Our daughter ended up in the emergency room yesterday … because she drank half a glass of milk. See, she has severe milk and egg allergies. They shape her daily life – what she eats, what she can not eat, what we eat that she can not eat, and so on. I never write about it because it has become so normal, so safe.
More than safe, it seemed boring. What do you say? We took it so seriously that NK never even got near milk before she started daycare. Sweden is an allergy hotbed, and NK goes (for free) to a special allergy doctor (even in our socialized medical system!).
The milk allergy was tough when we moved from America because Swedes love their milk, really love it, dump it in almost everything. Now the egg allergy is harder because you don’t know what they put into food in restaurants and there are not great egg replacements here, one area where Sweden really lags behind America. We love the restaurants that give you ingredient lists – the fast food ones are the best, actually – and curse places that do not serve one single thing she can eat.
But her allergies are not boring anymore. Not now. Not now that we have seen what happens when she drinks a lot of milk (she only got drops before), the wheezing and swelling and shock and crying. The doctors fixed her right up, nothing like a huge shot of cortisone to knock down swelling and jump start her into a hyper run around the examination room.
For a hot, panicked hour yesterday, as I half-ran to the hospital, carrying her little brother in a sling and pushing a stroller, I knew that she drank milk, and E and the doctors did not. And my phone was dead. Now, I knew they knew that this was an allergic reaction. I knew the doctors were good. But still, I was helpless and hot and lost on a big road in ugly industrial Sweden, and, well, the imagination gets vivid right then, and not in a good way.
And now we feel less safe, a little scared. We will make changes, demand changes from others. We will evaluate many things, trying to make her safe but not panic her.