If your family is like ours, it is devastating to learn of things that disrupt what was a reasonably normal way of life. Things such as job loss, family illness, personal injury, or changes in relationships can certainly do that. Now consider food allergens being added into the mix. What do I do now? When I lose a job, we know basically what to do, we look for another even if it means relocating. When someone is ill, we can pitch in and help, and hopefully in not much time the problem is resolved and life returns to normal.
Changes in relationships can certainly reek havoc, but even there it is possible to recover in a period of time. I know there are exceptions to everything, but these life circumstances have been in the public eye for centuries and there are books and professionals on every corner ready to lend their aid. Thankfully the number of allergen specialists is growing as well.
In 2006, when KerryAnn and both children started getting frequently sick, everything came to a screeching halt. Resources were rare to non-existent that could help us figure out what was wrong. Doctors told us it was the flu in KerryAnn’s case or just a skin bacteria in our daughter’s case. Friends helped point us in the right direction and we learned that it was Celiac Disease. Whew, at least now we have something to go on.
Wowwy, and did we ever.
The more we researched, the more we learned how much change was coming our way. First, the disease doesn’t go away, so major changes to our eating habits were required. We made a number of diet changes, but the family was still getting sick. We came to realize that we also had to change our appliances and our cookware too. Then we realized that all the gluten based snacks we had been giving the children as toddlers were all over their toys, the walls, the floor, anywhere their little hands and faces had been. We washed and scrubbed, scrubbed and washed until we attacked every surface they could reach and then some for good measure. Some good news would be in order here. This effort was not in vain. Once done, we could now host parties, dinners, and other get togethers on our terms. We could even provide a venue for others that suffer as we did with full confidence of the lack of allergens present. That alone can be a definite morale booster.
Well, that took care of everything right? Don’t I wish. We had to vacuum the cars too. Hey, there’s nothing like a new car smell, so an allergen-free car is now a much safer car for that precious cargo. Then it dawned on us, if we have to do this at home, what about all the places we frequent? Ouch is the understatement. Mimi’s life is about to change too. Children can’t go until she is educated about food handling and diet to protect the children. Their friends’ houses? All we could do is let them know of the issues, and why our visits would be likely limited to our house, mutual visits to parks or out in the yard until we aren’t so sensitive. Sound extreme? Maybe, until you have seen what a food allergy can do, then you learn to take precautions. ANY gluten in my family’s diet results in illness while they’re healing, so we have to be careful. So now it has all been addressed, correct? We have definitely made progress, that is for sure.
Think of the places in your life that typically contribute to a positive way of life. What about church, school, and daycare? Ever seen what they give children in the church nurseries for example? Cookies, crackers, and all sorts of other snacks laden in allergens. Where does it go? All over the floor, walls, furniture and toys. No more nursery for us now. Either the children sit with us in the sanctuary, or we can’t go. It’s not as difficult once they are old enough to be in classroom settings and cognizant of the food around them. Once the children were a little older and their teachers better understood the issues, they were able to return.
The number of people who understand the true implications of allergens is still few but growing thankfully, and when you miss what you used to attend regularly, it can create confusion in peoples’ minds as to your dedication. It’s not that you want it to be this way, but it has to be unfortunately even if for only a little while.
With school, it especially causes issues because choices can be limited. Some states allow for homeschooling, and if the adults in the household work someone has to alter how they work or stop altogether. If the state doesn’t allow homeschooling, you could likely find yourself needing to relocate to accommodate their education requirements. Some more good news though. The more you know, the more you can help educate those around you. Knowledge is power and resources such as CookingTF.com can empower you more than you even know.
Places like grandma’s, church, school, friends, etc are all right places, but can be seriously affected by your allergies. Patience will be a virtue as you seek to educate those around you of your issues, and thankfully some of them will be accommodating while you heal. Your life will change, but it is necessary if you wish to have a quality of life that is positive. Stay strong and know that the resources available to you today are far greater than they were even just a few years ago.