You don’t have to be following the #AAAAI15 hashtag to know that there has been some pretty big research presented, and subsequent news coming out of, this week’s 2015 Meeting of The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology in Houston.
In fact, you’ve probably seen the biggest headliner splashed all over the news like this ABC News report, “Early Peanut Exposure May Reduce Allergies, ‘Game-Changer’ Study Finds.”
Queue all of the Facebook shares and tags, emails from well-meaning and loving family members and friends, the Twitter mentions, the texts.
— NEJM (@NEJM) February 23, 2015
What would Dr. Hugh Sampson do with #LEAP peanut allergy findings? #NEJMForum #LEAP #AAAAI15 | http://t.co/zSdhguHQlH pic.twitter.com/h5d2lpEP2c — Jennifer M. Joe, MD (@JenniferJoeMD) February 23, 2015
— Melinda Rathkopf, MD (@mrathkopf) February 23, 2015
And queue the despair, anger, frustration, and second-guessing of parents like me.
It’s easy to do, isn’t it? Hindsight is 20/20. Second-guessing is woven deep in my soul when it comes to Zachary’s food allergies.
All of the questions, the guilt I’ve carried for so long thinking that maybe I did something to cause these allergies. I had finally freed myself of this guilt, realizing I have always done my best to raise my son well.
And then this.
I followed the rules. I didn’t feed him peanuts until he was nearly one, at which time he had both a little bit of peanut butter and some scrambled eggs. His reaction was horrifying. And now I learn that maybe because I followed the rules, he developed allergies severe enough to cause him to miss out on things like yet another dinner night out to help raise funds for his school because he could end up in the hospital. And he stays home eating here again, disappointed.
It’s really hard, when a report like this comes out, to not point fingers. To not be angry with those who advised us to avoid nuts, and with ourselves for following those instructions. It’s hard not to be terribly sad for our children who may be paying a high price for our rule following.
The past couple of days have required many moments of taking deep breaths and reminding myself that we may never know.
Reading the news reports coming out of this week’s meeting has been a good reminder to me that I have to be the best advocate I can be for my son. That means doing my research, becoming informed, searching out the best specialists I can find, and following through.
In the meantime, I am reminded to practice gentleness and grace. All of us—hubby, me, our doctors—were doing the best we could with the information we had. I cannot second-guess. I should not feel guilty.
This is a mantra I think I’ll have to repeat for many days to come.