So I walk in to my quiet and peaceful home , it's 8:30 Tuesday morning and I just dropped the girls off at school. I'm finally alone. I begin to break down and cry because I'm finally able to let go and I just can't stop. Food Allergies had reared its ugly head and invaded our lives. They took over my little girl these past couple of weeks, turned her into a child that I barely recognized. I had been out of touch with reality and didn't even visit family during the holidays, it was one of the most trying moments of my life.
It all started a week before Christmas, Julia wasn't feeling very well. She had a little virus and I just figured that it would pass in a couple of days. It wasn't only that she wasn't feeling well physically, she began acting differently too. She wouldn't eat the lunch that I would send to school, which was very much unlike her and she developed this cough that just wouldn't go away. We started to get concerned when most of her symptoms went away yet her cough was still there. We took her to her Pediatrician twice and she just assumed that it was allergies. So we took her to an Allergy and Asthma Doctor and he confirmed that she had a little virus and that her cough might be related to asthma. I started her on medication that the Dr. prescribed and I did see a little improvement but that cough was still there. Strange thing was that she wouldn't cough at night, only during the day. Her Pediatrician mentioned it might be a Psychogenic cough? Her Allergist said it was because of her virus. Who was I to believe?
During this time, she was extremely anxious and nervous. She wouldn't even trust what I was feeding her was safe. She began not eating as much and even started to lose weight. This was the girl who had always eaten her food and usually asked for seconds. I didn't know what to do, she had lost trust in the one person she always knew would keep her safe. She even went as far as to think that she was allergic to black pepper because she felt that the peppercorns resembled peanuts, which I know sounds completely irrational! After a week, we all got together as family and ate black pepper out of our hands as some form of ritual to show her that it was ok. It worked, she ate the pepper. We won that battle but we were not yet done.
For a couple of days there, she would only eat toast or rice, she was afraid to eat anything else. Every day that went on I would make sure that I would introduce the foods that she once loved one by one. Slowly but surely she began to trust me again. She began eating more and that comforted me knowing that she getting the nutrition that her body needed. The anxiety was still there though, she would become irrational about things even after reading labels of foods that she knew was safe she would say,"What if there's peanut in there , Mommy? I don't want it! I don't want to use my Epi-Pen!!"
I was constantly trying to wrap my head around this, what could have brought this on? What could have turned her into this scared little girl? I asked her, "Honey, what happened? What scared you, what was it?" She said, "I think I started feeling scared when I saw you coming home from the pharmacy with my Epi-Pen. I got scared that I might have to use it." It broke my heart.
I had to constantly reassure her every day and remind her that we are a peanut free home and that she was safe. From the minute she woke up till the minute she went to bed I was there for here. There wasn't a minute where I wasn't thinking about how I could I help her.
Am I bad in saying that I hate it! I hate that my daughter has food allergies and they have stripped her of her innocence. I am angry that I see such a beautiful child who should be dancing, drawing, reading anything but worrying about food allergies. I'm angry and tired. Frankly, exhausted!
What did I do? Did I tell her too much? I don't mean to beat myself up but I'm her punching bag and I'm tired. I'm really tired. I want her to feel happy and confident and not worried about her food allergies. I know that she is beautiful, smart and talented but all she sees is that she's the girl with milk, egg and peanut allergies.
I'm really sorry for my rant. It's been almost a month since I've blogged and I feel that this is a form of therapy for me and I haven't been here for awhile so excuse me. I can't let her see me break down so maybe my fellow moms who know what I go through everyday can understand me. I pray that we get to the bottom of this cough and that she goes back to that same old sweet little girl who loves to dance, draw, and play with her sister! I pray that she understands that her fears are valid yet she can't let them rule her life. She needs to accept that this is her life and it's not going to change. I know that it's easier said than done but I pray that someday she'll look at her life and see that she's actually pretty lucky.
For now, I will sit here in silence with my tea and my thoughts.