Life Threatening Food Allergies, Taking Risks and My Daughter Almost Killed Herself

by Leila on November 16, 2011

No one is perfect.

Not my precocious, sweet natured and mature daughter who has life threatening food allergies.

Not me as a friend or Mom.

Not the seemingly perfect PTA Moms, hottie at the beach, Mom of the year, the people we love, Super Duper Dad and not you.

All we do in life is try to make the best decisions we can and hope for the best. We like to think we have all the answers and that everything we do will turn out right…

and sometimes we make decisions that we know are not the best. We’ve all done it. Pushed the limits a little too far. Broken, sprained or fractured our bodies or hearts.

My daughter is nine and going through that phase I’ve feared since I was pregnant with her: She is transitioning from a the child I’ve always known in to the girl she wants to become and making me want to rip my freaking hair out. It is a crucial part of development and something we all go through.

And it still sucks.

No matter how “right” you raise a child they will push boundaries, go against you and become their own people.

By the way… there is no “right” way to raise a child.

Even the most seemingly perfect parent screws up. We all screw up.

All we can do is just figure it out along the way and hope we don’t screw up too much.

We hope we are doing it “right” even if there isn’t a cookie cutter answer for every situation.

I thought I was raising my daughter in such a way that she would always make the “right” decision when it came to her health and life threatening food allergies. I’ve educated her. She has seen me advocate for her. I’ve given her the tools to take responsibility and ownership of these health issues she faces and been by her side every step of the way. She has been applauded for her amazing ability to manage her health and self advocate.

But, she is still a child who is going through the start of a big phase in her life where she is going to push, test and find herself. This combined with the reality of her health issues, chronic pain and how pissed off she really is that she has to deal with this is harder than I expected.

I’m sad for her most days and angry on the other ones.

I often just cry with her.

The most frequent stories I hear about a child dying from anaphylaxis shock are teenagers who either forget their epi-pens, kiss someone who has consumed food there are allergic to or who push the limits themselves.

When my daughter was an infant I never thought she would be that kind of teenager. I thought… oh I will raise her better than that! I will do it right.

A couple weeks ago she ran from the kitchen projectile vomiting towards the bathroom. It was so sudden. She was screaming. By the time I got to her I could see the hives covering her arms, legs and face. I gave her benadryl and opened her epi-pen.

I knew if her airways started to close I needed to administer it. I knew what to look for. I had no idea what happened, why this was going on or what the next few minutes would bring…

All I knew in that moment was…

My child could die if this got worse.

The arguments we had didn’t seem that bad anymore. The mess in her room that always bothered me were insignificant. Her attitude was something I hoped I’d get again by the end of the day. The recent defiance was now seen in the light of her first steps in being a strong, independent woman…

Holy shit. What if she doesn’t live to be that woman?

When I thought that… well, I honestly cannot explain the pain, fear and rage I felt.

The swelling was minimal, the hives slowly started to fade, her vomiting ceased and she was finally able to tell me what happened.

She had a taste of pudding that she knew had milk in it. Like literally the amount that she picked up on the tip of her finger. Her milk allergy is off the charts so much that she is contact sensitive and she knows that!

Why would she do that?

Many reasons. None of them right or wrong. They just were.

She wanted to know how it tasted. She wanted to know if it was different than her pudding. She wanted to know what it was like to be a kid who could just eat anything. She also had wondered how bad it would be if she ate it… she half wondered if her milk allergy wasn’t as bad anymore since so many others have faded.

She knew it was wrong.

She knew it was a risk

She knew what the consequences could be…

But, she did it anyway.

Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. We are both thankful for that.

I was angry at her. I was disappointed in myself. I’ve had so many recent moments with her making terrible decisions like stealing money or just being a little crazy person of ultimate defiance!

I had to really process what happened and why. I actually thought about myself a lot as a teenager and the really dumb things I did. I rebelled more than most do in a lifetime but I was fighting against some dark demons of my childhood… which I didn’t know at the time.

I can’t say that I never put myself in a life threatening situation or did things that could have completely ruined my life. I can’t say that I, as a teen, always made the right decisions or more importantly that I never made a decision I knew was bad.

