5 lessons from 20 years of FA Parenting
Life is full of uncertainty, but parenting a child who could die if he eats the wrong thing takes uncertainty to a new level. I’ve been frightened to use my son’s EAI (epinephrine auto injector) and have second-guessed the need – “do we?” “don’t we?”— when he ate the wrong thing.
My hope is that there will soon be a cure for food allergies, or at least something that will reduce the severity of ANA reactions. Recent research and FDA breakthroughs give me great hope this will happen, if not this year, then within the next few.
Until then, if I could replay my two decade journey as a food allergy mom, here are five things I would do:
Be more intentional about encouraging my child to become my “food allergy management partner” over time. I would start early, be consistent, and be gently gradual in my approach.
Never second guess using your epinephrine, always following your Emergency Action Plan.
Seek more help from others on the same journey (e.g., finding support groups, attending conferences, joining relevant Facebook Groups.)
Use technology to make allergic living more convenient. There are great apps/websites and medical devices on the market (or coming to market soon!) such as Allergy Amulet, Allergy Eats, Food Allergy Translate, ipiit, Nima, Spokin, WeBelay, among others, as well as my company’s app, AllergyForce. Tech tools like these can help you fill in food allergy coverage gaps and help you navigate life with food allergies with greater safety and confidence.
Research evolving therapies deeply — like OIT, EPIT, SLIT, new Biologics — and evaluate if they’d work for my child and family. I’d be steadfast and methodical in researching and would definitely pursue a therapy if I felt it was right for us.
I would attend FARE and FAACT-sponsored conferences with my son when he was a pre-teen or a ‘younger’ teen. For example, taking him to the annual FARE Summit or the FAACT Teen Retreat would have helped him find an understanding community of peers with similar allergy challenges. I think it would have inspired him to be more of an advocate for people with food allergies — for himself and for his peers.
Hind sight is 20/20 and you need to look ahead and move forward in life.
My hope is that by sharing some of my personal ‘lessons learned’ over time, your own parenting journey will be a smooth one.
About the Author: Gayle Rigione is CEO of Allergy Force, the food allergy management app. She’s also an allergy mom. She’s lived the heart stopping moments when her son ate the wrong thing, second guessed reactions and raced to the ER. These experiences inspire her to create tech tools for people with food allergies. Mark Twain once said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why." Allergy Force is her 'why'. Whatever you do, do it with a full heart. Audentes Fortuna Iuvat
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