Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2pm, yesterday afternoon

As I write this, Bean is snoring loudly on the room monitor. Her environmental allergies have spiked - grown horns and developed tails that are long and reaching. We had her annual visit to the allergist a week ago and I'm still tired from that long afternoon.

The sleep Bean is getting now is thanks in part to a grape-flavored Benedryl wanna-be, a pill I gave her before her nap because we'd been outside blowing bubbles. I watched the transformation take place as silver bubbles soundlessly popped against a winking blue spring sky: her nose dripping a slow but steady stream, picking up from a trickle to a stronger flow as the minutes ticked by and cut grass fluttered through the air. She asked me, mid nose-to-sleeve wipe, what the droning thrum was in the background, cocking her head. I told her it was the neighbors' gardeners, their lawn mowers, you understand? When she nodded, she rubbed her eyes, squinting with pink eyelids.

This is what I remember most about this year's allergist visit--- beyond the needle pricks, beyond watching Alice's back abloom with countless red welts. Beyond her cries over the pain and irritation, how much it itched, how much she wanted me to help her. What I remember most about last Monday is watching her play in the waiting room while we listened for our name to be called. She crawled on the carpet quietly chattering to herself as she explored a huge dollhouse set in the corner. She was enchanted with its size, how her little toys could sit at the kitchen table without help, how she could put them to bed in the bedroom.

I watched her face light with wonder, and I thought to myself, "This is my child. Whole and well. I am so lucky."

An hour later I was sitting in a small white room holding her shoulders as a nurse poked her bare back with two dozen tiny needles. I thought about my Alice: the Alice I see in my dreams. An older Alice with greater awareness about the world she lives in. An Alice that I will still struggle to keep safe.

You don't know. You just don't know until you've lived it, what it's like. The hulking weight of responsibility to bear when every grocery cart has the potential to carry something lethal within it. I do the best I can. I keep the weight on my shoulders as much as possible so she can still skip through her days. But I've started to talk to her about the things she can't eat; how we don't eat nuts at all, how some things can make her very sick. And in the coming years, I'm going to have to talk to her about the people who are going to judge her based on her allergies. The ones that say we're over-acting. The ones that say we're over-protective. The ones that tell us she'll get over it if we just let her eat some damn trail mix already.

I've dealt with it more than you know: the mean ones and the well-intentioned ones alike. The ones who don't get it, and the ones that don't want to. The ones who try to help only when it's convenient. Every one of them who fails to see a small piece of chocolate as the deathly delivery device I know it can be.

It's a waste of energy to wish for that kind of understanding, just as it's a waste of energy to wish these allergies away. This is our life, I wouldn't have it any other way. My little girl is sleeping upstairs in deep naptime slumber. She is safe. She is happy. She is well.

And so am I.


Sibley Saga .... said...

I think you are doing a WONDERFUL job! The rest of them can just go....well, you know. I am only just beginning to experience the huge avalanche of unsolicited parental advice and judgements of 'you should do this' or 'you should do that'. It really pretty wild how total strangers tell me what I'm doing wrong as a parent.

Alice is an adorably charming and BRILLIANT little girl. I'm just sorry she has to live with those allergies.

Pickles and Dimes said...

Oh, that bump next to numbers 23/25 breaks my heart. :(

It worries me that so many people are so lackadaisical in their thoughts on food allergies. My best friend's little boy is allergic to a TON of things, and some people will try to offer him something they know he's allergic to, and when my friend intervenes, they'll get all huffy and say, "Well, ONE won't hurt him."

Yeah, it will.

Anonymous said...

This is such an awesome post for me for a weird reason. It's nice to SEE what a red welted, swollen and itchy back looks like rather than be the one suffering. I find it fascinating what it looks like from the other side. I can well commiserate with her, the intense immediate itching and you can do nothing but silently endure. Of course, I at least have the maturity to understand WHY it's happening, poor Bean.

Aside from the food allergies, will she have to do immunotherapy injections for the environmental allergies? I started again last fall and was only able to do it for 6 months before we lost health insurance but that little bit made a huge difference so far this season.

Hugs to you all!

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Oh that last photo just caught my breath in my throat. I don't know if I've fully exhaled yet.

So sorry for you both that you have to deal with this, all of it, especially the people who don't get it.

Those of us who are lucky enough not to get it should be much more understanding, ask questions, and be respectful.

Beautifully written, as always.

Rainyday said...

Poor sweet baby! I look at those pictures and hear your words and am reminded how fortunate we are that the boys seem to only have food sensitivities and intolerances - no actual allergies, life threatening or otherwise. It puts our inconveniences in perspective. *hugs* I hope as Alice grows, things ease up for her.

Bird said...

Dear lord, that picture. The vigilance must be draining in its constancy. You are a great mother, Bean is so lucky. I hope the allergist gave her something more than a sticker after that appointment.