How to get family to take PA seriously?

Posted on: Sun, 07/21/2002 - 2:53am
randgmom's picture
Joined: 07/21/2002 - 09:00

pI'm trying to compile an info package on peanut allergy for family members, particularly for those who refuse to acknowledge the threat facing our daughter. The tough part is that my daughter has not actually had a reaction; she had been skin-tested for another food allergy (eggs) and peanuts were in the strip of tested allergens. She had a very strong reaction to the peanut portion (and the eggs; she's since outgrown her egg allergy), and the allergist and a pediatrician said we are to assume she is severely allergic to peanuts and to take all the precautions a "regular" PA child would need. She will be retested -- I think with a food challenge in a safe environment, like the allergist's office or the hospital -- when she is five. (She is 3 now.)/p
pIn the meantime, we take the same precautions for her twin brother, since we are worried about him touching her or sharing crumbs etc of peanut-containing or "may contain" foods./p
pThe problem is my sister. She has boxes of crackers to family functions, or served food in her home, that have a peanut warning or may-contain. I make a big show of taking those boxes and reading the labels, then pointing out to the kids which crackers they can and can't eat, hoping she would get the message without me hitting her over the head. She is quick to take offense and has already ranted about some "stupid" mother who's insisted her son's class be peanut-free when the PA child has just a "mild" allergy, and what a hassle it is for her. /p
pI'm sure she thinks my daughter's allergy isn't to be taken all that seriously because my daughter hasn't actually had a reaction. The fact that we have been told to treat her as those she has a bona fide PA by doctors seems to make no impression./p
pYesterday was her husband's birthday party, to which we were invited. His mom was making the cake, and I asked my sister if his mom had checked the label of the box. She said, "She's going to make whatever cake she wants." She only agreed to call and ask her to check the ingredients after I asked if it was really that hard to check the label. I told her I needed to know so that I could bring something else for the kids if need be./p
pThe cake ingredient list was fine (I also doublechecked it myself at the party), but my sister had a pinata. The treats inside were distributed to the kids. My kids wound up with mini bags of Bits and Bites (may contain) and Oreo (may contain); I quietly traded with other kids who had some other bagged treats with no warning. My sister had also made up little bags herself, and inside these were mini chocolate bars, one of which was Snickers. No ingredient list on the individual bars, but I know they contain peants, and I'm sure the container or bag the mini bars came in would have had a peanut warning. Hello?/p
pI want to do up a quick, to-the-point letter or flyer or something to convince her to take it more seriously. I don't know where to start. Should I get a note from her doctors and include? Some have mentioned a video called It Only Takes One Bite, but I'm not sure if it pertains to someone like my daughter, who is suspected but not confirmed. We certainly don't want to experiment with peanuts on her to see what happens! /p
pAny pointers on what to include/points to make/how to word things? There is so much info available and I don't want to overwhelm her with it./p

Posted on: Sun, 07/21/2002 - 5:13am
BS312's picture
Joined: 09/05/2001 - 09:00

The video "It Only Takes One Bite" is a good resource for teaching the dangerous nature of peanut allergy. Some of our relatives have seen it. We have found it easier not to expect anyone to provide safe foods for our PA and TNA DD. We are blessed with very aware and cooperative relatives, but we trust only ourselves to provide all foods. Our relatives understand our level of concern and do not mind at all that we bring with us everything that DD will eat. Maybe you could try this approach with your sister...just don't give her the opportunity to expose your children to dangerous foods. Your children can learn to touch and/or eat only foods that you provide. HTH.

Posted on: Sun, 07/21/2002 - 9:01pm
LJG's picture
Joined: 05/23/2002 - 09:00

Ask your child's doctor if he would write a letter that you could show to folks. Also have him give you an "emergency action plan" laying out the steps that must be taken if accidental ingestion should occur. I have the same problem with some people, but they find it more difficult to roll their eyes when they see a statement from someone with M.D. after his name.

