Peanut Allergies and the Dance of Death

According to the Detroit Free Press, authorities are investigating a Central Michigan University hazing incident in which a member of an off-campus fraternity smeared peanut butter on the face of a student with a peanut allergy while he was passed out. “He could have been killed,” Teresa Seely, the mother of now-former-CMU student Andrew Seely, wrote in a Facebook post this morning. The incident happened in October, but Teresa Seely said her son kept the matter to himself until telling family Tuesday night. Now, she said, she wants parents and others to know about what happened to her 19-year-old son.

This news caught my eye because my son suffers from a severe peanut allergy, also, and is anaphylactic to peanuts (read my son’s story). He must have an EpiPen with him at all times.

All it would take is a trace amount of a peanut protein to kill my son, within minutes. I am high alert at all times. I must monitor what food he eats, and read labels, constantly remind and/or teach others about his allergy. I cannot even imagine what this mother must be feeling.

Overjoyed at the fact that her son is alive. Overwhelmed at what to do from this point on. I can also imagine also enraged. I would be furious. It does not matter how old your child is, you never stop caring for them.

My son is 9 and every day I think about his food allergies. I have to trust his school and its precautions. I entrust his precious life for seven hours a day to school.  It is overwhelming at times, but I am thankful he is in a very protected environment at school. His aunt works at the school and is very protective of him, too. In fact, if there ever is a question the staff at his school inquires with his aunt about the safety of the food.

However, there will be a day when my son will no longer attend public school and will venture out into the real world. I can only keep him safe for so long. He must take precautions into his own hands and trust his own judgment.

But what if that is not enough?  Reading stories about food allergy bullying terrifies me. It has become more and more of a problem. Now for the sake of those fraternity students and the victim, I am grateful he survived. Both of their lives would have taken drastic turns. But something needs to be done about food allergy bullying.

Food allergies are real. They are nothing to be messed with.

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