In this special Father’s Day guest post, food allergy dad Doug Pinto discusses how his family manages food allergies. Doug is a co-founder of Don’t Go Nuts products.
Tell us about your family and the food allergies affecting your family.
I am the father of a severely food-allergic child. Her name is Lily, and she is 14. She was diagnosed at 3 years old. Like many newly diagnosed families, we couldn’t really comprehend the complexity of the road that was before us. Lily had two accidental life-threatening anaphylaxis incidents since her diagnoses. In both cases they occurred despite our best efforts. I have seen my child on the floor with the breath leaving her. I have loaded her into an ambulance. I have sat with wringing hands and broken heart in the emergency room. I have comforted her and the other members of our family that she will be okay. I have allowed myself to be comforted. I have cried.
How do you manage food allergies in your family? What have been your biggest challenges?
I have walked every step of the way with her. We are still together. I still cry.
But what once was hope is now faith. Our family has faith in our skillful ability to keep ourselves free from the foods that threaten our bodies, minds and spirits. Lily is fortunate to have her twin Grayson as her almost constant companion. We all support her in her vigilance to be aware of where, how and when she may be threatened.
Our biggest challenge has been to learn to live in the present while allowing for frequent and passing waves of fear. We logistically manage pretty well. We have cultivated a deep compassion for those who don’t understand our challenges. We used to be frustrated and angry, until it dawned on us that while these emotions are allowed and welcomed, they aren’t a place we want to spend too much time.
I’m imagining this sounds very familiar to many of you who are reading this. This understanding and shared experience is so precious. We make up a fabric to hold and comfort each other. It would be so much more difficult without you. Thank you for being fierce and determined. Thank you for tending to your despair in a way that transforms the pain into a haven and a place of beauty. Thank you for your example of courage in the face of crisis. Thank you for your example of how to begin again when besieged by events that scare us to the core of our being. Thank you for helping us as a food allergy family to feel full again when the hunger of the unknown leaves an ever-present emptiness in our stomachs. Thank you for helping make the butterflies go away.
What advice would you give to other dads with kids with food allergies?
As a father, I am committed to using simple affection to both heal the wounds of my child and to create a ground of certainty that life is love. Nothing has proven as valuable to my child as open arms, a tender embrace and the solace of “we are here and you are safe.”
From all of us at FARE, we’d like to wish a Happy Father’s Day to Doug and all food allergy dads!
EDITOR’s NOTE: Don’t Go Nuts is a Copper Sponsor of the FARE Walk for Food Allergy program and an in-kind donor for many of our regional special events.