For my regular readers, I hope you'll pardon this interruption in my book reviews - maybe you'll learn something you didn't know. And for those here from Bridges, feel free to browse other pages on my blog - maybe you'll find some fascinating books to read. Either way, thanks for stopping by.
For those who are new to my life, 6 yr old kiddo has allergies to the following foods: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanut, tree nut, beef, pork, fish, and shellfish. When I tell people about kiddo’s allergies I generally get the same four responses:
- Oh my! What does he eat?!
- How horrible for kiddo!
- How horrible for you!
- Will he ever grow out of them?
I’m betting one of those went through YOUR mind just now. None of these are offensive to me, but they can cause problems from time to time. Here’s what I mean … [Just a note – I’ll keep using the word “you” here because it’s easier that way. Please don’t be offended or think I’m talking about YOU in particular, ok? Ok.]
Oh my! What does he eat?!
I realize that this is a gut reaction, but come on people! (That’s said with loving kindness, in case you couldn’t tell.) Kiddo loves chicken and turkey, he can have all kinds of fruit and vegetables, rice and potatoes (and bread and pasta made from them). When you react that way in front of kiddo, it just draws more attention to the fact that he is different from other kids. He doesn’t live in a bubble, he isn’t deprived, he just has to be careful of what he eats. And in reality, he eats healthier than hubby and I. No veggies drowned in butter, very few prepackaged foods, lots of organic produce, absolutely no fast food – kiddo should be healthy as a horse!
How horrible for kiddo!
It’s tough for him, but he’s never known anything different. He doesn’t think he needs your pity – he thinks he’s a pretty normal kid. He just wants you to understand and look out for him, to protect him when he can’t do it himself (and he’s pretty good at doing it himself). Thanks, from kiddo.
How horrible for you!
Again, it’s tough. But it’s not the end of the world. Things could be much, much worse. In addition to (and somewhat related to) his allergies, kiddo has an esophageal disorder called Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE for short). [You can learn more about EE here: http://www.apfed.org/ee.htm.] Many kids with EE are on feeding tubes or in hospitals. Kiddo goes in for an endoscopy every 3 months (under anesthesia, they put a camera down his throat into his stomach, and do biopsies along the way) and regular doctors’ appointments, but that’s the extent of our trouble.
Yes, kiddo requires some extra effort to care for. Yes, it can be frustrating, especially when dealing with people who don’t – or refuse to – understand about his allergies. Yes, I feel bad for kiddo at times. BUT it’s really not that bad. And when I AM feeling bad, I have to be positive for kiddo. Some days are depressing, but we deal with it and move on.
Honestly, you want to know the thing that I find really horrible about this whole situation? The amount of money I have to spend on food! It’s virtually impossible to find a safe and healthy variety of food for him at the grocery store so we shop at specialty stores. Hubby and I still buy our food at the grocery though, because kiddo’s stores are insanely expensive. Here’s an example: a package of “safe” cornbread mix that makes a 9x9 pan of cornbread costs … (drum roll please) … $8.00. UGH.
Will he ever outgrow them?
Maybe, maybe not. I can’t say for sure. My guess, based on our experiences thus far, is that some will go away (peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish) while others will only get worse (milk, soy). But I can’t worry about that right now. Right now, kiddo IS allergic to all these things. Right now, this is our life. Hoping and planning and worrying about the future isn’t helpful to me - I need to LIVE right now. Maybe things will be different down the road … but right now, this is our life and we’re doing just fine.*
Kiddo asks me this same question from time to time. I tell him the same thing that I’m telling you now: “I hope so, but let’s not plan on it.” And he’s usually ok with that. He’s a pretty smart one, my kiddo.
So if you’re ever talking to me about food allergies, I’d like you to know that our family is doing just fine. Know that I’m happy to answer any questions you have about allergies. I’ll give you the best info I can; I hope you’ll really try to understand what I’m telling you. And if you just can’t help blurting out one of the comments above, know that I won’t be hurt or upset. But I WILL try to educate you.
* This reminds me of a book I reviewed last month called Life Is So Good. I actually wrote this post BEFORE reading the book though. I wonder if the reason I enjoyed the book so much is that the author and I have the same general outlook on life.