My Challenge: Lisa

I am so happy to introduce you, officially, to Lisa aka Tia aka my BFF aka the person who has known me before mall bangs were popular and we wore our jeans up to our armpits. That one person who knows where the body is buried because she probably helped you put it there.

Lisa is mom to Owen. A boy who makes her play Lego’s, X-Box and Laser Tag. He also keeps her on her toes with his challenge. 

My Challenge: Food Allergies

We discovered our son, Owen, had food allergies when he was about two years old.  We had gone to a summer festival and were enjoying the music the Caribbean band playing when Owen began rubbing his eyes.  Shortly thereafter his eyes were swollen, so much so that they were almost closed!  Of course we panicked and didn’t know what to do.  I kept checking to see if he was having difficulty breathing, but he was not, so we left to get him some Benedryl.  On the way home, the allergy went away, but I was terrified of it happening again.

I kept trying to figure out what had caused the reaction.  He had eaten some French fries and a bite of potato salad that he immediately spit out.  After a visit to the Pediatrician, and then to an Allergist, we found out that he had several food allergies, including an egg allergy, and that that small bite of potato salad was most likely what caused his reaction.
I was angry when we left the Allergist’s office.  Angry b/c when he was a baby I thought I had done everything I could to prevent this.  I nursed, even though it was excruciating and did not give up even though I was told it wasn’t worth it.  I also made all of his baby food from scratch and made sure he only ate what was recommended by the Pediatrician and did not introduce high-allergy foods earlier than was recommended and none of that seemed to have worked to keep food allergies away.

Since then we have had to closely monitor what he eats.  I have to send in special snacks to school so that he can participate in his classmates’ birthday parties and other festivities during the year.  Some people, especially teachers, have been wonderful with this, calling me to see if he can have certain things because they don’t want him to feel left out.  Others just don’t get it and have even accused me of overreacting, but I would rather overreact than have him end up in the hospital or worse.

I have explained to Owen what he can and cannot eat and that he should confirm that something he is given from someone else doesn’t contain any of the foods he is allergic to and he really has been great about it.  I remember a couple of years ago we went to an outdoor event in the winter and someone was selling hot chocolate.  He walked up to the woman and asked her if there were any eggs in it.  It was so cute, but even though he is aware of his allergies and what he can and cannot have, that doesn’t mean that the person offering it is aware of all the ingredients.  Such was the case for Cameron Groezinger-Fitzpatrick who died after eating half a cookie that had peanut oil in it.  The friend who gave it to him wasn’t aware it had peanut oil in it.  

This is our greatest fear, especially as he grows up and is more apt to accept food from someone else. Unintentional exposure can happen so easily. One afternoon frosting a Gingerbread house with his cousin, Owen got frosting on his hand and cheek. He had an immediate reaction. His eyes swollen shut. We never thought to check the ingredients as he wasn’t going to be eating the house. 

I won’t make that mistake again.

Although Owen would say that it’s a pain to have to watch what he eats, especially when his friends are eating cupcakes and he is told he can’t have any because they are not sure what the ingredients are, he would also say his allergies don’t hold him back from living a normal life for a 7 year old, participating in birthday parties, karate, Cub Scouts, summer camp, etc.  I hope he will soon outgrow some of the less severe allergies, but he will probably have to deal with some of them for the rest of his life.

According to FARE there are over 15 million that is MILLION Americans with food allergies. That is double the population of NY City. Every 3 minutes a person is taken to the emergency room due to a food allergy. That is not just the hives, but something bad enough to call EMS. The most common foods that cause 90% of reactions are: eggs, milk, peanuts,  soy and wheat. 

They are probably in every food in my kitchen. Food allergies can be mild or deadly. 

Food allergies are not just for the young. A friend of mine acquired severe food allergies when she turned 30. Before that she was fine. She expected grey hair when she turned 30, instead received an allergy to shellfish, nuts and get this garlic of all things.
To learn more about food allergies please visit Food Allergy Research & Education 
Not only is Lisa the best friend to hide the body with, she is also an awesome mom and photographer. Check out her photos at Lisa Perez Fine Art Photography. Thank you, Lisa for sharing Owen’s challenge and showing it is your challenge as well.

What's your challenge is a series that was inspired by a program I created at Abby's school. I am amazed at how honest and hopeful the challenges have been. Thank you to all who have contributed. To submit your challenge, please e-mail me at

4 thoughts on “My Challenge: Lisa

  1. Janine Huldie

    I was actually just having a conversation about this with the pre-school director at Lily's pre-school and it is crazy how so many don't get this or just don't care. Neither of my girls have food allergies per say, but Emma does have sensitivity to milk products that makes her have some issues with her bowels, but it is more if she consumes too much dairy, but can still can have it. So, hers is definitely not life threatening, but having taught as well and seen many children with all different varying food allergies my heart goes out to both the parents and children, too. For that reason alone, I am very careful as to what I send my girls into with school, because I can only imagine what these parents and kids must go through and fear on a daily basis. Thank you for sharing here today and truly do appreciate you telling us your story and your son's, as well.


  2. Julie S

    My good friend had a son with severe peanut allergies. They carried the epi pen for years. I recently saw her and she said Patrick was fortunate enough to outgrow his peanut allergy (he is now 14). It can happen. I realize he is probably in the minority, but there is always hope. Hang in there!! I am sure that is quite the challenge.


  3. Kristi Campbell

    My son is allergic to peanuts and nuts, and it scares the heck out of me. Mostly, because, as of now, we don't really know how bad they are. I breastfed as well – mostly because I didn't want him to have any allergies. Ha. Go figure. I agree that it's so so scary that people will give kids food and not really know what the ingredients are. Thanks for sharing your challenge! I laughed at the jeans up to your armpits 🙂


  4. Pingback: Breathing trumps peanuts | Diagnosed and still okay

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