When Penny was diagnosed with Food Allergies, our lives were turned upside down; life became kind of chaotic. We had to change our diet and also our whole lifestyle. In the beginning, Food Allergies felt like a huge rock, an impediment, in our journey.
I made sure I educated myself on the subject in order to be able to accommodate Penny’s allergies, and in order to be able to be the best advocate for my child. I read medical articles, joined online Food Allergy Communities, and asked the doctors all the questions I could think of. With all those adjustments that came with Food Allergies, it was so hard to see this diagnosis as something positive. All of a sudden, I was aware of how much dairy, peanuts and tree nuts were part of our diet, and how difficult it is for people to understand that the consumptions of these food items can be fatal to my daughter. Even people who were close to us and who loved Penny didn’t quite understand the gravity of the situation. Outings were anxiety triggers as some common snacks for children are foods that contain Penny’s allergens.
As time has passed and experiences have helped us grow, so has my perception of Food Allergies. I believe that because of Food Allergies our diet is a healthier one, we are now more aware of the ingredients in our food and how what we consume affects our lives. I believe that because of Food Allergies our whole family has more empathy towards other people. I believe that because of Food Allergies, I have learned to enjoy and value the present moment. I believe that Food Allergies have brought our little family a bit closer; it is hard for me to trust anyone to babysit Penny, so our outings always include our children. I believe that Food Allergies have helped us value life a lot more, and have made our lives richer.
In the beginning, Food Allergies were tough, not only for Penny but also for me. It was a very emotional transition; I would get, and still remain, very anxious because I felt an inescapable sense of dread, always waiting for the next allergic reaction. By the end of the day, I would be mentally and emotionally exhausted. However, the experiences that have come with it have helped me embrace the imperfections in our lives, and transform the way I perceive the whole situation and everything that comes with it. Kintsugi: Just like the Japanese have made beautiful art out of imperfect things, I feel that these unique experiences have made me more conscious of the frailty of our existence and the beauty of life’s imperfections.
Even though these lessons were learned the hard way- because let’s face it: Food Allergies are not a walk in the park, I feel that it has made us a better, more united family and if this is so, for these experiences I am Thankful.