Monday, March 14, 2011

May contain traces...

I have a pile of letters.
They remain letters unwritten.
I have wanted to tell you so many things.
But I also desire to say only what is beneficial and blameless,
so there have been few words.

We are squeezing in our fair share of fun, parks, ice cream, libraries, etc. Things we don't get in Africa. But we also needed to squeeze in quite a few doctors appointments and chase down some answers to what exactly is going on with our health.

I finally got in to see a wonderful allergist - maybe the best of the four I've ever seen. I'm not just biased because his son is a linguist living overseas and his waiting room is stocked with overstuffed leather couches. Love. (You see dust mites can't move through leather - they are dust-free furniture!!!) I walked in with a pile of questions and walked out with answers.

For as long as I can remember I have reacted severely to tree nuts. Not just the nuts. Anything that has shared airspace with a nut. (That's right, no donut or cookie shops and certainly no coldstone.) We're not talking about a few scratchy bumps on the arm either. I'm an overachiever. I have the whole throat-swelling-shut, run-to-the-ER-and-stab-yourself-with-an-epi-pen reaction.

Way back when I was a wee bairn, food labels were much less informative and no one had ever heard of dying from a nut allergy. I actually didn't believe it could be dangerous. I had grown up eating Honey Nut Cheerios. I felt fine. Just avoided the Chex Mix and Russell Stover's at Christmas. Worked for me. There were two mysterious times I didn't understand where I ate a cookie at a potluck (potlucks are like Russian Roulette for people with severe food allergies let me assure you) that I found out later had almonds in it. My uneducated hypothesis was that the almonds in Honey Nut Cheerios and the potluck cookies must have been SO processed that there was really no protein left for me to react to. But... AHA! My allergist confirmed the truth that, in fact, I am NOT allergic to almonds. Just all the other nuts. =)

YAY! I've been happily eating my fill of Honey Nut Cheerios ever since!

Sorry, that was a really LONG way to say that I went in with my list of allergies and, for the first time in my life, got to cross one off! Sadly enough I had to add egg and soy to non-almond tree nuts, black bean, kidney bean and Nido milk powder. So you win some, you lose some.

I'm so thankful for a country that enforces good labeling (it is not so elsewhere in the world my friends). There really is a difference between 'manufactured in a facility...' and 'may contain traces'. I'm somewhere in between. For whatever reason, 'manufactured in a facility...' works for me while 'may contain traces' does NOT.

I'm also so thankful for doctors and the amazing tests that can be done today. It used to be that finding a food allergy was like finding a needle in a haystack and usually involved elimination and substitution diets that took months or years. The food often tasted like a haystack too. Now there are amazing food options and blood tests that tell us what your immune system is doing. Exactly. This week. Such an incredible gift.

As expensive as all this stuff is, I am very thankful also for all the different specialists out there who can really serve our needs. This next 10 days I will drive 90 minutes to one specialist and 2 hrs to another, but I know we will be getting an answer.

So pray we would get the answers we need to prepare well for our next 2 years in Congo. We leave in only 8 weeks...


Linda said...

Sorry, Kim, for the allergy problems. I remember one scary time in Kenya, at a Christmas program, right? Thanks for explaining your current situation. I rejoice with you that you've had access to excellent specialists and tests. I'll keep you in my prayers.

Allie said...

I pray that God will help you reach many people in the Congo! I also pray that God will provide the safety and incouragement towards your wonderful and beautiful family! Sending prayers your way,

OliveTree said...

Wow, it must be challenging to deal with food allergies in the Congo. They are almost unheard of here in Turkey, so it's very hard for people to understand or take seriously. May the Lord give you grace.