05/22/2003 - 7:06am
Tamie's picture
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

I hope someone can give you some good advice because I don't know what to say. I go through this all the time with family also, and am anxious to see what other's say. I get tired of being the "bad" guy and the "nervous nelly" all the time. Good luck to you!

Posted on: Thu, 05/22/2003 - 7:33am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Maddy -
Lots of empathy here. We're four years into the diagnosis, have almost lost M twice, and have gone almost two years with only one "small" reaction. Just got off the phone with DH -- FIL is again voicing his "sorrow" that we won't be attending a family wedding this summer -- and offering to pay for plane tickets, as if that were the issue. (They are *well* aware that M has had contact and airborne reactions, and that we have absolutely said flying is out of the question.) This is the same individual who insisted that "everything (is) negotiable" when MIL wanted to eat nuts in our home...
...the same MIL who has actually *cried* when she thought our granola was "*too high in saturated fat* for (FIL)".
Gotta run -- just know you're not alone in this!

Posted on: Thu, 05/22/2003 - 8:23am
darthcleo's picture
Joined: 11/08/2000 - 09:00

My son has never gotten a scary reaction yet (touch wood!!) so my family also thinks I go overboard.
The way I present this is I tell them that each year that is exposition-free is augmenting his chances of growing out of the allergy. And I do state *exposition* instead of reaction.
So yeah, if you have peanut oil on your hands and you touch a PA kid, you are exposing the kid, thus reducing his likelihood of overcoming the allergy.
Seems to work. Especially when I add that if he doesn't outgrow the allergy, and should he die from it in later years, "you" (aka a family member) will always wonder if you could have avoided the situation by not eating peanuts around him.

Posted on: Thu, 05/22/2003 - 1:11pm
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

since we moved to my husband's family's area about 2 1/2 yrs ago, we have also been reaction free. since they never witnessed any of the reactions we had prior to living here (when i was VERY uneducated about pa), they are very lazy about the whole issue. now that i am very careful about the girls' environment (two of our four kids are pa), i feel like sometimes the extended family isn't getting "the big picture." oddly, my vigilance and efforts are making the extended family even more lax (because there aren't any slip-ups for them to witness or hear about). i don't wish for a reaction but i do sometimes wish there was some other way to shake them into caring a bit more. living far, far away from family is sometimes a good thing. [img][/img] you can do like me and pray for a big job transfer...

Posted on: Thu, 05/22/2003 - 10:17pm
becca's picture
Joined: 05/22/2001 - 09:00

Right there with you. I use the avoiding exposure to increase the chance of outgrowing it. In fact, given her milder reaction history and being reaction free since figuring it out, she is a good candidate(as good as any).
However, Christmas was a nightmare of 4-5 tins of cookies, many with nuts, and M-I-L *baking* pecan cookies of some sort when we arrived to sleep over before the big party. She also placed a plate of cookies in dd's reach. Then they think I hover. Hello?!
She did catch a Tanox story and she brought it up on the phone with dh recently. I hope she is maybe getting the message. There are some in the family who are good, and I keep hoping they will somehow talk to the ones who miss the boat. Nobody is listening to me any more.
Very frustrating. becca

Posted on: Fri, 05/23/2003 - 4:07am
river's picture
Joined: 07/15/1999 - 09:00

I don't know if this is your situation Mattsmommy, but it seems that sometimes relatives will use PA in their own petty battles.
They'll play games with nuts to express their jealousies or dislikes or bids to dominate.
All the education in the world will not get through to these people as they are only interested in "getting at" other family members.
It's not pretty but it seems to be common. Often it's not constant, but just a once in a while thing.
Again Mattsmommy, this is not to say that this is what you are facing, but I know it is an ongoing problem for many on this board.

