Monday, December 15, 2008

Best Intentions

Last week, at our Davis County chapter meeting, I brought the free samples provided by Enjoy Life! Foods, which are free of the top 8 allergens. A member let her children try the cookies and snack bars, excited that they didn’t have the allergens she knew her kids would react to.

Within minutes, two of her kids were breaking out in hives. We don’t know what caused it yet (she’s going to the doctor to have them retested), but my guess is it might be the sunflower or flaxseed in the snack bars, because those – while not in the “big 8” – are foods that some nut-allergic people are also allergic to.

It was scary. But the only way most of us discover a food allergies is when we actually eat the food. So it could have happened to her and her children anywhere. The only silver lining I could see was that it happened when she was with other moms who understood, and who were all armed with medicine. We didn’t have to use any of the EpiPens in our possession, but she did use Benadryl.

Of course, the irony was obvious – the point of a food allergy support group is to prevent this kind of thing from happening, not to make it happen! So we left feeling terrible that such a thing could happen in our group.

But we did learn several lessons. First, a reaction can happen at any time, and with foods we don’t even know we’re allergic to yet. Second, we need to have our EpiPens and Benadryl within reach, no matter where we go. Third, surrounding yourself with people who understand and can help goes a long way towards keeping the panic level down. And fourth, even the best intentions can go awry.

So check the expiration date on your EpiPens and make sure your Benadryl is ready. Before you go to those holiday gatherings or even out gift-shopping, be sure you’ve got that medicine with you. You just never know.

All our best thoughts are with the mom and her kids who have to add a new item to their list of allergies now. That’s not what they wanted for Christmas at all. But hopefully now that they know, they’ll be able to avoid an accidental reaction in a more inconvenient place or time.

Let’s all ask Santa for a cure for food allergies this year, shall we?

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