There are numerous times a day where I encounter different scenarios that would be helpful to share, such as an experience I had a few nights ago…
Our conversation began with dogs. How he had a dog at his parents house. How my parents also had a dog. Then it came up, because my parents Tibetan terrier was supposedly allergen free, which was the only reason we had a smaller dog, instead of some big hairy dog that would be a lot more fun to play with. How even though my dream dog, a husky, was not a practical choice for a pet in my future, I still really wanted one. That is how it began- the giant list of all my many allergies.
This conversation took place when I was on a date the other night. Of course with dating, sooner or later the list comes out. I usually try to withhold for as long as possible, so as not to completely freak anyone out! But, eventually I must succumb to the monstrous list. This is just one of the many times I have repeated, now in a monotone, overly-repeated voice, “peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, legumes, potato, banana, kiwi…” There are a few others, but those are the big ones that would cause a serious or anaphylactic reaction. I don’t usually list my environmental allergies. My food allergies are most significant.
The guy I was out with was fine about my allergies, which was a relief. He didn’t seem freaked out and seemed to understand for the most part. Understanding is one of the biggest issues with allergies. If people don’t know someone first hand who has them, it is often hard for them to understand the severity of food allergies. My friends who have grown up with me, always think it is crazy how people could not possibly understand my allergies. Just like anything though, if you don’t know it, then you are either scared of it or don’t understand it. There has really become a push to educate people about food allergies. It has become much more prevalent with the rise in children who now have allergies. When I was in school I didn’t know anyone else with food allergies. Now there are allergy free tables in lunch rooms across the country. I will write more about my feeling on this at another time.
There are a few pretty standard reactions from people who are just learning the list. One reaction is to ask, “So what do you eat?” I suppose when you rap out a list that long, it may sound like there is nothing left on the planet to eat, but to me it seems a bit silly, because of course there are plenty of foods that are still safe. That is when I go through my second list- examples of foods I can eat. I would say I am pretty nonchalant most of the time about my allergies. I know they are severe, but I don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable about them, and I think there is a line between telling people about my allergies, so that they are aware, and freaking people out so they never want to eat near me again. I have figured out where that line is drawn though, and I am extremely comfortable with how I handle these situations.