Aside from our travels and running Allergic Traveler, I also a member of a food allergy support group in Greensboro, NC. The point to the group is to help each other out. Most of the members are moms of food allergic children, with of course the exception of me. I am an adult (clearly!) that has several food allergies (eggs, nuts, peanuts, shellfish, garlic, chicken, pork, soy, sesame, corn, celery and most fruits.) I do not have children but I try to give some hope that their kids will be OK. This is possible provided the kids are given the right tools and education to equip them against the food allergy war.
Recently we have had a new member join our group. She is a 40 yr adult who has been diagnosed with multiple food allergies, e.g. eggs, nuts, fish, milk, peanuts, shellfish, soy, wheat and a few more. Needless to say she is scared to death. She started exhibiting symptoms a few months ago. It started gradually with rashes. She did not think anything of it. She kept eating the same foods. She then started swelling. Again she did not think anything of it. Eventually she went to a doctor, and they didn’t diagnose her with an allergy. She kept having reactions. Her throat started to get itchy and swell. Finally she went to an allergist and was diagnosed with multiple food allergies. They gave her 3 Epi-pens right away. She has had to learn how to cook all over again. Foods that she has always eaten have caused her to react immediately. She is learning all about Benadryl, Epi-pens, reading labels, FARE, etc. She is learning firsthand what a wonderful support community we have here as well and also through social media.
By no means has this been easy for her. This is an uphill battle. She has lost weight and is scared to eat out. We have started to meet once a week to help her transition into this whole new world. She is stronger than she realizes.
She recently had an airborne reaction at work. This is quite serious and frankly remarkable. From someone to go from eating everything to not being able to even smell certain foods is unfathomable to me. This is quite dangerous. She works in an open concept office, where people frequently eat at their desks. It is a typical office building where the windows do not open. They are all on one floor and the food aroma lingers everywhere. The good news is that her boss is quite concerned. They asked me to come in and offer some advice based on her situation. In all my years of working, I have never had an employer ask me what they could do to make my life more manageable at the office. Her boss was looking at what needed to be done to make the environment safe. The act of them asking for advice humbled me to the core.
My point to helping her is to make her realize it will be OK. She will survive and that together we can do this. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life, both personally and professionally. I am grateful to be able to share restaurants, tips, and recipes. I am happy to do what I can to help her navigate through the unknown. What tips would you give someone recently diagnosed?
Author: Tarah Jakubiak
After working for 20 years in the corporate world, Tarah Jakubiak founded Allergic Traveler. Jakubiak, president of Allergic Traveler has traveled the world since the age of two. She has been to 24 countries and 26 states. Jakubiak has been to all inclusives, gone on cruises, gone camping; backpacking through Europe, gone to the big cities, and little hidden gems. She has multiple food allergies but it does not stop her from seeing the world. Jakubiak is allergic to eggs, nuts, mushroom, soy, garlic, corn, sesame, potatoes, celery, shellfish, chicken, pork, peanuts, and many fruits. She is originally from Montreal, Quebec and now lives in Greensboro, NC with her husband.