On two separate occasions this summer I had to rush my son, Robby, to the ER. It wasn’t the first time with him, but it was the first time I have been truly terrified. It’s in those times that you realize our super mom strength is there within us at any moment we need to access it! For ten years now, we have been challenged with managing Robby’s severe food allergies. At first it was an anaphylactic reaction at 8 months old, which landed us our first trip to the ER. One little sliver of cheese from a salad caused his entire baby face to swell to where he was unrecognizable. His lips were swollen to his nose, his eyes were swollen shut, and we didn’t even know what could be going on in the inside…I’ll never forget that drive to the ER, new parents, wondering what the hell was going on with our baby. After IV’s and steroids, his reaction subsided. We shortly thereafter found out the severity of his multiple food allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, and several years later, beef and pork. The most challenging part during the early years of it, was that I didn’t know one person who had a child with food allergies. We pretty much had to figure it all out on our own.
So, as first time parents we lived on pins and needles around food. We had to take all of our own food and treats, everywhere! When he was a toddler, we would go to parties and other kids would eat cheese or a cheese type of food, and moments later find Robby with hives in the shape of a hand print on his arm. We had come to be best friends with Benadryl and hydrocortisone cream, too. We didn’t leave the house without it. So, this obviously completely changes our perspective of food, right?! Yep, it did for us! So, what does a mom do when faced with a challenge where your child’s health, well-being, and ultimately life is at stake anytime food is near? Well, this mom researches and researches and researches. I couldn’t get enough information, and I became slightly obsessed with how food was being made, and obviously became an avid label reader. I felt completely alone, and I knew the only way to deal with this was to learn all that I could to keep my sweet baby safe. One other little wrench thrown into the mix, right around the same time, was my diagnosis of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease (I won’t bore you with explanation of this, but feel free to click here for my fave resource on thyroid disease!).
Many people experience thyroid challenges, and that seems to be growing more as well, but the fatigue, hair loss, unusual weight gains/losses, and brittle nails are just a few symptoms you have. The insomnia and fatigue literally makes you feel like you are living on the edge of a breakdown at any moment…and as us moms know, we don’t need any extra help with that!! 😉 Long story short, after years of doctor visits trying to regulate my thyroid, the symptoms coming and going like a roller coaster ride, and the doctor’s just acting as if this is what happens when you have this issue…I decided I wasn’t willing to live that way any longer. So what does this girl do, I’m sure you’ve already guessed :)…research, research, and more research. Along the way, I came across an amazing holistic wellness doctor that started to help me dive deep into the root cause of what was really going on. Because you see, there is always a root cause, the band-aids we’re told to put over them will never solve a thing. I began to realize through my own awareness, that I too was having sensitivities to food. I played around with it for a bit, and through many ups and downs, and complete denial that cheese and wheat (yes we’re talking pizza too!) made me feel like s*#t, and look 5 months pregnant within an hour of eating it. I started eliminating many of those same foods my son is allergic to, and began to feel better almost overnight…I may be exaggerating a bit, but seriously within a few days. I have to say, knowing what I know now, and how most of those foods are produced, it made me ok with it, but that’s a whole other blog post! So, now as it stands, I take each meal as it comes (with a lot of planning of course 🙂 ) because not eating the right foods can literally throw my entire body off in a matter of 30 minutes. However, I find gratitude that I can control this so easily, and for me it’s not a matter of life or death, as it is for my son.
In the past ten years of managing his food allergies, we never had to use his Epi-Pen, in fact we began to feel he was out-growing them. That definitely changed for us this summer when he accidentally ingested a drink that had whey protein in it. When I walked into our garage, and saw him holding this drink, my heart sank into my stomach (I am so grateful I walked in when I did…yes, divine intervention there for sure). The Benadryl I immediately gave him didn’t work for the first time ever. I was home alone with my 2 daughters and nephew, and the look in Robby’s eyes was complete terror. He told me to get the Epi-pen right away. After going back and forth as he was screaming from being scared of the shot, I looked at him calmly and said a prayer, and told Robby we have to do this. Out of nowhere he calmly looked up and said, “Jesus, please give me the strength that you had when you were on the cross.” My heart sank yet again as I saw the bravery in his entire being come forth. He then looked at me and calmly said, “Mom do it, I’m ready”. So I did, and off to the ER we went. Thankfully my husband was on his way home from work, but it was a very quiet ride, and he was extremely scared. The Epi-pen started to kick in, and once we were at the hospital I finally saw relief in his eyes.
