(Our peanut allergy research journey. May 2nd.)
DEAR PEANUT ALLERGY: I WANT A DIVORCE.
You truly have been a ball and chain that I have been shackled to since my son was born. You have been abusive – making me worry constantly and nag him excessively. I’ve lost friends because of you. I’ve had to fight for my son because of you. I’ve had to rush him to the emergency room because of you. I’ve had to work way too hard to send him to camp safely or fly on an airplane so he could see the things he dreams to see.
You have been an unwanted guest at family gatherings. Remember the ones we had to leave because of you? Or how bad you made my family feel when they didn’t follow all of your rules? You wouldn’t let us trick-or-treat on Halloween. You wouldn’t let us go to ball games. You wouldn’t even let us have a simple vanilla shake from Sonic.
As in any marriage, good or bad, you learn a lot, and you learn a lot about yourself. So yeah, Peanut Allergy. I’ve learned to live with you and I’ve learned from you. I’ve learned that those friends I lost weren’t true friends and not being around my son was really their loss. I’ve learned those heated battles that were outside of my comfort zone can arise from a strength I didn’t know I had when it comes to protecting my son. I’ve learned to be alert and diligent and to guide him in his own responsibility of dealing with your cruelty by being alert and diligent. I’ve learned that I’m made of the right stuff for this. I can educate and advocate and protect my son and if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to invest in a journey with him that’s unique among his peers (and my peers). I’ve learned to fly!
So I want you to pack up and leave, Peanut Allergy. I want you to take your stuff that lays around my house, hangs from my son’s neck, wraps around his wrist, and clips to his backpack and I want it gone.
Yesterday, we went to a research clinic and began the proceedings for a divorce from you, Peanut Allergy, and I filed for full custody of my son. I will no longer share him with you. We have given consent for this clinic to allow you to bring my son your typical misery and plague me with my worst nightmare as he is tested with increased amounts of peanut until his reactions meet the criteria for enrollment into the study.
It will be difficult to separate you from my son. It will take months, perhaps years, to be free of you. But if you remember, I’m made of the right stuff. For fourteen years I’ve been committed to living safely with you. Now I will be committed to live safely without you.
You will definitely do your dirty work everytime we give you a chance. And you’ll have that chance. Very soon. You will accompany us, because everywhere we go, you accompany us.
In a couple of weeks my son will have his first food challenge for peanuts. You’ll show up in a big way. We know that. We expect it. We actually want it. Because there will be more papers to file documenting the reaction and that will lead us to the next step in this journey to be rid of you.
Unfortunately you still hold a lot of power over me. This separation from you will involve a lot of activity and interaction with you over the next year and a half, and you know I fear that a great deal. But another thing you’ve taught me is to trust God more than I ever thought myself capable.
I’ve also grown a great deal of compassion in my heart for other food allergy sufferers. If this attempt to divorce you, restraining order and all, works for us, it brings hope for others. And hope, Peanut Allergy, is something you’ve robbed us of for far too long.
So there you have it, Peanut Allergy. I’m giving you a heads up that I have filed for a divorce. Please don’t fight me. Please don’t rob me. I deserve this. I’ve done everything you’ve required and I’ve done what God has required… I’ve placed my trust in Him.