Before I talk about where we are today, I want to take a look back on where we've been. We've come so far in our allergy journey but we still have such a long way to go.
Bee was diagnosed at about 8 months old even though I had suspected that she had some health problems since she was about 6 weeks old. After our initial diagnosis of severe food allergies we've spent years learning about food allergies and discovering her additional allergies that were not a part of the original test. We've been through various tests and have experienced many severe allergic reactions. We have changed how our entire family functions in order to keep our allergy baby safe. It has been a long, difficult, and emotional journey to where we are today.
Today Bee is a happy and healthy 5 year old. She loves bugs - especially the grasshopper and the roly-poly. She is just learning how to read and she enjoys books when she can make herself sit still. She loves to dress up and can be found dancing through the house in one of her fancy costumes. She loves music and is always whistling, singing, or composing new pieces on the piano. She is quite the creative little mind and is the "other mother" at our house; she loves to take care of her younger sisters.
- At this point, Bee has not outgrown any of her allergies. It's so discouraging to think about the hope that we had when she was a baby. We were told that many children start outgrowing allergies around age 5. That hasn't been true in our case.
- We still experience severe reactions. Bee had her latest ER visit last December for anaphylaxis. Her eyes swelled shut, she had trouble breathing, and she was red and itchy all over.
- We could possibly have unknown allergens. We're not always sure what causes Bee's reactions and some of the causes might still be unknown - or could be the result of cross-contamination.
- We still eat most of our meals at home. Even though many restaurants are allergy-friendly or at least allergy-aware, we still choose to eat mainly at home.
- Bee has begun to develop asthma. When she runs for a long time or is very active she sometimes becomes short of breath. She also has difficulty breathing and taking deep breaths when pollen counts are high. This means that we keep an inhaler close at hand.
- Bee is showing signs of environmental allergies. She has yet to be tested for these allergies but I'm certain that they are there. When she spends a day playing outside, she spends the next day recovering-with a stuffy or runny nose and a persistent cough.
- Bee is slowly learning to be an advocate for her allergies. She is able to tell others about her allergies and knows what foods to avoid. Even though she's only 5, she is articulate and outspoken and not afraid to try to explain her allergies to others.
- Bee has accepted her limitations. I'm so blessed that Bee (and all of my children) joyfully accept that our lives are very different. I try to cook and bake alternative meals so that they don't feel left out when going to different functions or when having friends over to our house. But it's still glaringly obvious that we have some strict limitations. However, all of my children do whatever it takes to keep our family safe - even when that means turning down a cookie or saying no to a particular activity.
I still answer the same questions over and over again about our allergies. I still have the same worries and fears. I still battle fear when we got out to different places and I still fight discouragement that we have had so little improvement with Bee. I stress about what the future holds and I still wonder if things will ever look at least a little bit more "normal" here.
So, even though it feels like so little has changed, I see the improvement in Bee. She's a bubbly little person who looks perfectly healthy. While the food allergies are still there and we maintain our allergy-free lifestyle, things have changed and she is thriving despite the may allergies and limitations. We are very blessed indeed!