Almost 3 years ago, my now 6 year old son, was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. It started as something as simple as a swollen eye or two here, a large eczema outbreak there, & then complete out of our control symptoms. We started at his pediatrician, they led us to a dermatologist, and they sent us to an allergist. That is a day stamped out in time, that I will never forget. As we sat in the exam room, my son was very frigidity, he had just after all been exposed to peanuts two days before, and was just about crawling out of his skin. I am not sure how it had taken us so long to realize that he was allergic, but the test surely confirmed it.
The doctor handed me a large file folder full of information about his peanut allergy, and told me to be sure to read it. He wrote a prescription for an epi-pen, benadryl, nasonex (which was for his dust mite allergy), zyrtec, topical cream for his eczema & a bag of sample medication. I felt like I had just been handed over the goods to start my own pharmacy. I walked us out to the car, got in, and hunched over my steering wheel and broke down in tears. We had a good idea that he had peanut allergies, but now that it was confirmed, it seemed like every thing had changed.
Going to the grocery store became much more of a chore, I was reading labels, and it took what felt like forever. I wish that grocery shopping was the hardest part, but I was terribly wrong. There are so many people out there that are completely misinformed about peanut allergies, and trying to explain everything to them seemed impossible. You know that look people give you when they aren’t really interested in what you say, their eyes glaze over, and you realize that you are never going to get through to them? Well, we had friends that were like that, and luckily are out of my son’s life now. Several times, they brought over items to the house that had peanuts in them, and placed them on our counters, in the fridge and exposed my son to peanuts. Every time this happened, we had to take our son into the pediatrician, he was uncomfortable, and we spent time and money to fix their ignorance of our son being allergic to peanuts.
I am not asking everyone to change the way that they live, I am just asking that they not expose my son to it in his own home. There are circumstances that I know are completely out of my control, and I accept that. I am lucky to have my son in a school that is incredibly helpful when it comes to his allergy. They have set up an environment in the classroom that keeps him safe. He is in a peanut-free classroom, and sits at a peanut-free table at lunch.
We are very fortunate in that we have only had to use the epi-pen on our son once. He ate a milky way bar, that is only processed in a plant that produces peanuts, and he started to go into anaphylactic shock. I had been trained in my previous job, as a bus driver, how to use an epi-pen, and didn’t hesitate. His trip to the ER was a little bit of a whirlwind, but we got through it.
I have heard many many theories as to why children have peanut allergies. One that shocked me was that it was caused by feeding babies formula. I am here to debunk that theory, my son was never fed formula. I nursed him until he was 16 months, & he then transitioned to soy milk. Another one was that the mother ate peanuts while she was pregnant with the baby. I can tell you that if that were the case, all four of my children would have peanut allergies. Especially my first, I couldn’t keep anything down, except for peanut butter, and he doesn’t have peanut allergies, or any allergies for that matter.
I am not that mother asking you, or even telling you to keep peanut products away from my son. I am the mother that is only asking you to be mindful of what the possibility of exposing my son to it would cause. When it comes to anaphylactic shock, a child typically has less than 10 minutes between exposure and receiving the epi-pen shot before they could die. This is not an allergy that any child would ever ask to have, not that I could really think of one that they would choose for that matter. I want people to be aware, be informed, and be kind. Next time a child, parent, caregiver etc lets you know that a peanut allergy is present, don’t roll your eyes and make assumptions, ask questions and be helpful. Don’t assume that your child, or even you have more of a right to life than they do. A child or adult with a peanut allergy could die from exposure, and is nothing to take lightly, or yourself get upset about.
My son is very cautious when it comes to being out and about in public. We don’t create a sterile zone for him to live in, he doesn’t live in a bubble, and I don’t ask favors because of his allergy. I only ask friends not to bring it into our home, and do their best to avoid exposing him to peanuts. So far so good. If you have a child who doesn’t have an allergy, appreciate it. If you do have a child with an allergy, give them a hug from me, and pat yourself on the back, I know where you have been and the stress you feel, much love.
Let me know in the comments how peanut allergies have effected your life.
I like to run a kumbaya like blog, so please keep comments kind and helpful.
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