Why I Write About Food Allergies

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If you had told me 10 years ago that I would write for a blog, I would have looked at you as if you’d sprouted a few extra heads. My first question – after I stopped laughing of course – would have been “What’s a blog?” It’s amazing what can change in the course of a short decade.

What happened in an instant is what brought me to write. The instant was nearly a decade ago; the writing came much later, after a frustrating, scary, confusing crash course in “life with food allergies.”

Nine years ago this week, Zachary and I had lunch with a friend and her daughter. His chubby little 11 month-old hands grabbed a fistful of the scrambled eggs in my bagel sandwich; he basically inhaled it and I thought nothing of it. I continued my conversation with my friend and noticed small hives popping up on Zachary’s face. I had no clue what they were, so I tried washing them off, but they stayed stubbornly on his cheeks and chin.

We said goodbye to our friends and loaded up for the 25-minute drive home. As we drove, he – in his rear-facing infant seat – began crying, and then screaming.

It’s important to note that crying in his carseat was nothing new for Zachary. From the moment he could get out of his swaddle, he hated being strapped in and kept from moving about freely. I assumed his crying meant nothing more than his normal protest from being confined and I reassured him we would be home soon.

When I pulled him from his carseat, I saw something was terribly wrong. He was covered head to toe in what looked like massive sunburn from hours out in the sun with no sunscreen or other protection. He was swollen. He was grabbing at his clothes, ripping at his body, his hair, and his ears. He was inconsolable.

This was the moment that changed my life nine years ago. It was what ultimately brought me to advocate and write. The learning curve was so steep back then, and it took me years to really catch on.

Why I Write About Food Allergies

Back then I had no idea eggs were even something a person could be allergic to.

I also was completely flabbergasted to learn that milk could be as deadly to someone as a peanut.

Throughout the years, we had many steps forward and multiple steps back as I learned about labeling laws, eating out, navigating school safely, and much more. I write simply to share what I’ve learned.

I’ve found the more I learn, the less I really know. But I want to dig in, to make this life one that is full and adventurous for a kid who just happens to have food allergies. And it makes me want to share with others that this kind of life is possible.

If you’re new to the world of allergies, welcome. It’s overwhelming at first. But you’ll get there (read this, maybe it’ll help).

That chubby little 11 month-old is now ten years old. In May, we’ll celebrate 2 1/2 years free of accidental exposures. Honestly, we’ve had our challenges – I’m not naïve enough to think they won’t continue just because I’ve learned a thing or two about navigating life with allergies – but the bumps we experience are far different now than when we were just starting out. I hope that what I learn and pass on is helpful to others in similar circumstances.

This is why I write about food allergies.

Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

5 Comments to Why I Write About Food Allergies

  1. stephanie

    Because you all write so well about food allergies, this is the first resource I send newly minted allergy parents. Then I send them to FARE. But this is alot more accessible, relate-able and a little less scary for the uninitiated. You all do this so well, so thank you!

    • Tiffany Self

      Thank you, Stephanie – that’s a huge compliment! Thanks a million times over. <3

  2. Andrea Vaughan

    Our son had a similar experience at the same age with eggs, except we fed them to him on purpose and were at home so we were able to call an ambulance to get him to hospital. At 2 and a half he had an accidental exposure which led us to discover he had outgrown the allergy… Fast forward 5 years and he’s just had a major hive reaction to something (unknown, we think peanuts) and we’re about to go down the testing route again… Do hive type initial reactions usually turn in to anaphylaxis? I ask because for me I went straight to anaphylaxis….Obviously regardless we want to avoid the item he is allergic to, but if it’s not going to grow into anaphylaxis I’ll be a slightly less constantly paranoid parent… :D

    • Tiffany

      It’s hard to know, Andrea! That’s the hard part about allergies. I wish you the very best of luck and hope for your sake that it was a one-time thing. xo

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