has being a PA adult affected your social life?

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I'm fairly new to the board and was pleased to have some other PA adults respond so nicely to my intro. I have PA/TNA, along with a shellfish allergy. I'm wondering if any of you PA adults have experienced feelings of isolation from friends and even co-workers because of a reluctance to eat out. Unfortunately, I seem to be surrounded by people who want to eat adventurously and do a lot of their socializing around a table, either at a restaurant or at someone's house. On occasion I am invited and I bring my food, but that can be awkward, especially when I try to explain why I'm just not comfortable eating what a friend has prepared (they are sympathetic and they read labels, but they always miss something). I love my friends and when we do other things besides eating we all have a great time. But it's gotten to the point where they know I'm uncomfortable in most restaurants and just don't invite me. So I do feel a little left out. I guess it's up to me to find other ways to socialize and then introduce them. But dang, has anyone else experienced this problem?

On Feb 27, 2003

Hi Steph,

Sorry you are feeling a bit left out. I am PA/TNA and I have felt the same way at times. I tend to frequent the same restaurants over and over - the ones where I feel safe. So, when friends want to go out to eat, we usually go to those restaurants. My husband's friends will go as far as checking with a restaurant about the oils they use to cook, etc. they are all very cool. If people go to Asian restaurants or anything thats just too "out there" for me, I don't go, it stinks to feel left out, but I'd rather not put myself at risk - I am sure you understand that feeling [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

If you don't want to eat out, maybe you could tell your friend's or co-workers that although you won't be joining them for a meal, you could have a drink or two with them at some point. Even if you don't drink alcohol, its always fun to go to a neat place, have a drink, chat and people watch. I went to a really cool restaurant where I could never eat, but had some nice wine at the bar with my friend.

As for eating at friend's homes - I have some friends that I trust completely. Others - I just ask them to read labels and hold on to them for me to look over too. Always be prepared with your own food incase they miss something. Or you can invite them to your home, where you know the food will be safe. I do this a lot. My friend's and Dh's friends know they are in for a great meal if they come to our house and its a great way to be social and feel safe.

Hope this helps a bit. Have you always had the allergies or are they a recent development? When mine got bad, I totally freaked, wouldn't eat bread, cried a lot for the loss of my social life, etc. But I have gotten much better about eating out and socializing.

Good luck

On Feb 27, 2003

Hi, MaryM! Thanks for your suggestions--I have actually done the "meet up with you after dinner" thing once or twice and that does work well. My hubby and I do try to have people over at our house as much as we can, although we do have the added disadvantage of being the only vegetarians in a group of meat-eaters! :-) At any rate, I think the most frustrating thing for me is that I've had these food allergies my whole life, and I got all the way through college and a trip to Italy without any really horrible reactions, and only now in my 30's am I becoming a serious worry-wart (some of it, of course, is justified).

Sorry to hear you had a rough time when your allergies got bad--were they not so bad when you were a kid, then? What helped you get over the frustration as an adult? (if you don't mind me asking)

On Feb 27, 2003

Hi Steph,

When I was a kid the only reaction I ever had to any peanuts or tn was a scratchy throat - I just avoided them. My mom didn't even know about the allergy. I was able to eat creamy peanut butter - but not chuncky (something about the protein and how its broken down I guess). As I got older the reactions got worse - fat lip and scratchy thoat from kissing someone who had eaten peanuts, then a full blown anaphylactic reaction to a mini egg roll at an Irish Pub about 5-6 years ago. Thats when I started freaking out - I thought I was going to die during that reaction (had never even heard of an Epi Pen) - anyway - I just did a lot of research, spoke with my allergist and eventually, with the help of some wonderful friends, got back into life. It took awhile and I still have moments of panic especially when I am stressed out about other things.

I totally understand the worry-wart thing but you've made it through a lot without any horrible reactions, so obviosly you are doing something right.

As for being a vegitarian - you could do things like fondue parties or cocktails with appetizers and just not serve meat, right?

Good luck and feel free to ask me anything!

