We’re a food allergy family. (Peanut and tree nuts, specifically. Plus four of the five of us have celiac disease just to make it all more interesting. Read: Challenging and immune compromised.)
But as a food allergy family, we’ve trained for this. The pandemic.
Sort of, not really. But yeah, sort of.
It’s not because we want to be the experts on food allergic reactions for our family’s safety, or choose to, but because we must. Our son’s life depends on it. We’ve kept him safe for eight years now. And I’m so thankful. And pray we can keep it that way.
Not to make light of the COVID-19 pandemic by making a direct comparison of the horrendous virus ravaging our world with that of food allergies.
But there are so many similarities. I’ve found myself thinking of them each day, hoping that the compassion we all need to show to each other now and the precautions we need to take will somehow help others understand our world.
This high-stakes, high-anxiety food allergy world.
Regarding COVID-19. I’m terrified. How can a parent not be?
Or a child? Or a sibling? Or a human? We all need to pay attention, practice whatever faith we believe in, listen to the directions given to us and try to not spiral into fear.
But gosh, if coming out of this more people understand why we, as food allergy parents, do what we do for our kids – then I’m thankful. If coming out of this more people understand why kids, as food allergic children, have anxiety and are afraid and feel isolated – then I’m thankful for that, too.
For now, I find myself grateful that our usual supplies for cleaning, wiping, washing, sanitizing are already in our home and I’m not out desperately searching.
I’m thankful in some twisted way that this has brought our kids home to us for a while. That this safe space can be just that – safe – as far as the anxiety and food allergies are concerned.
This pandemic has made it really clear to me – as I’m paranoid of everything I touch – when I leave our home (more so than usual) that this, this, is how my child feels. Every. Day.
He feels afraid of his classroom and the allergens around him. He understands the residue that can live on surfaces.
He knows the cafeteria is full of something that could kill him. And that, translated to this situation, has hit me hard as a mom. No child should feel what we are all feeling now.
But, the bright side, because I’m practicing finding that during all of this – I’ve trained for this.
We, as a food allergy family, have trained for this. Not directly, but in so many similar ways:
Wash your hands. Thoroughly. Often. Everyone.
Use sanitizer. As need. A lot. When you can’t wash. Or do both! (Note: Immune system being impacted increases chance of food allergic reaction. But sanitizer doesn’t remove allergens.)
Wipe surfaces with something that will clean. Really clean.
Be cautious of everything. Residue or invisible danger, can be anywhere.
Keep. Washing. Your. Hands.
Don’t touch your face. (Note: The eyes, mouth and nose can trigger an allergic reaction if you have your allergen on your hand.)
Be alert to those around you and their behavior. Think of how it may impact you.
Pay attention to your body. Tell someone if something feels off.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if it means something scary is coming your way (i.e. the Epi Pen).
Prepare to be isolated. Feel left out. Watch from a distance. Sometimes, it’s necessary for your safety.
Practice love and compassion for others. Remember you are strong despite this. They may not understand, or they may need your help, too.
Try, oh please try, to not let the fear overtake your mind and your amazing ability to be happy and carefree. But, we understand if it does. Because it is scary.
Stay on guard. Always.
One big difference that I pray to be true is that while we will have these life-threatening food allergies in our world for life, COVID-19 may go away.
I just pray it can and it will. Or we find a treatment. And soon.
Now and in the future, just remember that all the precautions you are taking to keep your family safe during this pandemic is an ordinary day for some of us. The fear I feel going to pick up food for these three boys is what my child feels daily at school or out and about.
That thought hit me like a brick. And it should hit you the same, now. Now that maybe you can understand a little better.
We must slow the spread of this deadly virus. We must also practice faith and compassion. Learn from this experience. And above all, love each and every moment you have with each other.
Stay safe. All of you.
This post originally appeared on KiraKroboth.com