While it is normally a bit of a challenge to keep up with the food allergy related issues--preparing for birthday parties, making lunches daily and carefully scanning all ingredients--the last five weeks of seasonal allergies has increased our stress load and therefore had an emotional impact on us.
Every spring our older son's eyes get a little itchy and red and he may become congested, but I now realize that the past has been mild to moderate compared to this year. Five weeks ago, we kicked off the allergy season with a Monday of red, swollen, itchy eyes. Since then he has avoided going outside despite the beautiful spring weather. He has been diligent about showering before bed to wash off pollen, especially when he has been outside for baseball practice. Despite our carefulness, it has been difficult, to say the least.
His eyes remain itchy and swollen. We give him eye drops, but I worry about putting so many drops in those beautiful blue eyes. I also wonder about the side effects of eye drops--what is dripping into his sinus cavity? Could it be making him even stuffier? Could all of the eye rubbing give him an infection? Are his nails short enough? Are his hands clean?
Then there is the congestion: His nose is stuffy beyond belief. We give him antihistamine but depending upon the type, the medicine either makes him tired or jumpy. Plus, once the antihistamine wears wear off--there are more side effects. Specifically, his sleep is disrupted or his congestion increases even more than it may have otherwise--the dependency factor.
But by far, the scariest seasonal allergy symptom is the trouble breathing. For the first time this year the school nurse called me--I was one hour from the school--she advised me that my son was having trouble breathing. He was wheezing. As every parent can imagine, my stress level sky rocketed as I tried not to race down the highway to the school. By the time I arrived, he seemed better, much better. So we went home and tried to relax.
But by bed time he started coughing and by ten o’clock he was coughing violently while sleeping--to the point of almost vomiting. Terribly worried, I called his pediatrician and he told us to give our son some medication through the nebulizer as well as some oral medication to stop the wheezing and coughing. I must admit that although we use medications sparingly instead trying to allow his body to heal itself through more natural vitamins like fish oil and probiotics, these medication worked beautifully. Within ten minutes he was breathing deeply and there was no more coughing.
So these three springtime symptoms of seasonal allergies over the past five weeks have impacted us emotionally. Our son is frustrated--tired of it all. He has even starting to complain--normally he stoically handles food allergies--eating non-diary and non-egg foods at lunch and parties. Now he has begun to ask, “Why doesn’t my brother have pollen allergies?” The undertone of, “This isn’t fair!” is coming across stronger and stronger. His personality has also changed a bit by giving into less patience and more frustration with everyday things. Normally he can be so loving and quite charming but I can see how frustrated he is--at the end of his rope. The symptoms are relentless.
I have been worrying a lot--getting up several times some nights to check on his breathing. I feel so bad for him--wishing that I could adopt his stuffy nose and let him relax and breath freely. I pray for rain--watching the weather report hoping for a cleansing downpour. I tell him that many, many people have to deal with seasonal allergies, but I still feel terrible for him. I tell him how things could be even harder--that we should appreciate his otherwise good health and strong abilities. I list off those things he does so well…baseball, piano, math, friendship, helping others...I think it makes him feel better at the moment. Advising him to, “hang in there,” and “never give up hope,” helps him believe that things will get better--just around the corner. They will.
He is a trooper. I am proud because I know how hard he tries to participate in all he can. I take solace in knowing that he will do well in life because he can work through the toughest times. He can play baseball with a head full of stuffiness--and hit the ball hard time after time on the first swing. He can do his homework day after day while tired and crabby--and still get it all correct. He can perk up and enjoy his weekly piano lesson. He can put a big, marvelous smile on his face for others--even in spite of his struggles and allergies. Keeping one’s proverbial chin up is a life long skill that will help him.
Plus, perhaps things will really get better today, as it finally rained last night. Thank you.