Happy Birthday, Maddy!

When Maddy turned seven, our family celebrated by beginning a new chapter that was be life changing, helped to raise awareness for those suffering from food allergy, and helped educate people about OIT. Now, as Maddy turns 8, and will begin the 3rd grade, so many possibilities are open to her as a child that doesn't have food allergies standing in her way!

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Check out my other blog, The Best Medicine, about my husband's battle against cancer.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

This One Goes Out To the Ladies

Before the dose, vital check.
I’ll be honest; my daughter’s peanut allergy has become one of my own defining characteristics, a part of me. “Hi, my name is Sara, I am the mother of a child with a peanut allergy,” I feel I need to preface every conversation with this explanation... or join a support group. It is amazing how often it enters into conversation. When making plans, talking to friends & before beginning the lengthy explanation at any outing, vacation, or any new adventure in our life, it is obviously important for it to be in the forefront of the convo.  I live, eat, and breathe making sure her life is more comfortable, safe, and free of danger. The peanut allergy is our reality, but doesn’t need to define us as individuals or as a family and we work toward that, but sometimes it is a relief when others “just get it.”

That is not to say our family & friends don’t try, they absolutely do! Close people in our life, the ones we call family and friends – we couldn’t ask for any better, we really couldn’t. They have supported us in ways Jason and I couldn't imagined. When I consider the level of support, the outpouring of prayers, love, and affection my family receives, I am blown away. So, when the question comes from family, friends and co-workers - “How is Maddy’s peanut therapy going?” My response is much like when people ask about Jason & his treatments - optimistic, somewhat quick & to the point while showing them my true appreciation for their thoughts & prayers. “Great! Smooth sailing! She is doing so well with it! Thanks for asking.” I don’t want to show my anxiety about giving her the peanut solution, how difficult it was to leave her the first time with other people after giving the dose, how hard it is to allow anyone else (yep, even my husband) to pull the dose to give it to her, or how scary it all is in the very pit of my gut at times. If people ask for more, I’ll give it to them – like how amazing this process is, how she is more likely to react if she exercises, or what the dose looks like now and what it will look like later.  Sometimes those I am talking to will share with me something about their own allergies or about a family member or friend who has allergies, but not many have the time for more, or even know what to ask. And that’s fine. Bottom line – Maddy’s fine, she is doing well with it and the plan is working, it is really working!!! 

Maddy's OIT support group.
Maddy is not the only one the plan is working for. She is one of nine patients participating in peanut OIT with Dr. Mayer and for this dose increase appointment Nurse Amy made the appointment intentionally with “the girls.” As I know them on Facebook, “the girls” are Ella, Livvie, and Isabella- three bold and beautiful little girls who’d begun desensitization in varying degrees prior to Maddy. I’d been in contact with their mothers via a Facebook group for months. MONTHS! In my research of Oral immunotherapy, I’d come across a number of groups - these women and their stories were among them. They shared stories, links, resources, questions, and more. I’d bared my soul to them in somewhat anonymity up till this point. These same women also shared a similar identity as me – we had a connection to peanuts that brought us together in fear, anxiety, and desperation. These were some of the very people that brought me to Dr. Mayer and desensitization. In actuality, these same women moved me toward taking the first steps by showing their own valor and tenacity and by forging ahead in the allergy world and most importantly - no longer allowing peanuts to rule their lives. 

The OIT girls goofing around - not a side effect!
The afternoon at Dr. Mayer's office was amazing! Maddy had very few concerns with her dose increase and the girls clicked immediately! They instantly hit it off and played together (more like ruled the play room, allowing no boys at all!) while the parents observed intently. We all tried to play it cool, all while keenly observing for signs of a reaction, especially those of us new to this. Jason was even able to chat it up with another attending father, while I met the moms. In my mind, these moms and these girls were heroic. They’ve paved the way for so many of us behind them and are successful; they are achieving the impossible – beating peanuts! These amazing women are amazing models for their daughters, and mine. 

In my life, I am lucky to have strong and beautiful women by my side – my mom, my mother – in – law, my sister & sisters-in-law, my own Godmother & also my husband’s, my pastor, my daily confidantes & great friends and my co-workers. It’s funny, as a young woman, I had few girlfriends, surrounding myself with mostly men, well boys. I seemed at ease with them, no problem to be “one of the guys.” As I have aged, or matured, rather, I find women bring strength and balance to my life. They understand life when the honeymoon is over. They get it when seven months into pregnancy and all you need is someone to tie your shoes, do your laundry, and cook your dinner. They feel you when seven months after pregnancy you still want someone to do your laundry & cook your dinner, and you've given up shoes that tie because they add too much to your getting ready routine. They completely get you when your night out is a night in with the girls and you come home entirely sober, smiling like a drunk, and happy as a clam that you got to have some adult conversation, your own meal, and one night all to yourself, a bit different from men. Women complete me. The women at Dr.Mayer’s office are another facet, a cluster where I belong & need to speak freely about my obstacles with peanuts & allergies - where they get me, whether I see them in the office or "like" their comments, posts & pictures on Facebook, another group I can come home to. Thanks, ladies, all of you.

Helping check vitals after dosing hour is up.


Maddy's turn!

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