Focus on Wonderful People

Guest Post by Jenny Schweigert
Family Avoids: Peanuts, Tree Nuts

How did you first learn about your family's allergies? The discovery of our son's first food allergy was truly a blessing. Unfortunately, due to a medication I was taking, breast-feeding wasn't an option. We began using Enfamil formula plus iron and experiencing some severe reactions. Although I had been exposed to reflux with our first son, I wasn't prepared for the amount of gagging and projectile vomiting our second son was presenting. The second day home we decided to return to the hospital where we were again provided with a diagnosis of GERT. I was no stranger to the medication provided and knew that it would only reduce the burning of his esphagus rather than treating the problem. Very frustrated we followed-up with our pediatrician the following day. He ordered allergy testing and was under the assumption that we were dealing with a milk allergy.

The test returned negative for a milk allergy but positive for a peanut allergy. Not what we expected but a moment that could have potentially saved his life. I truly believe this was a blessing in disguise. Along with the peanut allergy the blood tests showed he was lactose intolerant. Once we changed to a lactose free formula life was much, much better.

Last fall he began his first year of Preschool. The summer was a constant battle to keep his skin allergies under control. Just before school we decided we needed an extensive review of his allergy panel. It showed he was still allergic to nut and much more. It was a relief knowing exactly what allergens should be avoided. We plan to test him again before the end of the year.

At age 5, he is now in Pre-K and looking forward to attending full day Kindergarten where he will eat in the cafeteria and with numerous, potentially exposing him to nuts.

What's the worst part of having food allergies in your family? Is there more than one? Probably the lack of peanut butter in our home. Our oldest son LOVES peanut butter and isn't very fond of several alternatives we've provided. The other concern is making sure our middle son receives enough protein each day.

Overall, I feel the public isn't always informed and therefore we can sometimes be viewed as an inconvenience.

For us, food allergies has lead to many unexpected joys. Can you share one positive thing that you've learned or somthing good that's happened because of food allergies? Due to his allergies we've met some wonderful and generous people. In fact, one of my closest mom friends has a son with multiple food allergies. Had I not sat with her at a PTO meeting, I may not have fostered this relationship. Although life can be challenging, I try to look at the positive, count our blessings and focus on the wonderful people we've met through this experience.

If you could travel back in time, to when you first learned about your child's food allergies, what advice would you give yourself? will be alright and manageable!

Do you have any additional comments or questions you'd like to see posted? Thank you for providing such an inspirational and positive environment!!

Note from Tiffany: Jenny, I loved so much of what you said. As a mom looking for the silver lining, I appreciate your attitude about counting our blessings. Meeting parents with food allergic children, there is always someone in the group with more limitations than ours, and I'm reminded how lucky we are. Also, I'm with you ~ awareness will help foster compassion from other people and parents. Facing school, family, events and eating out (one day!), I'm hopeful that more conversation will reduce judgement, jealously and misunderstanding. Also, Thank you for sharing your experience with testing. In the beginning was reluctant to have our son "panel tested", because I didn't understand the procedure and worried it would hurt him (it didn't). I thought I could manage the allergies based on the bloodwork and elimination diet alone (I couldn't). I wish I had known someone like you then, and I hope your story encourages someone out "there" ~ listen to your instincts, find an allergist, get tested and things will be so much easier. Looking forward to learning more from you on your website: