Peanut What?

A few weeks ago I discovered O has a peanut allergy. I was stunned. No one in my family, no one I even know has a peanut allergy—any food allergies, really. I immediately thought about this television show I once saw that documented the airline industry—the gate agents, passengers, travel attendants, pilots, etc. The episode I remembered had this really irate passenger flipping out because of his peanut allergy—he was assured no peanuts would be served on his flight, but they were, and he might have gone into anaphylactic shock. He was very mad, very dramatic, and talked a lot about it. Then my mind went to this story. I read about it when I had visited the allergy forum on the previous day. Not exactly the best timing.

As I sat there in the Dr.’s office, stunned, thinking about television shows and poor little kids who died from their allergies—the doctor ticked off all the things that O couldn’t eat (like pre-made chili—it often has peanuts—what?). She went on to tell me that he wasn’t allergic to tree nuts, but we should still avoid them. O could eat peanut oil—but not peanut oil that has been cold-pressed or extruded. I would need to be extra vigilant in restaurants and start reading labels very carefully.

She explained about the EpiPen®. She said I’d have to carry it everywhere, give one to daycare, keep one at home, give one to his dad. If O would ever get hives after eating something, I need to immediately use the pen and then call 911. There was no waiting—you didn’t know what could be going on with his airway, so better safe than sorry. Later, the nurse would show me how to actually use the pen

The doctor rattled off some statistics about how only one kid out of five outgrows peanut allergies—so I should plan for the long term. (And that’s actually the most frequently asked question from others when I explain about O’s allergy—”Will he outgrow it?”)

On and on and on. And all I could do was sit there in disbelief thinking, “O has a peanut allergy? Really?”

Finally—after almost three hours—the doctor’s appointment ended. (Not a second too soon for O, he was literally.climbing.the.walls.) I had a million questions, but I couldn’t seem to find the words to ask them. So I gathered all the paperwork the doctor gave me (a lot) and wandered out of Children’s Hospital.

It’s been a few weeks now, and I’ve had an email exchange with an awesome mom who has a peanut-allergic son, I’ve joined the local allergy support group, and I’ve had follow up calls to the nurse to ask questions and discuss issues as they arise. I’m handling things much better than that first day, but there’s till a lot to learn. Just like everything else in this crazy parenting world—I take it day by day. But I stay away from the message boards and horror stories. They just scare me.

8 thoughts on “Peanut What?

  1. just4ofus says:

    OMG. I am so sorry. I can’t imagine worrying about that on top of parenting.
    Hopefully he will outgrow it and it sounds like you are doing your best to stay informed.

  2. Mommy Bits says:

    Wow. My girlfriend’s daughter has the same allergy. We’ve been lucky to never have to use the pen. Her dad has it too. Do you know if it’s hereditary? Do you or O’s dad have the allergy?

  3. Interesting post Tela. I’m sorry to hear about the allergy with O. I’ve never heard about the “pen” to combat anaphylaxis and I also didn’t know that 1 in 5 actually outgrow the allergy. Thanks for the info…

  4. I’m so sorry. My daughter has a peanut allergy too. It’s a scary thing but prevention becomes very second-nature quickly. I hope your childcare is being very supportive in helping him stay safe in a peanut-free environment. My daughter is entering public school next year and it’s a little intimidating.

  5. I’m sorry to hear about O’s allergy. My daughter is allergic to egg, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame and has oral allergy syndrome to cucumber and cantaloupe (though we avoid all melon).

    I remember being overwhelmed after each diagnosis (egg was first, followed by peanut a year later, and the others 4 years later). Managing the allergy does get easier with time and there are many wonderful resources available.

    I frequent an online support group that has been very helpful for me: [url][/url]. “The Peanut Answer Book,” “Managing Your Child’s Life-Threatening Food Allergies,” and “Food Allergies for Dummies” are all helpful books. Check out Amazon for more books on food allergies. I’m sure you have probably already logged on to [url][/url]; FAAN is a great organization. Also, the Food Allergy Initiative has a wonderful web site.

    Oh, ask your allergist about carrying Benadryl in addition to your Epi-Pen.

    Good luck.

  6. Oh gosh…so sorry! We thought we had a peanut allergy for about a week and it is no fun. Peanut allergies are becoming more and more common so fortunately, people are more informed and sympathetic. Much luck as you navigate this peanut-free journey.

  7. Hello…I recently posted about that.

    3 days ago, we found out that my son has a peanut allergy. Both sides (mine and my husband’s) do not have peanut allergy. I was so scared and shocked.

    The doctor does not have an explanation as to why people get them. I heard about a 36 year old man that got diagnosed of a peanut allergy. He used to eat peanut products and was diagnosed when he was 36. I am so confused why it happens.

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