Life is...

If you are new to allergy or dietary intolerance and find it all overwhelming - take heart.  Breathe.  Things do get better.

My husband Daryll is the third of four children in his family.  He has been anaphylactic since a toddler: shellfish, nuts, egg, wheat, dairy, egg, cat hair, dust mites, corn, and sulfites.  He had severe eczema and asthma, and had many hospital admissions from his toddler to teen years.  Often enough, that the staff would recognize him on admission.  One notable event was an anaphylactic reaction to a skin prick test in hospital at age 12: he immediately reacted the test was completed, and as it was clear it was serious, his arm was scrubbed clean, he passed out, and later found out he was administered adrenalin and placed on IV. 

On another occasion he was admitted to hospital for asthma, was almost recovered a few days later, then was given eggnog (a drink made of milk, cream and egg yolks) for breakfast.  He had an anaphylactic reaction to this and his stay was extended by several more days.  Life is the pits sometimes!

His mother is amazing, as for a time, when Daryll was a toddler she raised him on a limited diet (mostly arrowroot biscuits, ribena, and goats milk) without the benefit of internet recipes, you-tube or support groups like Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia.   Her journey was largely trial and error, and with conflicting advice from specialists.  While she managed against the odds to keep Daryll alive to see his teen years, sadly, she lost her husband to a (then) rare skin disease (schlerodema) when Daryll was 12.   She went on to raise Daryll and his 3 siblings on her own: a 16 year old, 14 year old, and a 6 year old.  Her mother was proud of her achievements and so am I.  As I said: she is amazing.  Life is... unpredictable: make each day count.

Shortly after I started dating Daryll at 17, he ended up in intensive care with asthma due to having the flu and a chest infection.  This was my first introduction to severe asthma, and there were many other events like this.  We slowly turned this around by managing our diet, got good continuous care via a family GP (with honours) recommended by respiratory specialist, and have been more proactive with our health - treating at earliest signs rather than "wait and see".  The "wait and see" approach was a natural counter reaction to the anxious parenting he received while growing up - with his Mum being concerned at the slightest sniffle (I soon learnt why).  Daryll had bad associations with doctor's visits as they usually referred him to the hospital for admission, and painful treatment.  His response as a young adult was to try to self-manage, and avoided going to the doctor unless his health was quite bad.  As a result we occasionally ended up going after-hours to a 24 hour medical clinic which had a high turnover of staff.  We found the problem with this is, the doctors don't tend to rely on someone elses' notes/observations and potentially second guess them.  Having fallen foul of that a few times, prompted us to get continuity of care.  Life is... a series of hard learned lessons.

Now, much further down the track, thankfully Daryll is only anaphylactic to nuts and shellfish, and allergic to cat hair.  We do our best to avoid both.  He has been on experimental drug trial for the past 3 years (thanks to a proactive dermatologist) - with fantastic results for his asthma and eczema, and has good health at age 50.  For the first time in his life he has been off alternate-daily prednisone.  For those who have needed it you know how great that is.  Life is... rewarding. 

We also have two beautiful teenage daughters aged 20 and 17.  Our eldest daughter is anaphylactic to dairy, and allergic to egg, has asthma and eczema.  She recently went overseas on a 2 week mission trip to Cambodia on a vegan diet and came back incident free, well fed and with great lifetime memories.  That's wonderful!  Our younger daughter has also grown out of her childhood peanut allergy (Hallelujah!) and has a great diplomatic attitude towards others.  We can't wait to see what life adventures she has.  Life is... delightful.

Health is important, but it shouldn't wholly define who we are eg. asthmatic, allergic, diabetic etc.  It is part of our life experience, but the greater part is the relationships we have, and the way we respond to ups and downs.  I love my husband so much and am grateful for his outlook on life: 

"Every day matters".

"Try to live without regrets."

"Appreciate what you've got." 

(things could be worse/there's always someone who is worse off eg. cystic fibrosis, cancer or... inground cynicism) 

"Treat each other as you would like to be treated."

So my advice to you is: "Hang in there.  Draw friends and family close.  Find sympathetic and helpful professionals."  - I will be praying for you.

"Life is... 10% of what happens to you

and 90% of how you react to it"

- Charles Swindoll