Another adventurous day, and our second experience with the Epi-pen came just 3 weeks ago. What was supposed to be a fun shopping trip with my three children for school shoes, turned out to be quite the experience yet again. We went to our favorite mall, which is 50 minutes away from home, and we were having such a fun day! I remember being so happy that I was in such a great place with their ages, where we could all go and do things together, and it wasn’t so much “work” by myself anymore. I hate to say “work”, but you know what I mean! ;). I let my son have a cookie, which he has had many times before. As we’re standing in the middle of the mall, one bite into his cookie, he looks at me and says “I’m tingly”, which is how he usually describes a reaction. So, I give him Benadryl, and we started walking back toward the department store. I could tell by the look on his face that it wasn’t helping. So I said, do you need a little more Benadryl (that’s me being scared that it was happening again), and he said yes. The Benadryl usually works almost instantly, but I could tell it wasn’t. I asked him if he needed the Epi-pen and he said, yes again. I thought, Oh Shit, is this seriously happening right now?!
I literally started running with my kids, pushing a stroller with shopping bags, and my middle daughter panicking and crying because she was so worried about him, actually she is like that all of the time with him, and I went up to the counter in Nordstrom to have them call someone to help. I gave him the Epi-pen, and called 911. We then went outside to wait, along with the sweetest police officer, and hospital first aid. It was in this moment, I stood there so inspired as I watched how calmly, yet frightened, Robby stood there being. I felt so proud of him, and learned so much in that one moment. Once the ambulance arrived, he was wheeled out on a stretcher, through Nordstrom, down an elevator, and into the ambulance. I had to let him go in the ambulance alone because there wasn’t enough room for the girls and I to ride with him. He gave me a brave smile, and said he was ok. I could tell he was starting to feel better, and I knew he was in good hands. I followed behind the ambulance for 15 minutes until we arrived at the hospital. I sat in the ER with him, and my girls too, for 3 1/2 hours. I felt horrible that this happened, and I shouldn’t have let it. As we left the hospital that night, he was feeling himself again, and acted like nothing had even happened. It was a long hour drive home that night, and I felt like I was in another world, completely calm, yet completely exhausted. Many thoughts going through my head. We got too comfortable letting him try things, always relying on the Benadryl, and thinking that it will work. Well, we now know we just aren’t there yet, but we will hold onto hope that one day he will be.
I had a good cry the next morning while sitting in the shower. All of the rush of feelings from the day before hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt utterly grateful for my son to be home, safe and healthy.
Sooooo, back to the whole reason I’m sharing all of this with you!!! My passion for food and holistic wellness obviously has a long story behind it, and this love for learning all that I can about it continues to grow. So much so, that I am going back to school! I have enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and will be diving deep into this for the next 10 months or so. I want to learn as much as I can about nutrition, and overall wellness as a whole, and the timing couldn’t be better, as this is all happening at once. My son inspires me everyday by overcoming the adversity of dealing with his allergies. He expresses all of the time how alone he has felt on this journey, and I’m committed and here to do all that I can to help him and anyone else who comes my way! So of course Jen and I have already incorporated Mindful Eating into our newest program! We’re very excited to help others on so many levels, and ultimately to help others become aware of the foods we eat, the love we give ourselves, and how we can fully nourish our minds, body’s, and souls. Thank you so much for sticking around, and helping me heal by sharing my story with you :).
Sending you much love and light today, and also many positive thoughts to those who are sending your beautiful children off to their first week of school!
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