Day: July 7, 2009

Spotlight Interview with Gabrielle Peterson (aka Peanut Free Mama)

“I wanted to hear about real life scenarios instead of sterile advice from medical sites…I wanted the next mom who got the peanut allergy diagnosis to find me and know that it is going to be ok, really, truly it is.”

Where to find her: Peanut Free Mama
I’ve been blogging since 2002. I started a personal blog in 2002 at Gab’s House o’ Sass, then I started a blog for my daughter in 2004 which evolved into my current blog (where I devote most of my writing).
Occupation: I manage the marketing department of a scientific publisher in Northern California.
Why “Peanut Fee Mama”?
When my daughter was diagnosed with a peanut allergy, I really felt that I absolutely had to live peanut and nut free as well. Partly as a sign of solidarity, but also I didn’t want to run the risk of causing a reaction by something I ate. So when I created a blog to document the journey we were on, “Peanut Free Mama” seemed like a natural choice.
What made you start your blog?
When my daughter was about 18 months old, she ate a tiny bit of toast (about the size of a pea) with peanut butter on it. Within minutes, her eyes were swollen, her face was covered in hives, and her nose was running. It was awful! Once we had an official diagnosis (and not much else, except for an epi pen prescription), I started on a journey to find as much information as I could via my own research online. I came up empty handed alot! I wanted to hear about real life scenarios instead of sterile advice from medical sites. I started my blog to show how a regular mom was dealing with a peanut allergy and trying to give their child a normal life. I wanted the next mom who got the peanut allergy diagnosis to find me and know that it is going to be ok, really, truly it is.
Are there other places that we can find you on the web?
You can find me on Facebook and on Twitter.
What has been the hardest part about dealing with your child’s peanut allergy for you?
Two things:
First: Trust. Trusting that whoever is watching your child (be it at daycare or school or babysitting) REALLY understands the ramifications of her allergy. It doesn’t matter if it’s family or not, it’s hard to trust another person with your child’s care when they have a special need like this. I’m not worried about my daughter eating peanuts or peanut butter directly. I AM worried about her trusting an adult who doesn’t know how to read a label (or wont bother to).
Second: Mortality. There’s nothing more sobering than facing your child’s mortality at an early age. Sure most parents deal with general fears about their kids getting hit by a car or talking to strangers. But having a child with a food allergy that involves anaphylaxis makes you think about your child dying. A lot. It isn’t fun.
What do you think is the hardest part about dealing with the peanut allergy for her?
She’s just starting to get that she can’t have many of the things her friends have. She doesn’t cry about it, but I can sense the frustration of it. She also isn’t enjoying sitting at the “allergy table” at school. I think she’d be happier if we came up with another solution once she’s in Kindergarten this fall.
What do you wish non allergic parents understood about food allergies and allergy parents?
We’re not doing this to them. We’re not asking them to refrain from sending in nutty treats to school or checking a food label to make their lives difficult. They have the luxury of sending their child off to school or a playdate without wondering if they’ll come home (literally) or not due to something they may have inadvertently ingested. If we could make this allergy business go away, we would!
What do you think is the most important thing a parent of a newly diagnosed food allergic child should know?
You aren’t alone. It gets easier. Day by day you’ll get used to this and after a while this will all be second nature and (dare I say it?) a non-issue for you.
To connect with Gabrielle, visit her WEGO Health page.
This Spotlight Interview was conducted by Janeen, one of WEGO Health’s Community Leaders and author of Our Story: The Good, The Bad, and the Food Allergies, a blog about raising children with food allergies.

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