Monday, April 14, 2008

Friendly Faces in the Food Fight

Last week, we had our April meeting of the Davis County chapter of UFAN. It was great – six new members joined us!

The most amazing transformation takes place at meetings like this. Often, when we first arrive, we come feeling like we’re the only ones dealing with food allergies. We’ve had a rough week, perhaps. Maybe we’ve had a conflict with an in-law, a teacher, a stranger, or a neighbor. We’ve dealt with a reaction. We’ve had to explain for the umpteenth time why our kid can’t have a piece of that birthday cake, and no, we’re not just overly protective. We’ve read approximately eighteen thousand labels, give or take a million, and we’ve heard another scary story about finding food allergens in unexpected places. (“What do you mean, my new exfoliating soap uses almond shells as the abrasive grit?!”) We’ve tried to explain to yet another 16-year-old waiter that there can be absolutely no cross-contamination with nuts in our kid’s meal.

We’re tired of feeling like Don Quixote tilting at windmills all day long. Talk about feeling isolated.

Then we walk into a meeting like a UFAN chapter meeting, or we run into another mom at a soccer game whose kid is allergic, or we stumble across another parent’s blog, and suddenly we connect! There’s someone else who’s dealing with this! There is someone else to nod and say, “Yeah, don’t you hate that.” Someone else who says, “Sure, I’ve got a great birthday cake recipe.” Someone else who suggests, “Have you tried telling your neighbors this?”

We all need a friendly shoulder sometimes. I’m blessed with many good, dear, wonderful friends who’ve been with me for years and are as committed to keeping my son safe as I am. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have tough days when that brick wall has left a really big imprint on my forehead. So a friendly face is always a welcome relief.

I’m so glad we have our Davis County chapter meetings, where we know we can see a bunch of friendly faces every month. At our meeting this month, we shared our own stories and struggles, as well as our successes and ideas. We learned, and commiserated, and cheered each other on. We even compiled a list of local restaurants where we’ve had some good experiences ordering food that accommodates our allergies (which I will give to Kay to post on our UFAN website)! I left the meeting re-energized and ready to fight the weekly battles again. Thank you to everyone who came!

Bring on those windmills!


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Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

A reader from Brazil! How exciting! Thank you for stopping by and learning more about food allergies. Hugs to you, too!