Beyond Food Allergies, Allergies, and Asthma – or Why I can’t stop thinking about giving my son worms

Anyone who lives with food allergies and/or asthma knows – it can really make life, regular life, school life, travel life, social life… challenging.  Depending on the severity and the number of food allergies, for example, it can make eating out frightening, if not impossible.   Doing things spontaneously, or longer than planned, can be problematic if you have to get home to prepare food that is safe.  You just can stay later and then catch a bite on the way home.  Distances traveled, and the amount of time you can be somewhere, are dictated by the proximity and access to safe foods and emergency medical care if needed.

This has been our life for the past 7 years.  My son has yet to eat the food in a restaurant (not that most food is something so palatable that I bemoan it’s absence, but…).  I’ve flown with him once, when he was about 5 months old and “food allergies” wasn’t yet part of our vocabulary.  We’ve missed parties, playdates, events, trips…. all because of food.  Well, food, fear of food, and then my own fatigue at somehow coordinating these things safely and prepping something that he’d actually eat – which sometimes just becomes too much for me – so I cheap out and we avoid.  I’m not proud of this – but I am doing the best that I can.

Enter:  an article of interest

There is a health group that I belong to from whom I get frequent emails.  Always interesting, sometimes impressively informative, and just persistently present.  One day I got an email “Article of Interest.”  These are the emails I wait for.  They are usually relevant publications with scientific backing that add to my arsenal of information.

And so I opened it, and clicked Men’s Health: The New, Ancient Cure for Immune Disorders.
The article is a tear jerking (for me and others living with food allergy) and fantasy provoking story about two separate individuals, who for health reasons (one life threatening food allergies and asphyxiating asthma, the other for debilitating Crohns), allow themselves to be infected with helminths… worms… parasites.

“Yuk,” my mother gagged as I read this to her in between my son’s music classes.  “Why would anyone want to do that?”

Good question.  So I thought about it.  Why would anyone want to do that?  Why would we maybe want to do that?

Let’s go back to the article for a moment.  In it, a man, Bear C he is called, the one with the food allergies and asthma, the one who previously would be thrust into anaphylaxis if he ate a peanut… that one – mistakenly eats half a bag of potato chips fried in peanut oil.  Upon realizing this – what do you think he does – of course, I must reveal at this point that he is hosting a tapeworm – does he panic and call 911?  Inject himself?  Die?

None of the above.  He finishes said bag.

That’s where I wanted to cry.  Not that I’d necessarily feel comfortable enough, even if my son was hosting a tapeworm, to give him peanut products – but the fact that he lived.  That his immune system was quiet while he enjoyed, and after he enjoyed, these chips…. that’s where the joy is.

Why would anyone want to host worms?  Why would we want to host worms?

I can imagine eating out.  I can imagine traveling.  Not even traveling, I can imagine going to a party with my son, and not having to huddle and hide from the food table… not have to ask everyone before we shake their hand, they touch him… What did you eat?  Can you go wash your hands?   Take flack from disgruntled parents who just don’t get why they can’t send their kid on the field trip with a peanut butter sandwich.  Worry about spilled milk.  Buy bread baked at a bakery without worrying about sesames or eggs.  Eat grapes and melon in the spring without itchy lips and mouth.  Work more since I could send my son to school with a safe lunch that he would actually eat.  Be a part of more things.  Travel and stay in hotels and areas without worrying about an asthma attack, or where the ER is, or why he just coughed.

I know that we are currently committed to our protocol – but I can’t get those worms out of my mind.  It’s like being in a serious relationship and just wanting the guy in the next cube so badly, you can’t even focus on your work.  Well – a bit like that.

It’s actually better.  Freeing my son of food allergies and asthma, would be the best thing I could even imagine.  Nay, it will be amazing and I can’t wait. 

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