New to this site, but not to the allergy!

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Hello Everyone,

I am just writing to introduce myself. I am twenty and am a college student in Massachusetts. I have lived all my life with a peanut allergy. I have been to the ER many times, and carry benedryl and an EpiPen at ALL times.

When I was a child, my parents dealt with this allergy by simply not buying products with peanuts in them for our house. Everything was checked before it got in the house, so that the house was basically a safe zone for me, except for a few items which I knew I couldn't eat.

The most frustrating thing about this allergy to me is people's reactions when they find out that I am pa. They either don't believe me, or treat me like something in a zoo!

I am so happy to find this site and know that I am not alone. And to all you moms out there--I'm living proof that your child can make it through their schooling years, which can be very difficult, I know.

Katie

On Jul 24, 1999

Katie, Thanks for those encouraging words. I am planning on teaching my son to cook and make his own safe foods. He already at almost 9 ands helps measuring and mixing his eggless, nutless waffles etc. We bought a second waffle iron that has never had egg/nuts in it and wrote his name on it. We take it with us when away from home.

It does frighten me to think of him going away to college even if he outgrows most of his food allergies, he will still have to watch out for life-long ones of peanut, all tree nuts, and sesame seeds. He doesn't know what most of these taste like.

Thanks for writing.

------------------

On Jul 24, 1999

Hi Katie and welcome to the boards!

Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

Many of us have children starting school for the first time in just a couple of weeks and the stress factor for me is off the charts! (My son is allergic by ingestion and touch) The parents who already have older PA children in school really help me by sharing their experiences.

I'm glad you found this site for your personal benefit...the people here are wonderful. Like you, there are a few other adults on the board who are allergic to peanuts and your experiences really help me in trying to keep my 5 y/o son safe with this awful allergy!

How was it for you in elementary school, middle school, etc.?

Stay Safe!

[This message has been edited by Connie (edited July 24, 1999).]

On Jul 24, 1999

Oh Katie thank you for posting! I'm the Mom of a 9yo PA boy and as he ventures away from my protection more & more I would like as much advice & information from the "older" PA's who have "been there - done that". I would like to see a thread on this site for teens/young adults where they can relate experiences & feelings. I would like to know how you managed to avoid (or to not avoid if that was the case) peanut products. Were you able to think & control when it was necessary after you left the security of home & parents?

My 9yo is involved in so many more things now and I am having to let him go places without me. I know that within the next 2 -3 years there will be more & more situations where he will be "on his own" and that really scares me. I have been so concerned that my son will "forget to ask" when he is not with me. He has been asking when he can go away to camp because some of his friends have gone this year - it is so sad to always say "maybe next year". I hate to be so over-protective -- but I don't believe I can ever let him go. I know he has to become responsible for himself, but I don't know if and when he will be capable. I would love to hear your thoughts on this & how you felt and what you did as you became old enough to "go it alone" [img]http://client.ibboards.com/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img].

On Jul 24, 1999

Katie--I'm a 37 yr old mom with PA, and I have a 2 yr old son with PA. College was definitely a great time in my life, but I do understand what you say about either disbelief, or people looking at you like you're weird. One thing I learned abou the hard way in college, as I went out to eat more, was that as a rule, the more casual restaurants were not as well informed about PAs as the nicer, more expensive ones were. I think you mentioned this in another post. So, to avoid being embarassed, if I was with a group of people I wasn't totally comfortable with, after I placed my order I would "go to the bathroom". Then I would hunt down my waitress or walk into the kitchen and talk to the chef. It only took a few minutes, and I didn't have to answer a million questions in front of a group of people. In a perfect world, I know, you shouldn't have to do this, but sometimes I just wanted to get through one day without talking about my PA. One other piece of advice, take it for what it's worth. When drinking, I tried to stay away from sweet liquors (like Franjelica, which has almond flavoring). Mixed concoctions tasted great, but I never knew what those frat boys were putting in it! Also, don't let your guard down when you get "the munchies", that was always a dangerous time. Try to have some snacks around beforehand, so you can read the ingredients before. I would also discreetly bring a snack into our campus pub, because if you play quarters, you know you are going to want to eat something. Good luck!

