Let me start by saying every “mistake” has a purpose. A mistake can lead to learning, understanding, and in this situation a “mistake” led to hope.
If you know Jack or anyone with food allergies, you understand the meticulous details that are involved with ensuring that everything consumed is “safe.” I always tell people that I cannot imagine handling food allergies 10, 20, 30 years ago. The alternative options for food are incredible. Stores like Fresh Thymes and Whole Foods always have a great selection of vegetable based protein items such as cheeses, milks, and yogurts – but for this situation it involves turkey bacon. All these items look just like conventional foods that most people couldn’t tell the difference just by looking at them, especially kids. Back in November Jack had a severe reaction to a single bite of cheese from school. It was a complete accident. The snack that day was sliced cheese. Jack was given his safe approved snack and obviously wasn’t served any cheese. However, like I mentioned, most people can’t tell the difference between real cheese and safe cheese, neither could Jack.He saw that one of his friends had cheese, and it looked like what he has had before. Unfortunately, Jack managed to find a piece and decided to have one for himself. We don’t think that Jack took it from any other kid because of how well he has paid attention to not sharing food. We have seen how he has corrected both Grandmas about not sharing food 🙂
That confusion of safe vs. unsafe cheese was very detrimental to Jack, as he had a reaction within minutes of consumption that led to 2 doses of epi and a rush to the Emergency Room. The response from from the EMS department was second to none. With that said, if any EMS department ever need tips on how to improve their response times, try to harness the adrenaline of a mother who’s coming for her kid.
Fast forward a few months and it takes you to the kids’ spring break and fortunately Jack and Mary were both going to be home together. Again, I can’t imagine how food allergies would be handled without these safe alternatives, including turkey bacon. One morning this week I decided to make regular pork bacon for Mary and myself. After the bacon was finished, I let it cool on the counter and thought it was out of sight and reach of the kids. I was wrong. The pan had been out of the oven for about 15-20 min and I guess the smell was too much to resist. I know how that goes. Freddie also loves bacon and managed to find the pan on the counter. He climbed up and grabbed a couple of pieces of what he assumed was “safe” bacon. One for him and one for Jack. The kids know that if food is on a pan or something, it’s ok to “share.” The no sharing starts when someone starts eating food or has it on their plate. According to blood tests, he should have reactions to pork, including bacon.
This is where our mistake leads to hope. After several reactions and leading to ER visits, since Jack was diagnosed with food allergies, Mary and I were on high alert. While a reaction to dairy can take place immediately, a reaction to pork and/or beef could take 4 to 6 hours, or more. That’s a very bittersweet way to worry. We never want Jack, our kids, or any kids to go through anything detrimental. However, if there is something wrong, waiting 6 hours to know if they need help is mental torture. After that, all we could do is wait. We knew that we had plenty epipens, Mary was home with them all day, the fire department is right down the street, and the hospital is not much further. If there was a time for an accident to happen, we couldn’t have picked a better day. The first hour came and went, then the second, before we knew it, 6 hours had passed (even though it felt like 6 weeks). No reaction! Food allergies are extremely difficult to understand, especially if you’re someone who trusts analytics. As I mentioned, the numbers from his blood tests showed that he should have had reactions to that piece of bacon.
Two days later, we tried it again, this time on purpose. We were both home, both had eyes on Jack, and again it led to no reactions. To say we are both excited, is an understatement. I was ready to go get more bacon, ribs, and ham sandwiches for Jack enjoy!
It’s hope that give us purpose to move forward. The hope of what tomorrow will bring. The hope that things will get better, no matter how big or small they are. Like I said with every “mistake” there’s a purpose. A mistake is something that is the result of what was not originally planned. There are consequences to everything that happens, both good and bad, from our actions, but it’s what we learn from those consequences that lead us forward.
I tell people that there is zero room for error when it comes to Jack’s food allergies, or anyone’s food allergies. He will either have a reaction to food or he won’t. In this case, we found another food that he will not have a reaction to, and that “mistake” gave us hope.