What if I die?

Boy. Where do I even begin? Lately I’ve been ever so aware of the anxiety that is part of my 8 year old multiple food allergic son’s life. Don’t get me wrong. He’s an incredibly healthy and happy child. Most people never even know his history. Not until they get to know him/us better. Yet the anxiety is there. Scared of the dark. Scared of falling asleep alone. Scared to try new foods. And for crying out loud, scared to try new activities! Once he gets out there, he is fine but trust me. It takes this momma being a bit pushy to get him to just try. He fights it. Sometimes angrily. Sometimes with full on tears. But I trudge on and gently push those boundaries as far as I think he can go. And my gawd. It’s worth every wince and hidden tear that I shed just to see that smile on his face and laughter as he pushes past his fears and comes out on top. But anxiety is persistent and pervasive for the food allergy family, and I bet you think this post is about the anxiety that the food allergic person experiences but I’m sorry to say, it isn’t. It’s short but it’s my own. The mother of an amazing little man with a decent size list of foods to avoid. A mother with anxiety.

In the beginning of our journey, I wasn’t even sure what anxiety really was. I have an aunt who has it and for her, the affects are physical. Think pain so bad that it’s as if she is having a heart attack. I’ve heard others speak of it that way, too, so I assumed that it was severe or on par with a panic attack. I’ve never had either. I don’t panic. I don’t even get too stuck in worrying. I just roll up my sleeves, jump in, and get stuff done. If I’m feeling mentally overwhelmed, I take a nap. Sometimes a REALLY LONG nap but hey. I give myself the chance to recharge. Then I’m fine again. The idea that I might experience anxiety was the last thing in my mind.

Over the 7 years since my son’s anaphylaxis response to a lick of his daddy’s peanut butter and chocolate frozen yogurt, we’ve been through quite a bit. My son had more reactions to new foods. We watched the list grow. We added another child to the mix. Though mild, she has her own set of challenges to work with. And all throughout that time my own health declined. I was diagnosed with a few conditions of my own, including EoE. For my health, we added a couple of other foods to the list of things to avoid. I relearned cooking and baking. I reveled in the challenges and I kept pushing. (Today, experimenting in the kitchen is one of my favorite things to do and I happily dance around when I’m in there.) I realized that the Blue Bear Store was actually draining my energy rather than recharging it, so I made some changes to be able to spend more time with my family. Over the past year, my health has improved and I’m able to be more focused at work and with my children. While I never imagined that our lives were suddenly all perfect and that I had everything under control, I genuinely feel that our lives are happy and blessed. And yet… when I go to sleep at night, the last thing on my mind is ‘But what if I died?‘.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband is an incredible father. My parents are the literally the best people I know in this whole world. As long as they are alive, I know that they would move mountains to help with the children. My in-laws are equally as fantastic and I know that they would be there as well. I don’t doubt any of that that one bit. I’m also not so full of myself to think that I am the only person on this planet who could care for my children and raise them well. Logically, I know all of that. Yet somewhere in the back of my mind, I feel otherwise and it leaves me terrified.

Last year, while my husband was out of town and I was alone with my children, I had an anxiety attack. As I lay there with my children I was flooded with thoughts of would the children know what to do if I died tonight? Would they know who to call? Would they be okay until their father came home? So many thoughts racing through my head that I couldn’t sleep a wink. I didn’t want to fall asleep because I didn’t want to tempt fate and put those fears to the test. I had many nights like that last year and then it finally hit me. I realized that THIS is my form of anxiety. It isn’t brought on by watching my son at public places or even being around his allergens. It isn’t brought on by thoughts of him forgetting his Auvi-Q devices. It probably won’t even be about the challenges that I still have to face when he starts going out with his friends or (gulp) dating. Nope. Somehow, in my attempts to take care of everything, I created my own anxiety trigger. I have twisted things into some idea that I am responsible for everything in keeping my children safe and with that, this ridiculous fear that if I died, all of the things that I did would be lost and the family would have to relearn everything all over again.

This year, my personal goal is to unpack all of that and figure out what I can do, if anything, to ensure that I’ve left information for the family (Big Red Binder?) and that I’m more focused on teaching and guiding rather than always doing. I’m sure that I can and will figure out ways to deal with it and tackle my anxiety but I see some of my fellow food allergy moms – hell, moms in general – taking on so much. It may not manifest as anxiety for them but I’m sure it isn’t healthy. Can we help each other? Let’s at least try. What have you found helps you deal with the stress? Have you found any helpful ways to lighten the load on your shoulders?

DH’s “Fluffy Love” Muffins

Can you show love with a muffin? If you ask my family they would all answer with a resounding ‘YES!!’ though I strongly suspect that they would each have their own version of muffin that speaks love to them the most. What was that book about love languages? Oh yeah! The Five Love Languages of Children. Yeah. They forgot Muffins. Before you say it – No. They do not belong under Acts of Service or Gifts. Because Muffins in this family are a thing of their own. Seriously. They’ll try almost anything as long as it is in muffin form. Anyway… I made these. They’re a hit. I asked for suggestions for names… and my hubby’s won – Fluffy Love. Hands down. Or hands up if you’re shoveling one of these into your mouth. Enjoy!

(DH’s) “Fluffy Love” Muffins

Ingredients 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 cups white sugar 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time30 mins
Servings: 12 Muffins
Author: Burch Family

Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-purpose flour (All purpose gluten free flour will work as well)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbl softened butter (or dairy free ‘butter’)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs (or equivalent Egg Replacement)
  • 8 oz crushed pineapple drained
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 cup grated tart apple

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 (F)
  • Prepare muffin cups
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  • Add butter, oil and egg to flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  • Add pineapple, carrot, and apple and stir until just combined. (The mix will be moist but not runny.)
  • Pour into prepared muffin cups until the batter fills about ¾ of the cup.
  • Put in oven and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes until toothpick/knife/fork inserted in center comes out clean.

Notes

  • The butter can be very soft or even ‘almost’ melted. (If you accidentally melt, let it cool until it begins to thicken again before using.)
  • If you have a food processor, you can just create your own ‘crushed’ pineapple. I used pineapple chunks and just used the shredder attachment for my processor to create more of a mushed pineapple. I then just shredded the carrot and apple at the same time and created a bit of a pineapple, carrot and apple mixture that easily adds to the other ingredients.
  • If you would like to try the lower fat version, you can try Promise. I used it the first time I made these and they were delicious!!
  • If you use an egg replacement like Ener-G, whisk it really well before adding. Trust me. This makes a huge difference in getting a fluffier baked good. One of my favoriate tips for this with baked goods is to warm my water for about 10-14 seconds in the microwave and then add the powder egg replacement. Use a milk frothing wand (I bought a few from IKEA for $3 each) to mix the powder and water together until there are no chunks and it has a bit of an airy quality to it. Sometimes I put some of my vegetable oil in after the powder is completely mixed in and then use my wand again. This works really well when I’m working with gluten free baked goods to add some additional binding and texture to make up for the lack of gluten.

We’ve Closed Our Storefront… but we’re still here!

That day is finally here. (sniffle) Yep. Our storefront is now closed. We don’t know if this is a permanent thing but for the foreseable future, we will no longer be your favorite go-to shop for allergy awareness clothing and accessories. We promise to still be here for you in some way, though. There are so many wonderful support resources and businesses in our #tealvillage. As we have in the past, we will continue to help share those with you. Just drop us an email (teamblue (at) bluebearaware.com) or contact us through one of our social media pages.

As we shared previously, Blue, Ana and friends still have much more to share. Our new Blog will be up in soon. If you aren’t already, be sure to Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date! #BearHugs