Sunday, January 17, 2016

Invisible Enemies

The title sounds pretty spiritual, but it's not.  Fair warning, ok?

A few weeks ago I took Ben back to his allergist.  With all the foods we were avoiding, I really wanted to get his allergies retested to see what we were actually dealing with as legitimate allergies and which foods were just "sensitivities" that could be instigating behavior issues.  As part of our conversation, I talked with the allergist about Ben's potential for asthma, which I had never even considered before.  Last winter we had a particularly terrible bout with the flu that lasted for weeks, which led the doctor to believe that Ben probably has a cold-induced asthma that makes him super susceptible to respiratory infections.  Our allergist shared a list of symptoms that can indicate a child suffers from asthma, and as he spoke, I started thinking not of Ben but of Caleb!

Caleb missed over 20 days of school last year due to illness.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't alarmed at the time because 1) I was pregnant and didn't have the emotional energy. 2) I had 3 sick kids and was living one day at a time. 3) I was pregnant and didn't have the physical energy. 4) It was kindergarten, and while Caleb had an amazing teacher with lots of fun things planned, I knew he could catch up quickly on the core material he had missed. 5) I was pregnant and didn't have the mental energy.  Did I mention I was pregnant?  Needless to say, I now realized that Caleb needed more preventative care than we had done last year, especially before cold season really set in.  As I left Ben's appointment with a promise of his allergy panel lab results soon, I made an appointment to bring Caleb in to be tested for asthma and allergies.

If you are just catching up with my family, Ben is in a therapy program that requires him to be gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free, processed sugar-free, low-soy, and low-corn.  If you're wondering what we eat, think whole 30.  There are very few shelf-stable foods that I can give Ben, and when the nurse called with Ben's allergy testing results, I almost cried.  Drumroll please.........................Ben is allergic to peanuts.  Yep.  Yet another food that has been scratched off our OK-list.  No other foods registered as allergies, but Ben also had a violent reaction to dust mites.

In case you are not a dust mite expert (cause I really didn't care about them until a month ago), I'll just tell you that they are microscopic organisms whose whole life is feeding off of dead human skin cells and pooping.  Darling, right?  They love towels, clothes, mattresses, and pillows.  You'll never be able to kill all of them.  The best you can do is keep the population at bay by putting your mattresses and pillows in protective cases and washing all bedding in hot water once a week.  Oh... and putting all the stuffed animals in the freezer for 6 hours once a week.

So just in case life didn't seem nutty enough, I now wash Ben's bedding once a week in hot water and kidnap every stuffed animal in the house for an extended stay in my deep freeze.  No lie.  Please don't turn to me to stuffed animal protective services.

Apparently God thought I was doing a pretty good job with Ben's allergies because Caleb's allergy testing revealed a violent dust mite allergy as well.  No big deal.  We are now dust mite professionals.  And since we have been taking the bedding precautions, Caleb's ongoing cough has cleared completely and Ben's runny nose is GONE.  I didn't even realize how sickly we had been until I realized how much better the boys were doing a couple weeks into our new laundry/panda-bear-freezing routine.

Despite the fact that I wish we didn't struggle with ANY of this, I am incredibly grateful that we now know our enemies and even if we can't see them, we can wage war pretty effectively.  I never wanted to be "that mom."  You know the one.  Her kids can't have any of the food at the birthday party and carry their own snacks everywhere.  The one who talks about gluten and who cares about the ingredients in everything.  But this is who I need to be right now, and SPOILER ALERT: it's not about me.  It's about my kids and doing what's best for them so they can go out and have the best odds at a healthy childhood.  Not a perfect childhood or even a sheltered existence but what's best for them and the bodies that God gave them.  Selfishly, I'm still praying that dairy and gluten will return to our regularly scheduled programming because.... pizza.  But until then, I'll keep waging war on our invisible enemies and freezing teddy bears.

Another piece of the parenting puzzle solved.  Only 2,372,498 to go until I feel like I know what I'm doing.

1 comment:

  1. "With all the foods we were avoiding, I really wanted to get his allergies retested to see what we were actually dealing with as legitimate allergies and which foods were just "sensitivities" that could be instigating behavior issues." It's a great idea, I've know many things from and I'm sure that it will be useful for you too.