Sunday, October 24, 2010

Our little peanut :O(

This week was an extremely difficult week for me.  Overwhelming to say the least--and rather heartbreaking on a number of levels.

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

At first, I just wanted to cry because I have heard how much more dangerous peanut allergies can be than many others.  By now, I've already gone through the denial phase (Monday-Thursday-- where I tried not to think much of it except education on the epipen, just in case) and now the obsession phase (Friday-Saturday--could possibly continue based on the fact that I really want to research what needs to be done and we have follow up appointments with the allergist in the near future).

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'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!


Lindzie said...

I've had 2 kids in Primary and in Activity Days who have had these allergies. The parents made us aware and also the child. We made do, and it didn't ruin any activities and/or fun! We just had to check with the parent to ensure what the could eat. I figure if the kid never eats candy, he won't know what he is really missing right? :) I wish you the best as you try to find out everything about this.

Bart and Kellie said...

Megan! I'm sorry! My nephew has a severe peanut and egg allergy. You should talk to Jenna, she might be able to help. She's been dealing with this for about 6 months now (her little guy is turning one in about 3 weeks). But she would definitely understand what you're going through, and maybe have some helpful hints for you!

Wood Family said...

Sorry to hear this! I have a friends whos daughter has the same allergy and she's 6/7now. I can give you her email if you want to get some ideas from her.


Anonymous said...

My daughter was diagnosed with peanut allergy (plus a bunch of other allergies) at age 2. She is now 7. It helps when they are diagnosed young because it is what they know. Parties are still fine, you just sign up to be the room mom and you know what you can provide to make everyone happy including your little guy. Shopping gets easier too....soon you will be a pro! I felt the same as you do. At this point we have moments of disappointment, frustration and anxiety but it is not an everyday occurence anymore.


Ames said...

Not to add to the anxiety you are already feeling, but how scary! I'm so sorry that you have to work with food allergies. Good luck! I hope your allergist is able to help you out and calm any fears or worries you have. :)

HG said...

Megan, I am so sorry! But if anyone can do this- it's you! Good Luck!

Michelle said...

Oh, how scary for you! I hope he is one of the lucky ones who out grows it. Good luck!

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Tayla said...

Oh, I'm so sorry. You know Meg has dairy and egg allergies, right? It has been extremely difficult. I went through the exact same emotions and still have to try harder at times to be strong. I know dairy isn't as dangerous as the peanut allergy, but it is very difficult to figure out what to feed your child. We've been doing it now for a year and a half and it is a little easier. I do hate that we can never take her out to eat because you can't trust what might be in the food. I hate it when we go out and she eats a sandwich (on dairy free bread of course). It kills my parents when she comes to visit and she can't have dessert with us ... instead she has sweet candies. Anyway, I could go on ... but what I would really like to say is that if you ever need any advice on the dairy allergy you can call me anytime. Like I said, we've been doing it for a while now so I might have a couple of pointers (no very many, but some). So call me sometime! :)

Janae Walker said...

I understand what you are going through! Eve cannot have dairy or soy (although many babies grow out of it between 1-2) which means that I cannot have dairy or soy. Dairy was not so difficult, like you mentioned. But, soy, probably like peanuts, is so much harder! But, it can be done! I have friends who have children with allergies (peanut and almost everything else), so if you would like some advice and recipes, let me know. I can pass you her email. She totally helped me when I found out about no soy or dairy.

Diane said...

We started this journey with our son in April and I felt so many of the same things as you. I promise some of it gets easier. There is so much out there that they can still have. You will be surprised. Yes it's hard but it really is manageable. I still get overwhelmed but it's not all the time anymore. I have a blog just about it if you want to check it out. There are also some great links on there to help you get started as well as some other wonderful food allergy blogs that I find helpful.

Also online food allergy mom communities have been a great resource for me. I like Baby Center's food allergy group.

I know it's hard and scary. Hang in there.

Laura & Paul said...

Meg, My 6 year old son is allergic to peanuts as well. I remember feeling very overwhelmed in the beginning like you. I have since relaxed a little and know what he can and can't have (a dessert table used to be my worst nightmare). As he has gotten older it has gotten a little bit easier because he is on the look out too. The good news is, so many more kids have it now then when we were young so alot more people are educated about it and taking more precautions. Don't overly stress, he will be ok.