Four Lessons Learned in 2020

Four Lessons Learned in 2020

Whew! We’re about this close to saying farewell to what has inarguably been a difficult year for most of us. From shortages of toilet paper to long months of digital-only interactions with folks outside of your household, not to mention that horrid nasty virus itself, it’s safe to say few, if any, will look back on 2020 with a sense of nostalgia. 

Yet, there are lessons we’ve gleaned and progress we’ve made. Tomorrow will be a brighter, better day because of what we’ve come through. As you celebrate the holidays and prepare to ring in a new year with hope and anticipation, take a moment to reflect and consider some of the following. 

Dig Deeper

Just days after the first COVID-19 vaccine was given to patients in the UK, news broke that sent ripples of concern through the allergic community. What we’ve learned since those early reports is that it’s important to wait and let the experts dissect the data so we can get the complete story. To quote Dr. Dave Stukus, pediatric allergy/asthma specialist and AAAAI Social Media Medical Editor, “Initial reports often lack crucial details,” and “ALWAYS read past the headline.” 

Whether the vaccine is right for you and your family is a conversation to be had between you and your medical team. It’s not something to be settled with a reactionary headline or a social media post shared by your aunt’s neighbor’s cousin. Let the experts examine the data and provide guidance to your physician who can then help you determine the right course. 

Always Be Prepared

The pandemic upended our supply chains and manufacturing. In response to shortages, some manufacturers made modifications to their product recipes that allowed them to use what they could source, and the FDA gave them permission to do so without making a temporary update to their ingredient labeling to reflect those changes as long as the switch was relatively minor. No need to rehash why that was a bad idea (but you can read it here if you missed it). Suffice it to say, the ill-conceived idea was a reminder to allergic families that you could do all the right things and still find yourself responding to an allergic reaction. The lesson here? Always be prepared. Keep your auto-injectors in reach. Know your allergy response plan forward and backward. Don’t second guess your gut. If you think what is unfolding before you looks like a reaction, treat it like one. 

Self-Care Matters

Sure, we didn’t leave home much in 2020, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t feel the mounting pressure of overwhelm. No matter how many square feet your home has, dwelling with your favorite people in the same space day-in and day-out with little change in scenery can occasionally make you feel like the walls are caving in on you. We all need a break. We need to take time to shut out the noise and put the focus on recharging and regrouping. 

When you’ve added the stress of trying to figure out how to make allergy-safe meals with the limited options at your supermarket or trying to figure out how to get in to see your allergist when non-essential medical appointments are hard to come by, well, you really need to find a way to slow down and relax. What that looks like for you may be different than what it looks like for someone else. Find what works for you and make time for it. 

Traditions Are Adaptable

COVID-19 forced a lot of us to explore different ways to celebrate holidays and life’s milestones. It pushed us to get a little creative and to step away from the tried-and-true “we’ve always done it this way” practices. This is something your allergic family can carry forward to help adapt traditions in a way that honors the past and reflects the specific health needs of allergic family members. 

“But we always have Great-Grandma Sue’s pecan pie at [insert celebration here]” becomes a less persuasive argument when no one had pie together this year because you were eating what you had at home over a Zoom call. There’s still compromise to be reached in some instances, but 2020 proved that the holidays can still happen whether you all take the traditional family photo in front of the old oak tree or you serve the Tres Leches (milk cake) that your family has been preparing for what seems like forever. The focus has been placed on the time you can spend with folks. Don’t lose that. 

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