Close to thirteen years ago we found out that our first and now oldest son had (has) food allergies. Ashamed to admit, before knowing that William had food allergies, I really did not think much of “food allergies.” My mom worked with a friend whose son had food allergies and she was always so concerned. Honestly, I thought she was over reacting and extremely sensitive about her son. Ignorant in this matter, I apologize for being insensitive.
Over the past thirteen years, we have worked to have William live the most routine life as possible with his medical aliments. Honestly, I wished there was a different name given to food allergies. Food allergies make it seem like a mild, irritating illness, a nuisance. Anything allergic is a nuisance. Though, there are different levels of food allergies. In this case, my son, has anaphylactic, life threatening food allergies to nearly all of the top allergens.
Our family has watched him battle and conquer many challenges daily when it comes to food. There are times that food smells so good, “Ah, that smells so good,” William will say. Though, he has never eaten the food that he is smelling. This is for a different writing. Today, though, he went on his first camping trip away from home, without myself or any family member. Today, he is taking responsibility for his aliments. I sit her writing, with nerves bouncing all over the place. He needs to experience what he wants to experience, with caution. We prepared, we reviewed, we packed together, we talked together and the group he went with knows and is aware of his challenge.
“Mom, I really want to go.” Ah, an internal fight began within me. I wanted to say, “yes, of course that is a great experience.” Instead, for many nights, I wrestled with my thoughts and the challenge to trust that he knows enough regarding his own body to be able to handle the risks. We are very open about how fragile his life is when it comes to the food that he can ingest. My thoughts, “it should not be this way, he should be able to eat food, whatever food.” His reality, he cannot. Not today, perhaps not ever. A box of Gluten Free (for real gluten-free–we’ve tried items that say gluten-free and he has ended up in anaphylaxis) Mac and Cheese caught my eye after he was on his way to his camping and hike adventure and I thought to myself, I would have never known this life, this food allergy life without the blessing of having William in our family.
“Food Allergies” are a tough and rough course at times, many times–though my eyes, William’s eyes and our family’s eyes have been open to this whole new challenging world. We prepared, we reviewed for his trip–we look forward to his return after this new adventure–strengthened and with a new knowledge that both he and I will be stronger–in different aspects, though both stronger.