Newbie with two questions

Posted on: Wed, 02/13/2008 - 2:42pm
BohemianBrunette's picture
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Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09

Hey all,

I've been lurking for a while, but this is my first time posting. Anyway, my situation is a little different, I'm not allergic to peanuts, and I'm not a mother either, but rather, a 23-year-old grad student from Canada. Anyway, this year, after starting at my current university, I became friends with a girl who has a life-threatening peanut allergy. Now, she's great, she's an amazing flutist, a really nice person, and she's really laid back about her allergy. That said, I always try to be careful around her. I never eat peanuts around this particular friend, I always try to make sure I wash my hands after eating before being around her, and in the event of a chance encounter, I warn her. Some people aren't that careful, and they'll eat blatant peanut products when this girl is sitting or standing just a few feet away. So, with that in mind, I have some questions about some things that have cropped up recently:

1. Today, around lunch time, I was sitting in the music building lobby with another friend of mine who's not allergic to peanuts (my other friend and I are also music majors; she plays the trombone, and I play the clarinet). Anyway, non-allergic friend was eating peanut trail mix from a plastic container, and I quietly told her that she should probably cover those up, because our friend with the allergy was standing nearby, but the non-allergic friend said that it was okay, because the other girl wasn't contact sensitive......I hadn't known that, but my M.O. up to that point was, "when in doubt, assume aerosol." Anyway, the allergic girl came to sit between me and my other friend, but then she asked me to switch places with her, so that I could act as a "barrier" between her and the peanuts, because apparently it's not good for her to be right beside peanuts (she told me once that it gives her a stomach ache). Of course, I complied, but really, how safe/effective is this?

2. On Sunday afternoon, I'm going to be visiting a Bible study meeting with another friend (I'm not a Christian, I'm just doing this because my friend wanted me to go), and my peanut-allergic friend is going to be there too. Now, normally, people bring baked goods to these things, so, if I were to participate, I'd have to bake something without peanuts. Now, I know that Betty Crocker mixes are safe, but I also know that my *kitchen* is probably kind of sketchy. I eat peanut butter and whatnot regularly, as do my four roommates, and our kitchen isn't horribly dirty, but it's FAR from pristine, so even if I were to make peanut-free cookies or cupcakes or whatever on clean dishes, there's still no guarantee that they wouldn't get cross-contaminated somehow.

So, anyway, is there any way that I could get around the whole possible cross-contamination issue and bake something that my friend could have, or would it be a better idea to go the "chips and salsa" route instead? Also, if I decide to just do chips and salsa, how could I do it without embarrassing my friend? She'd hate to think I did it *because* of her, and she's smart enough to be able to see past excuses like "I was too lazy to bake," or "I figured everyone else would be bringing sweet stuff, so I decided to be different." She wouldn't make an issue of it, because she's too nice and polite to do that (see why she's my friend? Lol), but I don't want her to end up feeling badly in the first place.....so, what should I do?

Posted on: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 5:58am
gw_mom3's picture
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Joined: 02/14/2000 - 09:00

You sound like a wonderful and thoughtful friend that any of us would be lucky to have. :) I don't know how effective it is to have a human barrier between an allergic person and some nuts. The extra distance can't hurt though. Personally I would get between my dd and someone eating nuts only to get her further away from them. I would guess by her age, your friend knows what does and doesn't pose a risk to her.
About the baking-I think a premade treat would be better (chips and salsa, or store bought safe cookies or something). I wouldn't trust my daughter to eat something someone else has baked because of the issues you mentioned. Although I have in the past because at the time, I didn't realize the risk. Nothing ever happened so maybe the person who did the baking (my SIL who was pretty aware of allergy issues) was extra careful about it.

Posted on: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 9:51am
BohemianBrunette's picture
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Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09

Awesome.....chips and salsa it is. :) As for me being "wonderful and caring," well....you'd have to go to my school to understand that that's just how things are in the music department. None of us are perfect, so we all sort of look out for each other, by helping the boy in the wheelchair get around when he's stuck, and by steering the blind girl in the right direction so she doesn't, say, walk into the boys' bathroom by mistake, and by not railing against our parents in front of the girl who lost her mom last year, and by not pressuring the girl who suffers from panic attacks to join in at bar nights and whatnot. As it happens, "the girl who suffers from panic attacks" happens to be ME, and my friends, including the one with the peanut allergy, have helped me with that, so let's just say that I give as well as I get. Anyway, back to the peanut issue......if I'm ever in doubt about going to a "potluck" style gathering with a peanut-allergic individual, I'll bring something that was NOT prepared in my peanut-infested, death-trap kitchen, lol. Oh, and one more thing.....at one point during the conversation, I was worried about something, so I reached over and squeezed my PA friend's hand, but with the hand that was closer to her, and therefore further away from the peanuts. That's not dangerous, is it?
I guess what I'm trying to say is, I love my friend, and I know that her allergy is just a tiny part of who she is, but I still can't shake the feeling that I could make her really sick, or even *kill* her with one moment of indiscretion. For example, on Halloween, I offered her a mini Caramilk after Trick or Eat, thinking that it was safe (she declined), and then later, when I went home, I saw a "may contain" warning on the label. So, if my friend hadn't known, and if she'd eaten that chocolate bar, it could have been game over. Wow, I guess it's bad enough that it's just my FRIEND who's allergic to peanuts......how in the world do all you parents of PA kids manage to send your kids to school/sports/Brownies/whatever every day without going insane with worry about what could happen?

