author of Feeding Eden

Kids with Food Allergies: Avoiding Danger AND Living with it

This past month, I posed a question on The Huffington Post: Should Schools Be Nut Free? I had a busy week after writing that article. So I tweated about my article - once - and that was that. One hundred comments later nerves were certainly exposed.

Not surprisingly, the majority of reactions were camped in extremes. A few readers who, like myself, can envision a middle ground wherein day care centers, or the lower school grades are kept free of nuts. These readers suggest we prepare our allergic children for the less safe worlds to come. But then there were the Live With It! The World Is Dangerous Anyway! readers who play Tough Guy with their words.

I can still recall that when Eden was first diagnosed with anaphylactic food allergies, besides learning about micro food ingredients, emergency medications and the physical signs of anaphylaxis, there was a point in every single day when I worried about him dying. I could have those death thoughts anywhere, without warning. I thought about Eden dying in store checkout lines, in the kitchen and when Eden woke up in the night. He was just past one year old. Of course my husband Drew worried too yet we skirted any mention of Eden’s death because we did no know how else to go about our days, how to brush our teeth and check our email in the same life where we openly acknowledged our son’s medical odds.

And of course it was a phase. I did learn how to live calmly, yet vigilantly, with Eden's allergies. I learned to live without that intense fear hawking me.

But a few years later, when looking at school options for Eden, my death thoughts returned in living color, in dream-like sequences of Eden, face swelling, searching unsuccessfully for a lunch monitor. There was . . . Eden nearly breathless, trying to find his way to the school nurse's office . . . but then there was Eden stonewalled by another class coming down the only stairway. There was . . . Eden's throat closing during a class cracker break just as the teacher stepped out to the bathroom. Stuff like that. When we allergy parents send our children to schools and camps we view everything from architecture to safety policies to snack menus through the lens of our child's physical survival.

So yeah, Tough Guy, we see it. We allergy parents get that "the world is a dangerous place." And yes, we "live with it" and we live in it. In fact, that is precisely what I want for my son to do too.