To so many, it will sound silly and rather childish that I am reacting so strongly to this news, but bear with me a minute while I explain why it is so exhausting. You see, Monday, we confirmed Camden's allergy to milk and found out he also has an allergy to peanuts. It was one I suspected after a recent reaction, but was hoping very strongly that it was the new bread he tried that day, with perhaps a little more milk, rather than the PB; especially since he had peanut butter several times prior to that incident.
So, my child is now a PA child, which is SO much harder than a milk allergy (not to be mistaken for milk intolerance, he is ACTUALLY allergic and could go into anaphylactic shock should his body decide to attack itself worse than usual).
The day of his testing at the allergist office. Lots of smaller dots indicate nothing,
but the couple of bigger welts indicate an allergy. They are covered with a cleanser
and some medication at this point, but they were pretty large
It's hard to take pictures of a little moving man, so this is the best I could do
Now, I'm asking myself, "where do we go from here?" And I don't know the answer to that question. Partially because I do need to speak with our allergist before I can really begin to be OCD about it (just to get validation it's ok TO be OCD), and otherwise because I don't want, in the meantime, to give Camden something he should not have on accident. The difficult part is certainly wondering how to respond.
We can avoid plain peanuts pretty easily. That means most candy (just in time for Halloween), peanuts, peanut butter, etc. You know, the easy things to rule out. They even, from what I understand, have a peanut butter-like substance for kids just with this allergy. So great! But then there's the unknowns. Though I should verify with the doctor that we really need to worry about cross-contamination issues and hidden peanut ingredients, I am beginning this journey now. It's exhausting! Do you know that many places you go out to eat includes peanut butter as a thickening agent in their chilis, sauces (including pizza sauce), and potato items; others have desserts with peanuts (presenting cross-contamination issues); while most of the rest have either peanuts all over their floor or cook with peanut oil (which is still an argument in itself). My favorite restaurants--Texas Roadhouse and P.F. Chang's--are now on the no-no list. Not that we eat out a lot, but it will be difficult to never really be able to do it again; and if we do, we have to be extremely inquisitive about all ingredients and cross-contamination issues, etc. etc. Also, could I cross-contaminate things if just Devin and I go to these places on a date? It's possible. Pretty much, I have to be anal!
Besides those issues, grocery shopping is a nightmare! Yesterday, I completed our first trip to the store. Lots of prior research and about double the amount of usual time and money later, we came home with foods that I am hoping are completely peanut, peanut oil, beaucoup milk, tree nut*, and cross-contamination free! I have to check EVERYTHING for hidden ingredients or manufacturing issues. Many manufacturers produce products that were also manufactured on machines that peanut/tree nuts are manufactured on, so those items even have to be avoided. Some items are unclear, so I need to come home and call/write the manufacturers to be really sure it's safe.
*Tree nuts have been added to the list since the Dr. called in reference to his blood test which indicates other (including sunflower seeds) nuts I have to worry about.
There's also the idea that it's possible we will always have to carry his own food with us to, or stay away from, places where people have brought foods in which we cannot be sure the ingredients and/or cross contamination are involved. This may include ward parties, birthday parties, class parties, dinner with friends and family, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners, etc. etc. I think he can still be in the same room as peanuts, though some kids can't, but he can NEVER be given something to eat from someone else unless I know exactly what's in it. I don't know about you, but that's going to be IMPOSSIBLE at my family Thanksgiving dinners. My family is a nut family, pretty much everything has nuts or traces of it (even stuffing).
Camden's going to be that kid in class who has the peanut allergy and ruins the parties. I'm hoping it doesn't become too much of an emotional issue for him and me in the future (I am already hovering over him, while he's sleeping, a little compulsively to make sure he is still breathing and his heart rate is ok*). With that, I should back up...it's possible that this particular allergy can go away. The milk one is more likely (80% will grow out of it in the first couple of years) and the peanut one is much smaller (20% will grow out of it at sometime in their life). I am hopeful that this will be the case for him. Otherwise, there are some people who say they may soon find a cure (soon as in by the time he is a teenager). I want to stay positive, but I also want to be careful. I could never forgive myself if I were a little relaxed and Camden went into anaphylactic shock and died!
*It doesn't help that he cannot yet speak; so he can't tell me if specific symptoms are beginning to indicate shock may occur
Devin, of course, is much more blase about the situation than I am. It is probably good he is that way because it will keep me grounded in many ways. Once we go to the doctor, we will have more answers, and therefore know how to handle this circumstance.
Overall, I am just incredibly overwhelmed. From the food issues, the money issues, the social issues, the emotional issues, and the mental (yes, it could perhaps force me to super-anxiety), I am just not entirely sure how to handle it. Surely, it will get easier with time. I have faith that all will work out accordingly, but I also know that faith requires action and I must do all I can first and leave the rest in God's hands (without, you know, making him and the outcast of the century--I really do want him to be a "normal" child!). I am trying to be patient. I know that this is a life lesson for me. I can already see why God has given me this trial-patience! For Camden's sake, I will always try to be prepared so he will be safe but won't feel left out. Interestingly enough, in Camden's baby blessing, Devin blessed him with the ability to see everyone as his equal throughout his life. At the time, I thought it was a little different; now however, I believe it will help him greatly in dealing with a trial that many children get bullied about. Perhaps there is more to that statement than just this instance, but I certainly think it applies here.
As you can see, I am basically just word-vomiting everything that comes to mind right now. It's impossible to imagine all of the possibilities--every minute of the day I think of another concern, worry, or circumstance that could be affected. I better just take a rest. The headache I've had for the last several days needs a break and surely, I'll have more to say at various times for my own emotional fulfillment and mental sanity. Please pray for me and my dear, sweet little peanut!