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.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Right on Track

I make a lot of wrong turns. Like, really, really wrong turns. Recently a friend’s Facebook post embarrassingly admitted to making a wrong turn that took her 22 miles out of her way. Though I only admitted in my head, and am only telling you all now in secret, I know exactly how she did it. I’ve done it plenty of times. For some reason, your warm hearts and broad shoulders make me want to open up and spill all my secrets. My husband certainly knows I’m directionally challenged, but the degree of which I don’t think he understands. Now that we have a GPS system, it has actually become worse – I go nowhere without it & at times shock myself into thinking I simply can’t go anywhere unless I have it. I don’t want to go miles & miles out of my way. When it comes to our lives, we take wrong turns all the time, whether we admit or like it, it’s how we learn, how we fix our mistakes, how we grow. I guess if we were perfect, life would be boring. 

Need I say more!
Some days, though, it feels like all I do is take wrong turns - start the day late, say the wrong thing to my husband, miss an appointment, whatever it may be – I mess up! There are plenty of moments I second guess my professional judgment – did I deliver that lesson effectively, handle that student fittingly? In parenting, it’s much the same - I give my best as a mom, but there are many days I go off track. According to Parenting magazine, I’m probably not feeding her enough whole grains, I’m certain she’s watching too much T.V. and I know she’s not reading near enough. I am also pretty sure I overreact at times, am sometimes impatient, don’t do enough to help in the classroom, and then in a strange catch – 22, am somehow helicoptering, tigering, or whatever they call that parent that over-controls these days! Everywhere I look, everywhere I go, I am certain there are things that I can’t get right! The question really is - who doesn’t make these kinds of mistakes, get off track at times? Life is tough, parenting is tougher.

I know this because at the end of the day I am beat; exhausted to my core from our over-planned, overworked schedules. There are days I feel like a MAC truck has hit me full speed; days I am so tired that when I drag myself out of bed each morning at five in the morning, I look forward to that evening’s bedtime. But each day we do it again at 110% - full speed ahead, making decisions, left and right along the way. 

The staff with all the answers!
So, when doubt - questions, worries, and concern, enter my mind about the desensitization path being a wrong turn for Madeline come about, most often I’m able to tamp them down with answers from Dr. Mayer, online discussion groups, talking it through with Jason, or even seeing Madeline’s quick and sure personal confidence. The truth is this treatment is working and it is working for many, many children, which is exciting. But if she has even one symptom, I begin to second guess this journey we’re on and the “what if’s” make roadways in my mind. If she has even the slightest hint of a tummy – ache at the office, I worry, “Are we doing the right thing?” If a hive threatens her skin, my stomach worries. Dr. Mayer alleviates my fears always, especially since none of her symptoms are ever truly worrisome. Jason & I wonder if her symptoms may be bubbling up from her psyche, another concern of mine altogether. As a good friend of mine, one who probably knows me best, says, “Maybe she’s like her mom and pushes all her real feelings down!” Maybe I need to sign her up for therapies now… or just get her going on a blog!

Utter happiness!
Much of my personal apprehensions were relieved September 26, a regular appointment day for Maddy, but an extremely special day for “one of the girls,” a friend we’ve come to know through Dr. Mayer’s office,  Ella. Some know her simply know her as ‘E.’ Ella began treatment, peanut desensitization, in April 2012 and had only a few setbacks here and there due to sickness, fevers and such, but really a great treatment otherwise. Ella’s parents, Angie & Chad, found Dr. Mayer’s office just before they were ready to pack up and move their lives down south to another doctor’s office to receive care for peanut desensitization because, as anyone who has a child with food allergies often feel, they were desperate to find care for their beautiful daughter. Ella is anaphylactic to peanuts, which they learned the hard way when she had an anaphylactic reaction at a Pizza Hut in January 2012. They were not about to go through that horror of anaphylaxis again – watching their daughter suffer – especially when they could do something about it. 

The kiddos!
Our entire support network showed up early that day to celebrate Ella’s graduation – a 24 peanut food challenge to mark her final day of desensitization and cross the line into maintenance. A celebration was in order! We marched in, one by one, gifts and cards in hand, words of encouragement floating out of our mouths as Ella began tablespoon after tablespoon of peanut butter that would mark an end that was actually a new and wonderful beginning of a whole new life for her, with less fear and anxiety filling their everyday lives. Her parents watched, teary-eyed, and the rest of the parents, too as tears of hope filled our hearts as well. Someday our children will do the same. Our own children, a little scared to go too close to all the peanut butter drew near her in awe as Ella completed the impossible. Then it was over, she did it, jumped down and played. Simple as that. In the hour that we waited, nothing happened – and that was a good thing. The rest of the kid’s doses were increased, we had homemade peanut and tree-nut free cake to celebrate Steven’s birthday and Ella’s graduation, and we watched an endearing video of Ella’s journey made by her father. We celebrated, laughed, and dare I say cried just a bit together about the wonder that is happening before us, together.
Group hugs were in order!

In that dosing hour we forgot about hives, stomach aches, and reactions, and other possible problems. There were none. Nobody asked if the cake was okay, to check ingredients, or to check an itchy spot. All was right with our little allergy-free world! Ella even got an entire gift bag full of peanut-filled candy from an OIT alum!

Amazing family paving the way!
In a moment of Zen, I looked around the room at my support group, and Maddy’s. Everyone was smiling, happy. Ella, beaming, her parents too. This celebration was why we were completing peanut desensitization. There was no other reason than this moment. The journey, in this case, is about the destination, and we have to keep our eye on the prize. Every little stomach-ache, and tiny hive, is allowing our daughter’s body to prepare for something bigger, something greater. In this case I am looking forward to that bigger picture and ever since that moment. I thank you, Chad, Angie, and especially you, Miss Ella, you are some of the bravest people I know and you paved the way for many of us to come. Thank you for providing the road map for us, being our GPS in this life-changing experience. We appreciate your guidance, your advice, and most of all, your support. This is one journey that we’ll be on for a long time, no matter how many miles; we’ll sit back and enjoy the company!

Lots to celebrate, too!

Peanut/tree nut free party!
The Moms!

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