Friday, October 22, 2010

It's not personal....

I think something that is really difficult for David and I to remember is that for the general population food allergies are something of an abstract idea - never mind moving into the idea that corn isn't JUST a "food" allergy. The rude deli worker, the less than helpful waitress, the lack of response from a company when inquired.... It's not personal - for THEM. For the allergy afflicted, however, it's VERY personal.

Thankfully with both the peanut and soy allergy the problem shoots through David - literally. Uncomfortable for him, miserable if out in public and nothing he can do/take to slow it down (because again, corn isn't just a food allergy - it's in every OTC medication we have ever tried).

Corn however sits in his system and wrecks havoc for WEEKS.

Unless a person has a food allergy themselves or has PREPARED food for someone with a food allergy on a regular basis, they just won't get it. Period. Yes, eating gluten free is all the rage - but many people do it by choice so if they stumble into something contaminated they are fine. Again, it's not personal - for THEM.

We do run into the occasional really friendly, helpful waitress or manager. The occasional extra sweet deli worker that is willing to let me read the labels on the packages. And sometimes we are lucky enough to contact someone at a company that is sensitive to our situation. But again, it's the exception not the rule.

When I start getting defensive -

(Hey this is MY husband we are talking about here - I work REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hard to make sure that our home, our "stuff", our food, our cleaning products and on and on are safe. So when someone else screws it up because of carelessness it's aggravating beyond words.)

- I remind myself that it's not a personal attack. Sometimes it "feels" that way but it's not. And my getting irate with a restaurant worker or store manager isn't going to help anything. Thankfully, I have never lost my cool but I have watched other people. (Let's just say that NO one looks attractive having a melt down in public - even if for a good reason.) Rather, I attempt to educate as best I can. Some are very receptive while others, have no interest. Again, it's not personal for THEM.

We are blessed to have family and friends that try really hard - and we are thankful. When people want to have us over for dinner I often bring the food and cook myself. Occasionally I will recommend a simple meat and veggie meal with no breads and no spices please. If fat is needed, please use olive oil. (This is David's food allergy but because I do the bulk of the shopping and cooking/baking I am the most familiar with ingredients. He is learning out of necessity and can even make a mean brownie.)

We have to be our own advocates. No one else will. No one else understands. Even with family and close friends. And hey while it is personal for the allergic person, it's not personal against the well intended.

*Sadly the most recent picture I could find of this "corn free" family is nearly 3 years old.*


  1. Question for you my friend - how does one find out if an OTC medication has corn? Is it right on the label (I can't remember seeing it?)

    Anyhow - you're not alone. Matt and I are advocating for real food - as in food that doesn't have any other food pumped into it. Sadly, the FDA feels like making most of that illegal.

  2. Hey Sarah Jo!

    Real food is gaining in popularity for which we are thankful!! Keep up the good fight. =)

    Corn is almost never on the label. Of anything, directly I mean. Sometimes "dextrose" is on the label. It's always corn. Well, we've yet to discover that it's NOT corn. Because corn is so heavily subsidized it's cheap. In medication it's used as a thickening agent, a binding agent and on and on. We have to have even the simplest of medications specifically compounded at a pharmacy. To the tune of $50 for 100 IB-Profin.


  3. I ran across your posting and I am not sure if you have figured out your husbands illness yet or not. I am allergic to so many things and your husband sounds like me. I read a post where he was sick from a meeting in the printer room. I am allergic to the ink and to nickle and to the chemicals that are given off of machines. I am allergic to carpet, the formaldyhyde. Formaldehyde is on everything,clothes to sheets to towels and drapes. I can not have any of this in my home. Even organic is not always good because of the ink used on clothes and the processing. Dry cleaning is horrible and if I go into a store, I can be toxined without 12 hours or sooner. It depends. I am poisoned and throw up for a day or two or depends on exposure. It is crazy. I am allergic to many foods and oils. I only can eat a small list of foods including seasoning so it is hard. I cant wear many clothes and they wear out and we dont know what to wear next. He needs to start being aware because I bet he will figure it out too.

  4. Sue,
    Thank you for your comment. We have had extensive allergy testing done for David & his primary allergens are indeed Corn, Soy & Peanut.

    Unfortunately CORN is used in all manner of products, not just food. Adhesives, inks, paper, perfumes, deodorants and cleaning products typically use corn and are found in David's office environment.

    I'm sorry to read your allergies are so extensive. Dealing with them is difficult I'm sure.