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A Battle in my Body: Ryan Talks about Peanut Allergies

Posted May 13 2009 10:47pm

It occurred to me that big important part of Food Allergy Awareness Week is making sure that your food-allergic children and other family members are aware, too! Yesterday, I interviewed Ryan and Morgan as a way of trying to assess their level of knowledge about peanut allergies. And I thought it was interesting, so I'll share it with you, too!

I tried to capture Ryan's answers as well as I could. Those of you who know him in real life understand that it's hard to keep up with him once he gets to talking about something that interests him! I took the liberty of editing his answers for clarity--substituting nouns for some of his pronouns, for example. I tried to capture the "spirit" of his answers, if you know what I mean. My comments are in italics.


What is your food allergy?

Peanuts only.

What happened when you ate peanuts?

Well one day--here's the story. When I was just a tiny baby , my Mom had a peanut-free ice cream and my dad did not. They both shared their ice cream. I liked them both, but then the next thing I knew, I woke up and started coughing and had red hives all over me and I was sneezing. Then Mom called 911. And then there was this fire truck and an ambulance, too. I didn't know what they were both doing there and I got to touch the trucks. They gave me Benadryl and that helped me. And then I also turned blue a little and went to the hospital and they fixed me up.

[He doesn't actually remember this--he was 2 years old at the time. But we've told him this story a zillion times and he never fails to mention that he got to touch the fire trucks. It's true--and he was so excited at the time. And then we went to the hospital.]

What do Mom and Dad do to keep you safe from peanuts?

My mom and dad double check on everything they buy; they try not to buy peanuts; they look it up online to make sure the companies didn't forget to write "peanuts" on the package before I eat it. They check with the store owners if they aren't quite sure, and call the peopleguys at the restaurants and ask if they have peanuts there. [That's pretty good. I didn't know he was aware of all of that--and it's nice that he noticed!]

How do you keep yourself safe?

Whenever there's a kid who offers me [a snack or a treat] and says it is peanut-free, I'd tell a grownup, because what if the kid wasn't right--what if it did have peanuts? I try to avoid peanut shells, peanut snacks, and don't touch them or do anything that could cause a reaction. If I go to a store with lots of peanut things, I'd buy the peanut-free thing. I try to stick with that. [Good Answer.]

Do you know what peanuts look like?

Sort of like an 8 but a lot tanner. [LOL!]

Where do you see them?

In stores and gas stations that sell food. [Thought for sure he'd mention the peanut shells we see at the park sometimes.]

What would you do in a peanut emergency?

I'd just start walking to Mom and tell her. [Good Answer.]

What would a peanut emergency feel like? What might happen to you?

Well, I'd start feeling cold if I was turning blue and I'm pretty sure it would be hard to talk because it swells up my throat. It might feel like a battle in my body. [ :( ]

What is something you would like people to understand about peanut allergies?

I would like them to know about everything about peanut allergies. The most important thing to know is to avoid peanuts or anything that could be a peanut allergen in your food. I have bad luck because I live in Georgia which is the Peanut State. [LOL!] I hope I'll get the medicine that will stop me from being allergic to peanuts.

Do you like having a food allergy?

No, because it's no fun at all when I have to go to the doctor. Because I don't like having epipens, because you know those are a kind of a shot and I don't like getting shots at all. I hope one day they will have the kind of shots like in Star Trek and it's pppsssss like that [motioning]. [That one just about killed me. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried!]

Are there any good things about having this allergy?

The good thing is that there are two kind of medicines that can pow it good--the first is Benadryl and the second, Epipens. I don't want to even try the Epipens, but I know one day I'll have to if I run into peanuts and have a reaction. [pow: a verb meaning "to kick some Bad Guy Germ booty"]


What's Ryan's allergy?


What can you do to help keep him safe?

Not eat peanuts around him. [Good Answer.]

What's a good way to get peanuts off of your hands?

Washing them. [Another good answer. Did you know that basic regular old handwashing is the best way to get rid of residual food allergens? Morgan did!]

What is something you would like people to know about peanut allergy?

That peanut allergy is bad. [Yup.]
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