By Rachel Doreian

Community Story: Tracy

My Light Bulb

By Tracy Bush Nutrimom®- Food Allergy Liaison

If someone were to ask you today Have you found your passion in life?  would your answer be yes? What brings us to a point in our lives that tell us that we have absolutely found our own personal mission? My theory- first we must go through the darkness to see the light. It’s not about making ourselves a victim, it’s not about allowing your life to become driven by things that happen beyond our control; it’s about taking control and knowing that it will show you the light. This is my story of how I found my light.

I am the mother of a food allergic child- I have been for fifteen years. My story began like many others- a colicky baby, no sleep, doctors that just didn’t help us much. Food allergies can be debilitating for the person diagnosed as well as the entire family. It’s something that stops your world dead in its tracks and forces you to redo everything in your typical routine. There is no more easy way to do anything- not in the beginning anyway. When your child is diagnosed, your world as a food allergy parent begins each day filled with fear and hope- fear that you may never see your child alive again and hope that you will see your child alive again. It’s that simple.

I admittedly wallowed in the fear of the diagnosis for awhile and became that parent. I would check on him each and every night to see if he was still breathing. My house was always wiped down and we never traveled without food, epinephrine and the possibility that there may be an allergic reaction at any moment. My son could not just go to the playground- what if he met a child that was eating a peanut butter anything and touched him? What if an innocent snack that was shared out of kindness meant the end of my child’s life? All of those other mothers were complaining about how their children won’t stop eating…yes but your children can eat anything. And yes, I freak out too when my son is smeared with birthday cake but in a completely different way- it could kill him. We are never taught as parents that this could happen. We are never armed with the strength of how to react when the pediatrician calls back and asks if your child is still breathing. Most importantly, we are conditioned that all doctors are doing what is in our family’s best interest. I am here to tell you this may not be the case. How do we become empowered when there was never a clear indication of just how extreme our parenting skills would be put to the test?

Food allergies reshape personal areas of your life. When you are a food allergy mother, your parenting schedule is on high alert which means your needs as well as anyone else’s needs are put on the back burner. Your personal time is a pipe dream. Your marriage morphs into this new, strange place in your life that turns you into a food allergy officer. Did you wash your hands? Did you read the label on the box? Did you feed him anything new that may have caused the rash on his face? It puts you on the defensive, always and sometimes it can even leave you feeling as if you are your child’s only protector, even if that is not the case. There is no time to think with food allergies- you just react and quickly because this is what an allergic reaction does to your child. Whoever reacts the fastest wins and you always want to win. The thought of what could happen to your child is something that your brain cannot even allow itself to think about. Not for a minute, not even for a millisecond. Thinking about the possibility of your child dying is every parent’s nightmare but it’s worse if you begin to think that your poor judgment may have been the cause of it.

Then I realized that every single person that goes through an overwhelming food allergy diagnosis should not have to go through what follows right after- no guidance. How do you begin, how do you feed your child safely and still nourish them, how can we feel safe as a family again and how do we remember that food is not the enemy, just the fear of the foods? My light bulb moment went on and I refused to let my family or any other family feel this unprotected and alone. I didn’t want to allow my child’s food allergies to be overpowering- I wanted to overpower them. How was I so sure that this was my purpose? When I became a mother every single day of my life I never wanted to stop being a mother regardless of how tired I was, how discouraged, how angry or sad. I began each and every day needing to be a mother. It made me feel whole and complete. This is the same exact feeling I have about helping other people with food allergies.

What began as a simple blog for me to share my thoughts has surpassed what I thought would ever have come from where I began. Because of my son’s food allergies, I wrote an ebook, started a consulting business, began working with multiple national companies and creating articles and recipes. Because of my son’s food allergies, my non-allergic daughter has a better understanding about what her foods should contain. She knows how to read labels and how to try to educate her friends, even if they don’t have food allergies. The best part- our family’s foods transformed from consumer-driven packaged items to healthier, wholesome foods and we are thankful. Because of food allergies, the end of our lives became the beginning. My goal going forward is to make anyone else going through this food allergy journey begin to feel the same way.  I write, I cook, I laugh and I aim to make everyone else do the same. You are NOT limited by your foods, only your knowledge on how to use them.

About the Author: Tracy Bush is the founder of Nutrimom, Inc. – a consulting business that specializes in food allergies and helps to provide guidance and support for anyone that has been diagnosed with food allergies. For more information, visit her at AllergyPhoods.com

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