Dealing With Children’s Food Allergies, Part 1

Our youngest is severely allergic to peanuts.  She’s also allergic to tree nuts.  I set out to write about the frustration this has caused but realized that perhaps a little back story was necessary.  So , first, I’ll share our daughter’s story.  Then, in another blog post, I’ll address that frustration.

We learned about her peanut allergy shortly after her first birthday. She was a little under weight so the pediatrician suggested we incorporate a little peanut butter into her diet.  We were excited! A new food.  Something with some good fat in it that would help her gain a few pounds.

At her next meal I sat beside her, filling the holes of a Cheerios with peanut butter and setting them on her plate.  She loved them!  She was eating them faster than I could fill them. After a couple minutes we began to notice hives forming on her hands, then her arms, chest, and around her mouth.

A quick call to the pediatrician led to some Benadryl and a cool bath. The hives went away but we knew a trip to the allergist was in order as the pediatrician thought she might have a peanut allergy.

In order to test for allergies they have to test the blood.  That means getting blood out of a crying child who doesn’t understand what’s going on.  They velcro them down on a papoose type board with only the arm exposed to draw the blood.  I had my wife leave the room.  It’s a moment I’ll never forget.  The only thing worse was the next time she needed to be tested and could talk!  That time she could look right at me with tears in her eyes and scream, “Why are you letting them do this to me!” Not fun.

Her test came back positive for a peanut allergy.  This led to needing an EpiPen Jr. to be with her at all times.  It’s an emergency shot like device that can administer epinephrine should she ever go into anaphylactic shock and have trouble breathing.

EpiPen Jr and Benadryl

Fortunately, on the very few times she’s had a peanut exposure, hives and nausea are all that’s happened.

When she was probably 2 and a half she discovered for herself how peanuts can make her sick.  We were at a town Christmas celebration for kids.  While we weren’t looking she grabbed a cookie and ate a few bites.  Immediately she knew something wasn’t right.

Her mouth started to itch.  She got a few hives and started to complain about an upset stomach.  We got her some Benadryl and made it home before she threw up.

That experience while scary at the time has stuck with her and made her think about everything before she eats it.

The school district has been supportive.  There was another boy with a peanut allergy that was a year or two ahead of our daughter in school.  He, and his family, paved the way for us so the school and teachers were already familiar with how to deal with a peanut allergy.

The teachers did a fantastic job of educating our daughter’s classmates.  They explained it all.  Read books. Answered questions. Because of that our daughter’s classmates still, years later, are always looking out for her.  They make sure their parents check labels of treats they bring to school.  Some even have gone so far as to have a special Halloween treat ready when she’s trick-or-treating.  It’s great to see how much my daughter’s classmates and their parents care for her safety.  We appreciate it very much.

Since her initial diagnosis we have also found out she is allergic to tree nuts.  Not a big deal to her because, as you might imagine, she’s not a fan of anything with a nut-like texture.

Over the past 9 years our family has learned a lot about food allergies.  We read labels.  Research where we can go to eat out and make sure to keep our home peanut free.  It’s been an adjustment but given the illnesses some kids have to go through dealing with a nut allergy is easy.

There is one thing surrounding children’s food allergies that gets me a little upset… but that’s for another post.

Dealing With Children’s Food Allergies, Part 2

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