“Listen to this,” I said to my husband. I was reading the nutrition information on a box of crackers. “`This product was made in a factory that also processes peanuts’,” I read to him. “Why on earth would they print an obscure fact like that?” It seemed so silly.
“Well,” said my husband calmly, without looking up from his newspaper, “I guess if you were really allergic to peanuts, you’d need to know that.”
“I think sometimes people are even allergic to the peanut dust on the machinery.”
“Hunh. Hadn’t thought of that. Whatever,” I said, and tore into the box.
Not my most sympathetic moment.
A year later, I was sitting in the pediatrician’s exam room, my 18-month-old son’s face red and puffy after eating a few bites of a peanut butter sandwich.
Now I think about that obscure warning label all the time. Every time I go grocery shopping. Every time we eat out. Every time we get invited to dinner. Every time I pack my son’s lunch.
That obscure fact is now an essential element in my life, because my son is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.
Life has a funny way of teaching compassion.
Finding out my son has a life-threatening food allergy was scary. It was distressing. It was confusing. It was infuriating.
With time, research, and reflection, I also finally realized what it wasn’t.
It wasn’t the end of the world.
Life is full of turning points, large and small. Some turning points we recognize right off, like the day I switched majors in college, the day I said, “Yes, I will marry you,” and the day the doctor said, “Your pregnancy test is positive.” (Hoo-boy, that was a biggie.)
Other turning points are smaller and harder to recognize at the time – like the day I took a temporary job as a technical writer, or the day my mother talked me into joining a club of stay-at-home moms.
That day in the doctor’s office was a turning point, but not necessarily in all the bad ways I initially thought it was.
It changed how I think about food. It changed how I plan my family’s menu and diet. It means I have to interact a little more with my son’s school, friends, neighbors, and activities.
Is that a bad thing?
It’s a challenge, sure. But we all get handed challenges in one way or another. This one is one of ours. And honestly, as challenges go, it could be so much worse. At least this one is manageable.
That’s why we’ve created this web site and blog – to make it just a bit easier for us all to manage our families’ food allergies. Like so many of the turning points in this endless string of turning points we call life, this particular one is easier to accept with a little information, a few handy tools, and a community of friends who “get it.”
Thanks for stopping by. If you see some information you can use, take it. If you have some information to share, we’d love to hear it. You’re part of our community, and we’re mighty glad to have you.
P.S. Remember, I’m not a doctor. Never have been, never want to be, bless them all. Information on this site is for discussion and thought-provoking purposes only and should never be used in place of your doctor’s recommendations, and it cannot be construed as advice or diagnosis. By accessing this web site and blog or the information in it in any form – electronic or paper or any other type of real, alien, or imaginary media – you agree not to sue us, and to instead seek out professional medical advice.
P.P.S. No stalking, either.