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 Post subject: Are we sickly?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 9:54 pm 
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Location: Toronto
Lately I've run into a few people who seem to think that those of us with food allergies are "sickly". This bugs me - since I'm healthier than most of my contemporaries - I just can't eat some of the foods they can eat.

Do other people with allergies share my view - or do they think of themselves as unwell? (Technically, allergies are called a disease).

Those of you with allergic kids - do you think of them as unwell? disabled? Or healthy with the vigilance required by f.a.?

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Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 24, 2007 10:38 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2006 12:52 am
Posts: 214
Interesting question. I have always noticed that my stepmother, who has no allergies of any kind, at all (and has not been terribly sympathetic about mine) gets sick ALL the time. She literally catches every cold that remotely blows her way. And me? Yes, I have the food issues (which is new and only developed in the last few years) and I have struggled with eczema and seasonal/pet allergies my whole life. But I very rarely get "sick" in the sense she does. Which would I rather have? Until the food allergies hit, I would have said my problems :) My allergies go away when I am removed from the irritant, but a cold is a cold no matter who is having it.

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Asthma and eczema
Drug allergy (succinylcholine)
Food (corn, raw apples, green beans, tree nuts, flax)
Misc (pollen, grass, mold, dogs, cats)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I do think that stereotype is out there . . . yes, it does bother me a lot. An acquaintance of mine who has been having bad reactions to shellfish once said something to the effect of: "I don't want to have allergies! I've always thought of myself as robust!" The fact that I remember that comment just goes to show that it bothered me.

I feel ambivalent about discussing my allergies with people partly because of this stereotype. If I explain the main things I can't eat and then the celiac issue I'm afraid it might seem like I'm either very sick or paranoid.

I'm not 'unhealthy' but my allergies affect my health----for instance right now I feel like I have a cold. I may be coming down with something, but I suspect it is ragweed. Yes, I took an antihistamine! I think it is probably true that I'm not as good at handling sleep deprivation as a lot of people seem to be.

When I was a kid I was sick a lot . . . but that was probably because of out of control asthma. I got a lot of colds, and they generally went to my chest. I would end up in hospital in an oxygen tent on the rare occasion . . .and would miss a lot of school. I couldn't participate in gym class fully because running caused asthma . . heck, I couldn't even skip rope for too long. Everyone in my class pretty much knew that I was the kid with allergies . .. and I was sick a lot so I can see how these stereotypes are perpetrated.

I don't think I'm more susceptible to viruses and things on account of my allergies today.

I have some mild/moderate chemical sensitivities . . . it seems that lots of things make me feel unwell. Dogs. cigarette smoke. perfume. some stores. new carpets. new coats of paint. cleaning chemicals, etc. (But that isn't to say that I'm 'ill'.)

It is hard to know what to do in a job situation . . . you don't want your employer to think that you are in a fragile state of health. Yet you need to let people know about the allergies on some level. I would like to think that people don't discriminate on the basis of health issues . . . but in reality they do.

People these days are usually on their guard against sexism, racism, classism. But a lot of people are not aware when it comes to stereotypes about people with health . . and with mental health issues.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 10:36 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
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Location: Toronto
I think you've captured my point - maybe it's partly my own sensitivity that I don't like to be perceived as frail.

I'm not - other than the fact that I sometimes succumb to a migraine. When it comes to colds, I'm usually the last one to get sick. Probably that over-active immune system at work.

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Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 3:13 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 22, 2005 11:39 pm
Posts: 1141
Location: saskatchewan, canada
My kids are rediculously healthy. They NEVER get sick. My youngest has only ever had antibiotics once (for an ear infection) when she was 1. My oldest has had antibiotics only for a few eye infections and an infected bug bite. That's it....they've never needed it. Occassionally they will say they feel sick (stuffy nose, fever etc.) but they will usually feel better after a good nights sleep.

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DD age 9 1/2 -peanuts, nuts,
DD age 7 1/2 - milk, eggs, chicken, peanuts, treenuts, cats, dogs,
DS age 2 1/2
Husband- asthma, eggs, treenuts, fish, shellfish environmental
Self - penicillan, eurithromiacin, mild laytex allergy.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2007 9:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
Before my children started school they were almost never sick (except for seasonal allergies)...the occasional cold or flu, but no infections or other ailments, and I considered them quite healthy, other than their allergies. But since they've started school they do get sick a lot. Despite all of the handwashing, and a healthy diet, they both seem to catch every bug that comes along? However they do tend to get over viruses very quickly...maybe that overactive immune system goes into attack mode and gets rid of it quickly?

