Tuesday, 07 March 2017 12:26

I need help: My Child is anaphylactic

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Food allergies are something we’ve lived with since my daughter was a year old. We have the “cannot eat it or be touched by it” type of allergies. There are six of the eight common allergens on our list plus a few odd ones like peas, coconut, oats, and sesame. She’s anaphylactic, and God has always protected her from the worst type of reactions, yet it is something that is constantly in front of us whenever we go out places in public.

Several years back our family attended a birthday party. It was an impromptu invite, and I didn’t plan on my allergic child having a treat since we were popping over and then coming home. When it was time for singing, cake, and treats; ice cream was pulled out, scooped, and eaten everywhere. Everywhere. I looked around at the children sitting on the floor consuming dribbling, melty scoops in shaky little hands and started to hyperventilate. I hadn’t prepared well. We left, and I had a child who was upset to leave, upset to not have a treat, and my own mental state was harried at best. It was a mess. In the mess, I remember thinking afterward, our cross was best seen this day in the unusual setting of balloons and cake. There, surrounded by celebration and rejoicing, I felt the tug of the nails. Mary, is this how you felt watching Christ? Knowing you couldn’t do anything to take away His pain? I watched my child cry and felt helpless. I learned two lessons after this event; always prepare for birthday parties if choosing to attend, and this type of suffering shouldn’t be wasted. My number one bit of advice for any family who goes through this situation is to be prepared. If you aren’t prepared, then respectfully decline. Honestly even when I prepare there are sometimes bumps in the road. That’s life. I think, I hope, that my daughter learns lessons from these moments. 

How to prepare? Call ahead to the family that invited you and ask all the right questions. If I can’t provide a comparable meal or treat we decline. Are there food related activities (egg races/food crafts/flour bombs/baking/playdoh)? Are they willing to make sure the kids wash hands after eating? If not, we decline.  I’m certainly not an expert and never get it exactly right, but these questions have helped me make decisions to keep our daughter safe and to protect her from feeling “left out”.  

Christ gives us all different types of suffering and varying challenges along the way. For our family food allergies have a been a large part of the journey. I know Christ walks with us as we live out our own challenging set of circumstances. There are joys to living with food allergies. My daughter and I bake her treats to make them affordable. She and I have developed a baking bond! There are not store bought cake options for her so she gets a mom-styled cake every year. These are precious memories! I also feel it is unique to always have a sacrifice to offer to Jesus. Any time we go anywhere there are sacrifices to be made. Wiping the tables, washing hands more, asking others to wash hands, bringing a cooler to carry, providing safe treats, treating a reaction; in it all Christ is present to us and we are offering our lives to Him. We choose to trust in Him.  Father Groening’s book on Christ’s Passion speaks of this eloquently:

“Christ in His reward will be extremely generous to us. He may not impress His image upon the cloth as He did for St. Veronica, but -and that is more precious-He will impress it upon our hearts. The cross, however, which we carry patiently and joyfully after Christ, the cross which we strive to lighten for our fellow-men, shall lead us, as it did Simon of Cyrene, to holiness and the joys of paradise."  

-Fr. James Groenings, S.J., The Passion of Jesus

Let us follow HIM. Let us find ourselves on our knees in prayer. Willing to be arrested, condemned, mocked, and struck, abandoned, denied, stripped, and even killed for Love of Our Lord Jesus who did all of this for love of us. Can I choose to do the same for others who are now Christ to me? My daughter? My family? To be Simon to them, the one who walks with them and lightens their load.  To comfort them as St. Veronica did for Jesus. When I plan, I console my child, when I wipe down tables I am often mocked, when I decline an invitation I am denied that joy of participating. These things are small but can be done for Jesus. They can also mold me into Christ’s image. 

Let us cling to the cross that is sometimes FORCED on us and in doing so find strength as Simon did. The wood is molding us; and in carrying it we may find ourselves pressed into sainthood. Let us seek to be like Veronica who herself PUSHED and SOUGHT out the Lord's way and so consoled and comforted Him by her act of merciful love. In our service to each other ---in our families we truly must reach for the cross---embrace it however it comes to us and in doing so we are answering the still silent or sometimes resounding call to FOLLOW HIM.

"Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." Mk 8:34

The cross is offered to us as a gift. Our food allergies are small compared to what some endure yet it is a gift, a cross given to us to carry. I no longer ask God why we must live this way. The question is not "WHY" is the cross there for us to carry, but WHAT will we do with it now that it is in our hands.  Christ Jesus will lead us to exactly where we need to be.  The way there may be rocky, and we may fall, but He will lead us to victory. Christ can take our small offerings and transform them into eternal ripples of grace. 

 

EvieDayEvie Day is a homeschooling mom from Orange Park, Florida. She has two children ages 8 and 10. She has been married to her husband Mike Day for 12 years. Evie graduated with a BFA in Acting from Florida State University. She has been a homeschooler for 6 years and dabbles in acting coaching, drama classes for homeschoolers, and acting on stage. Evie volunteers at Lumen Entertainment´s Film Camp and is currently working with both Lumen Entertainment and the Catholic Writers Guild of Jacksonville, Florida. She has co-written a book with her husband, Expectant Joy, which is a prayer resource for couples who wish to pray through each trimester of their pregnancy. Evie enjoys living the Liturgical Year with her family, playing geeky games, running, doing Shakespeare monologues in the bathroom and dancing in her living room.

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