The Mind of Bluesleepy

How serious is it? 13 May 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 10:34 pm

I got to listen to another horror story regarding nut allergies as we watched the PawSox defeat the Norfolk Tides on Mother’s Day.

Going to a baseball game with a peanut-allergic child is a somewhat nerve-wracking thing.  Crackerjack has peanuts in it.  People are cracking peanuts and dropping the shells all over the place.  And we don’t really know how allergic Grace is to peanuts.

To our knowledge, she’s only had peanuts once — the time she had a peanut butter cookie at the command Christmas party on her second birthday.  I thought perhaps she was allergic to tree nuts as well, as she broke out in hives after eating candied walnuts that had been hidden in my side salad at a restaurant one day.  When we got here, we had her tested for tree nuts, and she’s not allergic.  But we still don’t know how allergic she is to peanuts, not a definite, anyhow.  We don’t know whether her allergy will worsen with exposure.

Will she break out in hives if she touches one?  Will she just break out in hives if she eats one?  How much can she eat before she has a reaction?  Will her throat close up so that she can’t breathe anymore?

I do know there are online forums out there for parents of peanut-allergic children.  However, it seems as though most of the parents on there are dealing with extreme allergies.  Kids who are allergic to peanuts, as well as everything else under the sun (wheat, eggs, milk, soy, strawberries, shellfish).  Kids going into anaphylactic shock just by inhaling peanut dust on an airplane.  Kids with peanut allergies as well as extreme eczema and extreme asthma (Grace has mild eczema on her legs).  It’s all so much more drastic and extreme than what I have to deal with.  As long as we keep nuts away from Grace, she doesn’t react.

The uncertainty of not knowing what will happent he next time she has peanuts drives me crazy.  I don’t know whether she’ll simply swell up (like Will Smith’s character in Hitch), or whether she will be unable to breathe.  I don’t know whether she’ll just itch for a few hours, or whether she will die.

But I do know what can happen.  I have to carry an Epi-Pen with me at all times, for crying out loud, to inject her with in case she goes into anaphylactic shock.  To save her life.  To keep her alive until the paramedics can take her to the hospital.

The son of the old woman at the baseball game told me a sobering story.  The girlfriend of a guy on his street was out to dinner with friends.  One of her friends wanted to buy her dessert, but she said no.  The friend kept pressing, and the dessert came to the table, but she didn’t eat it.  However, as they were getting ready to leave, she stabbed her fork into the dessert and took a bite.  It was a hazelnut cake, and she was allergic to nuts.  Down she went like a rock.  She’s been in a coma for a week, braindead.  Sometime this week her family will pull the plug.

These are the horror stories I have to listen to.  I have to be aware of this because it could happen to my child, no matter what her age.  I could lose my first-born child, I could have to bury my baby, simply because she is allergic to something so innocuous.

And yet, people pooh-pooh my concerns.  “Oh, it’s no big deal.”  “I can still eat this around her, can’t I?”  “You’re just freaking out too much.”  “You worry too much.”

Each time I meet someone new, I judge them a little bit on how seriously they take Grace’s allergy.  I really like this one lady I’ve gotten close to, but she is unaware of the severity of this issue.  She has eaten nuts around Grace, and while she isn’t allergic to tree nuts, I’m still supposed to keep them away from her due to the possibility of cross-contamination.  I asked her gently not to eat them, but she seemed to have blown me off.  Another mother really takes me seriously, and makes sure her daughter doesn’t eat peanut butter for breakfast on the days we come over for a playdate.  I feel much safer going to her house because I know I’m being taken seriously.

What I can be grateful for is the awareness of this problem in schools.  Most elementary schools I have heard of have some kind of plan in place to keep the kids away from peanuts.  Some have a strict no-peanut policy; you can’t even bring it to school.  Some schools have specific tables that have to remain peanut-free.  And for those of you who weren’t aware, peanut allergies are exactly why you cannot bake cupcakes at home anymore and bring them in, why you have to bring them in from a bakery.  The parents of peanut-allergic children cannot be sure there is no peanut butter lurking on your kitchen counter when you prepare the muffins, or that you didn’t use peanut oil in their preparation.  It’s a shame, since homemade goodies are always better than store-bought (unless Chaos is making them at her store!), but that’s the only way we parents can keep our kids safe.

Had Grace been diagnosed even ten years ago, I probably would be a much more paranoid mom than I am.  Back then peanut allergies were so much less prevalent, so keeping a kid safe was so much more difficult to do.  Now everyone is aware, and Grace’s preschool has always had at least one child per class with a nut allergy.  They have loads of experience with it, which makes me far more comfortable leaving her there where I can’t monitor her.