And although they are feeling better than ever the last couple of years in regards to their seasonal allergies (thanks to the addition of Nasonex and Panatol(sp?) eye drops to our regime in Spring, Summer and Fall), they do still miss many days of school, especially in early spring. Their environmental allergies are really severe (especially for one). Singulair didn't work for us, and there is only a certain dosage of Reactine that my sons can tolerate without getting too "foggy" to perform well at school (Benadryl and other antihistamines knock them right out or have undesirable side effects if used long term). We try our best to balance the medications and to limit their exposure without turning them into bubble-boys, but the best we can do for them on some days is what I'd describe as bearably, functionally ill, as opposed to all out miserable. Quite frankly, it sucks!!! If I could give up only one of either their FA's or their environmental allergies, I would choose the environmental allergies in a heartbeat! They can wear their epi-belts, and carefully control what they eat, but we can't control the great outdoors, or get rid of the dog that licks them on the way home from school, or the lady wearing perfume, or the wind that blows pollens and dust in their face for the 2 minutes a day that they're allowed outside in the spring! Grrrrrrrrrrrr!

My point is that despite all that we, and they, and the doctors do, one of my sons is often sick, and I do worry about how that will shape people's perceptions of him. I don't want him stereotyped as the wimpy little allergy kid. I want people to see past the epi-belt, the rashy chin, and the snuffly nose to the really bright, brave, funny little boy underneath.

_________________
1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:12 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 01, 2005 8:55 pm
Posts: 412
Location: Vancouver, BC
I see us as basically healthy, but me and the two boys (we all suffer environmental allergies and youngest has peanut allergy) pick up a lot of colds. And our noses are purely for holding up sunglasses, and decorative purposes, as we cannot breathe or smell with them most of the year. Unless I have the right creams - has cost me a fortune and oodles of time to figure out which, my skin itches and crawls. Our eyes itch, we have nose wrinkles from "allergic salutes", and we sniff A LOT, which is seen as rude and irritating by others. I think I would label us as healthy, but with issues. But I would rather have our issues then many other peoples. Ours are a minor inconvenience most of the time, and it is just a part of us.

From a school perspective I label my youngest as having a "special need". "Special needs" covers all types of physical and mental differentnesses in the school system, from mild learning disablilites to Down's Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy. People get polorized over designating children this way, but it is the only way to ensure that the student (and school he attends) is adequately funded and staffed for safety and support. If kids with LTA's are labelled as having a special need, it will open the door for schools to provide supervision over recess and lunch times, when they are most vulnerable, and when usually children are under minimal supervision (many children are supervised by other children over lunch in our province, and ratios are more than 100 to 1 for recess supervision aides in our school district). One of the difficulties that schools have faced is that they have been told to make sure kids with life threatening allergies are safe in schools, but without any access to extra funding or staffing to accomplish this. If I felt my son needed extra support over lunch and recess (which I should have done when he was in kindergarten and grade 1, I think), I could ask the school to give him support by labelling him as having a "chronic health condition", which is one of the designations that can get support, but I would have to come up with a pretty convincing argument, and I would be taking time from some other child who is entitled to it.

I do not see him as "disabled", but he is something beyond "typical", he needs to have certain supports in place to be able to function properly in a school setting. His allergy requires certain things be put in place to ensure his safety, and his psychological needs are different because of his LTA's, too. In time, I hope to see programs put in place in schools to address the psychological needs that these kids face, such as having to deal with their own mortality at a very young age, bullying and negative responses, and the burden of constant vigilance on very young psyches.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 26, 2007 6:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
I think that society does see food allergies and asthma as sickly. I think of TV shows like Malcolm in the Middle (Malcolms asthmatic friend can barely get a sentance out-no one discusses why he is in the wheelchair but we all know he has asthma...therefore asthma must cause all of his problems? (never mind the Olympic athletes with asthma!)
In the Nancy Drew movie, Nancy had to rescue someone from an anaphylaxic reaction by performing an emergency traecheotomy (never mind the Epi-Pen in the purse!) :roll:
When we request policy changes at schools, we give the worst case scenario in an effort to convey the importance of avoiding exposure to allergens. We have no choioce but to play it up as many parents/schools will refuse to listen to anything but the worst case scenarios.
So I think that we are invisible until we react and then we stand out as needing to be rescued.
I once looked into the whole disablity abgle and I think that I read that anaphylaxic allergies were not concidered a disability because the person was health most of the time.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 8:37 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:02 am
Posts: 116
Location: Gatineau
This definitely is an interesting topic. I just started law school this September, and had a classmate tell me the other day that I must be a "weaker species"!! He told me that, should there be any major crisis (such as nuclear war, etc.) I would be much less likely to survive because my food options would be so limited. According to him, I'm not part of Darwin's "fittest" and so I would not survive. How obnoxious.

