Let me first start by saying we should not compare ourselves to others. Period. However, I do think when we are in a place of pity or frustration it can be helpful to see things from a different point of view.
Over the holidays I was having a massive pity party about my food allergies. I have severe, life-threatening food allergies, and the list of things I am allergic to is quite long. Unless you have food allergies, you may not be able to understand or relate but believe me when I say it can be very hard and scary. The hoops you have to jump through just to make sure the wrong thing doesn’t enter your mouth can be exhausting.
My reactions have been more frequent the last several months, and sometimes I just want to scream at everyone who can eat whatever they want, whenever they want without fear of dying. But screaming accomplishes nothing and it’s not everyone else’s fault that I am limited. It’s no ones fault; it’s just a fact and my reality.
Food allergies are such a big part of who I am that a whole chapter in Discovering Me is dedicated to my journey. Would you like to read an excerpt? You don’t even know how excited I am to have an excerpt to share!!! Consider this a draft only:
I am just going to put it out there: I have severe food allergies. And by severe I mean I could die if I eat the wrong thing. I know, dramatic. But true. Food allergies have been a part of my life since I was a baby. My earliest memory of an allergic reaction was sometime between the ages of 3 and 5. My mom, sister and I were at a friend’s house and they served us hot dogs. Naturally my mom didn’t think anything of it, until I was covered in hives and having trouble breathing. Turkey hot dogs. Who serves turkey hot dogs? I mean I get that hot dogs are often far from real meat but usually you can expect beef.
“Hey Megan, what are you allergic too?” I always respond with, “It’s better for me to tell you what I am NOT allergic to!” Seriously, I have THAT MANY food allergies. Or, if I am feeling playful I will often say, “Anything that oinks, flies, swims or clucks and is cooked in soy or nuts – but if it moos I am good!”
Apparently I watch too many movies and television shows about abductions, kidnappings and hostages. I have always feared that if I was in one of those scenarios my captors would feed me a Turducken and that would be my final bow!
I confess, I may be able to speak about my allergies with a humorous spirit but they really are no laughing matter. Perhaps the hardest thing is when I have an allergic reaction and it makes no sense; meaning there is no ingredient I am allergic too and yet I can’t breathe.
Often times I am convinced that no one can relate to my experiences. Not a single soul has any idea how I really feel and what I go through when I am having a significant reaction. No one. But I am wrong. So very wrong. My pity party ended very quickly on New Year’s Eve.
I am scrolling through Facebook when I saw a friend’s post about having a severe, EpiPen required, off-to-the-hospital reaction. She has a shellfish allergy and was exposed to shellfish while dining at a fine restaurant. Tears streamed down my face as she talked about spending New Year’s Eve in a Benadryl-induced state. I could feel her pain. I could feel her fear. I could feel the rush of the epinephrine running through her system. I knew exactly what she was experiencing… so I thought.
A week later I ran into this friend. I asked how she was feeling and inquired about what happened. She shared her story and I was struck by how fortunate I am with my food allergies. My perspective about the cross I bear changed immediately. Why? When she said that anaphylaxis kicked in because she “breathed in” shellfish, I was rocked to my core. All she had to do was breathe in? Listen, my allergies are bad and I have had some close calls but I have NEVER had to worry about breathing in chicken or fish. I can’t even imagine how hard that might be. And this sweet woman even took extra precautions with the restaurant and management to make sure she wasn’t exposed. All it took – at the very end of her dinner – was a server not paying attention and setting down a tray of shellfish near her table. That was it. That is scary stuff. I am not sure how I would even deal with an allergy of that severity.
Allergies are part of my truth, but going forward when I think about my food allergies I will be reminded of my friend and her horrible life-threatening circumstances. I can see – my perspective is clear – how God takes care of me every time. I see how He surrounds me with people who will walk though those tough moments with me. He provides me with peace as I wait for pills or the EpiPen to kick in. He hears my desperate pleas for help when I am in the thick of a bad reaction and not sure how I am going to get through. Most importantly, He has equipped me to handle the burden of allergies… even when I don’t feel or know that I can. He is always there.
I’ll admit that in trying moments I sometimes lose sight of Him and can only focus on my fear and anger. Fear of not breathing, fear of dying. Anger that I have to deal with this crap and can’t just eat whatever I choose. Anger that I will never be able to walk into a restaurant without hesitancy. All part of my pity party… the party that I no longer want to attend.
I am so grateful that God ended my 2016 with a clear perspective. Someone out there always has something worse – we all know that, we all hear that. But when that someone is a person you know, then that “worse” becomes a stark reality and it changes your perspective.
If you have a propensity to pray, please pray for my friend. Please pray for me. Pray that we may face each day with hope and not be crippled by our fear. Pray that our experiences will help others understand that we aren’t being “picky”; we just want to breathe and enjoy our life. Pray that our allergies miraculously disappear.
I am not sure what you may be facing in your life right now. I invite you to seek out perspective. You may find that things are not as bad as they seem, and even if they are… there is a God Who loves you and wants nothing more than to take care of you, and He will if you let Him.