I just wish everyone could understand how serious this can be.  It’s not like being allergic to fish, like my brother-in-law.  If he has fish accidentally, he’s miserable and throwing up.  It’s no fun for him.  But it’s not something that can kill him.

Grace’s allergy can kill her.  I don’t know why is so hard for some people to understand that.


12 Responses to “How serious is it?”

  1. Blue Opal Says:

    Allergies are scary things. Some are just annoying. Some are frightening. And you’re right: some can absolutely kill. Trouble is, we have no way of knowing when one from column A, annoying, can morph into one from column C, killing. You have my sympathy 😦

  2. sleepyjane Says:

    I can imagine how frustrating it is for you, because you’d want to keep her safe no matter what. Allergies are not something to be messed with, especially one of that severity, or danger.

    Like they say, better be safe than sorry right? Makes me wonder what these people would do if it were their child? Would they blow it off then also?

  3. purple chai Says:

    You rarely hear about adults with peanut allergies. Maybe they just don’t talk about it, but maybe they grow out of it. That would be nice.

  4. chaosdaily Says:

    I’m wondering if you would ever know if Grace grew out of her allergy.. it’s not like you would give her a peanut to try to test it!! I am allergic to NSAIDS, which includes Advil and Aleve… it sucks. I can’t imagine being allergic to something as common as peanuts!

  5. art Says:

    for the ignorant who pooh-pooh you around when you tell them gracie is allergic to peanuts, show them pictures of lil children in anaphylactic shock and say, see? this is what happens, etc.. people just are not educated, and some dont care cause it dont involve them. the best thing you can do is spread the word and be ever vigilant!!! ((((((hugs)))))))

  6. michele Says:

    that totally sux! i am crossing my fingers that one day she’ll grow out of it… peanuts & peanut butter is so awesome! at least that’s all that she’s allergic to so far.

  7. Kate Says:

    You know, I bet if you rolled up a newspaper and whacked that woman over the head with it she would stop eating nuts around grace. I am just saying, is all.

  8. Texas Peach Says:

    Allergies are scary. Being a preschool teacher, I know how serious that they can be. We have lucked out and only had one child who was being tested for peanut allergies (turned out he didn’t have them luckily). There is an older girl that I had in the nursery who has food allergies…she is in one of the 3 yr old classes now in the preschool and she always has her own snacks and lunch every day. Her allergies are not severe…she just gets sick if she eats something she has an allergy to, but that is scary enough. I am dreading the day we get a child with severe allergies. It’s tough and so many people have no consideration when it comes to those with allergies, they seem to think it isn’t a big deal.

  9. Shippie Says:

    I get it toots, truly I do. I’m allergic to shellfish, which makes going out to eat at some restaurants a bit challenging. Not the sick to your stomach kind of challenge, but life threatening as the anaphylaxis (sp) kicks in fast! I feel for you hon!

  10. requiel Says:

    I’m so, so sorry! Noelle had a little friend in Kindergarten who was deathly allergic to nut and pretty much everything else. After a couple of scares with him I totally understand.

    Hubby is allergic to tree nuts, he still eats them and gets a big ole rash on his tongue. He just loves them so much. One time he decided to test it out on pine nuts, because of the way you crack them open with the side of your mouth they almost ate a hole in his tongue. It’s better if he rinses his mouth out every time he eats them. some are worse like the pine nuts and walnuts, peanuts don’t bother him because they aren’t in the same family as tree nuts.

    I’m sure over time you will see just how much she can tolerate them and I bet she will grow out of it or lessen a bit as she gets older. It’s really good to be super protective about it now. You are a great Mom. Congrats on being half way!! Woo! let’s hear it for 21 weeks!!

  11. liz Says:

    I never heard about the severity of peanut allergies until I was out of college and working full time (about 1982). I knew my boss was allergic to peanuts and watched what she ate very carefully, but one day after lunch she came to me and told me I was driving her to the emergency room, now. She could feel her throat closing up, and she gave me the epi pen and told me how to use it in case she got worse. Scared the holy heck out of me. I think it was a false alarm, but she was afraid she had accidentally eaten a piece of nut or something. It really impressed on me how serious it could be. And you’re right, some schools do have peanut free lunch tables, etc. I know some moms send in special bags of safe treats for their kids so they have something special in case there are treats at school.
    Good luck, and hopefully everything will be okay. You’ll relax once Grace is old enough to monitor herself a bit. It is amazing how good kids are it.

  12. Leonie Says:

    You’re right most people don’t understand and are just ignorant about it until they actually see it happening in front of their own eyes. I’d save so much if they only just took your word for it. My mother had gotten alot of flack about keeping alot of different foods away from me when I was growing up. I’m anaphylactic to alot of different things treenuts, milk, banana… and it’s a good thing she did keep them away from me otherwise I would’ve had an attack alot sooner in life and not as late as 11.

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