Appearances Can Be Deceiving

January 23, 2015 5:32 PM

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I was attending a 50th birthday party for a friend of mine, when I struck up a conversation with someone I had never met. The conversation, of course, was with a woman who seemed genuinely interested in my quest to make air travel safer for those with food allergies. I told her how my family often receives dirty looks from other passengers when we pre-board a plane to wipe down the area for nut residue. I discussed how some people have laughed when asked not to open nut containers in the confined environment of an airplane. It is often hard to convey the seriousness of a life-threatening food allergy because it is a mostly an invisible disability. Then, she began to tell me her own story, or rather that of her daughter. Let's call her Ashley.

Ashley works at one of the big New York City financial firms, which is quite an accomplishment, since Ashley suffers from cystic fibrosis. Ashley deftly manages her disease by employing various techniques to conserve her energy. She intentionally conceals her daily struggles from coworkers so that s...

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