Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Our Food Allergy Story: Part 3: Conclusion

Since Logan was 4 years old we have had him tested yearly for his food allergies.  I still clung to a hope that he would outgrow some of them.  I'd be holding my breath and crossing my fingers each time we went in, only to be let down.  We discovered one more mild allergy to tomato.  I've come to accept that he is not going to grow out of his food allergies, but we've finally figured out a groove in how to manage his allergies.

In some ways, the older he has gotten, the easier it has been to manage his food allergies.  It has also presented new challenges to.  It's nice that he is now old enough to understand that he has food allergies and he can advocate for himself.  He can tell his teachers and other adults who take care of him "I can't have that."  This has been a huge stress reliever for me!  I've had several adults comment to me how impressed they have been with his knowledge of his food allergies and being able to speak up for himself.  

But again with age we've also encountered new challenges.  Starting school and getting involved in activities and trying to fit in with his peers.  He has become more aware of these things but if it bothers him, he doesn't show it.  Sometimes we have conversations about how "he wishes he didn't have food allergies" but most of the time he just rolls with it and I try my best to provide treats and experiences so that he is not missing out.

I often think about what his life will be as he becomes a teenager and moves out onto his own.  We will definitely have challenges unique to those ages that we will have to learn to deal with (like dating?)  TOO soon.  We'll figure that one out LATER.  One thing we are working on NOW is learning how to cook.  I will not always be there to cook for him.  So I've been letting him help me in the kitchen, teaching him how to make his favorite dishes.  Hopefully he will know enough by the time he is out on his own.  As he has been learning to read, I'm also teaching him about reading food labels and I also plan to teach him about calling food companies if he is unsure about something.

This is our story.  It's been a huge learning experience and is a big part of our lives and who we are.   I hope our story will help someone in some way.  To know that there are hundreds of other people going through this, and that you aren't alone.  To know it's only natural that you are a mega helicopter mom.  To know that at times it's so frustrating and scary and overwhelming and also to know that it does get easier and eventually it will just become part of you and it won't feel like as much of a burden as it does at first.

Q&A:  From perspective of Food Allergic Child:

What is your favorite foods?
 Hershey's Chocolate Bars, Macaroni & Cheese, Cheese Quesadillas and more cheese!

What's it like having food allergies?
Sometimes good and sometimes bad
What don't you like about having food allergies?
 That I can't eat stuff that people say are good like eggs and other types of candy bars that have nuts in them.

Is there anything you do like about having food allergies?
I can handle it, that's the good thing.  I'm always safe about the things I eat.  And I'm not allergic to dairy!  I get my own space and table at lunch.  It gets so crazy and loud if you sit at a regular table at lunch.  I like how it is peaceful and quiet at my table.

What advice would you give someone who has just found out about their food allergies?
I would tell them it's ok.  I would teach them how to handle their allergies by not eating stuff that has their allergens in it.  For example, if someone was allergic to peanut butter, um, I could tell them how to handle it because I know how to because I've had allergic reactions before and it's mostly like bad.

How do you handle your allergies?
I handle them really easily by not eating the stuff that I'm allergic to or going near them or even smelling them. I've had them my whole entire life.  So I've had a lot of experience with it.

Do people ever tease your about your allergies?
No, never.  Not one bit!

Would you ever want to do immunotherapy (where they give you a little bit of what your are allergic to until you can have it) for your allergies?
Uh.. maybe.

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