Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.”
by Melissa Keaster
I’ve always had allergies. I struggled with them as an infant, throughout my childhood, and into adulthood. In my early years, it was the normal stuff—dust, dairy, grass, pollen, cats, birds. A daily antihistamine kept my symptoms under control.
I’ve also always had Jesus. I’ve loved him as long as I can remember, talked to him since I was a little girl. I haven’t always held onto him as I should, but he’s always had a firm grip on me. When I ran, he chased me down. When I fell, he picked me up. When life fell apart, he held me together and brought joy into the nightmare. And when the furnace of suffering had burned away all that was left of my old life, he raised me from the ashes—into something new.
A day or two after Christmas 2004, I experienced my first systemic reaction to a food. Pistachios. I was popping them one after another with the rest of my family when my ears and tongue began to itch and my throat swelled. I took some Benadryl, and didn’t think much about it until early 2006 when the symptoms returned with almost every meal.
Relief came after eliminating wheat, soy, corn, dairy, and nuts from my diet. It wasn’t easy or cheap to eat with such restrictions, but I learned to manage after a time. Accidents happened, of course, but Benadryl kept things from getting out of hand.
My environmental allergies worsened as well, so I saw an allergist. He wasn’t comfortable even testing my food allergies due to the risk, but he recommended treatment for two or three environmental ones.
With allergy shots, the goal is to increase the amount of allergen injected as the reactions improve. My reactions worsened as the amount of allergens decreased. After a year of treatment, my food allergies were worse than before. I developed asthma. I had to carry an Epi pen and emergency inhaler wherever I went. And I began to react systemically to every shot. They assured me this was “normal.” I assure you, it wasn’t.
When I became pregnant with my firstborn, I stopped treatment and never went back.
Though I’d experienced the delights of Epi at the allergist’s office, I never had to self-inject until a few months after the birth of my son. A few chow mein noodles hiding in a subpar chicken salad sent me to the ER after 100mg of Benadryl and two epinephrine injections. It was after this I realized my life may not last as long as I’d planned.
But still I managed pretty well, considering. Until January 2011.