On Feb 27, 2003

Hi Mary

My allergies were fairly strong from the beginning--I picked up a walnut when I was three and the hives told my mom all she needed to know! What I think is interesting is that it seems like only in the past 5-10(?) years or so have people, even doctors, really been catching on to how serious food allergies are. My parents have described several serious reactions from when I was a kid where they were told by the pediatrician "if she's throwing up, she's okay." Can you imagine? I count myself lucky that I've never had a true anaphylactic reaction (your eggroll incident must have been terrifying!!), but I didn't get an epi-pen until I was in college, and even then I didn't really know what anaphylaxis was or how serious it could be. At any rate, I completely agree about the "moments of panic"--my food worries are always at their worst when I'm tired and anxious in general.

Thanks again for chatting with me--I am soo glad someone knows what I'm talking about!

On Feb 27, 2003

My social life hasn't suffered that much. My friends understand that I can't eat certain things. My good friends make an effort to fix stuff I can eat and things usually work out. They're good people who also keep my other allergies and sensitivities in mind--they don't wear perfume or liquid latex around me and they don't try to serve me edamame or reese's cups.

I do go to my local Japanese restaurant, where the waitstaff know me and make sure my food is soy free (I'm soy allergic and PA). I live in a small city where I can find pretty much whatever I want to eat on a given night. I have a safe pizza place, safe sushi (I'm vegetarian, so I don't eat fish, but I eat vegetable rolls), safe mediterranean food, safe Italian, etc.

My latex allergy is probably the biggest impediment to my social life... It doesn't matter how safe the ingredients are--if the food is prepared by someone wearing latex gloves, it's not going in my mouth. I've had enough anaphylactic reactions to latex, I don't need any more. And I'll be much happier when the latex clothing fad passes the goth scene once and for all. I shouldn't have to worry about *brushing* up against someone in the club.

ygg

On Feb 27, 2003

Yikes--latex is in so many things! That would be a tough thing to work around--plus at a club, it's usually nice and dark and you can't exactly ask to read some stranger's garment tag. My sympathies. I'm also interested that you are vegetarian as well and are able to avoid soy. I've never been a huge fan of tofu anyway--if you don't mind my asking, what do you do for protein?

On Feb 27, 2003

I would say that my allergy has affected my social life, but I think it has changed due to getting older anyway :-)

I'm 32 now and I don't enjoy going out to nightclubs etc, but I would like to go out to a nice resturant every now and again. We haven't been out to dinner for a long time - tried to attend a wedding reception 2 weeks ago and the Italian resturant refused to serve me - I was asked to bring my own food. I felt embarrassed, so my husband and I had a picnic on the beach instead.

I'm in the middle of trying to organise a staff dinner for our school (I'm a teacher) and have found a friendly Mexican resturant. I faxed them a special note and they seem happy to prepare a safe meal for me. It just depends on whether I feel confident enough to accept that it will be safe (or if my husband wil think it is OK!!), so I haven't decided on whether I'll be going yet.

I also have some really close friends and work buddies who I can trust, and we eat over at each other's houses - dinner parties are so much more fun than having to compete with the noise of other customers, loud music and poor service in a resturant!

Helen :-)

On Feb 28, 2003

Hi there,

Friends are one thing - you can just tell them you don't want to eat in a restaurant and if they choose to go, you just meet them later. But in my office, all social nights out seem to involve eating - and I don't eat in restaurants ever, because staff are so ignorant of allergies etc. In my last job, most people understood after a while and just accepted that I wouldn't eat out - when I went to our Christmas party I ate at home beforehand, and then sat at the table with them and just drank wine while they were eating their dinners. Hardly anyone even raised an eyebrow. But I've only been in my currnet job a couple of months, and sometimes it's just too hard to explain it. When you say 'I don't eat in restaurants because I'm allergic to nuts", the reply is always "But surely you could get something without nuts in it...". I have to resist the urge to be sarcastic and reply : "Well now why didn't I think of that?? Get something without nuts in it...Ingenious". But I'm so tired of explaining every time, that I end up making other excuses, and as a result, come across as unsociable etc.

So yes, it has affected my social life to an extent (luckily most of my friends are more interested in drinking than eating tee hee). But what I hate more is the inconvenience - if I'm going somewhere straight from work for example, and I can't just nip in somewhere and grab a bite to eat, unless I want to go to McDonalds or Burger King, which isn't great for the figure to say the least. I either have to bring food with me, or go hungry....

