With the increased food allergy awareness going on in the US and food allergies officially classified this past week as a legal disability by way of title III in the Americans With Disabilities Act, there is a universal sigh of relief and redemption echoing across the internet and through the hallways of food allergy communities.
Just last year, I was sitting at a dinner table with about a dozen or two travel agents at a function my mom and I were at. The waiter came out to speak to me about the food and my soy and peanut allergies and asked what it was I am allergic to. I told him my worst two are peanuts and soy protein or tofu and to add my usual emphasis, I said, "I can die." A couple seconds later, my mom let out a gasp because she said she heard one of the women attempt a quiet mockery thinking she was out of earshot of us say, "So die."
I know this is a very mild example, but this was a woman I had barely spoken to, in her late 40s who obviously for one reason or another didn't like me. No, she had not done anything except spoken in very poor taste bordering on threatening territory, but this is obviously the type of person you have to keep your distance from. Unfortunately, not every bad apple will voice such obvious disrespect for your health.
So what do you do to prevent serious incidents at work or play?
- Never leave food or open drinks unattended. Someone could mistakenly drink from yours after eating something with deadly proteins or in worst case scenario, try to hurt you. Keep food and drinks in a locked locker, never in the fridge with other people's food.
- Never take food or drinks from someone you don't completely know and who doesn't understand the scope of anaphylactic shock and severe allergic reactions.
- If you suspect someone is not complying with safety measures for your allergy, notify upper management immediately. If they don't respond, notify the company's HR dept. Once again, there are people who might not have your best interests at heart or truly might not take your allergies seriously (I've had this happen and had to leave a job because of it). Now that accomodations made in the workplace is a law (Americans With Disabilities Act), managers will likely take situations of others eating in your vicinity much more seriously.
We can only do what is best for us and those we love. There are some situations, like the shootings we hear about on the news that cannot be avoided. We can be proactive about our own lives by taking precautions. We are all like Superman and have a 'magical cure' which is really a (not always foolproof) medical miracle for our exposure to our Kryptonite, known as an Epi Pen. We must carry not just one, but two, within a thirty minute access to a hospital.
I will be adding more to this blog as I think of precautions we can actively take. If you have any to add from your own experience, feel free to post in comments. You may post anonymously if you'd like.