I received the following story from a mother of an adult daughter who is now grown, healthy and happy. The daughter had severe allergies as a child and was alone in her struggle. Despite the lack of support and being the only child with allergies in their community, this mother successfully raised a daughter who is now twenty-three years old and who has outgrown all of her allergies.
I am posting this story because it provides us with an immense amount of hope. This story shows not only how kids get stronger and can recover from food allergies, but also that we have a lot more support in today’s environment than this mother did twenty-odd years ago. She did it, we can too. It is important for us to maintain a sense of hope and confidence that our kids will be alright and to give that sense of hope and confidence to our children.
“Twenty-three years ago, my daughter was born full term, but weighed only five and one-half pounds. My pregnancy was miserable, then in her childhood she was allergic to so many things including latex, trees, ragweed, grass, wheat, milk, eggs, cocoa, and more. She was even allergic to the plastic in the bottles so I breastfed her to avoid having her break out in hives all over her face. Similarly, she was allergic to the material in the disposable diapers so I used cloth diapers.
For ten years, I took her to the doctor’s four times a week for allergy shots to desensitize her to her allergies--both environmental and food allergens. For years, I watched everything she ate. There were no Epi-Pens back then, so I had bottles of medication that I kept in the refrigerator. If she had a reaction, I had to determine what she was reacting to, mix the appropriate medications and inject it into her myself. The whole experience of her allergies petrified me so that I didn’t want to have any more children.
School was very difficult because we knew of no other child who had food allergies. To deal with it, she only ate food from home, never school lunches. But I found the teachers were completely unaware and basically clueless about food allergies. One time, I went into the classroom and found a piece of chocolate cake on her desk for her to eat. I was so angry I threw it. Then I had my daughter moved to a special education classroom so that her diet could be monitored properly by a teacher assigned only to her. No one understood the seriousness of my daughter’s allergies--there were children who were lactose intolerant but milk just make them feel sick, it wasn’t life-threatening.
I am not sure why she had so many allergies, but I have my theories. Specifically, her father is a Vietnam veteran and was spayed with agent orange. He developed skin cancer when she was a baby. My daughter showed signs of being a late developer and was a little slow in school. But with a lot of help, she graduated from high school early--in the middle of her junior year.
Now she has no allergies! She is only a bit sensitive to the sun and had some fertility problems. She is married and lives on a farm in the Smokey Mountains with her husband and her adopted eighteen-month old daughter. Best part, she can eat whatever she wants!