allergies suck

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Allergies suck and they don’t always make sense!

To be the allergy sufferer, they suck. To be the mom navigating our way through the unknown and unpredictable nature of allergies, it sucks….BUT I’ve always maintained that despite them being a huge annoyance and inconvenience, they are, for the most part, manageable – just sometimes not explainable.

Some make no sense to the “common sense” thinking folk however I am here to tell you, allergies do not always make sense – and what make it worse sometimes is that people make judgements, have their beliefs and doubts and many times suggest that a reaction be impossible, unlikely, unheard of or perhaps be due to other variables than the one that my son (or I) am sure it is. 

Over the past 13 years, here are a few examples of allergy anomalies:

Bathing our new born son in aveeno “soothing” bath treatment. Oatmeal is supposed to be hypoallergenic – he was highly allergic;

School kitchen baking when his classroom was downstairs at the opposite end of the school – he still could sense the particulate in the air and it would send his histamines into a tizzy;

A simple detergent aisle in a grocery store will send him sneezing and needing puffers;

A pine scented candle at Christmas dinner landed him in ER hooked up to breathing cocktails and needing prednisone by 4am;

That same year an Easter Lily brought into the house for Easter dinner landed him in ER in the middle of the night back on the breathing apparatus;

We’ve left a hotel room at 4am to drive to hospital and sit in parking lot monitoring his breathing and whether his meds were bring his reaction down;

We’ve had to check out of hotels less than an hour of checking in from floral scents in lobby or chemicals used to clean rooms or commercial air “fresheners”, and even environmentally friendly and soothing diffusers of essential oils;

I can have a full bouquet of assorted flowers on my kitchen counter with absolutely zero reaction. The lilac tree outside however needs complete pruning when it starts to flower.

In December 2017 I put two drops of lavender essential oil on the passenger side car mat in our SUV. This was on a Wednesday. Two DAYS later I picked him up from school and by the time we got home (a 2 minute drive) he was congested. I forgot that I had put the essential oil in the SUV and that it could have triggered him – I asked whether something in school set him off and he said he was fine in school. I proceeded to drive him to a neighbouring city (2hr round trip) for dryland training and then up to ski resort (another 30min drive). By 10pm that night after a few hours of being exposed to two drops worth in the SUV he was having a severe reaction – that took two days to recover from.

Last week the high school had a race/contest during our annual carnival days. One day students were blowing skittles through flour. Our son’s breathing was affected immediately. The next day they were racing with eggs. He knew to leave immediately;

One Easter he was merely painting eggs. Holding them was enough to land him in ER.;

Our daughter made a cake from a box of mix for a bake sale – the cake flour particulate in our house was enough to escalate his histamines for meds;

One day in class a cat was brought for “show & tell”. Our son was asked to sit in the far corner of the room while the parent carried to cat over to the group in the other corner. It was at the end of the day. The cat was likely in the room a total of 3 minutes before I arrived for pick-up and was told about the cat. I immediately took him out of the room. 5 minutes later I needed to pull the car over to administer drugs; 

My husband spilled beer on a pool deck and our son stepped in it – that was enough for him to need meds;

Sitting next to a person who uses “bounce” sheets will set him off the same way as when he sits next to someone smelling like cigarette smoke;

He could not go into my father’s house and I would need to change my clothes as soon as I would come home from his place because of the heavy smoke penetration (even though my father would not smoke when I was there);

Feeding ducks bread was enough for him to need meds;

Aloe Kleenex will send him into a sneezing frenzy with puffy eyes’

Herbal, plant-based, scent free, pure and natural shampoos, detergents and personal care products that “should be” hypoallergenic are not necessarily so with someone affected by a multitude of allergies;

Rice served in restaurants – or anywhere, unless labelled “Gluten Free” will trigger an allergic reaction – despite rice being a safe hypoallergenic grain”;

¼ tsp of quinoa (another “hypoallergenic grain”) has sent him into anaphylactic shock with an epi being administered through his abdomen in ER;

A woman sitting in front of us on our last long haul flight sat down and smelled like she poured the entire bottle of perfume all over herself. By the time we were wheels up he had a full dose of antihistamines and was double dosed with another antihistamine. Two doses x 2 antihistamines so that he could fly somewhat comfortably between Cancun and Seattle. It was a full flight, we could not move seats. It is hell being mom and worrying and listening to your child’s breathing for 6 hours because of perfume;

We’ve had a ton of support through this journey – a lot of compassionate souls; professionals, teachers, mentors, friends all eager to help, communicate and alter school projects, make inclusive birthday party or visit/sleepover plans. We’ve had challenges too. Some people make remarks that-for the life of me, I wonder where their filter is – like a principal outright saying, (after about the 8th time of our son needing to leave the school because of offending allergens) “what are you going to do when he goes to high school?”

Some people think I’m crazy and over-reactive, which maybe I am? But when it comes to my child’s health, I am who I am and am who I need to be to help navigate this journey, raise awareness for him and others – and strengthen the foundation of his life coping skills – from reading labels and knowing potential triggers to grow forward with.