Thursday, 19 April 2012

Keep Your Nuts to Yourself

I love nuts.  I mean I love to eat nuts.  They’re yummy and salty.   Ok, that doesn’t sound right either.  Let me start over.  There is nothing wrong with a good peanut.  Nothing that is, except for the fact that their mere presence can send many a kid into anaphylactic shock – my son included, apparently.

At a recent birthday party, Prince was given his first Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  How is it possible that my kid was able to reach the age of 3 without having one of these?  Well, the kid is smart.  Anytime he was offered peanut butter in the past he always told me that he didn’t like it.  I certainly never forced the issue and hence, we arrive at a birthday party where all the other kids are eating these yummy-looking treats and Prince decided to try one.  Before he even finished biting into it he was gagging and coughing and tuning red.  I quickly took it away from him and get him some water but the coughing went on long enough to force an early exit from the party.

In a nutshell, while he did recover that day without intervention (thankfully he hadn’t ingested any of the candy – only bit into it) we decided to get him tested and, low and behold, he is severely allergic to peanuts and fairly allergic to tree nuts.  Awww, nuts is right.
At first I thought this was no big deal.  I had been eating peanut butter in the same house as him for years and he had been fine.  But after a long talk with the doctor and a large investment in EpiPens I began to get a little stressed out. 
Fact #1 – If we suspect Prince is having a reaction and administer the EpiPen we HAVE to call 911 immediately.  Not just proceed to your nearest hospital in an orderly fashion.  Call 911 and get a professional on the scene ASAP.   I thought that as long as you had an EpiPen handy you could just shove it in and get on with your day.  Apparently not.  Something about how the drug in the pen can affect heart rate or something.  Long story short, one un-read label can really screw up a Saturday.
Fact #2 – Nuts are everywhere!  They are in things you would never think of, like dried cranberries, ice cream, anything at a bakery or Tim Horton’s (so long Timbits!), rice crackers and almost everything made by Mr. Christie.  Nothing is safe anymore.  And forget about eating out.  What with the use of peanut oils in cooking and the fact that many chain restaurants just reheat food that was processed elsewhere it is impossible to know if the food is safe. 
Fact #3 – Apparently the more times Prince is exposed to nuts the stronger his reaction will be.  So although we managed to get through the birthday party incident relatively unscathed, the next time we will probably not be so lucky. 
All of these facts have combined to give me a new clump of gray hair.  While at the outset of this whole ordeal I thought that, since we had never had a problem before, we could just keep going on as per usual.  I was wrong.  Ignorance really was bliss.  Now that I know that there is even the slightest chance that eating an Oreo could harm my child (in ways other than childhood obesity that is) I can’t take that risk. 
Now I am the freaky lady at the park who has to rush her kids out of the playground because somebody else has let their two year old run around with a sticky PB & J sandwich smooched up in her tiny fist.   Previously I would have thought the same thing as you right now – what is the big deal?  It’s not like she’s going to try to force feed it to Prince.  But when Prince goes to climb the slide and gets peanut butter on his hands, which he proceeds to rub in his eye, which causes it to swell shut and requires a trip to the hospital, it is a big deal.  (This is a true story by the way, although it didn’t happen to Prince, thank goodness). 
So please people, keep your nuts to yourself.  There are plenty of other options out there for a quick snack that will not potentially incapacitate other children.  And please be patient with us parents of kids with allergies, no matter what kind of allergy they may have.  Knowing that there is some substance out there that is trying to hurt our kids makes us a little nutty, as I am sure you can imagine. 
So please, don’t make me go nuts.  Go nut-free.

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