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Always Prepared & Always Carry Prescribed Epipens

Before having a child with a severe food allergy, we never realized how much our world revolves around food. Now, not a day goes by that we don't think about what ingredients are in the food we eat. Whether it is a church function, birthday party or a family get-together, we must always plan in advance and be prepared with options that our son can have.

Yesterday is a perfect example of how different the lives of those who manage a severe food allergy are. Our day began with making pretzels in Sunday school as part of our study of the Lord's Prayer. Upon receiving the email earlier in the week from our director, we requested a copy of the food labels for the ingredients to confirm that it is safe for our son to participate. If not, then plan B is to provide an alternative for him. Fortunately, our church does a great job accommodating him in most instances. An area that needs some work is the donuts or other baked goods that are typically brought in by one of the parents/members and are available between church services for a small donation to our youth group. More often than not, our son can't have these items as they come from one of many bakeries that also produces baked goods with nuts or from a source of unknown origin and therefore no ingredients label. Ugh! Our son is continuously disappointed and so now we pack donuts or other snacks he can have. Sadly, the issue doesn't stop there. Other children select a donut or baked good item and head to Sunday school and of course, our son's classroom where singing takes place before class. As a result, there are donut and cookie crumbs on the tables and the floor so a classroom that is typically nut-free has now been contaminated with allergens. While the singing is going on, we quickly scrub all the tables with soap and water to hopefully remove any allergen residue that was left behind under the watchful eye of other parents. While we are hastily cleaning, we always wonder what they are thinking. Do they realize how serious our son's allergy is that even a contact rash could cause us to have to use the Epipens and send us to the ER?

After church, both of our children have swim practice and then our youngest has a basketball game so what about lunch? Food allergies and fast food do not go hand-and-hand. There is just too much risk and not enough training and education is happening at most restaurants. With less than an hour before swimming starts, there is also not enough time to go home for lunch either. Therefore, our best solution is a picnic lunch that we packed the night before and ate in the car.

It has now been a little over a year and half since our son had his first anaphylactic reaction. We are always on constant alert for possible food allergy threats. We always carry our Epipens where ever we go as you never know when an allergic reaction will strike and previous reactions are not good indicators of future reactions. We are always prepared. Are you?

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