Kathy Thornburg’s Top Tips For Families Living With Food Allergies
This month, we welcomed a guest blogger to AllerMates to discuss her personal experiences raising a child with food allergies. Learn a little bit more about Kathy Thornburg’s story and look for some beautiful photography she took of her adorable children wearing AllerMates gear!
Life…it never seems to go quite the way you had in mind. We don’t often envision our future sprinkled with challenges. As young adults, we imagine our lives in a picture perfect sort of way. Picket fences…2.5 children…a dog…maybe even a tire swing in the backyard. However, none of us are immune to the hard times ahead- no matter what form they may take. The difficulties can really shake you to the core, but they don’t have to break you. I’ve learned that different doesn’t have to be a bad word. Medical needs don’t have to derail your life or limit your capabilities, and when that dream of a perfect family is shattered, hopefully you’ll be able to find the beauty in the unexpected road you find yourself traveling.
We didn’t expect to have a child with severe food allergies. One small bite of peanut butter was all it took to turn our lives upside down. We weren’t sure how this would change our lives or what we would do to keep him safe, but over time we’ve found such a supportive community of others living with food allergies and companies providing helpful products for our family. That first year or so of living with this new diagnosis meant immersing our entire family into this world of food allergy awareness. It was a huge time of growth and learning for us, and at the time I wondered if things would ever seem easy again. Well, I am happy to report that, at least for our family, living with food allergies has become so much less overwhelming as time marches on. I would never describe it as “easy”, but I’ve found that when I have the medical knowledge, support of a solid allergist, connections with local and online friends going through similar situations, and open communication within our immediate family, it’s not nearly as debilitating as I had expected.
As my child ages, his allergies have changed. He now has asthma as well, but he has also become interested in so many things that make him a truly awesome kid. (I mean…have you seen his Lego movie? It’s pretty cool.) I now see the importance of reinforcing to him that he is a child who just happens to also be allergic to nuts, but that he is not, “that food allergy kid.” His allergies are part of his life but are not in control of him. He must grow up acknowledging the differences between himself and others, but I want him to also know he should focus on the many, many talents and interests that he also has to share with the world.
It’s my hope that our family can share our experiences and journey through life with others as a way to provide encouragement, advice, and occasional laughter. I want to pass on the kindness that I’ve been shown by so many and help others just starting their journey with food allergies. There’s a great sense of freedom that comes when you combine knowledge with support. Let’s all help each other experience this same freedom.
Now, if you are a busy mom like me, you might be scrolling through this article thinking, “Show me the bullet points! I have kids to chase around the house and dishes to wash. Let’s make this short and sweet!” Here you go…
Kathy’s Top Tips for Families Living with Food Allergies:
– Connect as soon as possible with your local food allergy support group
– Ask for recommendations for an allergist before choosing a specialist
– Lean on your friends in the food allergy community when times get tough
– Be confident in the knowledge you’ve gained over time
– Encourage your child’s interests that help them see they are more than their food allergies
If you’d like to connect with me and follow along on our journey you can visit the links below to follow us on social media, on our website, and through email.
A little bit about Kathy… Kathy is a blogger and graphic designer in North Carolina, mother of two small children (ages 2 and 4), and wife to a student pastor. She loves connecting with other families through social media and encouraging them in their journey with food allergies. She loves making fun food art creations with her kids and creating videos with her family. She’s a thrifty shopper, crafty pinterest gal, and loves an afternoon of drawing with sidewalk chalk and reading kids’ books with the little ones.
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