There is no doubt that we live in a culture highly aware of the risks and dangers of allergies. Now that the warmer weather has come around those with asthma and hayfever are most definitely feeling the unpleasantries the new season can bring with it.
But what about those among us who live with allergies that are not merely seasonal?
Chronic illnesses are a reality many people – young and old – have to face every single day throughout their entire lives. While some may ‘grow out’ of these so-called childhood illnesses, others have had to endure such discomforts beyond their infancy and primary school days.
While people can easily see allergies on a person’s physical body, what often is unseen or not properly understood is the emotional and psychological toll living with allergies can have on an individual.
That’s why this week SO wanted to share Jelynn’s story.
Having lived life with severe allergies for over 30 years, Jelynn shares with us the many lessons learnt and victories she’s won for the small 8-year-0ld girl in the photo below:
I want to give the girl in this picture such a hug.
I want to tell her that, whether she can imagine it or not, the day will come where she won’t have to wake up every morning and carefully pull the mask off of her face and then later have to cake on woolfat and cream before wrapping a bandanna around her head in order to face the world.
That one day, wet packs will have become such a thing of the past, that she won’t even be able to remember the last time she had to wear them.
That over time, people will stop pulling themselves and their kids away from her and stop staring and asking her how or if she got ‘burned’. That all those looks – pity, fear, confusion, disgust – will all eventually fade away into insignificance.
That one day, her swollen eyes and all those open, raw, pus filled rashes on her face and everywhere else will actually transform from raging monsters into either harmless scars or somewhat more manageable pests and that on even better days, they will go into hiding altogether.
That soon enough, it will have been 16 years and counting since her last hospital stay, a life starkly different to the days when the children’s hospital was like her summer home.
That one day, she’ll be able to eat more cookies and cakes than she ever dreamed of. Not to mention – chocolate. That’s right, kiddo, chocolate will once again be a part of your life and not a poisonous one at that.
And after all of that, I want to thank her.
She is the reason that these days, I am often so pleasantly surprised by how normal the face gazing back in the mirror is and why whenever I find out I can eat something new, I genuinely feel like the luckiest person on the planet. She’s also the source of an imagination that was strong enough to get through the hard times and broad enough to make the good times even better.
So thanks, even littler Jelynn, for living through all of that for me. I don’t know how you did it, but you did. I’m an adult now and I can barely imagine living life the way you had to, although it occurs to me now that your childlike outlook was a big part of that survival. I know that it was awful for you a huge chunk of the time and I know that all you wanted was to feel some semblance of normalcy, during the good times and the bad and that this desire only made life seem tougher than it really was. Thank you for getting through it all and thus allowing me to live the much kinder life I live now. Life certainly keeps lobbing those curve balls but I wouldn’t have the cajones to bat those suckers away if it weren’t for you.
Somehow I hope you can hear me and feel my bear hug travelling across the 24 year long chasm running all the way back to good ol’ 1990.