There was a recent article about a couple vacationing in Barcelona who had to cut their trip short and fly home to New York when the coronavirus broke out. They described the painstaking ordeal of having to wipe down their seats on the airplane and distrusted the safety of the food they were served. They even discussed the frightening possibility of getting sick on the plane and what medications they had, if necessary. We are in the midst of a pandemic like the world has never before seen. Why, then, does this story sound like something I have heard before?
After years of travelling with my food allergic daughter, this setup sounds eerily familiar. As a food allergy mom, this sort of ultra paranoid activity and constant anxiety is what allows me to function and maintain a life outside the home. I am so used to sanitizing the area where my daughter is going to eat, and questioning the food being served to her, that this seems second nature these days. The very rituals that are currently inconveniencing millions of Americans is my regular routine. Welcome to my world.
Suddenly people are second guessing how they open doorknobs, push elevator buttons and use the water fountain. Is it clean? Is it safe? Will it make it difficult to breathe? Again, this is not new territory for food allergy sufferers, who are constantly questioning whether a surface is safe. Is it ok for my daughter to play clapping games with her friends after lunch? Only if they haven’t eaten a PBJ. Things like peanut butter and dairy leave sticky traces behind and can be a huge problem for someone who is allergic. And by huge problem I mean guaranteed anaphylaxis. Once a substance is on the hands, it can very easily get into the bloodstream by rubbing one’s eyes or putting the contaminated fingers in one’s mouth. Just as a reminder, I am not talking about the Coronavirus, I’m talking about food allergies. Or am I?
Now that you have Coronavirus on your mind and you are being ultra careful about what and where you eat, I will leave you with one question. If you saw President Trump’s latest press conference in the Rose Garden about the Coronavirus, you saw him shake hands with his many CEO guest speakers. What if he had the virus? What if they did? What if shaking hands isn’t safe? Now what if this press conference was after lunch and President Trump ate peanut butter? If you knew you could get so sick you could end up in the hospital and maybe even die, would you shake his hand?
Welcome to my world.