Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Summer Doldrums

I haven't felt much like blogging the last few weeks. Probably the summer doldrums. Perhaps you're familiar with them?

Some of it is the looming inevitability of another school year. Even though my son is starting his senior year, there are still stresses associated with the start of school. I no longer have the worry of food in the classroom, or appropriate accommodations, but the shopping lists does change as we consider school lunches, and inevitably key items are discontinued that made up last year's lunches.

Additionally, there's the running around to get medication letters completed. We had our FAHF-2 check-up at the end of July, and of course I forgot to bring the permission form with me. That means a round of faxing since our high school will not take a blanket letter, even though the dose is exactly the same as last year.

Looking back, I appreciate my husband's role as stay-at-home-dad and school bully much more than I used to. The paperwork alone is staggering!

One note: if you are working on a school 504 for the first time, I highly recommend my old community as a resource. There are endless examples of 504s on the site, as well as state-specific guidance. Unfortunately, the group had to move from the old home to this new one, due to spam issues with the last host. If you are looking for something specific and don't find it, just ask it's probably on the old site.

The rest of the posting doldrums probably comes from having tried to save the world, one poster at a time, a few too many times this summer. I took a hiatus from ALL chat boards a couple years back because I find them stressful. Even the well-meaning posters often have a very different approach to food allergies, and everyone is very, very sure their way is the only way.

And then...of course...there's the next set of challenges looming in October. At our checkup, the head of the clinical trial chirped "so next time is the exciting appointment!" Not the word I would have picked. But, yes, perhaps it will be exciting too, somewhere under the terror. Oddly, as the summer of massive medication has gone on, my son has gotten more optimistic about the results of the trial as I've become more pessimistic. We have not had one wink of food-allergy trouble all summer...no mystery stomach aches or vomiting, no itchy mouth, nada. So, who knows  he very well may be right.

Travelling light with food allergies
The other thing I know that causes summer doldrums is the travel. We don't do much of it during the summer, but this year we did take a few days and visit my brother in another state. I have noticed an interesting phenomenon over the years that I've christened "The Circle of Safety." I seem to have a radius away from our house that doesn't stress me at all. Get beyond that radius, though, and all the worries come out. I look at maps to make sure I know where the hospitals are along the way. I go over the packing list obsessively. I ask my kid "do you have your medicine bag" enough times that he starts making fun of me in response. It takes two days to plan for every day away, which means I need a vacation from the vacation!

I know every mother feels this way. Every trip, every school year, every medical challenge is surmounted one step at a time. But August is that time after the trip and before the school year starts where we can pause at the top of the mountain we just climbed and see the whole range ahead of us. Especially, for us, the gigantic mountain labeled COLLEGE.

My son has told me this summer that he's thinking of a community college. That's o.k. IF (and this is the big if) he's choosing it because he wants the extra time to mature before he leaves home and not simply because it's easier than tackling the really scary mountain of residential food service.

But that's the hell of food allergies, isn't it? It's so intertwined with everything that there's no way to tease out the tendrils of fear that sneak into travel...school...life. Some days you gotta just keep walking and not worry so much about where the trail leads.


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