My allergies play a part of my every day, but they certainly haven’t stolen the show! Over the years, I have figured out how to make them have the most minimal role possible. I don’t want them intruding on my spotlight!
When you have many allergies (food allergies, environmental allergies, pet allergies, and asthma) like I do, it is easier to see how the role they play can take over your life, and intrude on everything from school, to friends, to all choices you make.
There is an option though! It is up to both the parent and the child to decide: who is the leading lady? Is it you or is it your allergies? I chose me!
I know how to have my allergies play a minor role because I have developed my own comfort level. I know what I feel safe doing, and what will tie my stomach up in knots. This is something that develops over time. As I get older, I am more comfortable making decisions and understand what I need to do to stay safe.
When people find out I have food allergies there is always a rush of questions. “How long have you been allergic? What are you allergic to? How do you live with out those foods? etc.” This is another part of what I mean about being my own leading lady. Sometimes I have found that people have a hard time seeing past my allergies. It becomes a topic of conversation every time food is involved, and even often when it is not. It is hard to push allergies into the background sometimes, so people see YOU, not your allergies. Make sure people see YOU!
In the past five years or so, I have heard parents referring to their child’s allergies as a “disease.” Now whether that is medically accurate or not, I think the word “disease” brings a negative connotation along with it that isn’t necessary. I can honestly say that I have never once thought of my food allergies in this way. Yes, allergies are serious, but no, they don’t need to consume you or your child’s entire life. Having parents call their child’s food allergies a “disease,” especially in front of them, I think is a mistake. It makes it sound like something potentially contagious that will never go away. Although there is no cure yet, I feel positive about the future possibilities that are in developmental stages, and when I see photos and posts of children that have successfully done OIT. I know parents want their children to live a “normal life.” I know my “normal” may be a bit different than the average “normal,” but overall I have not missed out on much! I suppose in a way they do affect me all the time, but not in ways I am conscious of. I know what I need to do to protect myself, and that is that!
By having life-threatening allergies, I do have to think about things that most don’t. For example, confusing my water bottle at a sports practice with someone else’s; not knowing what they have eaten. It may sound minor to anybody else, but someone with severe allergies understands it’s the small things that can still be a concern.
It is all about discovering ways to deal with the small, everyday things that help to make allergies only perform short acts here and there on a daily basis. This is what my day usually consists of:
- Wake up
- Exercise (if I go for a run, I wear a pack with my meds in it. I just grab it and go with no worries)
- Shower (I know all my soaps, etc. are safe because I read the ingredients before buying them)
- Eat breakfast (1st time I subconsciously think about my allergies for the day–I always scan ingredients before buying and eating, even if I know they were fine the week before)
- Pack my lunch (2nd time subconsciously, scan ingredients while packing lunch)
- Drive to work
- Teach (I think about my allergies a bit more at work. I find myself washing my hands more often, but mostly to avoid getting a cold from my students :)
- After work (This varies. Either way, I only situationally think about them, depending on what I am doing, like going out to eat for example)
All in all, my allergies are like the understudy. They know the lines, but they don’t play the main role. I do think about them, but only when I need to protect myself. They are never a constant thought. They never stop me from doing what I want to do. They are there, and I know they are a part of me, but their role is small. That is the way I want it to stay, because I want to remain the star of the show!