Don’t make your allergies my problem

Jan 18, 2009 by Tony Chung in Personality, Philosophy

I love Joel Stein. In his article that concludes peanut allergies are an issue only in rich, lefty communities, he compares a recent medical report to a short story he wrote years ago about a severe allergy epidemic that crippled the future until it was discovered the symptoms were psychosomatic. Funny that he didn’t show it to anyone, because he usually says the very thing on everyone’s mind that they wouldn’t dare say in public. I myself have often wondered why in recent years it appears that everyone and their dog can be allergic to peanuts.

Rising of a new dawn: from sxc.hu

Rising of a new dawn

My son entered Grade One eating only peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch. Shortly into the school year, he was told he could no longer bring his favourite sandwiches, because a classmate was allergic to peanuts. To prove himself a good friend, he stopped bringing peanut butter and ate sandwiches with only the banana. Sometime before the end of that school year, we learned that the student who was “allergic” to peanuts just didn’t like the smell of peanut butter.

My son had already made the sacrifice, and eventually grew to love banana sandwiches. Buy why was that one student’s suspected allergy never verified, or even questioned?

Scent allergic people are militant. When I was back east in 1999 I caught a news story where a teenage political activist was allergic to “all scent”. She used beets for blush and baking soda for her pits. At lunch she set up a table to educate her school about scent allergies. She expected the world to bow to her sensitive sinuses. Since then, she hasn’t been the only one.

Nowadays, you can’t enter an office building, school, apartment, transit vehicle, etc., without signs declaring the location as “scent free”. I’d rather be honest and tell “hairy-chest haven’t washed” and “antique perfume saturated maven” that they upset my olfactories, and ask if they would mind washing more or splashing less.

Before anyone criticizes me for being insensitive, I must clarify that I grew up asthmatic and was (probably still am) allergic to everything but food. I was on scads of pills, inhalers, and went twice weekly for serum injections to deal with what I thought was my problem.

Who would have thought that I didn’t have to endure all that physical inconvenience? I could have just told the world to stop shedding, wafting, and spreading their allergens into my general direction, or even to the areas where I might travel.

One of my friends is deathly allergic to eggs, as we learned when we had to take him to emergency when my mom was baking muffins. One of my friends is allergic to shellfish, and yet another is allergic to the more extroverted seafood that don’t live inside shells.

I think it would suck to be diagnosed with a food allergy, because I like to eat, and would hate to limit my diet for such a lame reason that it would keep me alive.


Many thanks to my friend Emma Hamer for her Facebook post pointing out Joel’s article reprinted in the Vancouver Sun.

 

  • Actually, as a daycare teacher, I’ve seen the effects of peanut allergies in very young children who cannot make the distinction that they just don’t like the smell, or don’t want to eat peanuts. I also have an adult friend who can go into anaphylactic shock if he eats anything with nuts or nut oil. It has seriously hindered his social life. We have been diligently praying for his healing.
    Peanut allergies and peanut free schools are a pain for parents and students alike, but the allergies are real, they are dangerous, and even deadly to some.

  • Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for taking the time to provide a thoughtful reply to my opinion. I agree that as a parent it’s especially challenging to find solutions for what ails our kids because they can’t truly express what’s wrong—only that something doesn’t work. It must be even more difficult in your situation, where you deal with a number of kids from different backgrounds.

    However, being severely allergic to certain environments shouldn’t be any more different than missing limbs, hearing, or eyesight. They are all conditions that the human spirit has the capacity to rise above. It’s true that the world does need to adapt, as we have seen by the increase in accessibility requirements. At the same time as individuals we need to learn how to play the hand we’re dealt, and work through the obstacles without any sense of remorse or pity.

    Joel Stein’s point that by making more of this pandemic than any other “disability”, we enable our kids to be problem-focused and not solution focused. I believe in God’s divine healing, too, but there are times when He leaves us to toil with “My grace is sufficient for you”. He solved a lot of problems by giving us creative brains.

    We need to discover solutions to our own problems, and not rely on the government or other external bodies to do that for us.

    I hope this doesn’t turn you off from reading my other posts.

    Regards,

    -Tony