I’ve wanted to get back into writing for a while, but you know what it’s like… there’s always excuses and never enough time. Well, last night I decided to take the plunge and now here we are.
Managing allergies makes up a huge part of my life. It’s well and good saying “don’t let allergies define you” or “it’s ok to relax once in a while”. But if it’s your kids who suffer from a reaction, you’d do anything to make it stop.
I guess a good start would be to tell you how we started off in this world of food allergies.
My husband and I don’t have food allergies, so while it vaguely crossed both our minds that nuts are an allergen, we didn’t really think it would be a problem to let our then-13-month-old firstborn try a bit of toast with peanut butter on. While we’re all still in our PJs on a Saturday morning.
Anyway, so C (the sweetie in the main picture) had this tiny bite, and immediately he gets a hive on his hand, then the swelling starts: lips, eyes … nose and eyes streaming, vomiting. We called 111, then went to A&E. It all cleared up on its own, although I seem to remember them giving him an antihistamine.
It was bloody traumatic to say the least, but weirdly I didn’t read up about allergies afterwards (denial?). I just assumed he’d probably outgrow it and it will be fine. A few months later we attended our referral appointment at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital only to be told he’ll probably never outgrow it and there’s no way of knowing whether he’ll be anaphylactic if it happens again. We were advised to try him with other nuts when he’s older but to avoid all nuts in the meantime.
I. Was. Devastated.
It felt like a death sentence and I turned into a lunatic when it came to food. Grocery shopping became so hard and frustrating. I cried in Tesco once when I couldn’t find any safe puddings for a family meal and I was just so FED UP of the injustice of it all.
His nursery was fantastic in becoming nut-free and we even managed to eat out at restaurants without incident.
Then a couple of years ago he started taking part in a kids’ football club at the local cricket club. Where the parents sat I noticed some open jars with peanuts in left over from an event the night before, and mentioned to the husband it’s irresponsible and we need to keep him away from the area. I also said: “His eczema must be bad, he keeps scratching loads.” Until at the end he came closer and we noticed he was covered in hives.
A dose of antihistamine, a cool bath and some cream seemed to do the trick, but that was the last time we let him crawl somewhere where people may have trodden peanut residue into a carpet!
I mean, just reread that sentence. Is it any wonder allergy parents go crazy? How do we know we need to avoid carpets in cricket clubs?
Anyway, those are the only two reactions he’s had. He eats other legumes fine and while we think in hindsight he may have potentially been a bit dairy intolerant as an infant, overall he is doing well. His eczema is under control and we’re happy his school is nut-free and knows what to do in case of a reaction.
Overall, managing his allergy feels like a breeze compared to L’s situation. But more on that another time.