Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Nutty World I Live In: The Way I See It

I've been wanting to document what our lives are like to live with a child who has a life threatening food allergy. There are things in our lives that are just not "normal" due to Landon's allergy. I've been meaning to get it down in some form or other so that we can remember because I know it will change as he gets older. My intention is to give him more responsibility, little bits at a time.  I truly believe the best way for us to keep him safe will be to teach him how to keep himself safe. Sometimes I focus on the things that are difficult for us; the lengthy label reading at the grociery store, the birthday parties where we bring our own food, the 20 questions we  play with waiters when we go out, our other kids miss out on foods that they really enjoy, etc.  Sometimes I do a pity party and feel sorry for us, sometimes it's just plain stressful. And then I really started thinking about it. What must it be like for him? What does having a life threatening food allergy feel and look like to a 2 year old?  I tried to put myself in his shoes, and this is what I came up with........

Peanuts. What is a peanut? I don't even know what one looks like but my mom says if I eat one it will make me sick and I may stop breathing. I don't know what stop breathing means but I know being sick is no fun. These things called peanuts must be in a lot of foods because I see my mom hold up food boxes and read the long list of words on the side. Then she will either say no you can't have this or it doesn't have any peanuts. I wonder if this is why she is gone FOREVER when she grociery shops. Must take a long time to read every word on all the food that she brings home for us.

The worst thing about being sick by peanuts is that birthday parties aren't always as much fun for me. One time we went to a birthday party and it was so much fun.  We got to jump on the bouncy houses and sing Happy Birthday. But then they cut the cake and started handing it out. But my parents told the mom in charge that I couldn't have any. At another birthday party, they had this thing that they kept hitting with a bat and for some reason all of the kids were standing around with bags. They looked very excited. When the thing broke, candy flew everywhere and all of the kids started running for the candy and putting it in their bags. I wanted to run for the candy too but instead my mom just picked up a few pieces off the ground and gave them to me. She said those ones were "safe".  Not all birthday parties are bad though. One time, I went to a birthday party and they had made special cupcake just for me. And then there was the time where my mom had baked the cupcakes because there were other kids who get sick from peanuts. Me and the other peanut kid ate mom's cupcakes. But the rest of the kids ate big pieces of cake that were from a bakery. I don't know what a bakery is but I know mom says we can't go to them. She says they're not safe.

Another thing that's not so great about this peanut thing is eating out. I love to go eat at other places but we don't eat out as much as we used to. Usually mom and dad have to read the menu first. When we go to a food place, mom or dad usually ask the person who comes to our table a lot of questions. Sometimes the people are really nice to mom and dad. They answer all their questions and we get to stay. But sometimes the people don't have the answers or maybe they're not the right answers and then we have to eat at a different place. One time, we ate at a new place. Mom and dad were so happy because they actually used separate utensils for my food but mom still made my big brother get the shots out of the car. She said she was nervous because they served a dish with a peanut sauce and peanuts.

Shots. They call my shots, epipens. I don't really know what they are for. I only know that mom carries them in her purse and in my diaper bag. If she forgets them she will go back home for them. I'm not supposed to play with them but sometimes I get them out of my bag and try to open them. Mom says they will hurt me and not to play with them. I hope she never has to use them, especially since she says they are like a shot. I know shots hurt. I had to have some shots recently. They put two shots in my arms. Mom kept telling me they were almost done but it took forever. She told me that the dr. was  going to make sure that no other foods will make me sick. I hope that after those shots the dr. doesn't tell mom  that I'm allergic to anything else. That will just mean more foods I can not eat.

Sometimes I feel bad for my brothers. They can't eat the fun foods either. My oldest brother went to my Mimi's house alone for a week and he got to eat lots of foods with peanuts. He was very excited about that. I feel bad for them, but I know sometimes they sneak the fun foods without me. After I go to bed at night, my dad takes them to this donut place. I know they wait until I am in bed because I can't eat donuts from donut places. Mom's donuts taste pretty good though. We don't really eat at ice cream places either. They talk about cross contamination, whatever that means. Sometimes they let me go to this frozen yogurt place but they get really stressed out about it. Dad has to hold me the whole time because there's all these yummy candies and snacks and if he lets me go he thinks I would go grab them and shove them in my mouth.  He is right, I would totally grab them and shove them in my mouth...I tried it once. Other people put those candies on top of their ice cream but no one in my family is allowed to.  I am only allowed to get vanilla flavor.  But I heard mom say we might have to find a new frozen yogurt place because now that one serves peanut butter flavor.

Sometimes, my parents just act weird about stuff. Like we went to this party. Well I don't think it was a party because everyone seemed kind of sad. But there was lots of different kinds of food there. It looked  yummy! My dad just stayed right by me the whole time. He never let me out of his sight. If I tried to go in the house, my parents ran right after me. I wasn't able to sneak any of that yummy food that was laying all around the house. Then there was that time we went to the park. We brought our food, I think big brother called it a picnic.  We laid out our blanket and then all of a sudden dad started freaking out and we had to go sit all the way on the other side of the park. They said something about peanut shells.  I just saw these little brown things all over. I wonder if that's what a peanut is? It doesn't look like the bright orange candy wrappers that mom says I can't have and she says those are peanuts too. There was also this time when my whole family went to a baseball game but I stayed in the hotel with my Nana. Nana is really nice and we had fun but I wish I knew what happens at a baseball game. I did get to go to a circus once but my allergist told my mom that wasn't a good idea so she says we probably won't go again.

My mom talks about me going to school sometimes. She says she is not sure if I will go to school. That she will have to make sure it is safe enough for me. My brothers go to school. Sometimes I get to walk with them there in the morning. It looks like a fun place. I hope that I get to go there too. I wonder how mom will make sure it's safe enough for me. I bet she wonders that too.
Because peanuts make me sick, I can't eat all of the fun food. When I really want something I just tell them it doesn't have peanuts but they don't always believe me. My parents make me wear a special sticker and bracelet to church. It helps to tell other people that I'm allergic to peanuts. I like to take the bracelet off but mom gets mad. Maybe when I get bigger like my brothers I will be able to eat the fun food. That would be nice.

This is me the very first time I ate peanut butter cracker.  I didn't really like it, so I only ate a little. My mom tells me this is when I was looking better, after I had a little bit of medicine.  This was a scary day for my parents.