(photo above courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net)
Okay, honest momma moment here. I have been on and off with the tears since yesterday, the kind that have a dual meaning and I know you know what I mean. They are tears of excitement and tears of sadness all wrapped into one huge emotion and it’s exhausting! We most typically cry these kinds of tears as our children get older and begin doing things we have been training them to do, but we were never really ready for…BUT we also cry these tears when something wonderful happens to someone else, but conversely reminds us of something we lack or lost. Oh, how I wish these tears were for the former. Alas, they are not. Why am I crying? Let me explain…
It’s no secret in the food allergy world that every so often our children are tested to measure and reevaluate their responses to particular allergens that have been labeled as dangerous and life-threatening to them. We are constantly hoping, wishing, dreaming and praying that these allergies would just magically disappear and they would be able to eat anything and everything without an epinephrine auto-injector sitting close by. Our youngest just underwent his most recent battery of tests within the last few weeks and we came away with one piece of good news and several pieces of not-so-good news. In all honesty, the basic gist for us was that things are status quo. He remains severely allergic to eggs, peanuts and a whole slew of tree nuts. The only good news was that the positive reaction seen on skin testing last year for several varieties of shellfish came back completely negative on his blood tests this year. It was so negative, the allergist felt very confident in allowing us to test shellfish at home (we have yet to do this…shellfish is not a major source of protein for our family). In any case, though the shellfish news was at least good on the cross contamination front, our son’s numbers are still exponentially too high to consider any oral challenges to any of his other “danger” foods.
BUT – that’s not why I’ve been crying, though that certainly set me back a few emotional notches that day. One of the reasons for my waterworks is because I have a friend whose son was scheduled for oral challenges earlier this week. Her son is between four and five years old (about the age some children outgrow particular food allergies) and he has had a good handful of anaphylactic reactions over his short little life. On recent blood testing, his numbers were remarkably sufficient enough for his allergist to consider skin testing and potential oral challenges to both egg and peanut, two foods to which he has had significant reactions in the past. His allergist wanted the skin testing first to prove it was safe enough to proceed. If so, they were to take on an oral egg challenge in the office immediately following the skin testing and then proceed with an oral peanut challenge in the near future. This is where I started to get emotional…
My friend’s son’s skin testing was negative for both eggs and peanuts! She even showed a picture on Facebook!! That induced a smile from ear to ear and my heart was overjoyed with this news! I can just imagine how relieved and ecstatic my friend and her husband were to receive these results! This was a huge breakthrough and an answer to so many prayers!! I was so happy that they had overcome such a tremendous hurdle and that they were moving on to the next one with hope ~ the oral challenge! Within a few hours , they would know if at least eggs could be added back into their son’s diet. This was exciting!!
Then it hit me and I began to selfishly cry tears of sadness…
Why not my son?
Our little guy is one of those “lucky” ones who has had his food allergies since birth. Ten years and counting now….and I can vividly remember his swollen cheeks, protruding tongue, raspy voice and hives from head to toe as I breastfed him numerous times a day, unknowingly causing my baby harm with the eggs I was craving day in and day out. I stopped nursing on my own accord (doctors did not believe us at first) because I felt like I was literally killing my child. Today, we consider ourselves blessed that he is still alive and that we have seen many of his food allergies dissipate (milk, wheat, etc); however, we still continue to face a long list of dangers on a daily basis. We are constantly checking labels, wiping down surfaces, washing hands and checking for blotches ~ not to mention having to explain over and over again why we are so meticulous about his eating area and the foods he ingests. So, my tears were not only being shed to share in my friend’s happiness….they were also being shed because I began to wonder if my son would ever have this kind of victory in his life.
But I digress……I truly do have so much for which to be thankful. Our son is healthy! He is happy, energetic, smart, social, confident and eager to learn. He has so much going for him. He has friends. He has teachers who care about him. He has brothers who have been willing to learn how to bake special treats safe enough for him to eat. He shows no shame or embarrassment for his health condition and he accepts that this is simply just a part of the amazing person that he is . No, it doesn’t define him. It doesn’t hold him back. It certainly causes him to find creative ways around these sometimes very open, sometimes very hidden dangers. I could not be more proud to have to the opportunity to be food allergy momma to this amazing young man.
I’m going to cry…..lots of tears over the years (for many reasons). I’m going to fear his being in certain situations. I am going to hover as I slowly learn to let him take the reins in life. I am going to pray daily that God protects him and delivers him to me alive every day after school. I am going to continually pray that He gives him the wisdom to know how to protect himself from the dangers that could potentially prevent him from becoming the man I have been raising him to be. BUT ~ in the meantime, while we wait for a cure or for his allergies to dissipate, we are going to celebrate our friends’ victories, pray we see some of our own and spend life cherishing every moment – food allergies or not .
Until the next step ~ T
You can read all about our food allergy story by clicking here.