Complacency Can Kill or Nut Allergy and Anaphylaxis are Kissing Cousins

If you’ve read my blog, you know by now, that my motto is “You are your child’s only advocate.”

You may also know, that I have done my best to not create drama around my child by over reacting, and playing the “why me?” card.

What I may not have shared, is that after 6 years of living with life threatening food allergies, Isaiah’s doctor (who I trust more than anyone) has reassured me, that if an “allergy event” were to happen, I could handle it.

Tonight I found out that he was right.

Over the past few years my doctor has encouraged me to be a little more lax. Not worry so much about “products manufactured in the same facility as” and so on. He didn’t want Isaiah to live in fear, he didn’t want me to live in fear either. He wanted Isaiah to have as normal of a life as possible, while understanding the signs to look for should he have a reaction. For the past few months we have been practicing this sentence, “I am having a reaction, I need 3 Benadryl, call my mom and call Dr. D.”

You see, although Isaiah is 8, I have only dropped him off for play dates for about 6 months. Frankly, if you don’t monitor your child’s food allergies like I do, then I’d rather have the play date at my house. But he’s getting older, and it’s time for him to have more responsibility.

Tonight I learned, he could probably handle it.

But it doesn’t mean it didn’t scare the heck out of me, and him.

He was sitting on the sofa playing our favorite iPad game, Kingdom Rush, and had just eaten a brownie we picked up from Taco Bell (don’t ask), all was well.  Then all of a sudden he began hacking. Just a really irritated throat cough. Then he came running up to me and said, “Mom, my throat feels really funny.” This sentence is every allergy parent’s nightmare.

I tried to keep my cool and said, “Okay, let’s have some Benadryl. Let me find it.”

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And that is why I’m writing this post.

When Isaiah was 3 he had an anaphylactic reaction at a restaurant. I was the most diligent mother on the planet then, had epi-pens, Benadryl and inhalers on me at all times. At home there were no less than 4 boxes of Benadryl chewables at any given time. When he started clawing at his throat that day in the restaurant, I had that Benadryl in him before anyone else at the table knew what was happening.

Tonight. Well tonight, the no longer over-protective mom, couldn’t find the Benadryl.

This was me:

But I knew we had boxes! Didn’t we? But where were the  boxes!! Okay, let me find my epi-pen bag, there’s Benadryl in there. Wait! Where is my epi-pen bag? Why isn’t it in my purse? Have I been going around without the epi-pens even on me! Okay, here’s the babysitter’s epi-pen bag, Isaiah, come here. Start chewing. I know you don’t feel good, take this one, and another. Okay, you should start feeling better now. Crap! He’s still coughing.

At this point, I have to wonder if he’s over-reacting. Isaiah is nothing if not a showman. But I also have to take it seriously because maybe he’s not.

I needed to find one more Benadryl. Just one more. In the house that always had 4 boxes, either I didn’t remember where I put them (which is distinctly possible) or we were actually out of Benadryl (which would be a nightmare).

I remembered a box I had stashed in my bathroom drawer when unpacking from South Carolina last year. I ran in there and ripped out one more Benadryl and fed it to the boy.

I began to breathe easier. He wasn’t coughing as much, but he was yawning and saying he was cold. All some of the lesser known signs of anaphylaxis, signs I wrote about in the post Would You Recognize Anaphylactic Shock.

I had him get in my bed and turn on a movie, I couldn’t rule out sheer panic as causing his symptoms either. He settled down. Drank some water. I watched him.

I watched him like a hawk.

The crisis was averted. Although maybe temporarily. Benadryl has a short life, anaphylaxis can have a longer one. So it will be a long night for me. The boy will sleep next to me as I half-sleep – listening to his breathing. Feeling his skin to make sure it doesn’t get cold.

I have to admit, it’s a little fun watching the boy, tipsy under the influence of double the normal dose of Benadryl walk around the bedroom. He says it’s like there are three me’s talking to him with a computer. But he’s feeling better, and I’m feeling better.

