My oldest son J was first diagnosed with multiple life threatening food allergies at the age of 2, after a frightening episode not unfamiliar to food allergy parents world wide.
J placed his hand on a cutting board where I had just chopped walnuts for banana nut bread. He rubbed his eyes and immediately started sneezing and coughing. When I looked at him his eyes were red, watering, and swelling shut. He started to gasp for air and coughed up a clear and thick liquid. Hives crept across his face. To this day we are thankful that his reaction was not more severe. That was our induction into living life with food allergies.
After we overcame the shock, we realized we needed to live life differently. Unfortunately there didn’t seem to be a lot of information, resources, or products available to us. I increasingly became frustrated at the lack of packaged foods available that were safe for J to consume.This was when I first decided I wanted to be involved in doing something good for the allergy community.
I spent a year working on creating a shelf stable line of allergen free products. At this time there were very few of these companies around and some of the ones that were, were creating their food items in a shared facility with nut products without disclosing that information.
Part of this year long process was writing a business plan, perfecting recipes, taking classes, touring manufacturing facilities, and working with specialty food programs as well as with a food processing community development corporation. Just as we were about to sign the lease on a building to build our own commercial kitchen and fork over more money than I care to disclose, I decided that I did not and could not work the long hours required of a specialty food business. Who would look after and keep J safe?
It was with some reservation and a heavy heart (but no regret) that I chose to let that vision go. I will be forever grateful for this process because it taught me what I might not have ever learned about the food manufacturing process.
My next adventure came with enrolling J in public preschool and then Kindergarten. I wrongly “assumed” that all schools were aware of food allergies and what food allergic children needed to be safe and included in school. I quickly learned otherwise.
I spent a year on research into laws, meetings with the school committee and superintendent, and overall strong advocating. It ended with the school district writing and implementing their first ever allergy policy and protocols. It was a stressful, tiring, and emotional time but boy did it feel great to achieve such an accomplishment.
Because I have received support and help from the Asthma Allergy Foundation of America throughout this process, I chose to become a volunteer AAFA team leader and lead local support group meetings to help others. I’ve come across so many parents who are where I was four or five years ago. It frustrates me immensely that little progress has been made since I started my journey.
That is where Best Allergy Sites comes in. There are so many fantastic yet struggling allergy related companies. There are great communities and blogs full of information. I hope that by bringing all of these resources together; allergy sufferers can find the information, help, support, products–whatever they need–to begin and continue on the journey of living life with allergies.
I say it gets easier, and it does; so long as you have the support and resources you need. I hope my story sheds some light on why I feel so strongly about Best Allergy Sites and advocating for allergy awareness.
I’d love to hear your own story and journey. Won’t you share it with me and our readers in our forum titled: YOUR Story?
Thank you all for your support!
Mom of J
Founder of Best Allergy Sites