While connecting with other who have eczema at a patient conference, I heard someone make the profound statement:
“It may not be life threatening,
but it is life altering.”
Many of us diagnosed with atopic dermatitis or severe eczema and or a nickel food allergy can probably relate to this statement, especially since so many of us were diagnosed as adults. My nickel food allergy doesn’t cause anaphylaxis for me, though it does for some individuals. Regardless, living with any sort of food allergy certainly changes your own and your family’s life.
What I also appreciate about this statement is that it doesn’t minimize the difficult adjustment involved. As I’ve written before, it took me a awhile to adjust to the low nickel diet and figure out what I could eat. After you’re told you are allergic to foods high in nickel, it can take time to figure out what that means. You receive this random list of foods to avoid. With little explanation you’re left to decipher what it means and learn how to creatively make recipes without those ingredients. Immediately, I had to begin evaluating not only my eating and cooking habits, but also planning meals sometimes days prior, enhancing my self awareness.
My nickel food allergy requires me to ask questions of everyone and anyone that came in contact with my food. Emotionally I dealt with aspects of sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and empathy. I still experience frustrating moments or days where I find myself asking “why me” and “why now?”
Despite the frustration of living with a unique food allergy, my nickel food allergy has also allowed me to gain perspective about so many things I never considered prior. Today I am full of gratitude. I am also armed with knowledge that enables me to tackle my food allergy head on and I believe you can too!