Tuesday, January 11, 2011

nut allergy rookies

this whole food allergy business is taking some getting used to.

for about the first week after our allergist appointment, i had nightmares about f's allergies - weird, half-lucid scary dreams about food and allergies and all kinds of fun stuff. i took it as a good sign when i finally had a night with dreams that were just about vegetables (cooking them! buying them! exciting, i know).

remembering to have a set of epi-ens with her at all times? one night i left them at her school (before we had two sets) and last sunday, she went out to lunch with her dad and i forgot to send the epi-pens with them. maybe we should build a shelf near the front door and have a set there so we never forget them. i'm sure ikea makes an epi-pen shelf. it probably has a name like "allerginska" or something.

and we're working with her to learn to ALWAYS ask if something has nuts in it before she eats it, but, you know, she's three and stuff so... it will take some doing. sunday morning we were at open play at the PB rec center and as i chatted with a friend, i looked across the gymnasium to see f taking a giant bite out of what appeared to be a granola bar. i'm pretty sure i reached her in one 27-foot leap while yelling "noooooooooooooooooooooo!" in that slow-motion way. thankfully, it was actually a cereal bar that had no nuts at all in it, but wow. i should probably just start wearing an adult diaper whenever i go anywhere with her now. sheesh.

Monday, January 3, 2011

about that time i cried in the allergist's office

i did - it sorta surprised me, but i got all teary eyed as our new allergist, dr. griener, described what to do the next time f has an anaphylactic reaction to nuts. administer the epi-pen, call 911 or if you're close, just drive to the ER, administer a second dose as needed, etc - as he calmly told us what we have to do in the event she has another allergic reaction, i totally got all choked up. it is just so scary to even imagine it. scary, surreal, but apparently, really really real too. you know, because it's already happened twice, and now that we went to the allergist and had f tested, even realer. "realer" should totally be a real word, by the way.

so that one small red welt to the left of her spine is the control histamine test. the nurse said if that one doesn't react, then the test isn't valid. the other two welts? those are where she was tested for cashews and pistachios. she eats peanuts regularly and has shown no allergy to those, knock on wood. and they tested for other tree nuts, with no reaction showing up; ditto for shellfish. she was a trooper, too. fortunately, they only did 12 skin pricks, and i breathed a huge sigh of relief when we learned it wasn't going to be the full 72. she winced a little but kept smiling as the nurse pricked her back with the little tools, and then while we waited she watched a caillou video on j's phone. it was pretty easy when all was said and done. it was also kinda crazy watching the little red welt develop over the course of the 15 minutes in those two spots. it's all so nuts. you know, for real.

so now, i feel a little unsure about what's next. we got the epi-pens and are starting to bring them with us when we go places, but that still is a little foreign to me - i think i just need to get used to it. i talked to her teachers and her school and am going to type up big bold signs for their classroom: don't hesitate, give her the epi-pen, call 911, that kind of thing. it makes my stomach feel queasy just thinking about it, but i guess it is necessary now. ugh. and, like, play dates and birthday parties and stuff? i need to let other parents know, that like she can't even touch cashews or pistachios. it's no joke. but i know other kids bring nuts to school and i hate to be the one to have to rain on everybody's nut parade. i am her advocate, though, and i think i just need to get used to it. all of it. sheesh.

what's that term that gets bandied (bandied!) about? "a new normal"? looks like we're going to have to adjust to a new normal at our house. no tree nuts at all, no chinese food, no greek food, no trail mix, no granola bars, nothing that could have been cross-contaminated with cashews or pistachios. reading food labels, being vigilant, and teaching f what it all means, how to avoid them, and what to do if she does ever start to have another allergic reaction. the epi-pens come with a "dummy" pen to practice with, so i showed her how it works and gave it to her to play with, just so she gets familiar with them. all of the teachers at her school have been trained how to use them, so that rocks. and we love those squirt-your-own yogurt places - we go about twice a week! - but now i'll be the one putting the toppings on for her, so she doesn't have a chance to come into contact with any nutty badness. small prices to pay, in the long run. still, it's scary and it kinda sucks.