Still must not complain too much, things could be a lot worse...

Take care, Michelle

On Feb 28, 2003

Tell me about it!! [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/frown.gif[/img]

On Feb 28, 2003

It's so nice to hear other people describe the same experiences I've had. My concerns also seem to be increasing as I get older (I'm 30 now)--maybe it's because I'm paying more attention (or too much?).

Helenmc, I dread weddings--isn't that awful? I can't tell you how many times I've tried to call ahead/check on the menu, etc., and once in a while it turns out okay, but most of the time I end up bringing my own food or eating beforehand. The only time I really relaxed at a wedding was at my own (great caterer, very understanding)! How frustrating (and ridiculous on their part), that the restaurant wouldn't even serve you!!

MichelleR, I've had the same problems at work, too, where a lot of the socializing is done over food and it gets really inconvenient. I've done the same thing with office Xmas parties, where I eat beforehand and just go and sit around (even at my husband's party). Sometimes the boss buys lunch delivered for the department and what can I do? And the whole office group always goes out for lunch to celebrate birthdays--I'd love to join in, but I just can't eat at "Sushi Thai"!!

But I also agree, it could all be a lot worse. :-) Perspective is everything. Thanks, everyone!

On Feb 28, 2003

Steph,

Tell me a bit about how you managed at college? Did you live in the dorms? Eat in the cafeteria? Are you sensitive to airborne peanuts?

We are sending our 18 year old PA son to college in September and we are right now dealing with a cafeteria that is loaded with peanuts. I'm working with the food service director and I think that by time DS gets there some sort of system will be in place to keep him safe barring accidents.

I'd love to hear of your experiences.

My son's world is small but he's managed. I'm sure it would be different if he were not PA but he's learned how to keep himself safe and that is not always easy.

Peg

[This message has been edited by Peg541 (edited February 28, 2003).]

On Feb 28, 2003

Hi Peg541--

First of all, congrats on your son going off to college in the fall--it's such a milestone and really a transforming experience. It sounds like you're doing all the right things to prepare for it!

As for my own experiences, I can say that I did not have any serious, life-threatening incidents. I did live in a dorm for 4 years and I did eat in the cafeteria. I should add here that I don't seem to react to airborne food particles, although touch causes some hives and ingestion is potentially fatal. To be honest, as serious as my allergies were/are, neither I nor my parents knew to check with the food services people about ingredients. Maybe it was dumb luck, and the cafeteria while large was pretty basic--I at least knew enough to avoid the desserts. The few reactions I did have were minor, and all of them were outside "the caf" and caused by my own negligence (I let a friend read the ingredients for me, I let a guy kiss me without asking what he'd eaten, I didn't read a food label carefully enough). I'm sure your son is more aware than I was, so I imagine he'd do quite well.

The things I would suggest doing, and what you may have already planned to do, is touching base with the campus health center and the residential director of his dorm. They should know who he is and what the issues are. If airborne stuff is a serious, dangerous issue, you may want to ask the RD about roommates and how to find one who's sympathetic, since everyone keeps food in their rooms. Other options for your son might include other "eateries" besides the caf--does his school have a food court? So many of the franchises are in colleges now, like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. Not the best health-wise, but maybe at least another option.

Well, I could ramble on for a while with this, but I hope I've answered some of your questions. Let me know if I can help further. Good luck!

On Feb 28, 2003

Thanks Steph.

I think we covered all those bases. He will be going to a small college and will be in a program where it gets smaller. His dorm makes their own rules at the beginning of the semester so I am pretty sure we can have something already set into place before he arrives and introduces himself to the group.

He'll be able to give the residence life people his parameters for a safe roommate and they have already reassured us they will help him choose carefully.

Thanks so much. I'm glad to find out we've done almost everything we need to keep him safe.

Peg

On Feb 28, 2003

I find it affects me the most at work...people bring treats I won't eat. Plus there are lunches for sales meetings and I won't eat.

Like today, we had a meeting and someone brought donuts and I made them check the box to make sure there were no peanut topped donuts so I wouldn't smell them.

