Lucie’s “godbrother”, A, gets to mountain bike and hike and have all kinds of adventures all over the Columbia River Gorge… as long as those adventures don’t involve peanuts. Or any kind of nuts (see: Best in Show‘s hound dog breeder, Harlan Pepper, for a complete listing of nuts). So I naturally thought: “Hey, what a great blogging opportunity!” Luckily, Godmother B was game, too.
When did you find out about A’s allergy?
We were in California last summer. A was 10 mo. old and he ate a peanut butter sandwich at the pool. He got these red bumps around his ankles and wrists, but we assumed it was from the pool because the water was kind of funky.
Then he came home and ate peanut butter and he got hives. We said: “This is definitely peanut butter.”
Dad ate a peanut butter sandwich and gave A a kiss sometime later and he still broke out.
Had A eaten PB before?
Yes, a bunch of times. We have pictures of him eating it! It was one of the first thing that I gave him; we weren’t really worried about him having allergies. We didn’t pay attention to what [foods] we gave him.
What entails having a kid with a severe allergy?
Being more careful, I guess.
We have an allergist we see, but he’s really prohibitive. We need a second opinion because the doctor wants to avoid a lot of things like chickpeas, too.
Oh, we also have EpiPens. One with us, one at daycare.
We’ll talk more about the pens in a minute. Where did you get your research?
I don’t do a lot of research. There was a website that the allergist gave me but I would like to speak with another person.
We only have the two allergists in town and one is only open 3-days/week, 9:00 AM-12:00 PM. And they are not actual doctors.
Yeah, they are nurse practitioners. I guess that’s fine-ish.
Do you have any new fears around this, or run worst case scenarios?
You know, I don’t…
They tested his blood and he could have anaphalactic shock (some people have allergies that don’t lead to that). I should worry more, but I don’t.
I think I will worry about it even less when he can talk. So far I’ve been the only one who has exposed him…
Will it be like this all of his life?
It’s not something that he can grow out of, but we can do a controlled re-introduction later in life. We have to wait until he’s 4 years old so he can tell us if he’s feeling weird.
What were your perceptions about food allergies before? Have your views changed?
I certainly thought it was annoying when nuts were prohibited. And I still feel that there are people who call things an allergy that are not allergies and I think that is harmful to those who have actual allergies. I knew people who were truly intolerant, who would get sick…
I also understand why there are no nuts in places like schools. I am thankful for that now.
I knew that allergies were out there, but I didn’t realize how difficult it is when working around that when purchasing products.
What is your experience with that?
[laughs] I look at the package AFTER I buy it… we go back and forth as to whether it is important or not. We haven’t had a reaction to the packaged food where it has ‘been processed in a factory with other nuts.’
But there were a few instances with actual nut products.
- Someone gave us some baby oil in a sample kit… not labled. His skin was dry and so I rubbed it on him. I liked the way it smelled, so when I looked at the actual product in the store, the first ingredient was almond oil.
- I bought bread at a bakery and it was labled cranberry apricot… and I gave A a little and then I started to look at the bread and sure enough there were nuts in it. His eye had swollen pretty badly. I went back to the store and just gave them a head’s up, and they said “there’s no way it has nuts in it”, but it did– I could taste it and my kid was breaking out.
- We went to an Easter egg hunt and I tried not to be that parent who says “can we not have nuts in the candy?” and A came up to me with a peanut butter egg in his hand. Luckily, it was still wrapped in foil…
Are food allergies hereditary?
I don’t know. His dad’s family has a lot of allergies, so it feels like it could be.
Do you feel that you get enough community support?
Definitely with a nut allergy, people take it seriously and feel bad and are on the learning curve.
Sometimes when we go to potlucks, people don’t understand that it’s all nuts… people make things with pine nuts, thinking that the allergy isn’t to all nuts.
I could speak up more. Maybe people would adjust if I said something, or maybe they wouldn’t invite us.
Let’s talk about EpiPens…
They are not designed for babies or small kids under 40-pounds. But if you have the choice between death and giving your kid a shot, I would give him a shot.
The first pen was $400 and our insurance covered $0-50 of it and then three months later it was recalled, so we had to buy another. This was promoted by the doctor’s office as being so much cheaper… and it was still $300. We should have more pens around, but you can see why we don’t.
Another awesome thing is that they expire. We live in a small town and the one they have available is the one that expires in 7 months.
Also, you can’t have one without a prescription… when I was teaching outdoor school, we wanted one, but couldn’t get one.
*Author’s note: The cost of the epinephrine medication is $1. Over time, marketing efforts turned this self-injecting pen into a billion dollar industry. Read about their 55% profit margins here.
*Author’s post script: Thank you to Godmother B!