Why I Hate Food Allergies
OK guys....this one is a downer...you may not want to read it but I'm venting...
As you guys all know, our family struggles daily with food allergies. I'm not sure if anyone who doesn't deal with this on a day to day basis understands what this is really like. We coast along and seem to be doing fine and then out of the blue a reaction sends us into panic mode and back to the ER.
Basically there are few restaurants that we can enjoy together as a family and that Noah can safely eat there. We met with friends last Saturday night at a place where Noah has eaten many times before after we have spoken to managers, wait staff, etc, and he's always had a good, safe experience. Basically, after eating food that should otherwise be safe for Noah, he starts to climb in my lap and tell me that his throat feels funny and he wants to go home. This immediately makes my Mommy instinct kick in that somthing is not right. I take him to the bathroom to talk to him calmly about how he's feeling. He tells me that his throat and tongue feels funny (for those of you who don't know what a life-threatening allergic reaction does it basically can cut off your airway completely) and that his belly hurts. I then escort him back to our table to get his Daddy when he starts to projectile vomit. At this point his little body is flooding itself with fluid trying to rid itself of the offending allergen so he is vomiting what appears to be clear water. He is then paniced. (Adults with life threatening food allergies describe feelings of panic and doom that accompany an anaphylactic reaction)
At this point his Daddy runs with him in his arms to take him outside to administer his epi-pen (an emergency injection of epinephrine that we carry EVERYWHERE we go). Basically he is in too serious of a condition for us to make it outside and we have to stop in the lobby of the restaurant to give him shot. Noah is so scared that he is screaming and crying and in a total panic. We manage to get him his shot and we immediatly load him in the car and drive as fast as we can to the hospital. (Normally we would have called an ambulance, but he were in closer driving distance.) Thankfully, epinephrine works for Noah's reactions and he has always been treated in a timely manner and his reactions are controlled with epi and a round of steroids. We then have to monitor him for 2 days because you can actually have a reoccurance of the reaction several hours after the initial reaction. And at this point we thank God that we are one of the lucky ones because every year people die from this same type of reaction.
So I guess I'm venting to all of my friends who are mothers out there whom I love and depend on. I know that when people hear the word "allergy" they think sniffles and sneezes, but in my family it can mean so much more. Also, Noah's reaction was not caused by actually consuming any food with his known allergen. Apparently, he got a trace amount of an allergen onto his mouth and somehow that is enough to send his supersensitive little body into fight or flight mode. His immune system then attacks a harmless substance (trace amounts of a food protein that we suspect was egg) and treats it like a dangerous invader.
I then spend the next two days watching my four year old be afraid to eat anything, even food that he knows is safe for him because he's afraid of having another reaction. I stay up nearly all night Saturday night watching him sleep and wondering how many more times my baby is going to have to go through this in his lifetime. I wonder if I'm ever going to be able to take him to a ball game, on an airplane, or even to get an ice cream without being afraid that he's going to come into contact with something that could endanger his life.
I try to be optimistic and be hopeful that one day there will be a cure for this condition, and until that day comes we just have to do the best we can. However, even my best outlooks are hard to come by when Noah asks me if he can have a bite of whatever someone else is eating or he asks us why he can't have the same birthday cake or treat as all his friends are having.
4 months ago