My 4 year old daughter has a life threatening egg and nut allergy. We discovered it when she was about 10 months old when we gave her a piece of egg to eat. She broke out in a horrible rash, vomited, turned blue and passed out.
I didn’t know if she was alive in the ambulance that was rushing her to the Emergency Room that day. She survived and is fine but now has to live with a constant fear and anxiety of eating an egg or encountering a nut…or even eating something that has traces of egg in it.
Even the kisses from her grandfather (a big fan of omelets) after breakfast can be challenging because of the red rash on her cheek those warm smooches of love leave behind.
The hardest part is when the cake comes out at a birthday party like the one we went to the other day. No anxiety or stress here, so I thought as I saw my daughter running around and having fun. Then it was time for the cake. Suddenly, stress and anxiety reared it’s ugly head.
Hoping it’s made of ice cream, she looks at the cake and gives me a sad look and asks, “Does it have eggs in it?” Breaks my heart. Because I know that it probably does and she can’t have any.
My wife and I have learned to accept it all – the epi pens accompanying her everywhere, the Benedryl allergy syrup in the glove compartment of our car and trying to decipher if the bread at the table in a restaurant is made with a little egg in it. And these days, I know that a small thing like an egg allergy is not that bad.
But sometimes it gets to her. She looks up with frustrated moist eyes and asks, “Why me? Why can’t I eat that? How come everyone else is eating it?”
To which I have always responded by saying, “YOU ARE NOT ALONE sweetheart. A lot of kids have food allergies these days. Remember this boy in your class? He is allergic to bread and milk. Remember that girl in summer camp? She’s allergic to eggs too.”
When she said it the other day, it struck me that in my journey of trying to deal with anxiety in life, I too have posed a similar question to myself: “What have I done to deserve this? Why am I the only one going through this problem in life and chaos at work?”. As I go through life trying to learn how to deal with uncertainty, how to deal with anxiety and stress, frustrated at the uncertain and unpredictable nature of life, at times I too have felt like I’m flying solo.
Knowing you are not the only one going through the trials and tribulations of dealing with anxiety and stress due to uncertainty in life – DOES HELP. But it’s not enough…especially for my little one. What scores the biggest home run turning a frustrating, stress filled moment into a happy one is when I scrape off just the chocolate frosting on that cupcake made with eggs and put it on top of that OREO cookie I brought with me and say, “Go to town baby. Have this instead.”
And she’s delighted. She’s thrilled. She’s happy. Oreos don’t have any eggs and most frosting doesn’t either…thank God! Those little cookies have been our way to try to deal with her food allergy to eggs so she too can enjoy something sweet while her friends are chomping down the cake.
What I’ve learned from my daughter’s situation and relating it with my own attempt to deal with anxiety due to uncertainty, is that so often in life you feel as though you can’t handle the craziness that comes at you. So, you worry. You get anxiety and stress about the future because you can’t deal with uncertainty. And you get stuck, over thinking everything. You stand still feeling helpless because the mind thinks that you cannot overcome the obstacles which you are likely to encounter in life.
And that anxiety turns into a vicious cycle whittling away your dreams of starting a new business, meeting that significant other, making a sales call, pitching a new idea at work or just rebuilding a relationship.
What I have realized is that regardless of what chaos life throws across your path – you can handle it! Because deep down inside…in our very being, WE KNOW HOW TO IMPROVISE. In our gut, in our human intuition, we have the faculties to adjust ourselves to a complex and unpredictable environment. We know how to deal with chaos when it appears. We know how to deal with change. We know how to deal with uncertainty.
It is this innate ability to maneuver around life’s seemingly endless number of challenges that is the most tenacious part of our DNA which remains from thousands of years of survival. We have the ability to figure things out when we’re flying blind. Improvising is something we don’t normally think about but know how to do it when we need to. We know how to deal with uncertainty by trying new things. Whether we’re looking to move past mistakes we made, relationships gone sour or careers in flux, we have the ability to embrace the chaos because we are good at shifting our mindset and our actions, as we go along.
Replacing a cake made with eggs with an Oreo cookie for my daughter still leaves her with some frustration because it’s really not the same thing. But that’s life! You do the best you can with what you have. And when you’re dealing with chaos, uncertainty and unpredictability of relationships, careers and life – isn’t that what improvising all about…accepting life as it is and moving forward anyway?
Don’t over think it. Move Forward and Embrace the Chaos! | Bob Miglani
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