As I sat in my son’s 15 month well check-up, I fumbled through my over-packed diaper bag, tossing aside Ninja Turtles, plastic keys, and half-eaten rice cakes. My fingers finally scraped against my planner; the one that held the list of questions I couldn’t forget to ask the doctor. We were seeing the pediatrician I actually liked and I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to pick her brain, as it could be another two months before we could squeeze into her busy schedule again.
The list contained the questions that I wouldn’t have considering asking had my son not been diagnosed with allergic colitis as an infant. Allergic colitis meant all of his crying, reflux, pain, and bloody stools were caused by food. The same thing that was supposed to nourish him and make him grow was instead making him sick and miserable. We’re lucky enough that his food allergies actually seem to be intolerances, which is not just a matter of semantics. It means that while some foods may make him sick, they don’t cause him to stop breathing or threaten his life, and he may even grow out of them entirely.
The experience has made me both cautious and worried about things that I would normally brush off. The thought is always in the back of my mind that his intolerances could develop into full blown allergies. He hasn’t had every food yet. Every new food we introduce is a question; a watch-and-see event. I’m constantly worried that he’s reacting to a food and we haven’t made the connection yet. The list of things to cover with the doctor was exactly that: is it normal for babies to wheeze when they run? Why is he constantly scratching his head? Is the eczema on the back of his knees and ears food-related or something else? Is that rash from drool or a reaction to food? I never know what’s normal baby behavior and would could be a possible sign of allergies.
I’ve admittedly loosened up as I’ve seen him do better and better as he gets older, but it’s given me a new appreciation for the families that have to deal with full-blown, anaphylactic allergies. Every time I pack a lunch for school or put my son in a grocery cart, I think about kids that are allergic to peanuts. My son’s lunch or what he ate in the shopping cart could literally kill someone else’s child. I don’t know how you live with that burden and fear as a mom, let alone as a kid.
Carissa K. knows though. She knows exactly what it’s like to have your life turned upside down due to food allergies. She knows what it’s like to sit outside of birthday parties and wait for an impending emergency; she knows what it’s like to have a thorough medical discussion with every single person that encounters her son; she knows what it’s like to have an Epi-pen in every pocket, purse, lunchbox, and backpack. Carissa shares her point of view as an “allergy-mom”, along with an appeal to all moms and dads to parent together. The more we know about other people’s situations, the better equipped we become to handle them and to help one more child have a “normal” life instead of an allergy life. It may never ease the burden a parent of a kid with food allergies carries, but it might help lighten the load just a little.
I encourage you to read her article. You never know how you could be helping another parent fight their battle just by arming yourself with their perspective.