Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Michael was born with itchy skin.  For 7 3/4 years of his little life we have treated it like excema, applying creams and lotions, antibiotics for when it got really bad.  In the back of my mind I knew that it was more than just itchy skin, but for some reason I hadn't gotten around to really figuring it out.  After a pretty difficult and itchy summer, I approached his pediatrician with the possibility that maybe Michael had a food allergy. As the pediatrician's head was nodding, I tried to ignore the little voice in my head asking me why I wanted to open up THIS can of worms...

And wormy it has been...

And so good at the same time.

Turns out, Michael DOES have a lot of sensitivities and allergies to foods... and animals... and molds and grasses.  Boy oh boy does THIS boy have food allergies.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving, we took him to the allergy and asthma clinic to do a skin test.  Michael was a super hero as the nurse lightly punctured his skin about 40 times, then proceeded to place drops of serums with potential allergens all over Michael's back.  As she finished, she told him that he had to lay still without scratching for 15 minutes.  Are. You. Kidding. ME???  Michael has the tendency to be LOUD when he is upset.  He doesn't particularly love being messed with (later I might write about the latest dental cleaning!), and I knew this situation had "upset with being messed with" all over it.  And really, can you blame him?? We had come prepared with the IPad and a new favorite game, and the 15 minute countdown began.  And Michael was amazing.  He handled the intense itching better than I ever could have.   And the timer ticked on and on... as his back got redder and redder and the hives grew larger and larger.  It was clear to me that yes, we were dealing with a few allergies.

Once the skin test was over and the nurse put some anti-itch medicine on Michael's back, we met with the allergist to go over the initial results of the test.  His words were something like this... "Yeah, he's really allergic to a lot of things." And "Its amazing that he is 7 and you are just starting to look into this."  Yeah, I felt really great about that one.  I had tried.  Really tried to treat him over the past 7 years!  I was just walking down the wrong road.

I remember being in the doctor's office and this cloud of discouragement and absolute overwhelmedness came over me.  "I can't do this..." was my pervading thought.  Over and over... "I can't make sure that he doesn't have these allergens in his life.  He hasn't had any serious issues (other than itching head to toe - HELLO??) yet, so lets just ignore these test results and get the heck out of here."

Thus began the world of living without wheat, corn, soy, sesame, and sunflower to name a few.

This has stretched me.  I realize that it is not the end of the world, and I am so very grateful that the challenge we face every day is not life threatening.  However... for me, this is a BIG mountain to climb.

We have spent hundreds of dollars on "new foods".  I have baked tortillas and granola bars.  I have gone to multiple stores looking for one corn-free item.  I have cried in the parking lot of Sprouts, teared up in the bread aisle in frustration.  I have spent hours on the internet searching for recipes.  I have found a club of people who share Michael's allergies and more.  I have become exhausted and exhilarated  in the course of a minute.

And just when I felt that I was going to lay down and surrender to this challenge,  I felt the Lord tell my spirit... "We can do this... one meal at a time.  YOU, Heather, have to stop trying to plan for the next 15 years, and we are going to just take on the next meal ".  With this revelation, the mountain became something that I felt like I could climb.  When we first started the climb, I would wake up in the morning worrying about what I would feed Michael all day long.  Now, I only think about the meal or snack that is before us.  There isn't a lot of variety, but there is quality.  And we are climbing, climbing, climbing.

The entire family is supportive of this project.  We all are learning how to read labels, protect Michael from the things that bother him, protecting him from well-meaning people who give snacks to him.

We are going to make it.  We've got a cupboard full of "gear" (gluten free flour, corn free baking powder, etc.) and one meal at a time, we are all  climbing victoriously up this beautiful mountain in front of us.  And when it gets too much, BY FAITH, we will say to this mountain... MOVE. (Matthew 17:20)