I mentioned in a previous post some of the stresses of traveling with food allergies, including trying to approximate local treats so my daughter with food allergies doesn’t feel left out.
Many of you have reached out to ask how we make it work to vacation with other families.
The short answer is, we have awesome family and friends. Truly. Their understanding and compassion and kindness and flexibility and love are the most amazing gifts.
The long answer is, lots of communication, adjustment, practice, and feedback. Every year is different, so we don’t have one tried and true system. We try new places. Molly gets older. We learn from past mistakes. It’s a learning process.
Research shows that our happiness is increased in planning and anticipating trips - limit your food, not your joy!
This is because regardless of what your challenge, experience, or situation is, I believe we can all grow through what we go through, and sharing our stories helps us connect and experience our common humanity. So while I offer my clients specific logistical support with defined challenges, I also offer them opportunities to be contemplative in action..
Thanks so much to all of you who have reached out with positive thoughts for Molly on her food challenge. Yesterday was the big day. In case this is TL;DR, the bottom line is that she PASSED her baked egg challenge. If you want the details, read on...
On Monday I baked a batch of 6 applesauce-cinnamon muffins, closely following a recipe from our allergist. It has been so long since I baked with an egg that I almost forgot to put it in! We brought the muffins to the allergist on Tuesday morning. Each muffin had 1/6 of an egg in it and her goal was to eat one entire muffin. The protocol is to eat progressively larger fractions of the muffin: first 1/16, then 1/8, then 1/4, then 1/2. Between each portion, we waited 15-30 minutes and then got her vitals and skin checked by the nurse or doctor before being cleared for the next size portion.
The logistics of the challenge were simple enough, but the day was very difficult. Molly experienced throat itchiness and stomach pain throughout. I never connected it until we were in the moment, but much of what she experienced could be explained by an allergic reaction, or just simply by nerves. There is no doubt she actually felt those symptoms, but we still don’t know why. Our allergist was confident that we could continue based on her vital signs and overall demeanor, and we agreed. So we - my husband and I, in addition to Molly’s big sister - spent the day, almost 8 full hours, bite by bite, helping Molly stick it out.
All of her life, she has been told not to eat egg and to stop eating anything that makes her feel bad. But yesterday, we had to convince her to do the opposite. At various points we were cutting deals (Molly), dedicating bites to people who inspire her (Molly), doing can-can kicks (me), and adapting lyrics to Alanis Morrisette songs (also me). She wanted to quit all day, and none of us knew if a reaction was just around the corner. But with the security of the medical staff making sure Molly was safe, the encouragement and love of her family, and her willingness to keep going even though she was scared, our brave little girl learned that her body can, in fact, tolerate baked egg.
This is a small but significant step. It allows her to eat baked goods with egg in them. We can use them almost as medicine to build her tolerance, with the goal and hope being that she can eventually tolerate “direct egg” and check that allergy off her list. After a tough day, cupcakes as medicine seems like a definite bright side.