As a family, we used to go out to eat more and we rarely do that anymore. I cook a lot and we eat at home.

On Mar 1, 2003

Reading about problems at work reminded me of something that happened around Christmas 2001. I was working for a company as a temp, had been there about 2 months - all the clients started sending in CHristmas goodies, one of them being a BIG can of nuts - the whole office smelled, everyone was eating them. I totally freaked out - I was nauseaus, felt itchy (now this may have been purely caused by my fear of having a reaction, I don't know). I spoke with my supervisor about the allergy and went to lunch a little early, called my then fiance and told him I couldn't go back. I felt so awful, and honsestly really stupid (I don't know why, the damn things nearly killed me once) anyway - I went back to the office, told them I had to go home and I did just that. The next day I got in bright and early and wiped down the fax, the xerox machine, door knobs, anything I would need to touch - never had a reaction from touching, but then I used to be able to eat creamy PB, so you just never know.

They were really nice about it and the did immediatley put peanuts away when I told them about my allergy. It was a pretty bad experience for me.

On Mar 1, 2003

MaryM,

Your story reminds me of one my son experienced last summer.

He was working for my husband in his medical office, putting away charts and filing lab results.

I dropped him off one afternoon and when I got home I checked the answering machine. It was my husband saying come and get DS. I called right away.

It turns out that my husband's nurse had her kids in the office for the afternoon. The kids had taken over the chart room and were making PBJ sandwiches. My husband did not know this or was probably too dense (or too busy) to see this. He is also a mouth breather.

DS walks into the chart room and walks into a wall of PB air. He turns around and goes right to DH who gives him an antihistamine and calls me. DS is really upset. DH is upset at himself for not smelling the PB (Being the mouth breathing troglodyte he is)

I had to be sure DS was not reacting, he was not, DH and DS were sure of that. I drove right back to the office and DS was standing outside waiting for me.

He got in the car and this 6 foot, 17 (Then) year old man sat in my car and cried. I had to stop in a parking lot and hold him for awhile so he could calm down.

I felt so horrible for him. He said that he kept on flashing back to his last anaphylactic experience and did not want to go through that again.

Needless to say, DH nurse does not bring her kids to work anymore.

Peg

On Mar 1, 2003

Steph:

For starters, we don't really need as much protein as the beef farmers would like us to think. Excess protein leads to calcium loss or something like that. I can't exactly remember, but I could find the references.

My diet includes organic eggs and cheese (that's limited b/c of lactose intolerance), legumes, quinoa, wheat gluten, etc. I do have to take b-12 supplements, but my symptoms of b-12 deficiency predate my vegetarianism. I really don't have to worry about protein intake, though I'll probably see a nutritionist if I ever decide to get pregnant (will need a lot more protein then).

Honestly, my friends who are in AA have more social limitations than I do. At least I can drink. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

I've been known to take safe food to a restaurant that I can't eat at. I've taken Taco Bell into Applebee's and calmly asked for a plate and ordered a coke. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] And I *still* got hit on by the waitress. I've found that a good smile and light-hearted manner lets me get away with just about anything.

I did have to give up some of my favorite cuisines for awhile. I only eat Thai, Chinese, or Japanese if I know the owner and chef of a restaurant. I live someplace now where I can actually get safe vegetarian chinese dishes that are soy-free. And the local sushi joint always serves me specialty (ume, orange blossom, etc) vinegars with my veggie maki rolls. The waitstaff also remember to NOT bring the edamame to the table. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

If I'm out with friends and they eat something I'm allergic to, they get directed to the bathroom to wash their hands immediately. They're friends. They like me. It's one of those things we do--no perfume around me, no mint around another person, no strobe lights around another. Maybe I'm lucky and have really understanding friends.

That said, I did have to quit working because my office refused to accomodate my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and I got too sick to continue working.

ygg

On Mar 4, 2003

Yes, being PA has definately affected my social life! I go to school a block away from Chinatown, so you can imagine how often I don't go with the crowd for lunch.... Everyone around me knows all about my allergy, and for the most part are pretty accommodating about restaurant choices. If I don't feel safe somewhere I won't go. I know that some people think I'm being silly when I refuse to go to asian restaurants, but I don't let it bother me anymore. I do eat suishi though - which I think confuses people even more! I tend not to eat with people I don't know very well because of this, which makes getting to know people a little more time consuming. I'm a big fan of going out for coffee, which has everything to do with the fact that it's safe.

