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 Cincymoms.com 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.