My Food Allergy Story
May 14-May 20, 2017 is the 20th Annual Food Allergy Awareness Week. In 1998, the Food
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (now FARE), chose a week in May to highlight the seriousness of food allergies. It was their hope “…that by increasing awareness, we can encourage respect, promote safety, and improve the quality of life for the 15 million Americans with food allergies, including all those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis.”
I felt that this week is the perfect week to re-introduce myself to my readers and my followers. My name is Jenny, I am the creator and writer for this blog. I love to cook, craft, run and watch my 4 lovely children smile. Three out of four of my children have a food allergy…ahhh, I bet now you see why I chose to reintroduce myself this week.
Our food allergy journey started about 9 yrs ago when my 2nd child (who was 18 months old) took an innocent little sip from an almost empty milk container. (My first-born, who was 4 yrs old at that time was a heavy milk drinker and had left her cup on the table.) Well, when my 18 month old took that little sip of residual milk, it brought on an unexpected reaction. She first started to vomit, wheeze and her whole body broke out in red hives. I was in shock and terrified, this has never happened to us. We called the pediatrician and she suspected that it was an allergic reaction. We gave her Benadryl and an inhaler, then rushed her to the doctor’s office. This was where my 7 Stages of Loss began, not the loss of foods but the loss of being the carefree feeder of our children.
(Stage 1: Shock/Denial) There were multiple moments of this stage for me, the shock of her reaction and the shock of the diagnosis of not one but 6+ food allergies. I didn’t want to believe it. There wasn’t anyone else in our family that we knew of with these allergies, how could she have not only 1 but 6+? I took her to another allergist who ran another panel on her and confirmed it. It was real and I couldn’t deny it any longer.
(Stage 2: Pain/Guilt) What did I do wrong? Did I breast feed her too long? Not long enough? Was it something I ate or something else we fed her? I was wracking my brain on how could this have happen to our little one. I blamed myself (and maybe a little of the world).
(Stage 3: Anger) With my guilt came my anger, I was angry at myself for not being able to prevent this. I was angry at people who blamed me for my poor genetics. I was angry at people with their theories, their advice and their homemade remedies…none of this can take away my child’s allergies.
(Stage 4:Depression) I will not sugar coat this, this stage took a long time and was ugly. I was depressed, it felt like a pit was stuck in my gut for months. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, not to my husband or friends. I just wanted to hold my babies and stay in the house. I didn’t want to leave the house nor did I want visitors. My house was my bubble, I felt that if I was exposed to anything else I would crumble.
(Stage 5: Upward Turn) I had the 2 girls on my lap and the 4yr old tells me that she misses ice cream. Can we get an ice cream cone? Before I could say something, she said “Oh never mind mom, let’s get ice pops instead! Ice pops are ok for sissy and me. We can get strawberry ones, we both like strawberries.” As she kept on talking about the various possibilities of ice pops, it was like the pit in my gut started to disappear. This little 4 yr old girl who happens to love all things made out of milk was willing to forgo ice cream for her baby sister. She was ok with it and was coming up with all these different flavors of ice pops, shaved ice, ice cups that she and her sister could try. I need to be more like my 4 yr old, I need to just keep going forward and explore new possibilities.
(Stage 6: Reconstruction) This was where the fun began, we started to experiment with so many brands and types of food. (Some were not the healthiest foods but this was a time of exploration for us). We no longer hid in our house and started to venture outside. We went shopping for food and exploring restaurants to find everything that was allergen free for my kiddo.
(Stage 7: Hope/Acceptance) This stage was exactly that, I had hoped that one day my baby will out grow some (or all) of her food allergies. If she didn’t that was ok too, we would get through it and continue to explore the world for different foods she could eat.
After my 7 Stages of Grief, there was a great deal of personal growth and discovery. Over the years, kiddo outgrew some of her allergies and was diagnosed with new ones. My oldest turns out to have a few food allergies of her own. Then when my twins were born, we weren’t really surprised to find out that one of them had food allergies as well. We have been rolling with the punches and coming up with our own food solutions. Red 40 is now a common food allergen in our house as well, so we started eating more whole foods. The various food allergies (10+) doesn’t divide our house but made us a more considerate and cohesive family. I hope that my story helps others out there with food allergies. Its ok, to have all these feelings of anger and sadness but remember, like Pandora’s box, there is hope at the end.
My Food Allergy Story
Clean Eating Gluten Free Foodie
Symbols of food allergy awareness are “Turning it Teal” or “Red Sneakers for Oakley”. For more information about food allergies and food allergy awareness, please feel free to visit these sites Food Allergy Research and Education and Red Sneaker for Oakley.