Monday, May 10, 2010

Florida Vacation Report

I went into this vacation fully expecting that we'd have at least 1 allergy "incident", not because I was trying to be pessimistic, but because I was trying to be realistic and prepared. We were on a seafood-laden island with a child with a fish/shellfish allergy after all, plus Georgia did have a reaction while we were there last year. I figured the risk of cross-contamination in restaurants was pretty high.

Fortunately, we had no incidents! (Unless you count the mysterious hive that Georgia got on her wrist on the flight down, but more on that later.) Our lack of allergic reactions was admittedly due in large part to the fact that we only made it out to eat with the kids once the whole week. We were lucky to be staying in a condo with a full kitchen. Our reluctance to eat out was only partly driven by allergy concerns; it was much more related to juggling beach time with naps and bedtime, and the difficulty of getting everyone showered, dressed and out the door. At any rate, I'll take it!

As for the flights:

This is an area where I as a parent am probably more relaxed until I go about reading certain other allergy blogs and realize that other people are WAY more freaked out than I am about flying with a food allergic child. Who is to say whose approach is better? Some people won't fly with food allergic children because it plain scares them too much. Others bring wet wipes and make sure to wipe down all armrests, tray tables, etc. Then there's us. We're careful (as we always are) not to let Georgia eat anything containing her allergens, and we bring aboard plenty of Benadryl plus four Epipens just to be safe. But we don't otherwise take extra precautions when flying.

And now, a couple quick stories:

On the way down, Georgia got one tiny hive on her wrist. Didn't bother her. No idea what it was from. Could potentially have even been a bug bite. But it did make Joe and I exchange glances and think to ourselves, "What if?" I guess it made me wonder if I should actually be wiping things down more often? Seriously, though, you can't wipe down the whole world around you, right? So I am not sure that there's a rational point to doing so in limited instances. I would be happy to hear a counterargument from someone out there reading this.

On the flight back, we were cruising along and then heard the man in the row directly behind us say to his wife, "Honey, hand me my peanuts please." [CUE SOUND OF NEEDLE SCRATCHING ACROSS RECORD.] Okay, so this one resulted in even bigger exchanged glances and raised my anxiety level quite a bit. I can't fully explain why, I mean, it's not like he said, "Honey, hand me my peanuts please so that I can then touch the kid in front of me and make her eat them." Right? Besides, on our American Airlines flight they were selling mixed nuts for snacks, so it was just as likely that any other passenger could buy/eat/drop nuts, right? But still. There was just something unnerving about it, and it had me thinking that maybe those parents who board the plane and start wiping things down are not so crazy after all. I can almost guarantee you that had we been sitting in this man's seat after him (like on the next flight), Georgia would have gotten hives from contact with the nut residue. (Nut residue? Is that an actual thing? You know what I mean.)

Now, here's the part that I actually find hilarious. So amazing to me that you have no choice but to laugh. He was not just having a little snack pack of nuts, or a trail mix, or something like that. He was actually shelling his own peanuts on the plane. You know, like people normally do at a ballpark. In fact, ballparks are pretty much the only place that I have ever seen this (unless you count the reception desk at my father's office, but that's another story all together, and not a common business place snack offering, in my opinion).

I know he was just oblivious and not some kind of anti-allergy zealot, but I couldn't help thinking, are you kidding me? Have you been living under a rock to not know that some people are in favor of banning nuts all together on planes, and you think it's cool to SHELL whole peanuts about 12 inches away from my peanut-allergic child?

Now, don't misunderstand me. Although I found this all amazing, and it did cause me a certain degree of anxiety, I don't bear any ill will toward the man. In fact, later in the flight he entertained our 8 month-old by making funny faces, so I give him major nice guy points for that. I just kind of couldn't believe the nut thing.

So, there you have it. No real point or conclusion to all of this other than to say these things always get me thinking. Should I wipe surfaces more? Should I take more precautions when flying? Should I just try to relax?

And now, just for giggles (or shock value depending on how you view these things), here's a photo of me eating nuts on my very first flight with Georgia, when she was a baby and we did not yet know of her allergies.

{That's me with the fancy pinky, looking terrible but happy. Georgia would be the hidden baby under the blanket, just below the bowl of nuts.}


Maggie said...

I'm still in awe over this one... what are the freaking odds?? It does make me want to wipe the tray tables down now...

Food Allergy Assistant said...

Having just flown yesterday with our food allergic child, your post had me cracking up! He was shelling peanuts on the plane?!?!? I may have started to have a panic attack.

We flew on a low cost airline this trip that clearly stated on their website "we don't have a food allergy policy on our flights and we make no accommodations for those with food allergies". OK then. All was fine. We had our own snacks and I was prepared to wipe down the seats and arm rests if I noticed any food residue. I didn't.

I too try to be realistic about what my child will come in contact with at school, on the playground, in other homes. We've been at this for nearly 10 years now. We travel, my child attends public school and it's really been okay.

But, the guy was really shelling peanuts on the flight? Jeesh...