People say to me “Wow, that must hard” when I tell them about my daughter ‘s food allergies. “Eh,” I say with a shrug, “you just do what you have to do.” And I almost never cry about it. (You can read about the last time I cried).
But last night, I read an article about a 30 year old guy who collapsed in anaphylactic shock and died after taking a bite out of a cookie that contained peanuts. He had 2 previous reactions in his life, according to the article: when he was 3 months old, he had a rash and blistering after peanut oil got on his skin, and when he was a little older, he had blistering in his mouth after eating a chocolate. Then, 29 years later, a fatal reaction.
After reading the article I suddenly felt sick to my stomach and my whole body tensed up. I went to talk to my father, a retired pediatrician, about the article (I was visiting my parents) and as I spoke, I began to cry. I’m not sure why this particular story affected me so much, but I think it was because of what Gina at Allergy Moms said about this story: “This is a tragic reminder that past reactions cannot predict the severity of future reactions…”
When my daughter was tested for cashews, her scratch test indicated she was allergic, but according to the allergist, the test is not a reliable indicator of the severity of the allergy. Then, her lips swelled one time after kissing someone who ate cashews. I asked the allergist about the need for an epi-pen, and he thought that I was being overly cautious. He didn’t think it was necessary because since she hadn’t had a systemic reaction, meaning that her blood pressure didn’t drop the first time, then she most likely is not at risk for anaphylactic shock. Most likely. Well, unless that doctor could tell me that there was a 100% certainty that my daughter is not at risk, I was getting that epi-pen prescription. My father and my daughter’s pediatrician agreed with me. Why not carry one? Plus, I don’t know what would happen if she actually ate a cashew. So I am erring (in the allergist’s mind I guess) on the side of caution.
One of the things that I uttered to my father through my my tears was “I feel like I’ve done everything that I can do for her, but then it’s out of my control.” There is a feeling of powerlessness that parents of food-allergic children have. We can control our immediate environment, but beyond that we have to hope that our children really understand the seriousness of their allergies, we have to rely on other people to remember the dangers, we have to trust that schools are prepared for an emergency, we have to have faith in grandparents and friends that they will not take it lightly, and then, after all that, we just have to pray that everything is going to be all right. (Breathe.)
I think we are allowed a little cry now and then, don’t you?