Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Living With Allergies: Part Two

This is the second post from Peter in his series about living with severe food allergies.  To read part 1 click here.  


You see, having allergies isn't really about “not eatinng"-- at least for me. I don’t exactly know what I’m missing out on, so when I say “I have never eaten sushi in my life,” I don’t being to cry uncontrollably. For all intents and purposes, I hate sushi, so who cares if I can’t eat it? So really, not being able to eat certain things never sucked that much. It’s the efforts I had to take to stay away from the foods that have taken a toll.

I think my first memory of thinking “allergies blow” is from 4th grade or so. My friend Nicky was having a birthday party at a local sports center, and all the cool kids were invited. Well, it wasn’t actually like that, but kids were talking about it a lot, so there was hype. Thus, you can imagine how pumped I was when I got my invite. Just think about it, little Peter, so innocent, so unaware: all I wanted was to go to this party. And yeah, of course I made it, and of course I was having a blast. But then something happened. All my friends were called into this side room, so I just followed. And I had just gotten a glimpse of what it looked like, balloons and chairs and plates and hats, and it seemed pretty cool. But that was when my mom suddenly stopped me, telling me “Oh, Peter. You shouldn’t go in there, they are serving pizza, and I don’t want you reacting.”

Now, bear with my mom here. Whenever I tell this story, people are all like “wow she really overprotected you.” She tells me now that she was paranoid that the kids would throw the pizza back and forth, which actually had happened at a birthday party my brother had gone to recently. So the idea was fresh in her memory, and she was being safe. There is no love lost, but nevertheless, the situation really bothered me. I turned away from the room, and went to go kick a soccer ball, alone and waiting for them to come back. My mom did actually sit there with me, but there was a feeling of isolation, being an outcast in a way.

I think similar scenarios had played out before this one, but this instance really stuck with me because in the following week in school, my friends were talking about the party, and they referenced some sort of specific event that happened while they were eating. I had no clue what they were talking about, but I laughed, and then stupid Casey had to say “Peter you weren’t there you don’t get it.” I mean, screw that guy, right? That hurt a lot. I didn’t cry or anything, because I was a manly 4th grader, but I really wanted to tell him why that was such a terrible comment. Of course, I was little and couldn’t express myself well, so I just carried on. That’s really the worst side of my allergies; they don’t just stop me from eating food. They hold me back from enjoying certain activities. I had to stay inside at camp during the egg toss. I was never in the line at school to get food on bagel or pizza day. The amount of times I had to reject candy from confused adults on Halloween is about a zillion. It’s really a shame that the skill hasn’t been utilized to its fullest, yet--I’m looking at you, creepy guy with minivan.

Now that I’m older, this stuff doesn’t really bother me. However, my childhood will always be partly remembered for these restrictions I had to comply with. Nowadays, the cons of allergies are really what would be expected. I can’t eat food, and I have to deal with that. Because I’m older and wiser, I can determine which situations are safe and create my own restrictions. I no longer stay back kicking soccer balls, I’m right there at the table…just not eating. However, one thing that allergies still stop me from doing that I want to point out is they keep me from going out to eat. I don’t go to restaurants with my friends, I stay home and eat. It’s definitely made me really attached to the place I live, but by no means am I a hermit. Plus, I’m sure there are things that places can do to accommodate my condition, I’ve just never felt it’s worth the effort to ask. I go home to eat, then meet up with my friends later. It’s not even that bad, and I also get to save cash.

In fact, I think it’s about time I get to the pros of my allergies. I’m just going to bang them out, because there is no point in being dramatic here. I eat relatively healthily. If I ever have to diet when I get older, it’ll be easy. I have amazing self-control, and I’m not bragging. I am excellent at reading food labels. I have seen an immense amount of human kindness in my life. It means a lot to me that when I tell people I have allergies, they instantly back off and say “Oh, should I not be eating this here?” Maybe I read too much into moments like that, but I think it’s awesome.

And finally, this is my favorite. I believe my allergies have given me a sense of hope in life. Because, well, chances are I will sooner or later grow out of most of my allergies. That fact has always been with me. Today I may not be eating that cheeseburger, but one day I will. The only direction is up. It’s a fantastic feeling, and it makes life that much better. No matter how bad things are, something out there can make it better. And of course, you cynical bastards ask “what if you don’t grow out of them?” To that, I say this: Some things just don’t work out. I have lived with allergies for 17 years, I can do it for another 83. It’s just food.

--Peter

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