Posted on: Thu, 02/14/2008 - 10:55am
Mrsdocrse's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

First let me say that you are a great friend! I hope that my son had a friend that is watching out for him like you are.
I agree that if you are not confident that your "goodie" isn't going to be safe, the salsa and chips Idea is perfect.
as far as the contact issue goes..... peanut protien won't " fly off the other persons body" if they have it on thier hands and they shake hands they could get some on the allergic persons skin. aerosole kind of contact has more to do with peanut dust from raw shells.... or the vaper from cooking peanuts. dry roasted peanuts have a " dust". Keep in mind that your friend has been living with this for a long time and she is still living to tell about it. she is a grown up and I am sure takes responsibility for herself.... it sounds like you worriy more about her than she worries about herself! you truely area good friend.

Posted on: Tue, 02/19/2008 - 1:32pm
BohemianBrunette's picture
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Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09

Hey all,
Time for an update.....I brought the chips and salsa to Bible study, and the people there INHALED them. Unfortunately, my allergic friend couldn't make it that week, because she was behind on her practicing, but if she had been there, then she would have been one hundred percent safe, because everyone brought pre-packaged, peanut-free snacks.....so, the fact that I was "too lazy to bake" wasn't even an issue either. Now, as for the RELIGIOUS aspect of Bible study.....well, let's just say it was too much fire and brimstone and judgement for my liking, so I won't be going back, but from a peanut perspective, everything went perfectly. :)

Posted on: Wed, 02/20/2008 - 9:22am
Mrsdocrse's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2007 - 09:00

thanks for the update! I am glad it worked out!

Posted on: Tue, 03/04/2008 - 11:29am
OriJuice's picture
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Joined: 03/04/2008 - 10:50

Another Canadian =O
Glad to hear everything worked out, and it's very rare to see someone as thoughtful as you =D
I applaud you for looking out for your friends best interests and taking the initiative to post here and get idea's on food for the get together. Wish I had friends as willing! lol

Posted on: Sun, 03/09/2008 - 5:09pm
BohemianBrunette's picture
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Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09

Lol......willing to not kill my friend? Yeah, that sure is a tall order. I guess I joined here, ironically, so that the peanut allergy doesn't HAVE to be a constant worry. I mean, a few weeks ago, I discovered that it's not the end of the world if I eat a Power Bar, forget to wash my hands, and then hug my friend, but what if I hadn't been so lucky? It all seems so random......apparently, traces of peanuts on my hands directly touching my friend's back (through her shirt, of course) are okay, but she couldn't sit two feet away from our other friend eating a bowl of peanut trail mix without someone in between as a "human barrier." It's not like the "rules" even have any rhyme or reason to them. I used to think that people could either be ingestion sensitive, ingestion and contact sensitive, or ingestion, contact, AND aerosol sensitive, in cumulative "levels," but now I know that it's not that simple, and there's a different set of "rules" for each person with a food allergy. I guess I was kind of hoping that there'd be someone on here who has a child who's exactly as allergic as my friend is, so I'd know the "rules" for that level of allergy, but I guess there are no simple answers. My friend doesn't keep an Epi-Pen on her all the time either, because I guess she doesn't want to look "different," but she's pretty clear about the fact that it's life-threatening. But, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I came here so I could get some more insights, because in the meantime, my M.O. is just to treat my PA friend like anyone else, and try to hide the fact that I'm living in fear of accidentally wiping her off the face of the earth by eating the wrong thing and then not cleaning up well enough.

Posted on: Fri, 03/21/2008 - 7:22am
Ivycosmo's picture
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Joined: 09/18/2007 - 09:00

I only hope my son will have a friend like you. Thank you!!! You are a caring, sweet, lovely girl and I applaud you.
BTW....as far as not carrying the Epi b/c she is afraid of social acceptance, please speak to her about the danger in that. She can carry it in a purse or even in a band that wraps around your leg. Goes right under your clothes. PLEASE, please try to sway her on this issue!

Posted on: Fri, 03/21/2008 - 10:24am
Kanji's picture
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Joined: 01/30/2008 - 16:26

I agree. You are a great friend. I also agree that you should try strongly to encourage your friend to carry an Epi *always*.
As you are all such great people looking out for each-other, tell her no-one will care she has it.
Encourage her to leave one in her handbag, another in her room etc etc. And when she's comfortable with that, get her to teach people how to use it, and how to recognize the symptoms!
These skills will come in more and more useful as more people get life threatening allergies to food!

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