Yesterday afternoon—a notable day because for the first time in, well, a while Seattle was the hottest major city in the country, the poor little Washingtonians weren’t quite sure how to handle all that foreign sunshine—was spent catching up with my friend Aubrey. She told me about her retro-themed wedding, their hippie landlords, gardening, and eating gluten-free (something we both share). I tried to convince her to start a crunchy, foodie-ish blog. Even promised to comment. But we’ll see what happens.
Anyway, the story that stood out to me the most as we got caught up was about a little baby Aubrey knows.
He’s a year old now but when he was only a couple of months old he had food allergy testing done because he’d been having some unusual skin irritation and general health oddities. The poor little guy came up with 10 food allergies (exactly how many new ones I found out about when I had testing done back in September).
Aubrey showed me a picture on her phone of Allergy Baby’s back after the testing—so many bright red, itching-looking bumps from where he’d reacted to the test. Poor little guy. I remember exactly what that feels like; at least I was big enough though to understand what was happening.
His first word was even … drumroll please … allergic. As in, “No, baby you can’t have [insert yummy-looking food].”
In his little mind allergic might just be a shorthand for “not for babies” or “not for you,” but soon enough he’ll know how in addition to being disappointing the word can also be frustrating, annoying, and even scary. I hope he also learns though how to stand up for himself and keep himself safe even when people think he’s just being dramatic or weird, to not be embarrassed about being the only allergic kid and to define himself apart from his allergies, and that a limited diet—and all of the other limitations food allergies impose on him—doesn’t mean he can’t live a full, satisfying life.
What would you want someone new to the allergic life to know?