I actually tried many of the arguments people have mentioned here - that I consider myself to be healthier than most since I don't eat much take-out and have been forced to figure out a healthy diet that still has variety. Like many that have posted so far, I'm not sure if I've ever had the flu (touch wood) and I'm 22. I don't think I missed a day of school until Grade 7 or 8, and even then not for illness. The only sickness I've had is a respiratory tract infection, which I think was irritated by asthma. That being said, I do take more medication that most people I think, with two for allergies, two for asthma.

What made me giggle though is I saw this guy a couple days ago and because he had had two beers (rather than his usual one) at the pub the night before, he had a cold! Sniffling away, dabbing at himself with a tissue, two drinks had made him sick, he said. So much for me being the weaker species! Tee-hee.

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ana to peanuts, nuts, eggs, shellfish, bananas
mild asthma and eczema, seasonal allergies


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2007 9:06 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
Quote:
He told me that, should there be any major crisis (such as nuclear war, etc.) I would be much less likely to survive because my food options would be so limited. According to him, I'm not part of Darwin's "fittest" and so I would not survive.

You might point out to him that your training has made you highly adaptable to life threatening situations. The stress would wear him down but you deal with this reality daily so it would be business as usual for you.
And, you probably have a larger reserve of food than he does at home so you could last longer until help arrived.

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Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 30, 2007 9:57 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2006 6:50 pm
Posts: 205
Location: Ontario, Canada
I think we are a pretty healthy family. DD is the only child her age I know who has never been on antibiotics ( knock on wood). I like to think that we eat better than the average family because we do not eat any take-out/fast food/processed food.

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daughter: 6 years tree nuts, peanuts


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2007 6:46 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 6:39 pm
Posts: 2943
Location: Toronto
Quote:
And, you probably have a larger reserve of food than he does at home so you could last longer until help arrived.


Nice, Susan. Lin101 - maybe "your buddy" has alcohol-induced asthma. He should look into that. :wink:

You know, I'm still not comfortable with the "disability" label mostly because it feeds this sickly perception. Though I do see Pam's "special needs" point at school.

Hi again Pam! (we just saw each other at the allergists' conference in Edmonton.)

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Allergic to soy, peanut, shellfish, penicillin


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 9:54 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:53 pm
Posts: 1454
Location: Canada
I don't think we should be seeing someone with a 'disability' as sickly either. I see disabilities as situational---i.e. someone who is blind can function fine in a world which doesn't depend on sight. A kid with ADHD may be just fine in a home environment. . . but might not be at school where he/she needs to concentrate on things for a period of time.

A friend of a friend has MS---yes, he has some mobility issues, and yes, there is the potential that a number of horrible things might happen to him in the future, but he *hates* it when people consider him 'sickly'. He insists that his immune system is *overreacting* (which is the case--similar to allergies in a way.)


Last edited by Helen on Tue Oct 09, 2007 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:34 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:29 pm
Posts: 192
Location: Ohio
My daughter has been looking at colleges and the ones where she would be required to live on campus have all asked for a Doc's disability notice. She could not room where a person ate pizza or nachos in the room or cooked it. She had reactions when our tenant used to cook cheese laden things. So apartment buildings are even out for her. We have been to book stores with no coffee shops and had to leave because an employee has heated up somthing with cheese in it. :roll: I homeschool but honestly I don't think she would be able to go to school given the severity of this. People see her as weak as well. She recently broke up with a boy because he treated her like a glass doll. :shock: She experiances the weak and unhealthy thing all the time. Even though she plays volleyball and does yoga.

_________________
Karen in Ohio mom of 7
Allergic to tons and tons of food as well as perfumes, scented air sprays and cleaners. Hubby to Fish, ds #2 Shellfish, youngest to Eggplant, potato, Caesin, Raw Tomato & spinach.


Last edited by Momofhalfadozen on Fri Oct 05, 2007 8:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 05, 2007 6:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6455
Location: Ottawa
Gwentheeditor
Quote:
You know, I'm still not comfortable with the "disability" label mostly because it feeds this sickly perception. Though I do see Pam's "special needs" point at school.

I'm pretty sure that I read years ago that someone tried to use the disability angle and the tribunal determined that food allergies were not disabilities because the person was healthy the majority of the time.
I will find the article.

_________________
Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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