Living with Food Allergies: Maria’s Story

By Adem Lewis / in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , /

I’m Maria I’m a real estate agent and
mother of two kids with food allergies. Tea is very outgoing, she loves being on stage. TEA: My name’s Tea and I’m 9 years old
and allergic to tree nuts. MARIA: Franke is really shy, but he’s coming
out of his shell a little bit. FRANKIE: My name is Frankie, I’m 7 years
old and I have allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, and sesame seeds. Things I like to do for fun is play on the
X-box, play baseball, and play with my dog named Sally. I like to play catcher and pitcher in baseball. MARIA: He thinks he wants to “join the professional
baseball” when he’s an adult, he told me. He’s all about baseball! So having kids with food allergies can really
stir up a lot of anxiety. You can never put your guard down. Your guard has to be up 100% of the time. When he was 14 months old, [Frankie] was eating
pancakes one morning, and his nose started running, and I noticed he started getting
hives around his face. I gave him a bath because I didn’t know
what was happening. I finally realized, I thought it had to do
with the pancakes he was eating. When we went to see the allergist, she was
very thorough. She took an assessment based on what I told
her he had been eating. And she decided to test him for the most common
allergies. It turned out he was allergic to peanuts and
tree nuts, eggs, dairy, and sesame. So at that point it was pretty scary, because
I left the allergist’s office not knowing what I could feed him anymore. And it was…just, OK, avoid those foods. But I didn’t have any, I had no way of knowing
what to look for, how to even read ingredient labels, I didn’t understand that cross-contamination
was a possibility, or how to eat out anymore. It was tough. With Frankie at school, it’s challenging
for me. I have to, at the beginning of each school
year I meet with the school nurse, and it always feels a little bit like a battle with
getting the accommodations he needs. Annually he has a specific IgE blood test
done, and over each year, his milk allergy for example, or the dairy allergy, got better. Eggs were getting better. So about five years later the allergist recommended
that we do component testing. So he’s had component testing for milk,
egg, and peanut. The milk and the egg component tests showed
that he would be a good candidate for a food challenge. Unfortunately the peanut component test showed
that he would not be a good candidate, so we have continued to avoid peanuts. After having the component testing for milk
and egg and passing the food challenges, the big moment that I remember specifically is
you know, his whole life, he’s never gone to a birthday party where he can eat the cake. FRANKIE: The first time I had a birthday cake,
there was nothing that I couldn’t eat. It was so tasty. I had fun at the party. MARIA: I have pictures of him and his mouth’s
wide open and he’s shoveling huge pieces of cake into his mouth. I think [Tea] became his advocate early on,
even before she needed one, she would always look out for him. She would make sure if she saw somebody giving
him something, or trying to give him something to eat, she would snatch it away. Even at three years old she would snatch it
away and say “my brother can’t have that!” And she would question it all the time. FRANKIE: Having food allergies doesn’t make
me feel different. This is just their reality. They know there’s certain things they can’t
eat, and they don’t feel like they’re missing out. I want people to know that allergies are real. I think there’s a huge misconception that
it’s something people just think they have, but they don’t really have. They don’t understand that it literally
is life-or-death, and to take it seriously. If somebody says that they’re allergic to
something, believe them. People are gonna look at you like, they might
think you’re crazy, or they might think you’re overreacting, or you’re being a
helicopter mom or something to that effect, and you have to ignore it. You just have to ignore what people might
be thinking about you and when you’re saying it. They’ll get used to it, and you’ll help
educate them in the process. Because the next time they come across somebody,
they won’t question it as much.

3 thoughts on “Living with Food Allergies: Maria’s Story

  1. Well y'all are fine I'm allergic to more food them them. Even more stuff that's not food. I even have allergies and can't breath sometimes and at night

  2. Why the sad music… do people get bullied about allergies? I've had them my whole life. Not sure what you are going for here.

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