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.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

That's My Girl

Excited to try something new!
New things are difficult for most of us. As adults it is especially difficult to think about new friends, new places, or adopting new routines into our life. I’d really like to think when I am approached with something new I will jump into it with a great attitude - full force with energy and positivity. The truth of the matter is, though, more often I hold back a bit, allowing my reservations to keep me planted in the same place time & time again. Kids, though, usually are not this way. They are amazingly versatile, generally more forward thinking than us, and are more capable than we ever imagined them to be.

Maddy’s proven this to me time and time again in our journey toward freedom from food allergies. She has been nothing short of brave – ingesting this poison each day, twice a day in order to become eventually immune from it. There have been times she’s struggled with the flavor, especially just after she tasted her first peanut.  Some of those times I have joked with her. “Okay, I’ll let Dr. Mayer know we’re all done,” I’ve said playfully.

Quickly she’s replied “No, no! They’re not that bad!” And down the peanuts go!

5 Peanut M&M's = 3 regular peanuts
And who’s to blame her? All her life she’s been scared of anything resembling a peanut, peanut butter, food cross contaminated with peanuts, and has been told to stay away from those offending foods as well. She is at the age where hot dogs are considered their own food group and chicken nuggets from McDonalds are “like the best chicken, mom!” If given an opportunity to make her own dinner she would easily make cereal and if Dad asks about picking up dinner, she quickly yells, “Pizza!” at the phone. She enjoys fruit and vegetables, but much like most kids this age, she must be served the colorful foods in order for them to make it into her mouth and thus her belly; so getting her to like not just a new food, but a food that has been deemed toxic to her an entire lifetime is simply not going to be taken down easily. Those peanuts were NOT her new favorites! She was adding them to her daily routine, however, much loved, they were not!

Nonetheless, the weeks did fly by, quite quickly, I might add, after that first peanut. And, like we hope in OIT, they were relatively uneventful. Uneventful is actually rather exciting! Which means NO REACTIONS occurred – no hives popped their ugly heads, no tummy aches cramped our style and no fevers forced their way into our evening plans… nothing happened at all. Life was good! 

Maddy, as I’d said, did not like the peanuts, but the peanuts were tolerating her. Better yet, her immune system was holding strong, and as far as I was concerned was strengthening. My baby was eating peanuts! Every day! And by the third week of peanut dosing, she got a new treat – Peanut M&M’s. This chocolate covered peanut delicacy came with a whole new set of faces not nearly as awful as the plain peanut faces. As the weeks have gone on she has grown to like Peanut M&M’s a tad more than dry roasted peanuts. Hopefully we will get a peanut lover out of her in the long run!

These kids all amaze me!
Her logic and attitude that the peanuts though, her dose, are medicine is flawless; inspiring really. This outlook keeps her head in the game. Nothing is keeping her from that end goal – her eyes are on the prize – OIT graduation! I’m telling you - Jason and I have not even one time had to fight her on taking her dose. Since the day we have started this program, since the minute she decided she was in it, she jumped in it – with the energy and the positivity I spoke of before. Kids are amazing and she is a remarkable little girl. She is becoming an amazing little lady, and will one day be an outstanding woman. 

I told her this exact sentiment as we were driving home from the allergist’s office one day, “I am so proud of you for doing this you know,” I started.

“Why?” She asked. I really don’t think she feels it is an option to not complete this therapy. I remember the conversation so well. It astounds me that a child her age could have such awareness about herself. 

“Well,” how could I word this and do it without tearing up. “When I was your age, I’m really not sure I could do what you are doing – eating peanuts every day, visiting the allergist every week. I think you’re really brave and I’m proud of you.” 

She paused a second, silent, and then said, “If I were your mom, I’d make you.” 
Love this girl!

“What?” I said. 

She replied, “Even if you didn’t like the peanuts, even if you think they are not good. It’s the best thing to do.” 

I’m proud of the little lady she is and I think I know exactly what kind of woman she is going to become… anybody else have an idea?

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