Friday, January 15, 2010
Thriving with a Nut Allergy
While sifting through the family pictures the other day, I began thinking about how far we've come with my daughter since her first severe allergic reaction and nut allergy diagnosis at the age of 4. The birthday cake photo is a picture of her a few months before her first, life-threatening reaction. We didn't know about her allergy at that point--the homemade cake is there because that's what she wanted! (A lucky thing she likes mom's cakes, as it turns out).
The first picture is her happy, sassy, self, nearly 10 years old. She's doing really well and we've managed the allergy--with her help, I may add--better than I thought we would when I first witnessed the allergic reaction that shook our family to the core.
I know that many of you have young kids who have recently been diagnosed and I remember what a frightening time that was for me. You feel alone and worst of all, you feel that your child can never have a normal social life, school life--any kind of life that you believed they could have. That's what I thought at first and thankfully, I was wrong.
Your child can thrive with a severe nut allergy. As my daughter approaches her 10th birthday, I've been remembering all the fun things she has done on her own--things that I thought a child with a life-threatening food allergy possibly could not do. However, my daughter has done so much. She's been having a great life, just one that's a little bit more cautious with food.
For example, my daughter has flown on an airplane, participated in Girl Scouts and Girl Scout day camp, gone on many play dates without me, been in dance classes and performed in shows, gone to summer science and computer games camp, moved to a new school and made new friends, joined Student Council and other extracurricular activities, joined the family for restaurant meals, eaten lunch at school, gone on field trips without incident and much, much more. Because of this blog, she's even been interviewed for our local newspaper.
Is there ever worry about her nut allergy on either her part or ours? Of course. And it will always be there. But I think a little worry (and I said a little, too much is not good!) helps us to keep our guard up and helps her stay reaction-free. The one thing we know is that there are no guarantees, so we must always be vigilant. However, when things goes well, I'm willing to be that we celebrate a little more than families without food allergies might do.
We have many more challenges ahead of us as she grows and becomes even more independent but I'm happy about all that she's overcome so far. And if we can do it, you can too.