The disconnect for me is that I didn’t have a life threatening health condition I was rebelling against or chronic illness that I was resentful for. I was just a punk ass kid!

I can’t imagine what I would have done had I been dealt those same cards.

My daughter hated her cards. She hated being different. She hated the comments insensitive adults make or the lack of care or concern she has been shown. She hated that she can’t just be like every other kid. She hated that she gets tired, hurts a lot and doesn’t know what her body will do next.

She hated being who she is… and she didn’t know what to do with that. She had a moment of wondering what if she consumed milk and had no reaction?

She would be a normal kid?

And she wanted that more than anything else.

She was wrong.

She knows that now.

She does love the life she has. She appreciates all that I’ve done for her. She knows she has been able to do more than some of her peers because of the adventures I will take her on. She loves me and all that we do. She isn’t ungrateful… quite the opposite.

She was just mad.

Most kids will come home late. They won’t pick up their rooms when asked. Might not turn in some homework or tell lies. They will talk back. They will say bad things about friends or family. Most kids will do normal rebellious things that we all experience.

But, when you have a child who has some serious life threatening health issues or who deals with chronic pain… they will not only do all those normal things but they will also have moments where they just don’t want to be themselves.

I can’t judge her or be angry at her for her decisions. I know its typical development but something most can’t comprehend if they don’t have a child with special needs. It does scare me. It seriously scares the shit out of me to go through that again… and we probably will in many other ways.

She wanted to have hope to have a normal life… and what she ended up discovering is that despite her health issues and life threatening food allergies she has a very full life. One that she loves.

We got through that hurdle and we will both keep learning from each one of them.

We both walked away with a lot more patience, appreciation and strength.

I also walked away with more gray hairs, possible ulcers and the feeling of my heart falling out of my butt.

 

About Leila DontSpeakWhinese

Leila, aka The Ninja, is the advocate for all things not whining. Parenting is fun when everyone stops b*tching! She is the Mom of a big blended family of four awesome kids. They ninja kick through life together. Oh and she is a total jackass.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Ali November 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm

I am sorry for you both having to learn this way…and I am thankful that you are speaking out about it, because I now have a teeny tiny bit of an idea of what I will be looking forward to with Pickle. His allergies are increasing in intensity, and he now has at least one life-threatening allergy, if not more. We are scheduled to have him seen by the allergist, and hopefully, they will test him soon, and we will know what other items we need to avoid. Unfortunately for him, he has learned the hard way, with his allergies. He has attempted to push the limits multiple times, with one of his allergies, and as it intensifies, he is learning that he can no longer push. He has to accept it and steer clear. Thankfully, he is listening to his body, and communicating with me about what is going on with him.

Thanks so much for sharing your experiences…it helps so much. Truly.

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LaLa November 16, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Thank you so much for expressing that. I’m very personal… even though I write a blog… haha … and I do NOT like being emotional or showing vulnerability so it’s really hard for me to write on these topics. But, I do it for others like you… who can benefit from it. Who can know what to expect. It is scary to have no real control over these things. I used to think it would get easier as she got older… it doesn’t. The challenges just change and we have to evolve with it.

I’m sorry Pickle goes through this. Testing can be so confusing as well since there can be a lot of false positives and it can change. But, testing always gives a foundation to build on and then you go from there. And seriously… I’m more than happy to help with any questions or if you just want someone to talk to who has been there.

Many hugs to you and yours.. and again thank you for your comment.
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Mimzy Wimzy November 17, 2011 at 8:47 am

I’m glad that she is ok! With that said: Parenting, I tell people that me getting my kids to the age 18 alive, breathing & not in jail means I have accomplished my job as parent. Allergies: Our friends daughter who we found out the hard way had peanut allergies when she was at our house (she had eaten & been exposed to it from age 3 months, no problem. At age 1- huge problem!) is on a strict 5 year peanut avoidance. She has already outgrown her egg allergy. She has twin brothers who are a little over a year old. Their mom {a paramedic} wanted to see if they had the same allergy. Gave them peanut butter bread. One inhaled it with no problem (so far) The other wanted no parts of it so, she smeared the peanut butter on his cheek! Luckily, as of now, they don’t seem to have an issue. I know the day we had the little girl here & I had to rush her to the ER I was scared to death! I got there, ran in with her in my arms and said “Fix her! She’s not mine & I broke her! She had 1 bite of peanut butter and this happened!!” I looked & sounded like a lunatic.
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LaLa November 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Oh geeze I am so sorry you went through that!!!! Allergies are crazy unpredictable… which makes them even more frustrating! Someone can be fine with foods and then literally wake up one day deathly allergic.

