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Eating the Forbidden Food.

It was a very different weekend for us.

Our youngest joined Cub Scouts this past year and he attended his fist camp out with his daddy. We took the normal precautions by reaching out to his den leader to determine what food was being provided and what food we should bring. The Epipens and Benadryl were packed and off they went to a farm not to far from our home for a camping and fishing adventure.

Meanwhile, my older son and I stayed home and were given the luxury of not worrying about what and where we were eating dinner on Saturday evening. We could go to any restaurant we wanted without calling ahead and talking to the chef or manager. We did not have to clarify the food allergies once we there and we ate dinner without a care in the world. We even stopped at a local bakery earlier that day so our eldest could have a pastry of his choice. We almost felt like we were cheating on my youngest son, eating the forbidden food! For about 24 hours, we were given a mini-vacation from our son’s food allergy.

A food allergy diagnosis is a condition that must be managed with vigilance and we are normally on-call 24/7. Food allergies are unpredictable and we can’t assume that our son’s previous reactions are any indication of what future reactions will be. We don’t typically have a day off or take a vacation. It is something that we must manage every single day to ensure his safety and to prevent numerous trips to the ER.

We often wonder how difficult his condition will be to manage as he gets older. We already see signs of trouble brewing with statements like: “I wish I didn’t have a food allergy or maybe I don’t have a food allergy any more.” It is these statements that concern us most.

We do keep such a close watch on our son’s food allergy that we have been able to keep him out of the ER since his initial reaction almost two years ago. We had three contact rashes that first year after his diagnosis and we were told from that point forward to use the Epipens for even a rash. As with each rash, more and more antibodies are building up in his system which will just cause increasingly more severe reactions later.

However, it does seem as time passes and there are no reactions one could assume the condition has somehow resolved itself. One could also conclude that food our son has eaten before without a reaction should be fine and there is no need to carry our Epipens. It is complacency that worries us. We can never take our eye off the ball. While a food allergy can disappear as quickly as it appears, our son has only a 9% chance of out-growing his tree-nut allergy. The odds are not in his favor. It is tough to think that no matter where he goes and what he is doing that he will always need to have his Epipens with him.

We need to reinforce and teach our son that complacency is not an option. We can only hope that we have set the right example for him in these early years so he will continue to do the right thing as he moves through life from elementary to middle school, from middle to high school, from high school to college and then from college to life as a young adult. It is so easy to push a food allergy aside as not being serious, but it only takes one lapse in judgment to be detrimental to his well-being.

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