Posted on: Sun, 07/21/2002 - 10:27pm
yuckypeanutdad's picture
Joined: 07/15/2002 - 09:00

I [b]TOTALLY[/b] understand your problem... Sometimes peoples ignorance about an issue can get the best of them. Im sure she means well... I have been trying to get through to a few family members, and it's frustrating...
Im ready to say "MY SON CAN F-ING DIE!!!!!! CAN-IT WITH THE PEANUTS! ALL OF THEM!!!!! But, I will try again the nice way one more time.... A few of my family members are a bit "back-woods style" and in their laid back hillbilly lifestyle (no offence to hillbillies ) [img][/img], They feel that "[i]Oh it's just a little peanut, no one has ever died from a little peanut... He's allergic?... Oh, then he might just get a little rash or something.....[/i]" [img][/img] They fail to understand or believe the severity of the problem. I [b]TOTALLY[/b] feel for you, and understand what your going through...
We had our family up to our cottage, and we all went to the restaurant nearby for a little snack... My wife, my son and her sister all got popsicles, and my Brother Inlaw got a peanut covered mint chocolate thing... Never-the-less, I told him to be careful and to stay away from my son with that thing... It's a hot day, and there are peanuts and melted ice cream running down his arm all melty... I was just cringing, and the whole time, he was like [i]"It'll be ok, I won't go near him"[/i]... Then he comes in the cottage touching everthing and THEN washes off his hands....
Anyways... Theres a little story for ya so you don't feel alone... Im new to this so I don't have much advice....
[This message has been edited by yuckypeanutdad (edited July 22, 2002).]

Posted on: Sun, 07/21/2002 - 11:52pm
Connielynn's picture
Joined: 08/27/2002 - 09:00

I guess I have a bad attitude. I have just given up. We didn't go to the family reunion this year, his or mine. I am guessing that there will a dinner in the next week or so. Hubby and I have talked, we can have it here at our PEANUT FREE HOUSE or not go. So we won't go, since my father in law wants EVERYTHING at THEIR house.
I have never thought of educating them. I have given them printouts from the internet. Have no idea if they ever read them....
DD has had so many reactions this last year, which means a trip to the ER, ect. Father in law will always call and check on her, they have NEVER visited her after she gets home. IF father in law is working, then I recieve a phone call like this.....'Bill told me to call and see how Jasmine is doing'. And I am supposed to be impressed????
Last Christmas was the first time anyone had called before a family dinner and ask about safe food. DD has had this allergy for 11 years. My brother in law made peanut jokes, I guess he thought he was funny..........
I have no faith in this family ever understanding.

Posted on: Mon, 07/22/2002 - 12:20am
AJSMAMA's picture
Joined: 06/12/2002 - 09:00

I have come to the conclusion that unless it is your child with the life-threatening allergy, it is just not that important. I have tried and tried to educate my sisters about what foods my son can and cannot have. One of them gets it and the other (a nurse by the way) cannot seem to grasp the severity of it. She has a child 12 weeks older than my son and you would think she would be able to say, "oh well this could have easily happened to my daughter and not my nephew..." but she doesn't. I think part of the problem is she is so cheap and she only buys generic brands of cookies and crackers. Of course, I only feed my son specific safe brands. I have just decided that I will always bring the food for all of the children anytime we go anywhere with her. I don't mind the added expense if it means my son will be safe. And for b-day parties for her kids I always show up with cupcakes (in whatever theme it is) and bring my own ice cream for ds. She doesn't seem to think anything about me doing this (like the inconvenience). I totally understand the pinata thing. At my niece's last b-day party there was a pinata filled with (get this!) Reeses pieces, snickers, and some kind of generic m&m's!!

Posted on: Mon, 07/22/2002 - 12:31am
yuckypeanutdad's picture
Joined: 07/15/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by AJSMAMA:
[b] At my niece's last b-day party there was a pinata filled with (get this!) Reeses pieces, snickers, and some kind of generic m&m's!!
Gee how thoughtful of your sister [img][/img]
These stories make me very angry... There is so much ignorance about PA, but, if it was their kids with something, you can bet they'd be screaming bloody murder...
I was ignorant about PA at one time also, so I can relate... I think it's just a matter of discipline...
I remember back about 3-4 years ago hearing on the radio talkshows debating peanut bans in schools..
I was on the pro-peanut side, thinking that Why does the whole school have to change for one or 2 kids... It's not fair to the other kids that like peanut butter.
But, that was just ignorance on my part... The fact that kids LIKE peanut butter, has no comparison value to the fact that our kids can DIE!..
I think we have to be strict, especially with family members... Tell her, that if she continues to ignore your childs basic life supporting needs, that you will not attend her parties, nor visit her house again....
It's terrible to shut out family members, but it's even worse to endagers our kids lives....
Sorry if im rambling..... these are just some thoughts that came to mind..
[This message has been edited by yuckypeanutdad (edited July 22, 2002).]

