Friday, December 10, 2010

"no, that is her windpipe closing" and other things you really don't want to hear your pediatrician say.

allergies don't run in either of our families, so j and i were both shocked (and skeptical even?) when around age two, f ate a cashew out of j's hand and within 20 seconds was vomiting, gagging, coughing, and developed hives around her mouth. i mean, the reaction was strong and immediate, but it felt so surreal. we sat on the couch with her for at least an hour after that, and she'd cough every minute or so, but she was breathing just fine and the hives eventually went away, so we put her to bed and just mentioned it the next time we saw her pediatrician. i'm pretty sure they told us to "keep an eye on it" and "just avoid cashews" because no big deal was made out of it.

so we did, we didn't buy any more cashews (j looooves them) and on forms for school/swim lessons/surgery for her ears, i just put "cashews (we think)" in the "allergies?" sections. cashews aren't like peanuts in that they are pretty easy to avoid. but last friday night at a friend's house, f stuck her hand into a bowl of cashews - i was right there and told her to drop the nuts, so she did. and then with the same hand she instead picked up a grape, put it in her mouth, and almost immediately started coughing, gagging, and turning a little red. thinking she was going to throw up, i ran her into the bathroom and our quick-thinking friend ran in with some benadryl for her to take a swig of. she did, and she stopped gagging, and she could breathe just fine, and there weren't any hives on her face this time, and the whole thing was over in about 5 minutes. my heart was racing but it was over so quickly and she was back to normal, so i didn't panic. it helped knowing her pal's dad is an EMT and was right there too.

i knew i should call her pediatrician, thinking "i should probably run all of that by him" because we usually see a different pediatrician these days, and you know, it was kinda scary. i finally had a minute to call him this past wednesday afternoon, and what he said to me blew me away. i described both times she's apparently had a reaction to a cashew (or cashew dust, in the most recent case) and i told him that neither time did it seem like her airway was compromised, and he said "i don't mean to alarm you, but that gagging and coughing? that IS her airway closing."


he asked me, "do you have a pen? write down this number - it is to one of the best allergists in california, and we are lucky to have them in san diego. write it down and call AS SOON AS WE HANG UP." he told me based on what i described to him, his guess is that she has a serious allergy. that she'll probably need an epi-pen. that this is "no joke." so, we have an appointment on the 30th, a two hour appointment that the receptionist said would cost between $600 and $1000. he gave me a bunch of codes to call and run by our insurance provider, gave me instructions about no anti-histamines for 5 days prior to the appointment, told me they will prick her skin UP TO 72 TIMES to test for different allergens. my heart is breaking as i type that. homegirl is going to get whatever barbie she fucking wants AND a hot fudge sundae after that action.

pardon my french, i'm just a little freaked out. fortunately, meeting with the allergist will give us a lot more information and hopefully we'll figure out if there's anything else we need to avoid from here on out. and my friend tammy has a son who is allergic to all kinds of things, so she's already offering awesome insight and support, as is one of my favorite bloggers, punky mama. i know it's going to be fine and we'll figure it out, but it still seems a little surreal. and scary.


  1. I didn't know what being powerless meant until I became a parent. And boy does it suck!

    The really good news is that you were with F. both times she had the allergic reaction. You saw exactly what happened and were able to help her get through it. The patch test will not be pleasant, but it lasts for a finite period of time, and when it is over, you will know more about what she needs to do to avoid having future reactions.

    I was told to carry an EpiPen for an allergy I have to bee stings and certain insect bites. I've had this allergy my entire life, but it is actually getting worse as I get older. By taking F. to an allergist now, while she's young, you might be able to do some things to help her reduce the allergy over time. You never know, in a few years she might be able to join J. at the cashew bowl.

    I am sorry you and F. have to go through this. For what it is worth, you will be able to use this experience (the same way you can use her successful ear surgery) to remind her of how strong she is. How even when a situation isn't ideal, she is able to get through it. Being able to do that with my kids has made me feel just a little bit less powerless.

    Sending good thoughts your way!

  2. Huge hug of support from one who has been on the front lines of this war for a long time. I am here. Please rant away.

  3. Oh that sucks. Food allergies are scary.

    I have allergies and mild asthma, but no food allergies- so my experience isn't really relevant to you at all. Except- I've had the skin prick allergy tests. They don't hurt, but the spots you react to itch. You may want to have some benadryl cream on hand for afterwards. I'm sure the allergist will tell you what to do to help- its been so long that I can't remember what I did.

  4. yikes! i'm so sorry you (and f) (and j) are going through this... must be very scary, but also a bit of a relief to know there is so much more information about food allergies these days. while that 2 hour appointment sounds pretty painful (both on f and on the ol' wallet) it will be so much better to know for sure about the allergies to get that epipen. good luck mama! i'm thinking of you...

  5. That is so scary, I'm so sorry. I had that test done, as did Ella. it's uncomfortable for sure but not painful, if that makes you feel any better.