Allergies Are No Laughing Matter for Julie Bowen

Julie Bowen and her “Modern Family” character, Claire Dunphy, have three things in common: They have three children, are passionate about their families and will stop at nothing to make their little ones feel protected, happy and safe

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
julie bowen image
Photograph: www.Anaphylaxis101.com

More: Was Oliver’s life ever in danger? 
JB: Look, I am thrilled my husband was there, but let’s face it. He’s a dude and communicates like a dude. I never asked him specific details because I was not in the emergency room. I was only told the facts of what happened. I was never told he was in danger, but I now know that anaphylaxis can be deadly and that he needed the shot of epinephrine in order to breathe normally.

More: Was that the first time you ever encountered a food allergy?
JB: The first time I had ever seen what a food allergy could do to someone was back in college when a girl in my school died while eating chili. Sadly, she dropped dead in the restaurant because there was peanut butter in the chili. I mean, I don’t think chili as having nuts in it. Now one in 13 kids has been diagnosed with a food allergy, so we are all more aware of asking what ingredients are in food.

More: You can’t watch Oliver 24/7 because you star on the hottest show on TV.
JB: And in the world [laughs].

More: So do you worry that he might be exposed or eat something that could send him back to the ER?
JB: No, because his camp and school are very aware of his condition. The facility has two epinephrine injectors, and if there are kids with a food allergy, they eat at a different table where nuts aren’t allowed.

More: Does he feel like an outcast sitting at the other table?
JB: No, because there are so many kids with food allergies that this is considered the cool kids’ table. Crazy, huh? My fear was that because he has an allergy, people would treat him like the weird boy in the plastic bubble and not play with him. That is not the life I want for him. He is a kid. I want him to run around and have fun. Now he can without the worry because we are armed and prepared.

More: What about if he goes to a friend’s house for a playdate?
JB: That is what we need to remember. We need to make sure that medication is in his backpack and the parent of the child knows where it is.

More: While we are talking about health, let’s turn the spotlight back to you. You had to be fitted for a pacemaker when you were in your twenties.
JB: Yeah. I am not one who gives health a lot of thought, but I go for my regular checkups, eat healthy and exercise. When I learned I had a heart problem, I got it fixed. Luckily for me, it hasn't progressed, which would require complicated treatment.

More: How did they know a 20-year-old needed a pacemaker?
JB: I had an irregular heartbeat that anybody could identify pretty quickly. My sister happened to be in medical school and identified it as well. She detected it as being hugely irregular. She was the one who made me get help.

More: Way to go, sis!
JB: It wasn’t dramatic or anything. I am the type who is more clinical about these things. With me, I just wanted to know what it was and what the solution is and where I can get it.

More: Any limitations?
JB: Not a one. If anything, I am scared someone will forget to turn it off one day [laughs].

More: One thing people can’t turn off is Modern Family. Are you surprised by the show’s enormous success?
JB: Really surprised. I knew it was a good series, but I am just surprised to be on it. I am really proud of the work we put into it, and I love my cast mates. I mean, I get to laugh all day with Ty Burrell. How cool is that?

More: So forget the traditional family; it’s all about the modern family.
JB: Where we live in Los Angeles, my kids have many friends with two moms or two dads. That to them is completely normal, and I love it that they think that way.

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