My allergies play a part every day in my life, 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 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 zone. I know what I feel comfortable doing, and what will tie my stomach up in knots. This is something that develops over time. Hopefully, it is a comfort to know, that the longer the allergies exist, the more comfortable it is to make decisions and understand what needs to be done 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 (or your child, the allergic reactor), not your (or your child's) allergies. Make sure people see YOU (or your child)!
Lately in the news, I have heard parents referring to their child's allergies as a "disease." Now whether that is scientifically the right word, or not, I think the word "disease" brings a bad connotation along with it. Yes, allergies are serious, but no, they don't need to consume your child's entire life. Having parents call their child's food allergies a "disease" in front of them is a mistake, because it makes it sound like something that needs to be a significant part of their every day. Parents should want their children to live a normal life, and by calling allergies a "disease," they are making it sound like no matter what, their child will never be able to live a normal life.
Until recently, I had never heard anyone refer to food allergies as a disease. I can honestly say that I have never once thought of my food allergies like that. The word "disease" makes food allergies sound like something terrible that affects an allergic reactor all the time. I suppose in a way they do affect me all the time, but not in ways I am still conscious of. I know what I need to do to protect myself, and that is that!
Does having severe food allergies condition you to become more fearful about everything in life?
I worry about dieing in a car or freak accident, more than I do about an allergic reaction. Has worry become a significant part of my life? Yes, but not just due to allergies. There are certainly other factors, but by subconsciously knowing that anything I put in my mouth could potentially cause an allergic reaction, definitely does affect me. How could it not? By having life-threatening allergies, I have to think about things that normal people 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 allergies understands, it’s the small things that can still be a concern.
It is all about finding ways to deal with the small everyday things, that help to make my allergies only perform short acts here and there on a daily basis. This is what my day usually consists of:
-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)
-Do some writing
-Eat breakfast (1st time I really 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, scan ingredients while packing lunch)
-Drive to work
-Work (at work, I think about my allergies more often then I ever used to because I am around kids all day. They have snack and lunch, and so I find myself washing my hands quite often).
-After work- This varies. Sometimes I go see friends, sometimes I eat dinner with my family, etc. Either way, I only situationally think about them, depending on what I am doing.
All in all, my allergies are like the understudy. They know the lines, but they don't actually get to 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!