I learned another lesson.

I learned that with complacency comes forgetfulness. And with forgetfulness comes mistakes. Nut allergy and anaphylaxis are kissing cousins. Cross-contamination does happen. Something I am well aware of. Where my extra Benadryl is? Not so much.

This won’t happen again. I will put more Benadryl in every place I looked, since I can assume that is where my brain goes first. I will not forget my epi-pens (which I remembered were in Isaiah’s book bag from spending the day with Grandma).

As much as this is a post about a boy with severe food allergies and a mom who is still learning, after 6 years, how to live with it. It is also a post about parenting.

It is so easy to take our rhythms for granted. It is so easy to fall into a pattern of complacency. Sometimes we need to be shaken up to realize that time is going by, life is moving on. Our 2-year-olds are 4, now 6, now 8. But 8 doesn’t make them an adult any more than 4 did. And mom still needs to be the one taking care, because we are parents after all. And no matter how self-sufficient our children are, they couldn’t survive a day without us.



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12 thoughts on “Complacency Can Kill or Nut Allergy and Anaphylaxis are Kissing Cousins

  1. First, let me just say that I’m glad that he’s okay and hope that continues to be the case. You did good under the circumstances and now at least you have the comfort of knowing that it won’t happen again…I’m sure you’ll see to that! Hope all is well.

  2. I know the feeling of being loopy on Benadryl! I have bad allergies, and when I was younger, a few times I took probably twice the amount I was supposed to, when my allergies were so bad and I thought more meds would equal a faster recovery. He is right about everything looking and sounding kind of weird! I also felt like I was sleeping in a water bed, even though it was just a normal bed… it felt like it was floating and rocking! So glad Isaiah is okay now though. 🙂

  3. Jen — I grew up with severe food allergies to nuts and eggs. And this is when there weren’t Epi-Pens and Benedryl to carry around. I don’t know how my mom managed it. But early on I learned I was responsible for my food and keeping in touch with what my body was saying. It can be scary for the moment but as a kid with food allergies, I learned that I couldn’t be scared of eating. Instead, I learned to be proactive and not take an adult’s word that the food was okay unless I saw the label myself. And if they made it, I always asked if they used a nut extract (which they sometimes did but forgot about). Glad Isaiah is okay — but now both of you know you can handle whatever comes down the pike.

    Jennifer @ The Jenny Evolution

    • Thanks Jennifer. I know what you mean, he’s really good. I remember when a friend took him to get pizza at the mall when I ran to the bathroom, and he asked the guy if there was mayo on the pizza! That was when he was anaphylactic to egg and he knew he couldn’t have mayo 🙂 He’s a smart boy, and I know he can watch out for himself too!

  4. My son’s friend is allergic…deathly allergic to peanuts. If he so much as gets oil on his skin, he has a reaction to it. Since I’m a Peds ER nurse, his mom trusts me to have him over for play dates. It’s still fucking scary yo. I wash EVERYTHING down and we use paper plates and utensils because well, no one is dying on my shift. Can’t be too careful in a house of a child who eats peanut butter as if his life depended on it.
    I will never forget being with my best friend when we were in grade school. Her mom called frantically telling her to get her ass home. Earlier in the day, we took her four year old sister to the park. My girlfriend brought the epi-pen with her to the park and then forgot it was in there. Her mom misplaced the one in the home and my friend was the only one who had it. You can never ever ever be too careful. I am always mindful of that tragedy.

  5. I suffer from bad allergies myself (including a food allergy to shellfish), so I know how scary they can be. But I imagine it’s 100x scarier when it’s your child that is suffering from them. I am so glad Isaiah is OK!

  6. My heart stopped when you said the scratchy throat part. One of my sons has had that happen twice and it is so scary. It’s hard to not panic in that situation. So glad it worked out in his favor and you were able to find enough Benadryl.

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