An Emotional Relapse Since Katrina’s OIT Treatment Began

This is Katrina’s mom. I wanted to share a story that just happened last week. After being in the OIT treatment program now for several months, filled with hope, fears being calmed and getting glimpses of what the future will be like without dealing with deadly food allergies – we had kinda forgotten the emotional pain and turmoil Katrina has experienced in the past.

You see this past week, she had an emotional relapse. It was weird, it was foreign, but yet it was so familiar at the same time.

Katrina’s personality has massively changed over the past few months. She has gone from a quiet, shy, cautious, scared little girl to being open, honest, a bit more social and full of joy on her face instead of the look of skeptiscim everywhere she walked. It has been beautiful and refreshing to see her personality bloom and blossom and become a whole new person, even emotionally.

That’s why last week’s event was so strange. It was really more of an emotional “episode” or really a relapse into her old self, but her old self wearing her feelings and thoughts on her sleeve.

Here’s what happened.

We went to a special church event, not at our normal church, but at a church we had never been too because they had a special community event that we wanted to attend as it is always nice to visit fellow believers from different churches.

Well, we weren’t entirely sure what this event would consist of until we arrived. They had a church service first and at the beginning of the service, they announced that there would be a German-themed buffet after the service, followed by bounce houses, crafts and activities for the kids.

Immediately, Katrina turned to me and said “are we going to stay for this?” I whispered, “shhh… I don’t know right now, we will talk about it after.”

During the course of the service, Katrina referenced or quietly asked me about this probably every 5 minutes. Each time becoming more panicked! I responded the same every time! She then started telling me, “I don’t want to stay for the party – I want to leave!”

Finally the service was over, and her dad and I finally got to discuss staying for the rest of the party. We really wanted to and didn’t really see a reason not too! The other 4 kids were dying to eat and play. So we decided to stay and Alex would run to the store and grab a lunchable for Katrina.

I explained this to her.

She lost it!

She started whining and nearly in tears, pulling at me begging to leave. I said I would go talk to the kitchen. I talked to the kitchen, they were professional caterers who are normally very well aware and cautious of peanut and tree nut allergies, but because of the German-themed foods- they had purchased sausages and sauerkraut that they unpacked and threw the labeling away without even thinking to check. They basically went through the list of everything else with me and there were a fair number of items she could eat, including the kid-friendly entree’ of mac and cheese. Nothing there had any peanuts or tree nuts directly, it was only avoiding foods where there could be a question of cross-contamination.

I told Katrina what she could eat and she still wanted to leave and was really just in a panic. I said, “if you are not comfortable, just eat your lunchable.” She said, “No, I don’t want to eat a lunchable here and I want to leave now!”

I was so confused. She had not acted this way since before week #1 of her treatments. I asked her what was wrong with her and why she couldn’t just eat the lunchable.

I finally knew…….

She said, “mom, I am embarrassed to eat it here in front of other people. It makes me feel like I am different, weird or that something is wrong with me, or that I don’t like them or their food. It’s just embarrassing, ok!!”

That made sense. In fact, in that moment, many things over many years made sense.

She very often would throw a fit about eating out, eating at potlucks, eating at other people’s homes and we always brought her own food from home, from a safe fast-food restaurant or even lunchables to ensure her safety. She forever and always hated having to bring and eat different food – which is why she would throw a fit and make every other excuse for not going.

She would give excuses like: “I don’t feel well so I don’t want to go”, or “I don’t like going there”, or the most common was “I am too tired to go and want to stay home.”

But never did she say she was embarrassed! She never wanted to admit embarrassment about her different life than everyone else. She didn’t want to face it and this was and would have been plaguing her for the rest of her life, always and forever making every.other.excuse. to not have to deal with or think about how she really felt.

She was even embarrassed that she was embarrassed. I was shocked that in over 8 years of living this way, she never told me why she really protested everything we did outside of our home. I suspected many things, including embarrassment, but until someone point blank tells you, it’s not super clear.

In that moment, I could see the emotion, stress, feelings and weight this child carried – emotions that were as clear as ever. I looked into her sad eyes, hugged her and said….”Katrina, you are going to be fine. I understand now why you want to leave. But I am confident that you will be okay today! Calm down, you can eat these things and then you can enjoy the bounce houses and crafts after. I am not going to let you eat anything that will hurt you.”

She calmed down, hugged me back and said “ok.”

Daddy came back with the lunchables, we hid them so no one saw and she enjoyed the list of “safe” foods, including a heaping plate of mac and cheese.

Then off she ran for the next hour having the time of her life bouncing and crafting and forgetting all of her cares again.

It was beautiful to have her share and be so honest with me, then to trust me and then to truly enjoy her time. In the past, the playtime would have been just as stressful for her as she would have worried about all of the kids around her, what they ate, what they touched that she would touch…. but she let it all go and the memory of seeing her run around and play with a big smile on her face and happy as can be in a strange place around strange people and feeling more free than ever.

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