There are lots of "things" about food allergies.
There is the first shock that you feel upon diagnosis, the horror, the guilt that you've unknowingly been perhaps poisoning your child. If you are anything like me, you felt guilt and fear, shock and fumbling ineptitude.
Is ok. Those are common feelings. So is anger. So is frustration. So is overwhelming despair.
And you might freak out a bit, virtually sterilize everything that comes in contact with your kid, and freak out when said child - or children, if you have multiple food allergic individuals affected in the family - is away from your hawk gaze. You may have lost friends, ruined parties, upset grandparents and quite possibly cried a bit - or a lot, it's ok, you are among friends here - in your quest to keep the kid safe. You may choose to homeschool, request a peanut free table at lunch if you choose outside schooling, make all of the foods for every social function your kid attends. You will probably be known as the mom who carries safe food EVERYWHERE and has epi pens in reach at all time. The mom who can always be counted on to carry benadryl and hand sanitizer.
Which is, you know, ok. Everyone handles different situations in different ways and after all, we each have the same goal - to end the day with a kid who hasn't had the curious pleasure of a 22 gauge needle stabbed into their outer thigh. ( A needle which a recent study - ok, 2009 is pretty recent to me - shows may not be long enough to be effective for children. Or for women. This is particularly important because the life saving epinephrine may have a slower absorption rate by the subcutaneous route instead of the intramuscular route. Sub Q vs. IM is a battle with no winners.)
Which is critical, you know.
But you may forget all of that after a while.
You will probably teach your FA kiddo to carry his own epi, to self administer, to read his own labels. You would probably help your kid learn to navigate the social waters - oh so tricky for a teen anyway - and know that there are cruel people in the world, people who think it's "funny" and "cool" to give your FA kid a food that has death as a potential, possible and often probable side effect - and never blink an eye. You will definitely teach your kid to stand up for her rights with food servers, and you may cringe inside as you basically take your child's life in your hands when you choose to eat in a place where you have NO control over the food -
Seceding control is probably my least favorite thing EVER - in case you didn't know.
You may have nightmares in which you have to watch your kid eat a food that you know will have fatal consequences over and over and over and over and wake sobbing in your bed as you watched your child suffer a reaction - a reaction you knew was coming but because of the amazing suckitude of dreams - you could not avoid. You may wake in a panic, gasping for breath with tears in your eyes, a racing heart and an overwhelming sense of loss.
As a result of things like this, you may become that "militant bitch" about food allergies - and it's ok, for like the "100 days since an accident!" signs you see in workplaces -
you may have an internal sign of your own. 2, 5, 6 months since an exposure, it whispers, taunting you by it's very presence. For you know that a food allergen exposure is not a "if" occurence, but a when. It's an anvil hanging over your head, a speed trap on a one lane road, a winding road with blind curves, vast overhangs and falling limbs you must avoid. It's a piece of bread, a slice of cheese, an apple that was held in the hands of someone who recently ate peanut butter and passed it over. It's an incorrectly wiped table, an unsterilized blender at a smoothie bar, the preschooler on the play ground eating almonds as he slides down again and again.
You may pack every piece of food your kid touches when your child is out of your vigliant - some say overkill - eyesight. You may coach her how to say, "no thank you" politely, the importance of not offending a food pusher, and how to keep yourself safe. You may feel, finally, like you may just have a bit of breathing space.
And then a little girl dies. A little girl from a family who did all the right things. Who knew all of the ropes and hidden boxes, the slippery logs and the false bottom promises of food allergies and did everything right.
And you have a quiet despair.