Digital Dad: Nut allergy, the biggest party pooper in town.

What started out as an innocent bite turned into a life threatening, life altering situation.

It happened one Saturday morning. On seeing his Mum attempting to scoff down a peanut butter bagel before starting the 100+ chores every parent has, Thing 2 innocently asked if he could try some of her bagel.

After duly obliging for fear of a tantrum, Thing 2 bit in and no sooner had the crunchy butter hit his lips than he spat it out with the typical ‘yuck’ that most 2 year olds so quickly become fluent in. He didn’t even swallow it. It merely touched his tongue. It had been in his mouth no more than two seconds. Unfortunately that was enough.

What started out as an innocent bite turned into a life threatening, life altering situation.

His entire face swelled up. His eyelids became so puffed that he could longer see. Hives broke out all over his body. He started to gasp for air and credit to him he didn’t even cry (which was almost worse). Needless to say we got the fright of our lives but thankfully this was only a warning sign. After bringing him to our local chemist, his symptoms were treated with oral antihistamines but we were lucky. Very very lucky.

Thing 2 has since been diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy. He’s allergic to other nuts too but peanuts are the killer (god forbid) and had he swallowed the peanut butter that day who knows what would have happened.

His entire face swelled up. His eyelids became so puffed that he could longer see.

Thankfully it’s now being managed. I say managed because it’s impossible to control it. Control implies that you are in charge of it 24/7 but unfortunately you can’t always control what your child eats or more importantly what another person gives your child to eat. This is Thing 2’s Achilles heel.

I find that the hardest thing about Thing 2’s nut allergy is being the party pooper – no you can’t eat that, no you can’t eat that either. Sure we’ve been told that Thing 2 is never allowed to be in a Chinese restaurant. A life without sweet ‘n’ sour chicken and spring rolls is not a life worth living!

What’s more is we’ve become the party pooper family.

Thing 2 started preschool a few weeks ago and due to the seriousness of his condition, birthday cakes are banned and letters were sent to the families of the other kids stating that no nuts of any kind were allowed.

Bye bye Mr Peanut Butter sandwich.

This not only applies to his school. As you can imagine, parties, planes, sleepovers, child minders, relatives, friends etc all have to be instructed about this strict strict policy and furthermore they have to be shown how to use the Epi Pen(s) if Thing 2 is exposed to nuts and goes into anaphylactic shock.

We’ve become the party pooper family.

I can’t stress enough how serious a nut allergy – particularly peanut – is. A lot of people still think being allergic to nuts means that you might just get a rash or start sneezing etc.

For instance on informing a group of people about Thing 2’s allergy, one of the lads in the group piped up with a ‘sure my kid is allergic to carrots’ gag. Now I appreciate that it was a joke but on hearing other people laugh i couldn’t help but feel that he was making fun of the allergy.

My first thoughts were, ‘well if I shove a carrot where the sun doesn’t shine, do you want to see what type of reaction you’ll have’

I can’t stress enough how serious a nut allergy – particularly peanut – is.

But in all seriousness, Mr Carrot Man’s joke/attitude highlights one of the major reasons why it sucks to have a child with a nut allergy – some people assume we’re being paranoid and that we’re being party poopers for no good reason.

That said education and awareness is much better than it used to be and if we could tackle nut allergies like the NHS are tackling sugar with their Sugar Smart – Change4life campaign we’d be doing well.  Checkout their Sugar Smart app (free on iOS & Droid) where you can scan the barcodes on food packaging to reveal the number of sugar cubes in everyday food and drink.

Now wouldn’t it be nice to see the HSE do similar….

DD

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