Ticonderoga Ethan Thompson doesn’t consider himself as a pioneer, but the 13-year-old is paving the way for students with severe allergies at Ticonderoga Central School.
“It’s no big deal,” he said. “It’s just something I deal with.”
No big deal? Even being near a peanut can cause Ethan to go into anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that can cause death. He is allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish and other foods.
In a school full of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Ethan, literally, faces death every school day.
“It’s really hard,” Ursula Thompson, Ethan’s mother, said. “We’ve had a lot of ups and downs over the years. Ethan has missed out on a lot.”
Ethan was diagnosed with allergies when he was 18 months old and ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The reaction was immediate and serious.
“We knew right away,” Ursula recalled.
Since that day the family has taken every step possible to avoid peanuts and other foods that pose a risk to Ethan. That’s not as simple as it sounds. Peanut oil is used in a wide variety of products.
“We don’t eat any manufactured or processed foods,” Ursula said. “Ethan’s so sensitive that he’s even had reactions from cross contact.”
“If one of Ethan’s classmates eats peanut butter and uses a pencil, then Ethan later picks up that same pencil he’ll have a reaction,” Ursula said.
“He even has reactions to airborne peanuts,” she said. “We went to a Yankee (baseball) game and lasted about 10 minutes. Some people began to shuck peanuts near us and Ethan had a reaction. His eyes were swollen shut and he was covered with a rash head to toe before we got out of the stadium.”
Even family vacations are a challenge. Before flying, where peanuts are a common snack, the family must notify the airline of Ethan’s allergies so the plane can be cleaned and alternative snacks offered.