‘Thanks but no, I can’t have this’
Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would end up as the co-founder and author of an allergy app, and written in a language other than my birth one, having originally come from French Africa. Hi I’m Rita and that’s exactly where life has taken me!
From my first heady days at University as a foreign student where I met David, my best friend and now husband, to my fast paced corporate life as a business consultant, life it seems sometimes has other ideas as to which direction each of us will take, and often the more difficult decisions have unexpected and positive outcomes.
David and I have two beautiful children Isabelle and Michel, and between both of them we have experienced multiple severe food allergies, eczema, asthma, cold water urticaria and more recently fpies. In some ways having both our children with severe food allergies and associated conditions did make the decision on how to manage things at home more decisive and clearer for everyone. Having a toddler and a baby covering seven of the most common food allergens and having experienced the shock of Isabelle’s first anaphylactic reaction, we made the decision to exclude all of their allergens from our home – no nuts, no sesame, no shellfish, no eggs and no milk products at all! Home was our sanctuary, a place where none of us would have to worry about cross contamination or our children accidentally eating anything harmful.
That said there have still been many occasions when I felt as if I was living in isolation and going crazy, with what seemed like constant cries to my children to ‘don’t lick your fingers!’, ‘don’t eat food you don’t know’ and of course our habitual ‘have you got your EpiPens?’.
This sinking feeling was also compounded many times with the ‘what! both of them have food allergies?’, ‘but there were no food allergies in my days’, ‘just let them try a little bit, they will get used to it’ and the ‘but, what do they eat?’.
Although my parents live some distance away, I feel very thankful and fortunate to have their constant support along with my two wonderful sisters, our family, our friends and more recently Lisa and her family to share the challenges. Isabelle and Michel are also the benefactors of this wonderful support network. I have always stressed to them that their allergies are their responsibility and will only be one of many challenges they will face in life. To see them smiling and genuinely happy, being involved at school, with their friends, and even educating others on allergies helps me to easily resolve any doubts and reservations I had about having had to put my career on hold.
I hope that through reading our story you feel reassured that there are others learning as they go along and walking the same road right alongside you. We are just two of those people…