This post isn’t filled with cute pictures (just one I snuck in at the very end) or a funny story. It’s my candid writing about something I have not shared on this blog. It’s about Jaden’s peanut allergy.
As a Registered Dietitian, I understand the science and the practical application of food allergies. But it wasn’t until today that I really was shown the severity of such allergies. When the boys first started trying new foods their first year, Jaden was one whose skin was a bit sensitive to some foods like high acidic garden tomatoes. He was once given one small peanut butter captain crunch ball, and I noticed his skin get blotchy right around his mouth, but quickly went away. Right before his 2nd birthday I mentioned some various foods to his doctor that I was suspicious about and had Jaden tested for allergies. All of the tests came back negative, except peanuts. A peanut allergy is measured on a 6-point scale…..Jaden was a 0.6. A ‘very mild’ case. I mean in terms of grades, I’d give his allergy an ‘F’…10%. Weak.
And that is the attitude many of us around him took. Don’t get me wrong, I always read labels and made sure to never give him anything with peanuts. But I didn’t want to get that reputation as an overprotective ‘helicopter’ parent. I deal with enough of them at the college level (seriously, even parents of grad students!) that I didn’t want to become one.
Fast forward to today. Nathan had his yearly big juijitsu event, so when I found out about a community fundraiser where I could have my kids entertained (at a legitimate facility for kids) while I got some Christmas shopping finalized, I signed up immediately. When I signed up, I was happy to see there was a box to type any food allergies. I clearly typed peanuts, even though I read that kids would be served popcorn or gold fish while watching Frozen- one of the boys’ favorite movies. Saving the details, there was a mix-up in the snacks and Jaden ingested full peanuts. I was notified that one of my boys had thrown-up. Knowing the stomach flu had been around our house a month ago, I ran to my car to pick up the boys, but thought nothing of a possible allergic reaction. That is until I walked in and saw Jaden. He didn’t look like he had the stomach flu. His skin was red, swollen eyes, he was itching all over. As I got more pieces of the story, I knew I just wanted to get him home.
Driving home he threw up again and started falling asleep. It was one of the more terrifying moments of motherhood as I looked back at him in the rear-view mirror to watch his puffy eyes not staying open. At that point, I backtracked deciding Benadryl alone would not be enough and took him to the ER. The ER staff was great and got me in right away. Evan was amazing and even got a popsicle from the staff for being so well behaved. Since Jaden had two symptoms- the very itchy skin and had thrown up- he received an epi shot along with steroids and a dose of Benadryl. After finally getting the not-so-tasty steroids in him, he got a popsicle too. Within minutes of getting the meds, his itchiness improved. Thanks to a wonderful friend for coming and picking up Evan after making sure Jaden was okay. We had to stay for a couple hours to be observed and thankfully had just enough cell phone service to stay entertained with Jaden’s apps.
He took a long nap when we got home and amazingly seems just fine now. After waking from his nap, Evan ran up to him and gave him a hug and said, “I missed you Jay-Jay!” It was so adorable. I couldn’t imagine anything happening to either of them. This was definitely one of those experiences that makes me reprioritize the importance of an epi pen and become more confident to educate others who are responsible for him about his allergy and the epi pen. There really is no such thing as a ‘mild’ allergy. No one else in our families has a food allergy. Why Jaden? Of the research I have read….there is no reason. But it is real.
Jaden enjoying his 2nd popsicle of the day! This may have been a bribe to get him to follow through with the discharge nurse's requests:)