I love peanut butter. Like, eat-it-with-a-spoon-until-I-am-sick love it. So imagine my surprise when, at 2 months pregnant with Eli, I tasted my daily smoothie that Chris would make for me (including bananas, yogurt, other deliciousness and, OF COURSE, peanut butter) and pretty much almost threw up with disgust. At the time I put it down to a funny pregnancy aversion that just wouldn't leave and then started to eat peanut butter again pretty much as soon as Eli was born.
Fast forward about 8 months and we are rushing through traffic to get to the Janeway Children's Hospital as Eli inflates like a puffer fish in the back seat after I fed him ground walnuts in his yogurt - his first taste of nuts. He had turned up his nose at them after the first taste and I only managed to give him one more tiny bit before he flat out refused to open his mouth. Thankfully, we were staying with my parents at the time and my mom had spotted a hive on Eli's eye while I had taken a shower. By the time I looked up "nut allergy symptoms", he had more hives and we knew we had to move quickly. Thankfully, my dad is skilled in the art of getting somewhere quickly and safely so he drove as I kept talking to Eli and monitoring his breathing. By the time we got to the Janeway 10 minutes away, Eli was looking like he was on the losing end of a crazy MMA fight, cauliflower ears and all. We were rushed in to see a doctor immediately and epinephrine was administered along with Benadryl. The doctors said that his tongue had even started to swell in his mouth.
I had been stressed but calm the entire time but once I was rocking my sleeping boy in my arms as the medication worked their magic, I crumbled. Tears ran down my face as I thought of how horribly bad this situation could have gone. My heart is pounding now as I remember that day in detail. There is no trace of nut allergies in my family and I had no idea how quickly it could go from nothing to life threatening. We had been extremely lucky up to that point because we had all been eating nuts and nut butters around Eli and he had just happened to not get any in his mouth (you do realise what a miracle that was having a then two year old who LOVED peanut butter??).
Before getting in to see our allergy specialist, we had one more rush to the Janeway when Eli got hives after eating eggs. No anaphylactic reaction, thank goodness, but still...another allergy. When we did get in to see Eli's specialist, he confirmed a severe anaphylactic allergy to peanuts and all other nuts (and possibly chick peas and some seeds) as well as an allergy to eggs. He also agreed with me when I had said that I thought the aversion I had to peanut butter while I was pregnant on Eli was because of this extreme allergy. Crazy stuff.
As you can imagine, we are a nut free house right now and we feed Eli only what we have prepared for him but we know that this cannot be forever. Other houses, school, toys that may have been played with by a child who had peanut butter for breakfast are all things Eli will come in contact with. As his specialist said, "He WILL have a reaction again. You just need to be prepared for when it happens". Yeesh.
We carry an Epi Pen everywhere, we ask people to wash their face and hands if they have had nuts, we are hyper aware of any mark or bump on Eli's skin, but that is pretty much all we can do. I can tell you that this has been the scariest part of our journey so far. I worry about if Eli will be able to communicate his allergy to people or let someone know if he feels he is having an allergic reaction when he is bigger and we are not around. A t-shirt with a big peanut with a big X through it that he wears everyday? Don't put it past me.
All I can ask is for you, dear readers, to take these allergies seriously. These allergies have actually killed kids and that scares the living daylights out of me. We are hoping and praying Eli grows out of his allergies but need to be prepared for them to be something we deal with on a daily basis. Just some adjustments we make along the way to allow the kids we love more than ourselves to be safe.
Love and light,