Posted on: Mon, 07/22/2002 - 12:36am
yuckypeanutdad's picture
Joined: 07/15/2002 - 09:00

By the way, what does DD or DH mean....

Posted on: Mon, 07/22/2002 - 4:35am
AJSMAMA's picture
Joined: 06/12/2002 - 09:00

DD (dear daughter)
DH (dear husband)
DS (dear son)
I can say that due to personal experiences with my sister's ignorance, I have limited the amount of time we spend with her and her children. Fortunately, we do not live in the same city so it makes it easier to avoid her. (gosh, that sounds awful!) I do try and remember what it was like to be just a normal peanut eating person and not the mother of PA child when I am dealing with dense people. Certainly my entire life and perspective have changed, however I find that I easily forget that everyone elses lives have not. I just do the best I can to avoid nuts/nut products completely.

Posted on: Mon, 07/22/2002 - 6:53am
Carefulmom's picture
Joined: 01/03/2002 - 09:00

To randgmom, this story about inconsiderate family has been on these boards so many times in one form or another. Me, I won`t risk my child`s life to keep things smooth with family. Based on my family, all of whom are extremely intelligent, I believe it is all about control. Maybe your family is different, but after reading these boards for months, it seems like most of the time family either chooses to become pa aware or chooses not to. When they choose not to, they don`t want to be educated. Some people who have posted about this (this was a big topic around Christmas), found that when they left the family event due to the presence of peanuts, a few found that the next time around the family suddenly remembered not to serve the peanuts. In some families that wasn`t true.
About the skin test though with no reaction and no peanut exposure, our situation was exactly the same. My daughter was skin tested for peanuts at age five, only because she was already allergic to milk and egg. She was skin test positive. She had never eaten peanuts or may contains that were labeled as such. She then had a CAP RAST done and it was really high for peanut. A few months ago at age 7, she had her very first peanut reaction when I gave her some soy imitation ice cream. I called the company later and found out it was made on shared equipment with peanuts. The company did not state it because they feel they clean their equipment really well. My daughter is really sensitive to this tiny amount of residue. So, I really agree that you have to assume your child is pa and treat him as though he is. It is great that he has never had a peanut exposure, but probably if he did he would have a reaction.

Posted on: Thu, 07/25/2002 - 3:32am
williamsmummy's picture
Joined: 03/26/2002 - 09:00

It has taken years for my family on both sides to really understand.
During my sons early months his poor sleep pattern and slow weight gain was blamed on my insistance that he was breast fed. ( he was a difficult baby, but I felt that I had to carry on as the eldest two had been breast fed for a least a year!)
His skin problems were just counted as bad luck, however the idea of how severe his food allergys could be didnt sink in until he was older . He had a reaction as a 3 yr old to eggs in front of relations , but that was blamed on a bug, even though I knew that it was a reaction not just normal V&D . It took until william was at school and had a exposure to peanut and a trip to hospital that i think made a firm impression on extended reletives.
Simply telling the family about his reaction to this and that ( he has a few allergies !!!) did not have a impact.
I pressed home the importance of how careful we had to be by showing them a newspaper clipping of a teenager that had died of nut allergy . Then told them that if we are not careful this would be william.
Now I find that extended family are fantastic, and slip ups that do occur are mistakes, not just thinking that mummys over reacting.
Please bear in mind that extended family do not have to think about allergy at all, untill your child shows his face. we have to think about it and have to face the severe problems it brings at times.
It is sad that family may only realy "get it" when a reaction occurs.
But times are changing and with allergy on the increase , information on the bare facts about allergy are getting more exposure. I always like to think positively , people do change at times.
good luck sarah!!!!


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