Posted on: Sat, 05/24/2003 - 8:40am
Melrose Mum's picture
Joined: 01/23/2002 - 09:00

I guess that this is good news...I had in-laws that thought I was 'crazy peanut mother' but just this past January they changed their minds. My DD has been diagnosed PA for almost 2 years now, with only non-anaphylactic symptoms (cap rast >100! boy are we lucky!) My FIL is a retired Doctor (he knows EVERYTHING -he thinks) Well they thought I was crazy-strict regarding cross-contamination etc. UNTIL my DH ate an some food my MIL set out (DD knew not to touch it, she's GREAT that way) my DH later kissed our DD and she rapidly developed hives on the spot where she was kissed and it spread to cover her whole cheek, DH and I just matter of factly commented,"oh yeah, there must have been something in that" and "yeah this is what happens, we'll watch her" you know, the general cooments you make when you get annoyed that food labels have caused yet ANOTHER problem with your life. Well I'm happy (?) to say that they now 'get it' we ended up having the conversation we've had DOZENS of times before regarding contact reations and the severity of the allergy. My MIL stated that she guessed she 'just could believe it was like that.' (reactions)
They are not perfect, BUT they listen alot more now and they no longer think that I am overly protective (at least they don't say it to my face, ;-)
I am NOT saying that we, or anyone else, should USE exposure to drive home a point... I guess I'm saying that the severity of this allergy is rather unbelievable (even when you read the info by highly regarded authorities) Some of the lax attitude is the yes-but-not-my-darling-healthy-intelligent-
granddaughter (neice, etc.) Some people just have to see it to believe it, unfortunately. Hopefully your family will catch on WITHOUT having to witness a reaction.
Sorry to ramble.

Posted on: Sat, 05/24/2003 - 10:57am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

like your fil, my dad is a physician. wouldn't you think they'd be the first to figure it out? i'm always amazed at how lax my dad is - even more so than my in laws and the rest of our extended family members. he readily admits the severity of the allergy and considers it very dangerous and yet he seems to be of the opinion that the girls need to figure out how to live in a peanut filled world. even at grandpa's house. my in laws, on the other hand, seem much closer to my kids but are less educated in general. they seem to feel giving into reducing risks would be deferring to me; even though i think they basically agree with the concept of protecting the girls. they are more concerned about "winning" the battle with me than protecting the kids. so...none of the family is very helpful but all for different reasons. it's a lot of fun. haha.

Posted on: Sun, 05/25/2003 - 8:41am
Chicago's picture
Joined: 04/21/2001 - 09:00

No, you are not alone here. My MIL has decided at the last two family dinners to trot out her strawberry jello mold with walnuts. To her credit, she has warned me and dd both times (even making a bit of jello without nuts for dd - which dd did not touch since she was worried about cross contimination), but did say that it was time dd leaned how to live in "the real world". Gee, where were we living before?????

Posted on: Sun, 05/25/2003 - 10:54am
shelleo1's picture
Joined: 03/12/2003 - 09:00

Hi Mattsmommy,
I know your frustration only too well. I am 38 years old and am just finishing my first year of teaching grade 4/5 in a small town school.
I have life threatening allergies to peanuts, any kind of nuts, fish and seafood. As well, one of my grade 5 students, Christopher, has anaphylaxis to nuts (any kind).
Just last week he and I experienced ignorance of the most dangerous kind in our school. Several staff members, including the principal, decided that it was okay to have nuts in the staffroom. "Why shouldn't we be able to enjoy the foods we like?", were the exact words spoken by the principal.
These words frightened and upset me. I have since been on a constant vigil to educate these individuals. I have been leaving reading material on the staff room table which includes a detailed, 21 page policy on anaphylaxis, from the school board. I have also copied stories of children who have died in the past few years in Canadian schools because of negligence. I remind people that we can never be 100% peanut or fish free but we can increase awareness to reduce the chance of these allergens entering our workplace.
I am determined to continue this battle because lives are at stake.
The attitudes you have been experiencing from your family members are a sad reality. It is very difficult to walk in someone else's shoes. I always say, "what if it was your child, how would you feel?" It is all about empathy.
I don't know if this has helped but I urge you to stay strong and seek the support you need.


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