One Shot at a Time

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Sniffle, sneeze, sniffle, sneeze, sniffle… Repeat. The constant sound that at one point I began to tune out. Spring, summer, winter, fall. My sweet boy could not catch a break. His little eyes always looked a little puffy to me. That feeling as a mom, ugh. Something was off with my boy. Vividly, I remember him asking to pet our neighbor’s cat one summer afternoon. We are dog people, so cat encounters were rare. One little pet and his eyes were almost swollen shut. Mom guilt. How did I not act sooner? Of course, each allergy experience is unique. This is a snapshot of our story. Better days are coming.  

My son had just turned six when I asked for a referral to an allergist. I was told the wait could be long for this particular practice. Ugh. She assured me the doctor is worth the wait.  Funny how things work in life. The phone rang the same day the referral was submitted.  They had a cancellation and I quickly said, “yes!”  In my mind, I thought he would maybe take a daily allergy medication. The nurse said to be prepared for scratch tests on his back. A few quick scratches? No biggie for this active, busy boy. He’s tough, once again proving much more than mom. Better days are coming.   

Testing Day

Sometimes it is better to just show up. Without researching and asking questions. Anxiety was at bay simple because I had no clue about the steps to allergy testing. I had my crew with me and that kept me calm. He would be tested for seasonal allergies. Food allergies were luckily not a concern. The nurses came in and had him lay on his tummy. They were a rock-solid team, working quickly and full of praise. I held his hand and let him watch some shows on his device (don’t judge). Technology saved us and was the distraction we all needed. Watching your child get poked way too many times was gut-wrenching. His eyes said, save me, but my brain told me to stay strong and put on my brave face. After all the scratches were done, he had to stay still for twenty minutes to see what things in our environment would cause a reaction. Technology again for the win! The nurse’s eyes spoke volumes. His back lit up like a Christmas tree! There were only two things in our environment that didn’t react. I mouthed allergy shots to the nurse when he was distracted by his device and she quickly nodded. His allergies were severe. Time to act. Better days are coming.     

The Commitment

Upfront, we were told this would be a five-year commitment. The doctor was candid and said the financial and time commitment is no joke, but worth it all if we could make it happen. The options were shots or daily prescription medications that may not fully help.  When it is your child, you make it happen. All in and ready to make life more comfortable for my boy. Five years of dedication would allow him to live a life free of all of those pesky allergies. We would start shots the following week and she wrote a script for an EpiPen. As a teacher, I am trained to administer an EpiPen. The thought terrifies me, let alone needing to do it on my son. Better days are coming.  

Tears

For the first year, my son received three shots twice a week. Six shots a week in his little six-year-old body. Year one, I had to almost restrain him. He cried and was not quiet about it. Many days I hid my tears too. Was this worth it? Those teary eyes looking at me, his protector. Hard moments. I would give anything to take that pain myself. Mom of the year here. I had no clue that they were injecting him with the specific allergens he is allergic to.  Often when we want something fixed, our minds block the specifics. He kept telling me that the shots stung and my response was to be tough. The nurse pulled me aside privately and said the sting is real. They hurt, burn, and itch. I apologized to my boy and he forgave me quickly. The resilience of a child is a trait that reminds us of the simple joys in life. Not understanding the why and end goal at his age was hard on this mama heart. Here is where the time commitment comes into play. After the shots are administered, you must wait in the lobby for 30 minutes to make sure there is no reaction. You bond in those moments. We have learned about dedication, bravery, goal setting, pain, and sacrifice. Two years from now, I know I will look back and miss the “shot days” with my boy. Better days are coming…  

The Home Stretch

Three years down and two more to go! COVID was the only thing keeping me from giving the doctor a bear hug! One day I will. Her words remind us of how far we have come. I looked at my son and winked. That is our little thing. It has been our little way to communicate. He winked back and gave me a thumbs up! Just affirmation that we can do hard things. In two more years, the goal is shots are done for the rest of his life. Quality of life is brighter for him and I would do it all over again. If you catch him at the right moment, he would agree. We made a pact and we are committed. Just the two of us for the next two years. My son will turn 10 next month. If our chats happen in a doctor’s office, I’ll take it. Find the blessing in the hard. They are in the tender moments of just being together. Better days are here and more are coming. One allergy shot at a time. 

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