A Higher Degree of Responsibility

I’ve been living like most Americans. I have always expected that as long as I had money, I could get what I needed, when I needed it. Food isn’t something I thought about much, and less so about things like shampoo and laundry soap.

Since becoming allergic or sensitive to almost everything, my perspective has had to change. I’ve been feeling frustrated for months, because controlling my diet has been so hard. I can’t eat out ANYWHERE without eating things that I pay for later. I can usually choose items that aren’t too bad, but sometimes am left with no good choices. It is very hard to control it everywhere.

Recently I attended a dinner. The person preparing it asked me ahead of time what I could eat, and assured me that he’d have things there that were “safe” for me to eat. My son and daughter have nearly the same restrictions, so he assured me that we’d be able to eat the dinner. I took him at his word, since he had asked me ahead of time what I could have.

When we got there, dinner was served – and not ONE THING on the menu was anything that I could eat without a consequence. It was a fairly normal dinner – but every item was off limits. The meat, the bread, the potatoes, the salad, every bit. Oh, I can eat those things, but only certain kinds, and only if made a certain way.

I’ve realized that if I want to keep myself from paying for it later, I have to take complete control – I can’t leave anything to anyone else’s judgment. If I am invited to dinner, I need to pack my own food, just in case. When I travel, I have to have pre-cooked food with me, because I can’t buy things in restaurants or even most grocery stores to eat on the road.

The world now lives by rules which don’t accommodate some kinds of differences. Not really. And where particular health needs are concerned, nobody else ever WILL care enough to remember it all and help make sure it is done right. Not the schools, not the doctors, not the friends or family, even. They may WANT to, but they simply don’t. Often, when you explain what you can or cannot do, they water it down and assume a little fudging won’t matter. And it does.

Kids with diabetes will be given sugar without regard to their blood sugar balance, and the individuals responsible won’t be the ones in the ER with them. Kids with allergies will be given irritants, in spite of having been told that they cannot have this and that it is serious, and those who did it won’t be up all night with them trying to control a bad reaction. Kids with Crohn’s will be given milk, or soy, or preservatives, and the person who gave it to them won’t be there when the kid is doubled over in pain later that day. It is just human nature to not take it seriously until you’ve lived with it.

It is at once intimidating, tiring, and empowering. The realization that I am the only person responsible for it, and that I HAVE to make SURE that there are no exceptions. It is hard – but it also means that I can choose to make things better, myself, and that I don’t HAVE to have to give anyone else control over that.

When we go shopping in Laramie, I have to pack a cooked organic meat patty, a homemade whole wheat roll (made with fresh milled flour and coconut or olive oil), an organic cucumber, an organic apple, and an organic yogurt with a lactaid tablet. I have salted cashews (roasted without peanut oil), and dried mangoes (organic, unsweetened), tucked in the side pocket in the door of our car. They stay there permanently, for emergency food. I also have spoons and forks there, so that if I have to eat on the road, I’m equipped for it. When we stay anywhere overnight, I pack my food. We stay in hotels that have a fridge and microwave because I can’t eat out.

Yeah. It is VERY hard. But it is also very necessary. Each time I eat something I should not, it takes me two weeks or more to heal from it. There are so many things that can happen by chance, like the Organic apples we bought the other day, that had been washed in something that gave me a belly ache – I could not have seen that one coming. So I have to control every single thing I can, every single time, or I end up losing ground instead of getting better.

I AM getting better. It is slow, and it is hard, and sometimes I can’t tell you how much I just want to go and eat pizza. But I don’t. Because I want something better. And it has a price, and I am the one who has to pay it.

In the end, WE are the ones responsible for our health. Not the doctor, not the cook, not our family, and certainly not the government! The only way to improve it, is to take that responsibility.

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