This Saturday, September 4th, will be the six month anniversary of Luke's first anaphylactic reaction. In some ways I can't believe it has been six months already - it feels like it happened not that long ago. In other ways, I feel like it has been a lifetime since we entered the world of having a child with a life threatening food allergy.
So what have I learned in the six months?
I'm stronger than I ever realized. I can handle whatever is thrown our way, and I am capable of keeping my child safe.
Not all anaphylactic reactions look exactly the same. I learned that when Luke had an ANA reaction after eating at Burger King (which doesn't serve any kind of nut product).
Having an allergen free home is completely worth it. You'll hear the phrase "safe haven" when people speak of keeping their homes 100% allergen free, and it's true. It's the one place that I know I can feed Luke whatever is in the house, where I don't have to worry about what he might get his hands on. It's a sacrifice at times, but well worth it.
Having the right allergist is worth the headache of trying out different ones. Not all doctors will be the best fit for you, take the time to find one that you are 100% comfortable with.
The internet is a wealth of information and support. I don't know what I would have done without sites like Kids with Food Allergies or Allergy Eats . Another that has been a big help is NOVA Food Allergy Support Group.
What am I still learning?
I'm still not completely comfortable in social situations. Seeing someone bring out food, especially if it's not in a package where I can read the label, causes me anxiety. I know that I'll never be totally comfortable in social situations...you really can't be if you're going to always be diligent. But I am trying to work on being better about speaking up, instead of just jumping and removing Luke from the situation. I need to work past the self conscious part of worrying about looking like a crazy person for either drilling someone on what's in the food, or asking them to remove it from Luke's reach.
Speaking of social situations, we have a doozy of one coming up this weekend. My parents, the boys and I are traveling to South Carolina for my grandfather's 80th birthday. It's going to be at the VFW, dinner and dancing. To say that I'm not nervous would be a complete lie. I have food packed for Luke, and my trusty Foogo to add some kind of hot dinner for him to take with us. But staying in someone's house, and being around food with a bunch of strangers, is a little bothersome. Especially knowing that it'll be older, southern people. Because if you're familiar with southerners, you know they love to keep people fed =) I know, because I'm one of them! My game plan is to keep Luke with me at all times, no exceptions. My husband is staying home, so that will make it a bit more difficult, but I'll make it work. I'll probably, once again, come across as a crazy person at some point in the evening. But I'm ok with that.