Sunday, October 9, 2011

Confrontations with Mortality

Levi has food allergies. Serious food allergies. He is allergic to both milk and peanut on an anaphylactic level.

I remember seeing, several years ago, a Facebook friend flip out over her son's newly discovered peanut allergy.  At the time I thought to myself, "Okay . . . peanut is a very common allergy -- lots of people live good lives allergic to peanuts. What's the big deal?"

Now, I know.  For me, it was not so much to idea that he wouldn't be able to enjoy PB&J, (Tragic? Hardly.) but the knowing that something in particular could kill him. Confronting your infant's mortality is different from knowing that someday, something will kill us all: age, accident, disease. It was frightening.

In the time that has passed since our discovery of his allergies, I've been able to settle down a little bit.  Still, it's a game-changer. Sometimes it feels like he is allergic to everything, because I love dairy and nuts and am accustomed to using them liberally in my cooking. I've begun to realize that one can make foods taste good by the addition of spices, not just fats (haha).

Many things, in fact, have helped to alleviate my stress about this: We have a couple of Epi-Pens now, and that's a comfort. I remembered my own "Ah, he'll be fine" reaction to my friend's son's diagnosis, and that has helped. Also, amid all the scary things that you can find on the internet when you try to research food allergies, I found the lovely story of Morgan Smith at This is the kind of reassurance I was looking for -- anecdotal evidence of someone with food allergies living happily. In some ways I feel like the Lord has been preparing me to mother a food-allergic child for years. One of the best ways to avoid allergic reactions is to prepare one's own food. Many friends of mine in the past 5 years have been excellent cooks who have inspired me to increase my own culinary capacities (Ashley, Aislin, Amy, Susan, and April I'm looking at you ladies in particular, thank you).

So, here we go! Off on the same adventure as before, but with a new menu!


Christie said...

Wow! That's a pretty big deal. Once you've figured it out, it will just seem normal but in the mean time, good luck & I hope his friends never offer him a pb&j sandwich with a tall glass of cold milk. Sorry about that.

Michelle said...

Alysa, I can't help but zero in on anything with the words "food allergy." My nearly 2-year-old son is also allergic to several foods, including dairy (which I find the hardest as well). It is scary, but gets better and better over time. It sure is a lifestyle shift, though! We should swap recipes and tips. Let me know if I can be any help at all. Good luck. You go, Momma!

Shelly said...

Glad things are going okay with it. My nephew has the same allergies and my SIL (and MIL) are experts! Thank goodness for the internet right? There are many great products out there and I think almond butter tastes just like peanut butter.

Cami said...

I've been teaching Joy to cook her own eggs this morning, its a "survival skill". But allergies take cooking as a survival skill to a whole new level, huh? When Joy was Levi's age, we trained her so well not to do dairy that she still won't eat cheese to this day. But it hasn't stopped her from eating icecream or yogurt. There is a gal in our ward whose daughter is severely allergic to wheat, so they have corn tortillas on a sacrament tray for their family.
I think I took Joy's allergies more in stride though because I had delt with her mortality at birth already and had come to the conclusion that "all is well" however it ends. Plus, her allergic reactions, although classified as severe, aren't quite as immenently deadly. Of course it is all a matter of degrees: you remember the Haymonds? Sharayne had a son who, if he had any egg whatsoever, whould most likely die before they even figured out what happened. Aren't you glad you don't live in a war zone to boot?
I love you. You are an excellent mother.

Ashlee said...

I didn't know his allergy was this bad, friend! I just thought it was something that upset his system, not that was seriously dangerous. Wow! That IS a big deal. Isn't it amazing to see how the Lord prepares us for these kinds of things? I have had many similar experiences in my life. He's always looking out for us!

Alysa said...

Thanks everybody for your kind words! It means a lot to me to know you care.

Erin said...

Yikes, Alysa! I saw this blog title and I was like "oh no!!!" Must be very scary for you.
Rebecca went to the ER once for a very slow, but also severe allergic reaction to a virus she got. Weird, huh?
Do you think it may have anything to do with vaccinations? Some moms I know swear that vaccinations caused allergies in their kids, particularly gluten, soy and dairy. I have no idea but after hearing some stories, I will only do one vaccination at a time and pray about each one. They vaccinate for so many things now! Several moms I know are absolutely convinced (and I believe them) that vaccinations caused autism in their children.
It's overwhelming I think sometimes, there is too much to know. Take it a day at a time. It's hard.
Love ya! -Erin