Food allergies not only affect the people who have them. They also levy a heavy mental and emotional toll on the people who love (and care) for them.
We've all been there. Even though on one level we know we should Epi First-Epi Fast, we sometimes second guess reactions and their severity. We replay what was eaten or touched on an endless loop, poking at it in our heads, trying to figure out if we're overreacting or it's really time to use our epinephrine...
Francesca McGuire, mom to three little ones, two with severe food allergies, recounts a field trip experience with her son, Miles — a perfect outing, until her son began having reaction symptoms that coincided with a hayride. Her son had only eaten food they brought. Were environmental/seasonal allergies the culprit? The gut wrenching uncertainty about the reaction's cause — is it food allergy? isn't it? — was maddening. Find out what happened:
Welp. Today… was… interesting.
Miles was SO excited to go on his first field trip. It was to a berry farm and apple orchard. It was an absolutely perfectly beautiful fall day. We came prepared with homemade apple cider donuts that were safe so he would be included in the snack provided. We did a corn maze and played in the sun and everything was great.
Until it wasn’t.
At the end of the trip we had a hayride. Just before getting on, the hives started. Then the persistent cough. The itchy eyes and ears. His whole demeanor changed over the course of the ride.
He said, “Mom, something's going on with me.” He asked for medicine. On a hayride. In the middle of nowhere.
I pulled out our never-leave-our-side allergy bag and gave him some Benadryl, confident it was seasonal/environmental allergies. He continued to get worse. Thankfully it was time to leave.
My gut said to epi because of how many systems were involved, but I thought I may be overreacting because “It was just hay. He didn’t eat anything unsafe." We drove home. I dropped him off with my husband, Shawn, because I had received a phone call from a friend that her child needed to be epi’d. I went to be with her for support, thinking Miles would be okay with Shawn.
In the meantime I learned that the sensory bins they played in at the orchard contained soybeans, not just corn. Miles is allergic to soy.
Now, I’m on my way to help someone else’s child when I learn that my son definitely could be having a worse reaction than I originally thought. Holy emotions! Thankfully the ambulance came for my friend’s child and I raced home to check on Miles.
He seemed to be getting better, just having some eye swelling that didn’t subside for several hours. We monitored like hawks and ended up not using his epinephrine. He was a trooper through it all. Had I known what was in the sensory bins before his symptoms subsided, I definitely would have used his epinephrine.
That’s the hard thing about reactions out of the blue with no obvious cause. The sheer wonder and “what if” or “is it or isn’t it?”, the second guessing, the CONSTANT worry — it's enough to drive you mad.
Allergies not only affect the allergic person — they have tremendous mental and emotional impact on those around them too.
About the Author: Francesca McGuire is a resident of Normal, IL and is a wife and mother raising three children, two with multiple food allergies. She has a Marketing degree and MBA from Illinois State University, and works full time as a business consultant. Francesca has a passion for writing and advocating to keep those with food allergies safe. She is a contributing writer for 'Her View From Home' and you can find her articles about her motherhood journey on her Facebook page. She is also an active contributor in the NNMG Food Allergic Family Forum FB group and you can connect with her on Instagram.
Images: Courtesy of Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash and Francesca McGuire