When Jason was just 13 months, Allie and I discovered that he was allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and seeds. It’s been a long (and at times frightening) journey, but our little guy’s certainly come a long way. Now that he’s 12, Jason always carries an EpiPen around and has learned to speak up at restaurants and with his teachers about his severe food allergies. If you know him, you know that speaking up is sometimes pretty hard for him. I asked Jason to share some of his thoughts with my readers here at Mommy’s Busy, Go Ask Daddy.
It sucks having food allergies.
If I eat the wrong thing, I could die. And that scares me. I try to read the labels of all the food I eat and I carry my EpiPen with me at all times, but I still need to constantly stay alert and look out for myself. This isn’t just annoying; it’s my life I could be risking.
Normally I don’t like to think about dying at all. It just really scares me. But my fear gets 10 times worse knowing that I can die just because I ate something I’m allergic to.
What is it like for me living with these food allergies? There’s a lot I can’t do.
- I can’t eat anything a teacher gives out.
- I will only eat the food my mom gives me.
- When there are parties or other food related activities, my mom has to check everything.
- I even have to ask my teachers not to drink hazelnut coffee when they grade my papers so I don’t have a reaction.
- I sometimes sit at a different lunch table from my friends because they have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or something else with nuts in it.
When I go out…
- I have to inform waiters about my food allergies.
- I need to check the soap in any public bathrooms since they could have nuts (or shea butter) as ingredients.
- My mom has to train my friends’ parents in the EpiPen when I go over to their house for the first time.
- I have to bring my own soap and shampoo with me on vacations.
- I feel scared and unsafe at baseball games with all those peanut shells around. It’s too bad, because I really love watching the Yankees play!
- College scares me because I will have to take care of my food allergies all by myself. I won’t have my mom or dad watching over me at all.
- I haven’t even thought about dating and my first kiss.
Thankfully, I’ve never had to use my EpiPen. If I ever do have a life-threatening reaction, though, I can only hope I’ll be able to use it on myself. It’s easy to practice using it properly when I’m thinking clearly, but I don’t know what will happen if I’m having trouble breathing and start to panic.
These allergies are something I have to live with for my entire life. Every day I am learning to be more and more aware. I know I need to advocate for myself because it is my life. My parents are trying to push me to speak up for myself and my allergies. Since I don’t really like to talk too much anyways, speaking up isn’t such an easy thing to do.
In a few months, I will be having my Bar Mitzvah. For my Bar Mitzvah project I have chosen to work with food allergies. I’m hoping to raise money and awareness for Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). This great organization is trying to find a cure for food allergies and help people with food allergies like me live happier and safer lives. If you would like to donate, please visit my Team FARE website. Any amount, no matter how small, would mean so much to me. Thank you!