Food Allergy Awareness Week: May 5-8 in Canada, May 10-16 in the United States
Son-F, my second child, was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when he was about 18 months old. When he was around four we learned, through a series of tests, that he was no longer allergic. He was one of the lucky ones, one of the 20-30% that grows out of a peanut allergy. I will never forget the moment we found out. We were at The Hospital for Sick Children’s allergy clinic and he was having the third and final test; a food challenge. Son-F was given peanut several times, spread out over a few hours. Each time the amount given was increased. He was then monitored closely for a reaction.
After he’d been given the final ‘dose’ of peanut we were sitting in the now-empty waiting room. Son-F was busying himself with some of the toys when a nurse came out to talk to me to give me the ‘official’ word. He was no longer allergic to peanuts. I sat there, momentarily overwhelmed, and took a few seconds to regain my composure. All I could say is, “It’s such a relief.” The nurse and I sat there for a minute; she patiently let me take it all in. Son-F, who I thought wasn’t really paying attention suddenly turned to the nurse and me and said, “Mummy, does this mean I’m not allergic to peanuts anymore?” and I said, “Yes.” He dropped whatever he was doing, ran across the room full tilt into my arms and gave me the biggest, squeeziest hug he’d ever given me.
After that we brought nuts back into the house. Peanut butter, almond butter, raw nuts, whatever we wanted! Nobody really complained when we didn’t have nuts in the house but we all realized how much we missed them once they were back again. Another bonus was that it gave us another protein option for Son-S, who at that time was allergic to dairy and eggs.
When Son-S was only a few months old we learned he was allergic to dairy and eggs. We were at a restaurant and he was in my lap. He’d picked up the spoon I’d used to stir the milk into my coffee and within minutes he had hives and redness all over his face and one of his eyes was swollen.
Before Son-S was two we learned that he was also allergic to banana. He had never been interested in eating banana until one morning he decided to devour half of one. Almost immediately he broke out in hives. They were on his face, his chest and his thighs. My husband sat with him and waited and watched to see what would happen next. After about 20 minutes the hives started to go down. This is when I came into the kitchen, having just woken up. Son-S was obviously still uncomfortable, clinging to Daddy for dear life. After another minute or two he threw up. Back out with the banana – all over his shirt and pants. We stripped him down. As we were taking off his shirt some of the vomit from his shirt rubbed off onto his head. His chest and legs were also damp where the vomit had soaked through. Anywhere the vomit touched he broke out in hives again; his head, chest and legs. It was like the reaction started all over again. Then his eyes started to water. His nose was running and he started sneezing. He was also wheezing. We sat there waiting, ready to give the EpiPen. After about another 20 minutes things started to settle down. Looking back, I know now that we should have given him the EpiPen. I don’t know why we didn’t. It scares me to death to think about it.
Near the end of last summer we were getting ready for back to school. Son-S goes to nursery school a few mornings a week so we needed to see the Allergist to have her fill out some forms. Son-S had had nuts many times before. Almonds are a common snack in our house, peanut butter a staple, and I know he’d had pecans before too, so I thought nothing of giving him some trail mix as a snack on the way to the Allergist. When we got out of the car I noticed some hives around his mouth. He started scratching the inside of his arm and the back of his neck. How ironic is that? We are at the door of the allergist and Son-S is having an allergic reaction! We went in and were in the waiting room. The hives on his face started to go down pretty quickly but his arm and neck were very itchy. Son-S was totally out of sorts. The smallest thing set him off and he’d start crying hysterically. This behaviour was out of character for him and so I can only assume it had to do with the allergic reaction.
The Allergist tested his allergies. In addition to dairy, eggs, and bananas, which we already knew about, we learned that day that he is also allergic to walnuts and pecans. By the time we left the Allergist’s office the back of his neck and the inside of his arm had been scratched raw.
Without a moment’s hesitation we got rid of nuts again. Of course we did.
Son-S inspires me to find new recipes and he makes me think twice about everything we eat (which, I think is a really good thing). We’re keeping our fingers crossed – maybe Son-S will grow out of his allergies too, you never know. If not we’ll just keep doin’ what we’re doin’ – rollin’ with it.