If you have a Facebook account, chances are you have seen this heart-wrenching story. It's unfortunate that it takes a story like this to make others more aware of these types of things, but it's comforting to know that this little girl's tragic story is helping to save others.
Initially I saw the post on Facebook and then I saw it on Instagram. Having a child with nut allergies, I was glad to see other people getting the word out about the severity of this issue. Food allergies, specifically nut allergies, are not a fad, not over-diagnosed no big deals. They are the real deal and they can be life-threatening. In E's case, he could go into anaphylactic shock; he has an epi-pen on hand at all times. As his mom, the story about this little girl just reinforces the constant worry, especially as a new school year begins.
As we see in the story of 12 year old Natalie, there is no guarantee. Natalie's parents did everything right, but were unable to save their little girl. Who can even begin to understand the pain?
I am often frustrated by the ignorance and lack of compassion from other people regarding food allergies. Many have wondered and even voiced why it should be their responsibility to worry about another child's allergies? When I go to a restaurant and they respond with "It should be ok.", it's annoying. Really?! "It should be ok?" Well, I'm not ok with that response, it needs to be 100% ok or we are going somewhere else. This is not a joke people!
Then we have others who want to debate about why the allergies exist in the first place. I, too, am concerned about these issues, but they have nothing to do with keeping my son safe right now. I don't know why there are so many kids diagnosed with food allergies, but he is one of them. It's real, I've seen his reaction ONE time to peanut butter, and I would like that to be the only time I ever do.
Finally, there are many other people, who are compassionate, but do not live with it and lack understanding and diligence. Although my son's class goes home with notices each and every school year indicating that there are severe nut allergies in the classroom, every year at holiday time, he comes home with things that are not safe for him, sometimes even obvious things, like peanut butter cups.
E is off to fourth grade tomorrow and, once again, I have that pit in my stomach like I do every year. As he gets older, he is becoming more responsible with checking and asking about the safety of things, but we ALL need to be diligent. We have an unspoken responsibility as parents to look out for one another's children. If you saw a little one running into traffic, I'm certain you would try to stop them.
Please read those labels, not only of food items, but of soaps, sprays and lotions. And even if you've bought something before and it was safe, check it again. Manufacturers change, ingredients change. Be diligent and help our kids stay safe. We are all in this together.
I'm now stepping off my soapbox (for now), thanks for listening. And please, feel free to share, if you think it will help. Happy September to all.
"We cannot accomplish all that we need to do without working together."