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Food allergy management lessons from algebra

  • Awhile back I made a realization during a math class that actually has to do with handling the fears people with food allergies often face. Little things can easily get multiplied to where they are some huge giant enormous mountain that is just too scary to face and is too dangerous. But really, is it?

    In math, ‘i’ is the square root of -1. It is an imaginary number. Remember, if you multiply two negative numbers together, the end result is positive. Same happens when you multiply two positive numbers together. When you have a square root, you have to multiply it by itself in order to get the perfect square and remove the annoying square root sign and get a whole number. Well, here is the problem. There is just no way that you can multiply two positive numbers to result in a negative number. And you can’t do that with two negative numbers either. This is why the square root of -1 is an imaginary number.

    It doesn’t matter what insanely high power you raise ‘i’ to. You can raise it to the largest number you can fit on your piece of paper. But in the end, you’ll just end up with one of four answers: i (what you started with), -1, -i (the negative of what you started with), or 1. Which really, is a pretty small number, especially if you compare it to the power you had raised ‘i’ to.

    Imaginary powers and fears may seem huge and overpowering and overwhelming. But often in the end, when you simplify and reduce it to more common terms, you realize it’s actually not as scary as it had seemed in your imagination.

    Living with food allergies can be scary. And that’s normal. But it is easy to let the fears get multiplied exponentially and let your life be controlled by fear of the ‘what ifs’ and the unknowns. Then there is the opposite extreme of throwing caution to the wind and thinking you are invincible. Neither of these are good places to be. But finding a healthy balance in the middle is hard.

    But when things see too scary or something, think more deeply about it and reason through it and you’ll probably notice that the situation which had previously seemed like a huge storm and mountain looming ahead isn’t quite as scary. Simplify the math equation into something that is a lot easier to understand and not as scary.

    There are situations where it is just not safe to do something or go somewhere. But often if you take the right precautions and keep your epinephrine auto-injector with you, keep your wits about you, make sure others know if you’re having a reaction and take quick action if you do have a reaction, you don’t have to live in a bubble all. the. time. And living in a bubble can foster even more exponentially increasing fears. For some people, it just isn’t safe for them to go outside of the house. But for the majority of people, they don’t need to stay hidden away kept away from every possible trace of their allergens. So, talk with your allergist if you have concerns about being super sensitive to allergens. But fear doesn’t have to rule your life.

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