The bottom line is there is a risk I could die from accidentally ingesting one of my allergens (tree nuts or fish). I do everything I can to manage that risk, including carrying emergency medication. It probably won’t happen but it is possible and I live with that risk every time I eat, dine out and travel.
We were talking about risk generally and I felt it important to help him understand that this is a deep truth of my life. It has probably helped to shape who I am, how I view the world, how I interact with the world and how I move through the world. (This is among the many, many, many other factors that shape who any of us are.) I accept my food allergies and I do not let that one aspect of my life define the rest of my life. However, I am aware that the risk is very real. My job is to manage that risk while having a life.
When did I know that truth? At an early age. How did I find out? That's hazy. Back then, there were no support groups or national non-profits dedicated to education and awareness; no other kids for me to talk to, no parents for my parents to connect with. I imagine my awareness came after years of doctor’s appointments and overhearing bits of conversations and putting it together. Not ideal and definitely scary and anxiety-producing.
But how do families and adults these days address the possibility of a fatality from food allergies? At what age does one have that conversation? With what language? It is a complex question with a complex answer. And it’s not only about the children: many parents cannot handle this information (a possibility of a fatality from food allergies) and choose to remain in denial about the real risks of food allergy exposure, thus potentially endangering their child’s health and well-being. Truly, it’s an issue that must be tackled from a multi-viewpoint perspective. Not so easy to do in a 20 minute consult with a doctor. OK, near impossible.
Dr Mike Pistiner in a recent post on his website Allergyhome.org begins to tackle the over-arching concerns from a Healthcare Professional perspective (as in the professionals who dispense information to you about disease management).
It is a conversation to have with your pediatrician and allergist about real risks, and how to engage your feelings as a parent first and then your child about this very serious issue in order to integrate the information in a helpful, useful, un-fearful way.
This is something I’ve talked about directly with my teenaged food allergy counseling clients and with parents within a food allergy counseling relationship.
f you have concerns about how to engage either your medical team or you family about, the possibility of a fatality from food allergies, contact me about a short term counseling program, today.