On Jul 24, 1999

Hi Cathy,

I am so glad you spoke about the drinking and fraternizing in the high school and college years, because I have agonized about that since I found out that my 2 yr old son has pa. I know I was rather wild in college, and would drink to the point that I probably was totally unaware of what was in the ingredients of the food I was eating. I am terrified that this will happen with my son. I am not saying that the binge drinking was ok, but it does happen, and I want to keep my son safe from this.

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest.

On Jul 25, 1999

Connie,

In response to your question about schooling, I guess I just got through it the best I could. The biggest disaster was whenever a teacher would bring in a "treat" for the class, since it almost invariably contained nuts. (I am allergic to tree nuts as well as peanuts.) I was always afraid to talk to my teachers ahead of time, because I never wanted to deal with their response. So I usually ended up just hoping that they wouldn't bring any candy in. I just explained quickly and walked out if that ever happened. This actually still crops up sometimes in college! I had to take a final in a separate room (almost unheard of for a proctored exam) because the prof pulled out a bag of snickers at the last minute!

Anyway, I think that one of the best things you can do for your son while he is younger is make sure that he is placed in a classroom where the teacher is aware of and sympathetic to his allergy. I also think that as allergic kids grow up, it is very very important that they have enough self esteem to believe in themselves. If they can do that, then they will be able to stick up for themselves in situations where other people are doubting them or their allergy. And they will be able to not let the allergy take over their lives.

And to those of you who brought up the drinking issue--thanks for the advice, but I don't drink at all. It's just not worth the possible harm to me.

[This message has been edited by Katie (edited July 26, 1999).]

On Jul 26, 1999

Katie,

Thank you for the great advice! I am meeting with my son's teacher on August 12 (this is when they post the teacher assignments)...I have already met with the Principal and PTA President (an EMT) who will be volunteering at the school full-time next year in the office. I also plan on being his "room mother" so I have control of what snacks come in for parties, ect.

Thanks again!

Stay Safe.

On Jul 26, 1999

Katie--It sounds to me like you are a prepared, flexible person, which is so important with this allergy. I hope you don't mind my asking, do you tell most people you come in contact with about your PA, or just friends and roommates? My husband does not agree with what I did as a teenager, and I'm curious what others do. Thanks!

On Jul 26, 1999

Katie mentioned (paraphrase) that she felt self esteem was VERY VERY important so the PA allergic will be able to stick up for themselves in situations where other people are doubting them or their allergy. And so they won't let the allergy take over their lives.

Connie provided a link to an article about handeling stress and PA. Here is a small piece of the article.

Those who learn to cope well are usually flexible, resourceful, optimistic and positive. They have legitimate concerns and fears, but they take a pragmatic approach to problem solving and try to live reasonably happy and contented lives. A positive outlook is important because the allergic child will adopt and reflect the attitude of the parents. Constant uncontrolled anxiety will affect both parents and child and can have a negative impact on family relationships. It is also important for his/her social and emotional development that he not be overprotected.

[url="http://www.cadvision.com/allergy/handlingstress.htm"]www.cadvision.com/allergy/handlingstress.htm[/url]

On Jul 26, 1999

Cathy:

I always try to be as matter-of-fact with my allergy as I can. I ask the necessary questions of waiters, chefs at the cafeteria, or friends at parties, but I try not to make a big deal out of it. If anyone around me asks me questions about it, I am happy to explain, but if they don't ask I don't go into it. When I was little I found explaining very embarassing, and got teased a lot by my peers. But now that I'm older (and more people are informed about allergies) I find that most people are curious and interested, and so I don't mind explaining.

I do try to explain in detail to a few close friends so that if there is ever a problem they will know how to deal with me. (In other words, give me the EpiPen, not CPR!!)

