My "Jelly in the Middle" daughter has been allergic to peanuts her whole life. We are hoping she will outgrow this someday. We discovered this "allergy" when she was a toddler. Her face would get a red rash whenever she ate a peanut butter granola bar and within a half hour she would get sick.
Her pediatrician referred us to an allergist as this could be life threatening. She tested positive for severe peanut allergy and we were told she could suffer anaphylaxis (throat swelling, difficulty breathing) with exposure to even a minute amount of peanut, peanut flour or peanut oil. From then on we made sure she had an Epi-pen (shot of epinephrine) in our car, my purse, her school, church and home.
|A small child uses the EpiPen Junior, then as she gets older moves up to the regular EpiPen|
We soon discovered EpiPens only had a 6-month shelf life (this was 14 years ago). We would need to replace the EpiPens in our car, my purse, her school, church and home every 6 months even though she had never shown any signs of anaphylaxis. We had to stock the EpiPens "just in case" because "she could die."
Skeptical me: ...hmmmm....really? I don't remember kids being allergic to peanuts when I was growing up and now suddenly every other kid has some type of allergy? And you want me to pay $25 for a two-pack of medicine (I'll need 2 or 3 two-packs) that only lasts 6 months, 'just in case', and need to be stocked in multiple locations, then thrown-away and repurchased Every 6 Months? Is this some sort of conspiracy?
Mommy me: ...well, ok then, I can't Not stock them because "what if" something happens? I can't let my kid Die.
Taking her to Restaurants and sending her to School, Field Trips and Birthday Parties suddenly terrified me.
I became "that" mom who would call ahead:
"Are your fries and chicken strips made with peanut oil?"
"Do your chips contain peanut oil?"
"Do you have a peanut-free table in the lunch room?"
"What type of ice cream are you serving? Does it contain peanut oil?"
"Are you serving cake? What store did you purchase it from or if you made it which brand mix did you use?"
"Are you serving candy? Will the kids be washing their hands after they eat the Snickers?"
Jelly did a great job of avoiding peanuts. She obviously didn't want to die and her mom made sure that she knew that was a possibility. (Yes, she will need therapy, won't we all at some point?)
So this sweet girl coped with very little exposure and no life-threatening emergencies.
Even recently when she accidentally ingested peanut by taking a bite of a peanut M&M before realizing what it was.
Yes, that happened.
She quickly spit it out and brushed her teeth. We were on vacation and I remember giving her Benadryl and just watching her for the next hour praying I wouldn't have to use the EpiPen. Nothing happened except an itchy mouth.
Then more recently she had another accidental ingestion and again, just an itchy mouth, no sickness and no swelling. So off to the allergist we go to see if she has maybe outgrown this allergy?
Nope. Her skin test tested positive again but our allergist said the fact that she accidentally bit into peanut two times and didn't have a reaction is more conclusive than the skin test. So this summer we started her on a Peanut Challenge.
After years of conditioning to Avoid Peanuts At All Costs she was now being asked to put peanut flour in her mouth, then a tiny piece of mashed up peanut, progressively larger amounts throughout the day, all in the care of the allergist's office. This is the new thing! If she was 3 years old today, they would not tell her to avoid peanuts at all costs. They would get her on a peanut challenge and expose her a little bit each day to peanuts! My, how times change.
During the challenge her face got a red rash and her mouth got very itchy but no swelling. She progressed through the first challenge well. We were sent home with a "prescription" of peanut M&Ms (if I could only be so lucky!) and she was to eat one in the morning and one at night.
We went on a summer vacation trip to a warm resort where we were going to bike, hike and swim every day so the doctor told us to cut her dose down to one peanut M&M per night because the hotter you are and the more exercise you do, the quicker the peanut travels in her blood stream and some kids get more of a reaction after exercising. We gave her just one peanut M&M per night and each night she had horrible stomach aches until the third night she got sick. I called the allergist and he told us we were probably going too fast and we need to cut back to 1/4 of an M&M, could I do that? Cut a peanut M&M into quarters?
Sure, I can do that. As long as I get to eat the other 3/4 each night (which I did).
So far so good. Stomach aches are getting better but she does have a watery mouth and feels very nauseous. She hates peanuts and wants to quit this whole process. But if we quit now, she could have a worse reaction down the road. After years of avoidance, we now have to keep her exposed daily. This is her current "prescription" - tiny pieces of peanut sitting in our fridge:
When she finishes this prescription we will head back to the allergist office for Peanut Challenge #2. To be continued....