It’s been a heck of a year, but things are finally starting to line up for old Liz Lemon.
This time last year, Charlie’s allergy doctor told us to pull him from daycare and described the ideal environment for a kid with such wildly severe food allergies (and such a young age): home. We looked at Charlie’s track record – four anaphylactic reactions in nine months – and thought the doc was making a lot of sense. A week later, MK went to work with the added responsibility of being the sole breadwinner, and the boys and I stared at each other over our cereal bowls.
And I had no idea what to do.
My biggest challenge was learning to cook. My mom tried to teach me when I was in high school, but I got through college on fast food and then married MK, who loves to cook and makes great meals. I had to learn, and I had to do it within the confines of Charlie’s allergies: no milk, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, beans/peas/any legumes except soy and no bananas or strawberry. And, of course, already-made meals were generally off limits – too much risk of cross contamination, and that’s if you could find one that didn’t have an allergen already in the ingredients. I stressed.
But, over time, I learned, and Charlie outgrew his allergies to bananas, beans, and strawberries. I make great, Charlie-friendly baked beans. I have chicken covered. My meatloaf is “the best in the universe,” according to the kids. These days, I don’t stress – as much – about cooking.
And that’s really the story of the other aspects of this new world: I’m more comfortable with everything about being a stay-at-home dad now that I’ve had some time to grow into it. MK is supportive and great and we’ve had fun trading tips and working together. Even the scary part of this is easier. Charlie “popped” (as we call it when he has an ana attack) a couple months ago and we were calm. Our system for keeping Epi-pens nearby worked and the injection (administered by MK this time) went smoothly. Charlie was in deep trouble, but we got him out of it.
So, onward. We’ve taken a trip to Chicago to see family without any trouble. Next up,a food challenge for Charlie in the fall. There are still things to work on – MK and I don’t get to get out together nearly as often as we’d like, for one thing – but things are improving, and Chuck is as safe as he can be.