Tuesday, June 18, 2013

How Do I Deal with Multiple Food Allergies?

Tell me if this sounds familiar to you-
You are leaving the allergy specialist's office after being sent into a room to watch an Epipen instructional video. You squeeze your child's hand, pretend to smile and go off to the store. As you get to the fourth aisle, you begin to realize that nothing in the store is safe to feed your child. Desperately, you continue searching and reading labels only to wind up feeling frustrated, terrified, angry and overwhelmed. One very important question has not been answered by your Doctor- what do I do next to feed my child?

What does having multiple food allergies mean for our family? Most of our life is just like anyone else's. We have school, homework and food shopping. The differences with our family are subtle like the fact that whenever you enter our home, the first thing that you must do is wash your hands. Not just for cleanliness but to avoid the possibility of any allergic exposures. We also have very firm rules about where snacks are eaten to limit transferring foods- after all, have you ever taken a close look at what lurks on keyboards or video game controls? Yuck! We cannot be as spontaneous as other families because we have to travel with food to be safe and we cannot all go on the same water ride together because someone has to hold onto my son's medication bag so it doesn't get wet. We have not ventured into the possibility of eating out at a restaurant as a family because I would never forgive myself as a mother if my child died during that meal. We grumble and groan from time to time but a night out is a few hours whereas my son's life is a lot longer and I choose life for him.

I do know that our lives are better because of food allergies- yes, better, you did read that correctly! We eat healthier than we would have if he did not have food allergies and this has given us a new perspective on life. We have to look at how are food is prepared and processed and to us, this is nothing but positive.
So how do you deal with multiple food allergies?

Don't Freak Out
It's a terrible feeling after that initial crash course and I would not want anyone to feel how I felt, ever! The amazing thing to understand is that there is help to get you through it. And when I say help, I mean infinite help whether it be online, at the library, your local support group- you will be able to get answers. The way you handle each situation will also reflect on how your child handles it as well. Keep calm and your child will feel more secure.
Be Patient with Yourself

The world of food allergies is an ongoing journey. Just as with anything in life, there will be good days and bad days (and even some terrible days). It is important to understand that you are only human and that you can only do the best that you can do for that day and try to be better the following day. I will caution that this is very difficult for perfectionists.

Learn From Your Mistakes- Be aware that mistakes are bound to happen, no matter how well prepared you think you are. Try not to dwell on them and try not to beat yourself up about whatever happens. As I mentioned, this will be an ongoing journey and nothing is perfect, ever.

Ask For Help- It should not matter if it's for small, simple things like asking your husband to attend a school meeting with you or if it's a challenging event such as having to decide whether or not to use an Epipen. You cannot do it alone and this is a good thing. Imagine if you did have to do it all alone, who would choose that on purpose?
Allow Yourself to Deal with it- This means that staying calm is the priority but when you really need to, it's ok to lock yourself in the bathroom and cry if you have too. If you keep everything bottled up, you will not be allowing yourself to stay in the right frame of mind to handle situations as they arise. This also includes but is not limited to venting, yelling, arguing, smiling, crying and extra hugging.

Because I have gone through it (and am still going through it), I offer my support to you. Please know that I blog to share information and I consult because people need help getting started. I fight for my son to be safe in school and I would do the same for anyone else's child as well because everyone deserves to have that security. Ask me for help because no question is unimportant. As always, I am here to help.
~ Tracy

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dear God, Are There Dishes in Heaven?

Dear God-

Are there dishes in heaven? I don't mean to be disrespectful or question the reason my life has turned out the way it has. It's just, well, a good day for a food allergy mom is when I only have to run the dishwasher twice or when I find Benadryl pre-measured doses with a coupon. My life is filled with multiple prescriptions, dealing with school activities that always feel the need to use food as a reward and people who question the validity of my child's allergies. I know the usual thought is that you only give as much as I can handle but some days, God, I almost feel as if you are trying to make me quit altogether. I mean, how many times do I have to sit and watch my son be excluded from surprise cupcakes because nobody called to let us know ahead of time and how many times can I console my son when he tells me that he wishes he could stay over someones house like a normal kid?

And how is it that you have given him more strength than me? So many times, he has told me about being teased because of his fanny pack and how he chooses to ignore those people. But how do I, as a mom, contain my feelings of anger and frustration and downright hopelessness that for now, there is no other way for him to be safe? I want to lock him away from all of the cruel people of the world and keep him safe forever and ever.

And as a wife, how do I not argue and get mad when my own husband asks why our son has to have his Epipen and inhaler with him at all times? Really, really God? You were there with us when we exchanged our vows and when we welcomed our children into this world so how is this even a conversation that I need to keep having?

And sleep, did I mention sleep? Will there ever be a time when I will be able to sleep without checking on him in the middle of the night when pollen season is bad? Will I ever not wonder what will happen when he starts dating or when he gets to High School? Or college, what about college?!...does he have to go? He won't be safe. Or, maybe, I won't be able to control his safety, he will have too.

So God, I guess I am just asking you to listen so that I can figure this out on my own. Please give me patience with myself and for other people. Let me stay open-minded and ask others to do the same for our family, especially those who don't understand. Please watch over us and make sure that my son doesn't decide to eat something just to see what happens. And some day, maybe someday, send us a cure for food allergies so that you will have more thankful prayers rather than questions.

Oh, and God, are there dishes in Heaven?