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The freedom to eat pizza – (almost) any time and any place

Submitted by on Monday, 15 November 2010 4 Comments

We didn’t really have time to stop, and if we did Big Guy would miss his karate class. Still, a promise is a promise, so I let him make the call.

“Yes, yes, YES! Momma, I want pizza,” he yelled.

It was something that wouldn’t have been possible before that day in September – not, at least, without a lot of planning, organizing and phone calls. Some pizza places welcomed Big Guy and his garlic allergy, letting me bring homemade sauce. Increasingly in the past few months most have refused, leaving him with a homemade pizza at his own birthday party while his friends enjoyed take-out.

A late-summer trip to the allergist ended all that. It was a second opinion after we’d seen Dr. Donald Duck just a few months earlier. I held out no hope for a change in his food allergies, though, so I trampled all over his game of “pretend I’m not allergic.” That’s not likely to happen, I told  him bluntly.

Miracle of miracles, it did. I watched his back – literally, because the scratch test for peanut worried me, particularly considering how high the levels had been on his blood test after the appointment with Dr. Duck – and nothing happened. The area where garlic had been applied remained clear and smooth.

“Ooooooo!” he squealed. “I want pizza. With pepperoni!”

It had been almost four years since he’d had pepperoni. The last occasion had been a Halloween party at preschool when he was 3. After he’d broken out in hives around his mouth, his teacher took his lunch away and called me. It was the second reaction she’d noticed and the third total. All involved foods that had tomato, onion and garlic. The tests revealed that the stinking rose was the stinking culprit.

Garlic was never his most life-threatening allergy – that would be peanut, which he’s now so sensitive to that he’s reacted after sitting next to someone who was eating Asian food made with peanut oil. But it was the most life-changing, and it was the one he noticed the most.

Take-out pizza was out. So was ketchup in restaurants, as well as most store-bought bottles except for Annie’s Naturals. Our favorite Mexican place? Forget it. The garlic allergy eliminated virtually every manufactured or convenience food from our lives, and in many ways that was good.

Big Guy can’t remember a time when he wasn’t allergic to egg and peanut, and he’s never had a regular cookie or cake. But he was old enough to recall barbecue chips, Doritos and the pizza man ringing our doorbell. He knew what he was missing when snacks were handed out at games and he was stuck with whatever I had grabbed from the cupboard as a backup on the way out the door.

When the pepperoni pizza arrived at our table that night after the tests, he lowered his head and breathed in deeply. He waited before diving in, and I I thought he was scared.

“It’s OK, babes. You didn’t react at all. You can eat it,” I said.

“Oh, I know,” he replied. “I just want to enjoy this.”

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • Leigh said:

    I have to be honest I just found your blog and while it is comforting to read another mother’s stories of their child’s allergies I have to admit this brings tears to my eyes. My 17 month beautiful daughter is allergic to garlic, eggs and peanuts, as well as lactose intolerant…. I fear that she will never feel normal, never be able to freely go to a restraunt or party and eat what everyone else can….. I’m encouraged by you son’s garlic allergy though…. I hope we can one day order out pizza!!

  • Debra said:

    Unless they’ve gone through it, people don’t realize what a life-changer the garlic allergy is. Yes, you have to be hypervigilant about peanut, depending on the sensitivity, but it is possible to eat out and work around it. With the garlic allergy, there were few places he could eat, and never from the full menu.

    I’d just about given up hope, Leigh, as we got one discouraging test result after another that showed his levels going in the wrong direction. Then, out of the blue, we’re celebrating at Pizza Hut. I do hope you get to celebrate with your daughter some day, too!