It’s been a tough couple of weeks. Bouncing back from an allergic reaction isn’t always easy, and sometimes can cause more anxiety than the reaction itself. Your safe foods quickly become your only foods, and you start again from the beginning, questioning everything, and really just feeling like the world isn't fair.
Generally, I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person when dealing with my allergies, but sometimes when my world is rocked, I need a little time to feel sorry for myself before I move on. And I feel like there are times that it is completely valid to feel this way in order to process everything that's occurred.
You learn from a young age in the allergy world that the word “fair” isn’t always black and white. Just because you were good at the doctor’s office doesn’t mean you can eat the lollipop they hand you, and everyone else eating the cupcakes doesn’t mean you’re able to. Even though we know that these are our rules, there are days that the “unfairness” hits harder than others, or you wish you could just try one bite.
Something weird happens, where the safer I am, the more I want what I can’t have. Immediately following an allergic reaction, I stick to my top ten safe foods. As I once again grow more comfortable, I introduce new safe things and long to eat some of those unsafe snacks, something I, of course, would never do. But the yearning and wishing come back.
Those are the things I find myself thinking about after a major reaction. All of the what if’s and tiny tastes, and how it really would never be worth it.
Now that I'm older, I still sometimes think about the unfairness that accompanies food allergies, but I try not to complain. There are plenty of people out there who have much more difficult issues to deal with than I do. But sometimes things happen and "unfair" is the only word you can think of to describe them.
The allergic reaction I had was to an antibiotic I had never been prescribed before. Honestly, when I was initially having the reaction, the medication hadn’t even crossed my mind. Everything in my life had always been about the food, so racking my brain for what went differently that day, I just thought one of my ole reliables had suddenly turned on me. I didn't even think I would have to worry about non-food allergens too.
After taking a couple of doses of antihistamines and sitting under my allergist's observation for a while, I was able to return home. Physically and mentally exhausted by everything that occurred, all I could think about was how this wasn't fair. I already have a pretty extensive food allergy list, why do I need to add another item?
And seriously...can my Medic Alert bracelet even fit another allergen?!
All joking aside, I was extremely lucky. Through the power of social media and people sharing stories, we have become so aware of the first signs of an allergic reaction, and how to never doubt yourself when in that situation.
After this whole ordeal, I have struggled with blaming myself for exposure to an allergen I didn't even know existed in my life. I have been meticulous for as long as I can remember, and never take a risk.
So this reaction put me in weird territory. The thing I have had to repeat over and over is that I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t let my guard down, I followed my emergency plan, and I had my medication with me at all times. This was a reaction to a new allergen, one that I never could’ve prevented or seen coming.
As the kid with the allergy (or as the mom) you beat yourself up after seeing an allergic episode occur. You relive the moment and think about all of the things you could've done differently. Or you think about how you should've used those allergy "spidey senses" and "just known" not to give your kid that cookie.
But living in the past doesn't help anybody, and it certainly doesn't help you. You can use the situation to prepare you for the next time (although hopefully there isn't a next time) and view it as a teachable moment for any family or "friends" who were doubting you or your child's food allergies. Surround yourself with your safe snacks, your go to people, and give yourself some downtime until you feel like you are out of your funk and back to being you.
The biggest thing for you to do is not get stuck fearing food (I've been there) or feeling sorry for yourself (oh yeah, I've been there too). A couple of days of self pity are okay, but just remember our world doesn't need to revolve around food, and there are so many things out there to be happy about and enjoy!