What Am I Giving Today?

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Not…one…fuck! Oh wait, did I just say “fuck” in a blog post without using an asterisk? Damn straight I did. Why? Well, obviously because I don’t give a fuck.

Last night Declan woke with a fever around 3:30. I was in and out of his room laying with him, taking his temp, and doling out tiny cups of children’s Tylenol. When I finally got him to sleep it was after 5 and I lay in bed worrying. What will I do with him all day at home? What if he’s still sick Saturday and he can’t go to the in-laws so the husband and I can actually talk to each other for once? What if we never get a time to go out? What if we get divorced? What if that pain near my bellybutton is appendicitis? What if I don’t realize it and it bursts and I die of sepsis?

So when we got up this morning and the husband took Brady to school so that Declan could sleep in and feel better, I made a decision. Today would be “don’t give a fuck” day. We would watch TV and use the iPad and do whatever makes D happy and lets me relax for a God damned minute. See, I’m always feeling as if I need to care more, and not just more, but ohsomuchmore. In reality I think it is imperative that I care less. Not ohsomuchless, but certainly less.

I often feel as if every problem I encounter is MY problem. I worry about things from the dump being built in our neighborhood to the overwhelming issue of climate change. I ponder how the class and race issues in this country can ever be solved. I worry about my mom and my sister and my nieces. I worry about my kids. I worry what the other moms at school think of my newly purple hair. While much of this is good and I know that it is good, I also cannot let these things consume me. I cannot solve all the problems of the world. Sometimes I cannot even solve the problems of my apartment. My worry is like an armor that I build around me to keep the bad things from happening. This does not work, but my brain tells me it will. It tells me that if I just know all the problems and worry about all the problems, things will be ok. This is a lie. Feeling these problems around me constantly helps no one and leaves me feeling crushed, drained, and useless.

So today, I am letting myself (and Declan, I guess) off the hook. I don’t have to stop the dump or save the preschool or make sure that the kids are being stimulated in a developmentally appropriate manner while eating organic vegetables from BPA-free, recyclable plates. I just need to keep us all alive and in decent order. We can eat pizza and watch a movie and (gasp!) not clean up immediately.

Today I am not giving a fuck and it feels FAN-TAB-ULOUS! That pain near my belly button has melted away and somehow I actually got a bunch of freelance work done. Many people, perhaps too many people, live this way day-to-day. I think the evidence of that is all around us. But I can’t make up for their lack of caring by caring extra. What I can do is give myself a little break. I can go back to my worries with a renewed spirit and a fresh perspective. Maybe I can manage to cut some of my concerns from the list and leave them to someone else. I can definitely give my kids, or my husband, or even (maybe) myself that extra minute, without feeling like I should be somewhere else, trying to do some other thing, at the exact same moment. And I can enjoy it. At least for today…

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The Food Challenge

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I’ve written here before about Declan’s dairy allergy. When he was 9 months old he pulled a cup of milk over onto himself and promptly broke out in hives everywhere it touched his skin–clearly a problem. Again, I’m thankful that I not only breastfed him, but that I was off dairy for my own reasons while I did it. Anyway, a trip to the allergist confirmed that he was allergic (not sensitive, not lactose intolerant, actually really allergic) to milk. We were told to try slowly introducing cooked milk products and see what happened and to come back for a skin test in six months. The allergist assured us that most kids outgrow this allergy by the age of two. She also told us that we would need to carry an EpiPen with us at all times. While the chance of him going into anaphylactic shock was very low, it was still there.

Subsequent skin tests, disappointingly, showed that he was still allergic. Each time that red welt appeared on his skin within seconds of the nurse scratching on the milk. At two, he was still allergic and we were to come back in a year. In the meantime, we should still try more cooked milk products. He was able to eat pizza and grilled cheese. This past August I took him back for a skin test before starting preschool, hoping to avoid the EpiPen paperwork and the worry that he would touch butter while baking in class.

Amazingly, no welt appeared on his arm! I was so relieved! But, the EpiPen paperwork would still have to be done. We still had to do a food challenge to be sure he could tolerate milk. I went to the front desk to schedule the appointment and was told it would be more than THREE MONTHS before we could do the challenge, during which Declan would eat small amounts of some raw dairy product while being closely monitored over the span of a few hours. I was deflated, but still hopeful.

The food challenge is tomorrow. I’ve been waiting and waiting for this day. I have yogurt and chocolate milk and cheese sticks–all foods that he wishes he could eat–in the fridge waiting. He is excited and even told his teachers that he gets to “go to a doctor appointment and eat dairy!” I got the confirmation text from the allergist’s office on Saturday afternoon. It mentioned that there should be “no signs of respiratory symptoms.” So, of course, Declan woke up with a cough on Sunday morning.

He seems ok, but I am FREAKED out! What if they turn us away? What if we have to wait another THREE MONTHS? I feel pretty sure I have a restless night ahead of me. His nose isn’t runny and his cough seems to only be in the morning, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. He’s a three-year-old and it’s November! Are there any three-year-olds who DON’T have respiratory symptoms in November. I’m aware that there’s a medical reason for this, but come on! Because I need him to have this test. I don’t care about what he can and can’t eat. It’s honestly not that difficult to avoid dairy. I just don’t want to worry anymore. I don’t want to worry that some kid will spill their Horizon milk box on him at the playground and he’ll break out in hives…or worse. I don’t want to have to worry that he’ll get frosting on his skin at a birthday party or grab his brother’s yogurt when he inevitably doesn’t throw it away. I don’t want to have to worry that I mixed up the cereal bowls because I was too tired and accidentally gave him the one with real milk.

I’m also thankful that there’s a possibility that he’s outgrown his allergy. It’s tough to avoid touching certain foods. I feel awful for the kids who have allergies they can’t outgrow and that they will take through adulthood. Good thoughts for us that all goes well tomorrow and Declan happily slurps up some yogurt with no adverse reactions.