Throughout the years, I’ve learned that what seem to be obstacles in our journey, usually bring something good. Although having food allergies is, most of the time, overwhelming, in my case it has had its share of positive outcomes. We are aware of what we eat, we have a healthier diet, we grow some of our own organic vegetables and fruits, we connect with people around the world going through the same thing, we have developed more empathy towards people, and such.
I think that one of the hardest things about having children with food allergies is feeling that you are alone in this and have no support. Maybe it’s “a phase” that we all go through? I don’t know. I found myself with something completely new, life-threatening and misunderstood by a lot of people. Sometimes, I still feel this way. Also, I feel that some people, because of their lack of empathy, isolate us. I’ve heard all kinds of comments, ranging from “I can’t believe we can’t bring homemade cupcakes to school” to “come on, can’t you give her a little bit of the allergen to help her outgrow this?” Ummm… NO! Then, you not only feel lonely in this, but also frustrated.
I had been looking for a support group without success, when I discovered that 2 of my cousin’s children have severe, life-threatening food allergies (one, 11 yrs old is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts; the other one, 17 yrs old is allergic peanuts, tree nuts, lentils and peas). Of course, I am not happy that my cousin’s children have food allergies, but in a way I am excited to have found someone that understands what I’m going through. Food allergies have connected us in a whole new and different way. It has improved our relationship, making it one “full of love, support and tremendous understanding.” as Maria (my cousin) puts it. Ever since we learned about our children’s allergies we talk on a daily basis in order to share information that is valuable to either of us. And even though we live far away from each other, we are there for each other to learn and help advocate for our children.
I’ve been blessed with someone that reassures me that even though it is a “rocky” journey, it’s a possible one. When I panic about sending Penny to preschool with her food allergies, seeing her children all grown up and healthy gives me a sense of hope because it reassures me that it is something we are going to be able to live with.
In this world where Food Allergies are misunderstood, I suggest you try finding someone who’s walking the same road as you are because it will make your journey a lot easier. I know it has helped me a lot. I am so lucky, that in my case, this person is also family.