Suddenly, he began scratching uncontrollably followed by vomiting. I feared at that moment Frank, my 2 year old son, was having an allergic reaction to the peanut butter sandwich I had just given him. I was talking with my mother on the phone and recall telling her, “Mom, Frank likes peanut butter just like me!” which was quickly followed by “I gotta go, he’s having a reaction!”.
I hung up the phone and immediately called the pediatrician. Since he was not having difficulty breathing, had no facial swelling and no history of allergies, I was instructed to administer liquid Benadryl and bring him to the office. He looked fairly comfortable so I complied.
On the other hand my mother, who was in another state, called 9-1-1. She told them that they needed to help her grandson. Upon further questioning, the emergency dispatcher realized the child was over 1000 miles away. They assured her that there were professionals much closer to help. Funny how mothers usually know best!
Anyway, I followed the nurse’s instructions and gave Frank the Benadryl. He vomited the first dose which I followed with a quick second. Grabbing the diaper bag, I ran out of the door and we jumped in the car. He was very quiet during the ride. Fearful that he was having trouble breathing, I called 9-1-1 and was instructed to pull into a nearby fire station.
By that time, Frank was no longer scratching. I recall him looking around saying, “Mommy, look at the fire engines!” and once again this Mommy could breathe. Since his outward symptoms had resolved, the EMTs surmised that we could continue safely to the pediatrician’s office. With hesitation, I returned to the car with him. Shortly thereafter he resumed vomiting all over himself.
We arrived at the pediatrician’s office with Frank soaking wet. After an assessment, the nurse suspected a peanut allergy and gave us a referral to see an allergist.
A few weeks later, Frank had an appointment with a local board certified allergist. Physical, history and skin testing confirmed peanut and tree nut allergies. I received a crash course in food allergies, was told to have him avoid peanuts and tree nuts and was given a prescription for an EpiPen to administer in case of an accidental exposure. Wow, that was a lot to process! Upon departure, I made a follow up appointment for several months later.
Fear, anger, and helplessness went through my mind.
Am I to blame?
How am I to keep him safe?
Can anyone out there please help me?
It can be frightening when your child is diagnosed with a food allergy believe me, I know. I will be sharing helpful tips and resources on this site to help you and your loved ones deal with the challenges of living with food allergies.
In the meantime, fast forward 5 years. During my second pregnancy, I ate no nuts of any kind hoping and praying that my child would not have nut allergies. When he was about 6 months old, he had eczema on his arms and face. Wondering if he had a milk allergy, I took him to the allergist who delivered the good and bad news. The good news was that he didn’t have a milk allergy. The bad news was that now eggs, in addition to nuts, were the enemy. At least I was familiar with avoiding nuts, but eggs…they are a little trickier. Avoiding eggs is not all it’s cracked up to be. Last pun for now, I promise. Until next time…
Donna DeCosta, Founder FoodASC.com
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