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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oh NO you didn't

Dear Ms. Moilanen,

I read your recent piece on your thoughts about kids who have food allergies.  Well, actually your beef was with the parents of kids with food allergies.  According to you, we need to all just relax and let our kids eat things they're allergic to in order to build their immunity.  Apparently you basically cured your son's egg allergy by feeding him egg every few weeks until he simply got over it.

It's truly surprising that I had never heard of the "feed-your-kids-things-that-make-them-sick" theory of dealing with food allergies.  It's a miracle!  You're amazing! You must have learned an incredible amount in all of your medical classes.  Um, what?  You're not a doctor? Wow. I certainly didn't see that coming.  (Can you sense my sarcasm, Ms. Moilanen?)

You seem to sneer at the parents who say their children have food allergies.  Yep, all of us parents who have food-allergic kids are making it up for attention.  It's really fun to scour the aisles of grocery stores looking for food substitutes that actually still taste like food.  It's fulfilling to spend an insane amount of money on rice milk, vegan cheese, soy nut butter, non-dairy chocolate chips, tofu, and flaxseed.  Yes, we enjoy going out to restaurants knowing that our kid will be lucky to get a plain hot dog, no bun, and maybe some canned fruit.

I haven't even gotten to the best part of being the parent of a food-allergic child.  You were annoyed that your son didn't get to celebrate his birthday with cupcakes and had to simply settle for soy ice cream?  Poor precious snowflake.  No, strike that.  Your kid was probably pretty happy to have any sort of ice cream.  You are obviously the one who felt that your son's birthday celebration was somehow deficient: poor YOU.  When other kids in your son's school celebrate birthdays, does he get to eat the treats brought into school?  I assume he does and he tells you all about the treats when he gets home from school.   You're lucky.  You're so incredibly lucky.

I don't always know when there are birthday celebrations at my son's preschool.  When I am aware, I send a special dairy-free, egg-free cupcake so that my son can have a treat like everyone else. Then again, if the birthday treat isn't a cupcake, he's left out.   When I don't know about the birthday celebration, my four-year old kid ends up with a cereal bar.  Everyone knows that nothing says party down like a whole grain cereal bar!!!  I can always tell when Dallas has been left out of a treat by the way he walks to the car when I pick him up after school.  His gait is slow and his eyes don't leave the ground.  He tries to be brave and nonchalant when I ask about his day, but inevitably, a few tears leak out because he didn't get a cookie or brownie like all of his other friends.   In those moments, I feel like a failure.  My heart rips apart a little, and I blink back tears so he doesn't know how upset I am at the slight.

I'm sorry that your son didn't get to eat chocolate cupcakes at school on his birthday, Ms. Moilanen, but don't you dare suggest that those of us with food-allergic kids need to just relax so your son can eat whatever he wants.  My son may have to carry epinephrine with him for the rest of his life: that's not an exaggeration and it's not a joke.   Maybe you think that "only" 9,500 hospitalizations due to children's severe food allergies isn't that big of a deal, but I guarantee that being hospitalized was a huge deal to the parents of those 9,500 kids.   I don't bake vegan cakes and wrap up special food to take to birthday parties just because I'm uptight.  I do what I do because my son has serious food allergies, and there's no denying it.

And don't feel sorry for that little girl who was eating graham crackers: you should feel proud that she has a parent or parents and a teacher watching out for her, keeping her safe.  I'm thankful that girl will get to skip a visit to the ER because another child's mom thought she knew better.

I hope you have learned your lesson about going after parents with food-allergic kids.  We're a tough bunch, and we will not back down.  Just thought you should know.


3 comments:

  1. K.C., you are terribly ignorant: I suggest you re-read Moilanen's piece. She is a columnist, not a physician (your son could likely decipher that) and she specifically exempted the kids with ALLERGIES, with "the true hair-raising, call 9-1-1, break-out-the-epinephrine type of allergy” and “I understand this approach won't work for the sliver of the population prone to anaphylaxis.” She shares her own experience with you which worked. Methinks your problems are greater in your expressions about yourself 'feeling like a failure' when your child's day is ruined by not getting one cookie and snarky sarcasm ('you're not a doctor?') than the innoculus question posed by a local journalist and her findings of stats about SENSITIVITIES vs. allergies in a local newspaper. I wish your son and you good health and you a reading comprehension class.

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  2. I have a son who has a severe soy allergy (soy bars - aH!) which induces the asthma, swelling, rashes, diahrea, etc etc to the nth degree - and yes we have an epi-pen on hand. I have to say that part of me agrees with Moilanen's article. I want to roll my eyes when I have parents coming into a childcare center with a list of LITERALLY 12 different things their kids have "allergies" to. 12 really? I totally understand a true food allergy, or even a food sensitivity, but the list of what kids are "allergic" to are growing by the second and some (obviously not all) parents have this ridiculous list they come up with because they read it somewhere online. She's right - do you have any idea how hard it is for a non-allergy family to even fathom making treats for a classroom with 32 different allergies? It's overwhelming so I can understand her frustration. I was overwhelmed when as a baby we realized my son's 1 severe allergy, let alone 32 different ones! If you're that worried about your kids allergy, as I was mine, send some allergy-free cupcakes or cookies on the side for classroom parties. You're obviously used to taking care of your child's allergy so it shouldn't be a big deal. We've done it for 4 years now.

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  3. I found your piece via a link on One Autism Mom's Notes which I found when I was looking through Google to see how much damage that article did (and found out it was published in several places!!!! (Google “Renee Moilanen food allergies” and you’ll see all the places – at least 4)), and I couldn't agree with you more. I also wrote a blog post of my own in response to that article called, “Food Allergies: Fact or Fiction” (http://fibrofitandfab.blogspot.com/2013/05/food-allergies-fact-or-fiction.html). She totally came across as a mother having a hissy fit, and it made me so sad to think that people could actually feel that way and give advice like that!

    I’m so grateful that we (myself and husband, my youngest and middle kid have a form of eczema that we are still sorting out which might be food related) only deal with food sensitivities at this point to certain foods, but food allergies run in my family and my hubby’s family that vary in wide range of reactions from pain to hives to headaches to anaphylaxis. I also have several friends with food allergic children or who face food allergies themselves that are just as far reaching in reactions as they are in my family. I’ve seen a child struggle to breathe and swell up like a balloon to a MINUTE exposure to peanuts or eggs. They are no joke and nothing to make so light of. I hope that woman, and others like her, get educated!

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