It can happen to anyone no matter what age or what you do “right”.

Peanuts have always been harder to manage because if you are extremely allergic the small proteins are airborne and inhaling them can be fatal. So sorry for your friend, her daughter and for you too!
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Libby November 17, 2011 at 9:28 am

Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m going to sit down and read this with my 8 year old after school today. I am terrified of the teenage years as only the mother of an already defiant child with life threatening food allergies can be. This is a good warning it may be sooner than I think. Hang in there, you ARE doing it right.

Hugs to both of you.
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LaLa November 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

I hope your 8 year old can look past my curse words! LOL :)

I’m so glad you found this helpful and please let me know the response. I go over my blog posts with my daughter so she can let me know if there is anything she wants to add and so she sees what the impact is. I also show her the response as it is a huge comfort and learning tool for her.

I really appreciate you taking the time to comment. I think a support group for Mothers of Defiant Teens with Food Allergies needs to be created… even if its just us ;)
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Danielle November 17, 2011 at 10:20 am

How amazing of you to be able to see this from your daughters eyes. To know that she wants a piece of normal and to handle it in the way you did. I cannot imagine how scary that moment must have been and how easy it could have been to just get mad at her which ultimately could have just made the situation worse. You are a wonderful mother!!
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LaLa November 17, 2011 at 1:57 pm

Thank you so much. It wasn’t easy… not in the slightest. I was angry and disappointed and all those negative emotions initially but I had to see past it. It would have made the situation worse had I just focused on MY anger and not what brought her to that moment. It is a learning process… for both of us.

And an excuse for me to get more wine. ;)
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Erika Marie November 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Thank you for posting this. I hope I remember it later, but right now I’m going through a trying time with my almost 6 year old stepson and I am so fearful I will turn into my mother… a control freak. Children will make mistakes and we have to get past those mistakes without damaging them even more than their mistakes may have… cuz you never know when will be our, or their last day.
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LaLa November 17, 2011 at 2:00 pm

You are welcome! It is a hard thing to remember. Every ounce of me just wants to be an angry controlling lunatic mother! Then I have to check myself and remember… It isn’t just what I -think- should happen. It’s not just -my- life.
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meleah rebeccah November 17, 2011 at 3:12 pm

I totally GET what she did why she did.

I am 37 years old, with MAJOR life threatening food allergies. And sometimes, I STILL take chances I know I shouldn’t. I wasn’t until I literally died in July [this past summer] after eating a salad, and the paramedics had to bring me back to life, that I learned NEVER to take those risks again.
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Dana K November 17, 2011 at 4:14 pm

My heart just dropped to my butt, too. I can’t even imagine…I don’t WANT to imagine what this was like for you or your daughter. It scares the hell out of me to think about Klaw wanting to eat like everyone else. I’m so glad she is okay.
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Amiyrah (@4hatsandfrugal) November 18, 2011 at 12:36 pm

This post just made my heart drop. I feel for you daughter and I know how she feels. I grew up with a food allergy and there were times where I just wanted to be rebellous and eat what I wanted. And, I did it. Like you, my mother just didnt’ understand why I would intentionally harm myself that way. Life gets so hard so quickly when you have to deal with an ailment at a young age.

It may or may not make a difference, but please tell her that I said she is a WARRIOR and she is beautiful. Food allergies may keep us down but they help us become even more awesome once we are older. We’ve been there, had to deal with was we are dealt and can take pride is the way we’ve been able to take care of ourselves and live life as normally as possible. Let her know that a lady from 3,000 miles away thinks she ROCKS and so does her Mom. Hugs to both of you.

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