On Mar 4, 2003

Being PA/TNA hasn't affected my social life. I admit, I don't eat out hardly at all. But when I do, it's my once a month girls night out at a restaurant that knows me well.

I also LOVE to cook, and tend to make big batches of soup and freeze them in small portions for work. I make home made sushi, baked goods, etc. so I don't feel like I'm missing out. The only time I feel like I AM affected is at work-buffets annoy me, and when people bring in nut laden goodies and then comment that if only they had my allergy they'd be thin too (all while they are on their 3rd piece of cake).

I am lucky though. I can eat things with traces, and I've never had a life threatening reaction. Yet.

On Mar 5, 2003

Being PA hasn't affected my social life too much, but then, like Michelle, my friends and I are more pub drinkers than restuarant eaters (I'm from Dublin too Michelle!!). It could also be an age thing, I'm only now starting to be sick of nightclubs and would rather have a quiet pint in a local than venture to the loud music bars in the city centre.

When I do go out to eat, people usually make suggestions, and I check up on the place. If I feel safe going there, I will, if not, I'll either tell them to go on without me, or they'll suggest somewhere else. I can be pretty mean though - I tend to guilt people more than anything! If people (mainly work colleagues rather than friends) have made arrangements without asking me, they'll each tend to ask if I'm going and I'll reply "Aw I'd love to, but I'm allergic to nuts and I don't really trust xxx (name of restaurant). You all go and have a good time, I'm sure there'll be other times for me......." (and be sure to throw in the puppy dog eyes!).

If I'm going to someones house I always tell them no peanuts or tree nuts and check the labels. I guess I can be rather cheeky (in a totally adorable way [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]), so I can get away it, but then again, I lived with being the shy retiring type for so long and it got me nowhere!

On Mar 5, 2003

PA has affected my social life a bit, but not to a big extent.

When I go to my friends houses, they all know about my peanut allergy so they don't have bowls of peanuts or chicken in satay sauce for dinner. When we go out for dinner, they also know that we need to go to "safe" restaurants. When I am not available to go out is when they go to places I can't eat at (ie: Thai, Vietnamese, etc)

But at work it is more of an impact. When people plan a lunch at "Green Mango" (Asian food), etc I am not able to attend. And people bring in snacks regularly, most of which I can't eat. Cinnamon buns, butter tarts, boxes of chocolate, Timbits, etc almost all say "may contain peanuts".

When we have a department potluck, I email everyone in the department to remind them of my peanut allergy. Although at the actual potluck, I often only eat a few itmes that are most liely to be safe, as how can u really be sure others "get it" (with regards to cross contamination).

I don't go out as much either, as many bars/restaurants serve bowls of peanuts in the bar areas. And I can almost never eat baked goods, so we don't go out to dessert places that much unless it is just for hot chocolate, etc

So my PA has affected my social life, but not to a great degree (mainly because my friends and family know of my allergy and are very accomodating).

[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

[This message has been edited by erik (edited March 05, 2003).]

On Mar 8, 2003

Went out with DH & some of his co-workers for happy hour yesterday. When the happy hour special was over we decided to go to another bar. Its was an Irish Pub that I had never been too. Anyway, we all walk to the back by the bar and I noticed peanut shells all over the floor and a HUGE bin of peanuts. Told Dh I thought we should leave. All of his co-workers know about my allergy and were wonderful. The minute they saw the shells and peanuts they agreed we should leave. They were so great, I can't even tell you. A few of them said that when they saw all the peanuts they thought, Mary can't be here, this is a bad situation. It was really nice, especially since DH has only worked with them for about 6 months. Once a month at his office they celebrate birthdays and whoever makes the cake always puts a note by it telling DH if there are any nuts in it. They know that he can't kiss me if he has eaten nuts. Anyway - I was really touched that the whole group last night were so caring and really concerned for my safety.

On May 21, 2003

re-raising for Shelleo

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