When you are a parent of a child with severe food allergies, you constantly walk along a cliff, looking down, watching every step, trying to make sure you don’t plunge off the edge. Most of the time, through diligence, patience, and a lot of home cooking, you can stroll along with a wide comfort zone between you and the abyss. Sometimes, though, circumstances push you closer and closer to the edge, to the point that, with every step, gravel and small rocks slip from beneath your feet and tumble down while you flail desperately to keep from following. You know that if you do fall, there is a pretty good chance that you will be able to grab that rope called “Epinephrine Auto-Injector”, and it will help prevent certain doom, but it is always a last resort.
For the most part, we have done OK, but this morning we were reminded of just how precarious our journey is. When my son woke up, he had the tell-tale polka-dot rash spreading out from his neck and down across his torso, front and back. Thank you, cross-contamination. We got take-away for dinner last night from a trusted location (one that we have researched and know the menu and ingredients and what is safe and what is not). My son enjoyed his meal, but had an uncomfortable overnight, and woke this morning with the rash. Our best guess is that someone had cheese on their gloves when they grabbed his chicken, or somehow a drop of ice cream somehow got onto his food. No matter, it happened, and there was nothing we could do about it. Allergy-inducing proteins are invisible. They don’t come in bright colors or carry signs to alert you of their presence. They just lurk in the shadows, waiting to pounce, given the opportunity.
I didn’t choose this journey, but it is mine, along with my husband and my child. We look to each other on a daily basis to check our footing, and reach out to catch each other when one of us starts to slip. It is never pleasant, never easy, and never-ending. Thankfully, it has been a while since we have had to use our auto-injector, but I have to erase my mental chalkboard of “Days Without an Allergic Reaction” and reset it to 0. While our trek continues, just once, I would like to be able to stop and enjoy the view from Life on the Edge.