SquirrellyMom:

I went to a day camp when I was really little, 7 and 8. I brought lunch and the people there knew to not give me nuts/peanuts at snacks. I went to a week long camp when I was 9. I don't think it was that big of a deal--my parents educated me young and I just made sure I checked my food. Actually, most of my allergic reactions have been accidents at home, because that is where I let down my guard the most.

I think that it is important that your son gets the chance to stick up for himself and watch himself. He will have to do it eventually anyway, and if he doesn't have practice young, he won't know how to act when he's older. And I would think that you would rather have him have his first away-from-home reaction at a camp, where the counselors would be informed about his allergy, rather than at some party or restaurant later in life, where the people around him might not know what was going on. In the end I guess it just depends on if you believe him to be mature enough to handle his allergy on his own.

Good luck!

On Jul 29, 1999

Our son just turned 6 and we've noticed that unless we eat at home or restaurants like McD's or Wendy's he's starting to panic. He starts by saying he's not hungry which progesses to a stomach ache and then tears. This happened during a short vacation we took this past week. My husband and I have been so careful and or lucky that his only reaction has been by touching peanut butter when in preschool. He's never had the experience of eating it (Thank God). He heard me call ahead to restaurants and ask questions first to see if they had a clue about allergies and second if they did seem educated to plan what he would be having. Is this just because he's growing up and starting to more fully understand his allergies and the consequences he faces if we make a mistake? Did you ever go through any phases ( sorry to use such a parental term) like this and if so what helped you through them. Is it wrong for me to make such a phone call in front of him? I just make the call whether he's there or not figuring if he does pick up on the conversation that it will just show him how careful ard seriously we treat his PA. We've tried to keep positive and remember all the things he can do and eat. We follow the basic rules everyone else seems to follow and to always carry his medication with us. Maybe we're missing something.

On Jul 30, 1999

My daughter is 4 1/2 and is very conscience of what it means to her to be peanut allergic as well as other food allergies. She does not like to be around when I am discussing the allergies as she does not feel safe if I have to ask. She knows that we have to ask, but she feels safer if we tell her in advance that I called the restaurant/friend and list what she can eat.

We also have told her that fresh fruit and plain pasta is going to be safe, so she asks for those when she is scared.

Last year on vacation, she was very panicy. She would make herself throw up. We eventually let her just eat fruit in the restauraunt and would eat other things at the room.

Good Luck.

Mary Lynn

On Jul 30, 1999

Janet,

Um, hate to say it, but that's not a phase. The fear is something that will come and go basically forever. I notice that I often can make myself sick still just by thinking about going through a reaction, and I have to go to someplace quiet and calm down before I can go on with life. It gets easier to deal with it--I don't often have this problem anymore. But if I have eaten something and then realize that there might have been peanuts in it, I still tend to panic.

I think one thing you can do to help your child is to be as calm as possible. I always adopted the attitude my parents had, so it's best to stay as calm as possible (while still checking everything). I understand that your child might not want to hear you interrogating restaurants. At some ages, it's really hard to be different, and you don't want to think or hear about it unless absolutely necessary. Your child is probably acutely aware of his allergy, so I would make calls in another room until it stops bothering him so much.

Good luck! Katie

On Aug 4, 1999

hi Katie,

It was sure refreshing to hear from someone your age. My biggest fear now for my 12 year old nut-allergic daughter is going to off to live at college and being totally responsible for her food choices. I wondered how someone would handle that in the dorm. Does the school make accomodations for the nut-allergic person or what? Did you live away from home and attend college? What problems did you run into? What advice can you give parents of prospective college students? Thanks so much, Katie, and continued good luck.

On Aug 5, 1999

Katie,

I have a question for you. You mentioned that you had to take your exam in a different room because your professor took out a bag of Snickers. My question is...How do you feel physically when someone around you is eating peanuts? I ask this because I have a PA son in kindergarten now and he sits inside while the rest of his class sits outside during snacktime. It seems like he gets more congested and tired when peanuts are around. But he doesn't tell me because he's too young to know what's going on with him. Did you have to move away from peanut butter eaters in grade school?

[This message has been edited by SuzetteL (edited August 05, 1999).]

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