Tuesday, November 5, 2013


I have a lot on my plate right now.  I'm 39 weeks pregnant, for one thing, and there is all the anticipation and discomfort and anxiety that comes with that.  I'm also in full scale school search mode for my oldest son, which is taking up a crazy amount of time and bringing all sorts of stress (I swore I wouldn't get wrapped up in it all.  I lied).  I also have a couple of work projects to wrap up, two kids to feed, laundry to do, contractions to get through, etc.  Oh, and I am obese.  Pregnant, but obese.  

I'm not trying to complain, and really, I'm doing fine.  But my point is, there just seems to be a lot going on.  

So why not add a FREAKING PEANUT ALLERGY into the mix?  

I could have sworn I had given Casey peanuts before.  After all, he's 3 years old!  But now that I look back, I suppose I didn't.  My husband has a mild allergy to nuts, and Braden doesn't like them, so we don't really ever have them in our house.  Casey's school, along with most schools and camps now, are nut-free zones.  So really, in the absence of me purposefully giving him nuts, he probably never did have them.  And I guess I never did.

The fact that he could have an allergy didn't even occur to me.  It certainly didn't before we opened up a packet of peanut M&M's last week.  

As I divied up the M&M's between Braden and Casey as an after dinner treat, I actually had the thought:  Hmmm, this may be Casey's first peanut.  I dismissed it, because even if it was, so what? What are the chances?  

It started with a gag, and then a cough, almost immediately after ingestion.  His face got red. Coincidence, I thought.  

A couple of minutes later, he erupted in tears and started complaining about "boo-boo's" in his mouth.  At that point, I started to get a little concerned.  

Ten minutes later, he was rolling around on the floor moaning.  My husband rushed him to the bathroom, where he promptly threw up.  Okay, this was something.  

He came back out of the bathroom feeling good and rearing to go, but I could see that a rash was forming behind his knees.  That's when I brought out the Benadryl and called the doctor.  

Casey is fine.  We took him to the pediatrician.  Then we took him to the allergist.  He's gotten multiple blood tests (poor baby).  We've been instructed to keep him away from any and all peanuts.  And today, I went to CVS to fill a prescription for multiple epipens.  

But me?  I'm a little shaken up by the fact that the term "epipen" is now part of my vocabulary.  And it will be, for a long time.  There are certainly worse things in life than a peanut allergy, but having to inspect Casey's Halloween candy, meet with his teacher's to discuss his "condition," and consider the fact that I will need to tell every caregiver or playdate host or after school class about his allergy and potential ramifications... It's overwhelming.  It won't change our lives dramatically, but it will be an ever-presence.  And an ever concern.  

I'll make an embarrassing confession.  I have been known to roll my eyes in the past about our peanut-free society.  When I couldn't bring in certain cupcakes to school, or when airlines went peanut free...  Let me put it out there in the universe right now that I'M SORRY for that.  It was really insensitive and selfish and just plain ridiculous of me.  Because now, I see potential land mines everywhere I look.  Hell yes, schools should be nut free!  Hell yes, keep them off of airplanes!  And while we're at it, could we please not pass out peanut filled Halloween candy?  As a matter of fact, lets just banish them altogether!  Because all it takes is one slip, one time... 

It's still not clear how severe Casey's allergy is, and given that we haven't really taken any precautions regarding restaurants or cross contamination or any of that other kind of thing in the past three years, it tends to suggest it's not that severe.  However, when the doctor tells you that he cannot guarantee that any subsequent reaction will not be bad, that's a bit disheartening.  

I'll add it to my list of motherly worries.  As my kids get older, the list gets longer and longer.  But as I get wiser, I realize there's only so much I can do.  We will adjust, we will take precautions, and Casey will be fine.  

In the meantime, no peanuts for this little guy.  

McDonalds will have to do.


  1. Definitely mention his allergy at restaurants going forward....the server will mention it to the cooks. The cooks will then change their gloves and other things; especially if you forget the epi!

    As he gets older; instruct him to use the epi....I've seen a 7 year old check her blood sugar - so a 7 year old could certainly use an epi.

  2. My husband has a severe tree nut allergy. It's hard, because everywhere we go, we have to make it special. He can't eat box lunches offered at work, or go to a Thai restaurant for dinner. There are adjustments we make, but it's not that noticeable after a while. There are now brands and restaurants that cater towards people with allergies. P.F. Chang's will bring your allergy free food on a special plate, and Clyde's also does the same thing. In Massachusetts, there are laws about informing people about potential allergens, making it easier to eat nut free. Also check for labels for "manufactured in a factory with peanuts." Vermont nut free is a great place to get nut free chocolates, and there are several brands that make it allergen free, like Enjoylife, Yumearth and Surfsweets.

  3. The thing is, even if you had fed your son nuts before, food allergies can develop at any time. I've read plenty of stories of kids and adults suddenly developing allergies to foods they've eaten lots of times before.

  4. I have severe food allergies-to the point where I have to check everything and used to drive teachers and restaurant people insane by my paranoia. Now that I'm in medical school and can see just how scary the end game is with allergic reactions on the other side, I no longer feel apologetic. Just saying, once you've intubated a teenager who's in anaphylaxsis because the Epi wasn't used in time, or, the Epi was too much of a shock and there was no albuterol to make things calmer, you really appreciate just how close you were on the other side.

    But sheesh, I remember when other Moms (it was always the moms...) just so incredibly insensitive and awful to me and my mother. They called me spoiled, my mother neurotic (and because she was an immigrant with an accent, a stupid foreigner). Their kids would put cashews on my plate and more than once I ended up in the nurse's office with a tummy ache, while she clucked at me that I could have just 'taken the cashews out'.

    So, I do accept your apology and really REALLY appreciate it, but I cannot say I don't resent any of the parents who got so irritated with 'nut free' for the kids. Somehow, the safety of other people's kids didn't matter so much as parental convenience.

  5. I still roll my eyes at peanut allergies and will continue to do so. My child has a severe lactose allergy and I don't see anyone attempting to help with that. Certainly not schools and camps. Other parents are supportive, but not to the point where they are willing to change the types of cupcakes they bring to school. I'm sorry your child has a peanut allergy, really I am, I understand the severity of allergies, but I still get upset when parents want peanut free everything and don't stop and consider other children with other potentially fatal allergies.

  6. I'm so sorry. :( I love peanuts and cannot imagine there being a peanut allergy in our house, but you're right..... as a mom, as a parent, you adjust. It may be inconvenient, but it really could be life or death. Sorry for the allergy.


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