A CHS junior learns to accept an isolating allergy.
January 11, 2023
Edison Hannahs took the risk and had grilled cheese with his friends. As soon as he put it in his mouth, he knew he shouldn’t have done it, but the taste was just too good. A few minutes after finishing it, his throat started closing up.
“This was a huge mistake,” Hannahs said. “I felt like I was dying. The risk I put myself in for a grilled cheese was not worth it; I definitely learned my lesson that day.”
When Edison Hannahs was four years old, he tried a piece of cheese for the first time. After eating the thin slice of cheddar cheese, his mom noticed he was struggling to breathe. Hannahs was diagnosed with a dairy allergy. From that point on, he was on a strict no-dairy diet.
In kindergarten, while Hannahs’ classmates enjoyed large pieces of cheese pizza, his mom had to bring him his own slice of dairy-free pizza. He began noticing that his lunch looked different from his friends’; he had a plain cup of white dairy-free yogurt, while his friends had blue yogurt with characters from the newest movies. He hadn’t yet reached the age to understand why he couldn’t eat the foods that his friends did, leaving him to sit alone at the dairy free table.
“I was confused why I wasn’t allowed in the lunch lines to get milk,” Hannahs said. “All I wanted was some chocolate milk like the other kids.”
As Hannahs got older, he began to understand why he was different. But there was one thing holding him back from accepting his difference, why did it have to be him who had the dairy allergy?
“Although I was aware that I couldn’t have dairy, it was hard for me to understand why it had to be me,” Hannahs said. “I felt left out. I wished I could have cookies, cheese and even something as simple as milk.”
Dairy was all around him. His friends regularly enjoyed dairy treats. Hannahs was done feeling so left out: he decided he would try dairy. He so badly wanted to be able to share those moments with his peers.
“All I wanted to do was fit in,” Hannahs said. “And if that meant testing my allergy and eating dairy, then I was willing to do it.”
As Hannahs entered middle school, dealing with his allergy was easier. He learned his limits and his friends began to understand the severity of the allergy.
“I still wished I could eat dairy, but I was finally not ashamed of it and I was happy my friends were aware of it too,” Hannahs said.
Hannahs, now a junior at CHS, has mostly grown out of his allergy. He can now enjoy baked dairy goods that he couldn’t have before.
“I’m glad I had to learn to accept something about myself at a young age,” Hannahs said. “Being deprived of something that everyone else around you gets to have is a tough pill to swallow for someone who’s too young to understand, but I’m glad I went through it.”