Dealing, living, with food allergies has the unfortunate consequence of numerous trips to the ER every year for anaphylactic reactions. My last visit was just a few weeks ago. It was more series than previous visits, I was intubated and spent some time in ICU and was eventually discharged after a five day stay in the hospital. The physical toll has been rough. I did not bounce back like I had expected too. In the past, I’d spend a few hours in the ER getting IV drugs, go home and be at worth the next day. This time was different, it totally wiped me out. The medications effected me in ways I was unprepared for.
However, as hard as the physical has been, nothing could could have prepared me for the mental and spiritual aspects. Normally, after a reaction, I’ll struggle with nightmares and some anxiety (the typical ‘did I read that label?’ ‘Is this really safe?’ ‘Am I sure there is no possibility of cross-contact?’). This time is different. I am numb. No nightmares, no tears, no anxiety…nothing. I have been told this is normal after trauma, that it is part of the grieving process. Grieving over the life that could have been, health, the loss of the good.
What no one seems to completely understand is that living with this particular autoimmune disease is like being on a yo-yo. It’s not just a ‘reaction’, as if it is just itching and sneezing, it is a brush with death EVER SINGLE TIME. Every time my throat closes and I reach for my Epi-Pen I tell myself that it will be ok, and as a Christian I know no matter the outcome it will be ok, but the thought of having to go through that again is overwhelming.
So, what to do with this mess? Currently there is no cure and pathetically little in the way of research for a cure. So, live. It is simple to the point of trite, but powerful. Let your adversity shape you and mold you, let it smooth the rough edges and make something beautiful. The hardships and valleys in life are the tools used to shape us, not that we would be stronger and more pragmatic, but gentle and ultimately more dependant on God.