A hard post to write.

Sometimes people make choices that are difficult to understand. It happens to me all the time! I suppose part of the human condition is to be judgmental of those who make choices we don’t understand. Whenever I’m tempted to judge someone harshly over a choice they made, I try to stop and think. Could there possibly be something I don’t know about or don’t understand that helped inform said choice? 99.9999% of the time, the answer is yes.

You know what they say about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? There are also some wise old saying about assumptions and opinions. There’s a reason they are wise old sayings.

I am a food allergy mom. I am an alpha gal mom. My darling son developed alpha gal and spent six weeks covered in hives while we tried to figure out what was wrong. He had yet another immune system crash (not nearly his first). He has deadly (and I am 100% serious) allergies to pork, beef, and lamb. A severe allergy is present when the tests reveal IgE scores of 5-6. My son’s pork allergy is scored at 99 and that is an improvement. His first IgE revealed that his pork allergy score was 100+. He has similar scores to beef and lamb. Other allergies we deal with daily? Garlic, strawberries, gluten, eggs, dairy, and around thirty more. Does this inform the decisions and choices I make as a mother? YES! ALL DAY LONG!

Some people go to the store and throw things in the buggy. They check out, leave, go home and eat all the food they bought and they never once have to think about it.

Here’s an allergy mom going to the store:

*Reads every label before she puts it in the buggy.

*Goes halfway around the store to avoid pushing son through the meat aisle. Why? Because he’s been known to react to pork just from walking by it in a store.

*Looks at everyone with suspicion. Who here ate a sausage biscuit five minutes ago? Who had bacon for breakfast?

*Checks purse five times to make sure she has epipen and Benadryl. In fact, we don’t go anywhere at all without these two things. Not even the post office.

*Routinely checks child all over for hives.

Some people drop their kids off at school and go on their way. An allergy mom drops her kid off and then panics all day. What if someone ignored the “no peanut” rule because they think “why should my kid miss out on peanut butter because someone else is allergic?” My son is too young to be his own advocate. He is starting to understand what he can and can’t eat. Babysitters have to go through a strict screening process. I have to KNOW that he or she understands the severity of my child’s allergies. I have to ask them not to eat bacon or sausage before they come over. In fact, I have to ask everyone that.

We finally found a preschool that we feel completely comfortable about. Not only do the teachers listen to and understand my concerns but they take them very seriously. (<3 our school) If my child were allergic to peanuts, I might not be so concerned. Peanut allergies are not uncommon allergen and are banned from most classrooms. I am not at all saying that peanut allergies aren’t dangerous. That is another allergy we deal with. I’m just saying that peanut free classrooms and schools are more and more common while pork free schools are less common. We have chosen a small school that is generally vegetarian. It’s one less thing to worry about and I have a full plate of things to worry about.

While we are on the topic of things that most people don’t have to think about, let’s talk about vaccines. This is not open for discussion. Any negative or hateful comments will be deleted and you will be blocked.

My son has had a great deal of illness in his young life. His immune system is not up to par. It never has been. As soon as he turned one, we started dealing with his health and we’ve dealt with it every day since then. No one knows what we’ve been through except for us. I’ve spent entire nights by his side. I’ve missed about 7,000 hours of sleep because he was ill. Four times in a six month period, I sat in a waiting room waiting to hear that he was ok and made it through surgery. Those days were, by far, some of the most difficult days of my life. I’ve missed so much work that it started to not make sense for me to work outside of the home. I squeeze in work when the children are at preschool or with the very few people that I trust to take care of my son. So why don’t we currently vaccinate him? Gelatin of porcine origin. Take a look at the following links:

http://vec.chop.edu/service/vaccine-education-center/vaccine-safety/vaccine-ingredients/gelatin-allergies.html

http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/other-allergens?

And one from the CDC:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vpd-vac/should-not-vacc.htm

There are even *GASP* doctors who recommend that certain people with certain allergies avoid vaccines.

This is not intended to be a vaccine debate. So save it for your own wall and your own blog. This is intended to be a gentle reminder that if you are not directly involved with someone’s health care, you may not have all the information you need to make a fair assessment about what is good for that person. Maybe some parents are doing the very best they can to keep their child safe and alive in a world full of pork.

Other things that contain gelatin that we avoid like the plague: Certain soaps, body washes, shampoos, conditioners, etc. All sorts of foods and body care products contain gelatin so if you are allergic, you may need to avoid these things too.

Just so we are clear, a life-threatening allergy is not the same as a sensitivity. If you are sensitive to pork, you avoid but the worst that happens when you eat it is a bad stomachache. If you have a severe, life-threatening allergy to pork, you could die. That’s the difference. That’s not terrifying at all is it? Every time we go to a birthday party with hot dogs or a community dinner where someone brings a ham, I am afraid.

If you choose not to vaccinate because you are under the impression that the government is inserting a microchip into your arm, I can’t agree with that. You might be a conspiracy theorist! Just keep in mind that for some, not vaccinating is the safest choice in a world full of terrifying choices.

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8 thoughts on “A hard post to write.

  1. Beautifully brave. I cannot imagine what you go through 24/7 regarding Ezra’s allergies and Ezra’s immunity. You are an absolutely amazing mother. Your utter devotion to your son’s well being in all ways is so moving. We love you Anna.

  2. Having lived it with you, having given up pork and beef just to be safe (lamb was never an option) it makes me cry. Love, Gma Daney

  3. I cannot fathom having to worry about so many allergens! Bless you for doing everything you possibly can to protect your children; that’s exactly what great Moms are supposed to do. You have brought such a sensible side to the vaccination debate and I really wish there were more like you bringing light to life-threatening reasons for not vaccinating. Hopefully your little one will outgrow some of these allergies!

  4. Beautifully written. You and D have been through hell and back with poor boy and Im so glad you are comfortable enough to share your story.

  5. You are amazing. My kids are healthy and life is a constant worry. I can’t imagine what you go through.
    I wish others understood that they don’t know everything. You know that you are doing the right thing, no matter what people who think they know better about vaccinations say. You have a great reason for not vaccinating, your child’s life!

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