Three hours and three hundred dollars later we walked out of the doctor’s office elated and remorseful. Our daughter was free and clear of all food allergies, but our son was likely sentenced to life.
Let me introduce our family. We are the Kane’s…a.k.a the allergy family. Matt (Daddy) has a mild intolerance to milk and is allergic to bananas. Diana (Mamma) has a severe dependency to sugar and coffee…no allergies, just a serious problem. Lucas (first born) is severely allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and most recently shrimp. Emily (second child) was allergic to dairy but has since been declared off the food allergy map. Praise the Lord!
Yes, we are that family. The ones that you pray aren’t on your kid’s class roster. We are the cause for banned homemade birthday treats and the restricted sack lunches. You secretly despise us and I don’t blame you. It is incredibly inconvenient for those of us dealing with the allergy, I can only imagine the frustration that parents must feel when it’s not their child. You are being forced to comb over ingredient labels and find alternatives to your child’s favorite peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which could possibly be the only thing you can consistently get them to eat. It is ridiculously time consuming I know, but I just wanted to give you my sincerest Thank You.
I had no idea what the world looked like with a severe food allergy until three years ago when my son took a bite of what I thought was an innocent cookie. The rest of my life changed along with his. I was already dealing with the normal daily challenges of motherhood: the constant worry of did you eat enough, are you learning what you need to be learning, and the don’t run out into the street type things. That part didn’t change when he was prescribed an Epipen to carry at all times, it just added a whole new level of fear. A fear of things that most individuals would associate with a happy childhood: ice cream shops, baseball games, bakeries, theme parks, birthday parties, trick or treating, playdates and sleepovers. All of these things instantly became my worst nightmare. Everywhere I turned there were nuts threatening my child’s life.
On three separate occasions I have had the tortuous job of holding my sweet little guy down while a nurse marked up his back and arms and then injected a small amount of allergen underneath his skin. How do you explain to a three and then four-year-old that certain foods act as harmful invaders in his body that his immune system has to try to fight off. Do you tell him that if he eats one of the cookies passed out at a birthday party that he could potentially die from it? Do you let him go to that party because even if he doesn’t eat the cookie, twenty other kids did and it’s now all over their hands and the ball that they are playing with? The whole thing isn’t fair to him. No parent wants to seclude their child or refuse them of the many joys of childhood. It breaks my heart to see him desperately wanting to be like everyone else.
At his five-year-old screening his peanut numbers came back 50×35. A non-allergic individual’s results would be 1×1. The odds of him growing out of this thing aren’t in his favor. He will likely spend the rest of his life trying to safely co-exist in a world full of nuts and I will spend the rest of mine worrying about it.
There will be an awkward conversation that we will have to have with his first girlfriend. An innocent first kiss is only innocent if she didn’t shovel down some peanut butter crackers on her way to third period…and if she did, then that innocent kiss could possibly take his life. Then there is the question of will he always carry his Epi Pen when I am not constantly there to lug it around in my purse for him? Will he take it seriously or will he be careless?
So this high maintenance helicopter mom just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for eating popcorn at the baseball game instead of peanuts. Thank you for washing your hands after you had a snickers bar and before you grabbed the shopping cart. Thank you for packing a ham and cheese sandwich to send with your child to school. I know that we are adding more complications to your already busy schedules, but thank you for caring about my child’s life. I know that this is not your problem, but he is my whole world and I can’t express how grateful I am to you for your help in keeping him safe.
This piece was originally published on Mama Needs A Cupcake.