Growing Up with a Severe Food Allergy

It’s hard sometimes to know for sure how much Sadie understands at almost 3 years old about her life threatening allergy to peanuts. I was confident she knew about her Epi Pen in case she needed it, but I haven’t been very confident in knowing if she could recognize the “enemy” if it was put in front of her.

This made me especially nervous putting her in a preschool situation where I am not there to protect her. Even though her school doesn’t serve nuts, there is really no way for me to guard against cross contamination or any of her little friends bringing or sneaking something she could easily share a bite of and unknowingly put herself in danger. I was so relieved when I found out 3 out of the 12 kids in her class have the same peanut allergy she does and they form they’re own safe group together during snack times. But there is still so much more education and awareness I need to build between her and the faculty I entrust her life to.

Admittedly, I struggle with looking like I’m neurotic the older she gets and the more unsafe situations we find ourselves in. That is something I am daily overcoming as I educate myself on Jonah’s situation in his recent diagnosis of severe multiple food allergies to wheat, dairy, peanuts, egg, avocado, banana and all pitted fruits.

I am coming to terms with the fact that we will be living in a different world because of Sadie and Jonah’s severe food allergies. Jonah will encounter even more barriers than Sadie and TJ and I bear the responsibility to educate, plan, and prepare our kids and those around us.

I was laying down with Sadie this afternoon after she woke up from a nap and was looking at pictures in a magazine that came for me in the mail together. I was about to turn this page when she stopped me and started telling me about the picture and what she saw…

She said, “Mommy. Those are almonds. They are nuts. I am allergic to nuts. I have an Epi Pen. If I eat the almonds, it would be very bad and I would get so sick.”

I said, “You’re exactly right, Sadie.” What do you think you should do if someone wanted to share them with you?”

Sadie said, “I tell them I can’t do that. I don’t want to get so sick. It would be very bad.”

We then talked in length about how she eats special food from home that is always safe for her and even though we love to share toys with our friends, it’s never a good idea to share food with someone unless Mommy and Daddy are there to say it is safe. We went through how God was so smart to help people know how to make an Epi Pen that can help her if there was an accident and we always have to have it, just in case.

I don’t want to paralyze my kids in fear that if they eat something they can very well die from it. That conversation will come much later when they understand the weight it carries and have the responsibility themselves to be vigilant. Just like you tell your kids to not touch fire because it’s hot and can hurt them without telling them it can kill them. But I do want to educate them in a way that is upfront and honest all along the way as they mature and are able to handle it.

I’m so thankful that at almost 3 years old, Sadie knows to be vocal about her allergy to peanuts and all other nuts. Don’t be afraid to educate and make your children aware.

 

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