Friday, March 19, 2010

Ah, Nuts! More Fun & Games at Children's Hospital ER

I know, you know, friends know, our family knows... heck, the whole WORLD knows that Noah is allergic to peanuts. He wears his "Spessil whale bwayclet" (special whale bracelet) medic alert on his arm every day. We pack along an epi-pen and a bottle of Benadryl everywhere we go. We read labels and interrogate bakers of homemade foods. We do all that we can -- but sometimes even that isn't enough.

Unfortunately, our obsessively protective, peanut-fearing parenting didn't keep us from the ER on Sunday night.

Although we are careful and cautious and neurotically trained to check for peanuts, Noah has decided that ONE life-threatening allergy wasn't enough for him. Perhaps he determined that, in order to properly celebrate his age, he needed to embrace a second serious allergy. (Besides, it's no fun and games if we're constantly in a state of good health, now is it Noah?)

Sunday was starting out as a really good day. It began at my parents' house on Vancouver Island. After a weekend of fun, it was time to head home to see Noah's daddy and celebrate his grandma's birthday. On the ferry ride back, we watched a pod of orcas playing alongside our boat. Yes, it really was a great day.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Grandma's house and were just finishing dessert when our good day went downhill faster than a Canadian bobsled. 

Kevin's sister had gone out of her way to order a specially made, peanut-free birthday cake. The bakery had promised a completely scrubbed down kitchen, and special handling to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination. 

We didn't hesitate long before giving Noah his piece of cake. We trusted... foolishly, perhaps, but not without due diligence. (or so we thought).

A few minutes after devouring the cake, Noah notified us "I itchy!". A few minutes more, and we notice the rash. Kevin's mom noticed the wheezing, and we were out the door in a flash. 

Kevin's is not a paramedic or a nascar driver, but he can fake it under pressure. While I sat in the backseat belting out "Oscar Meyer Weiner" with the windows rolled down and the wind & rain blowing in to keep our son awake, we beat our previous record. We SAFELY got to Children's Hospital in just under 20 minutes. 

Arriving quickly was good, because we wouldn't have wanted to wait any longer than necessary to see a doctor. We wanted to get there RIGHT AWAY to begin our mandatory 2.5 hour wait to see a physician.

In the waiting period, we sat and stared at the hot, angry welt that spread across Noah's arm. We felt comforted when it settled down, and Noah regained some of his usual feist. Then the swelling went up on the OTHER arm, and we were fast tracked to the so called "RAT" zone (Rapid treatment something or other, which, by the way, is a complete misnomer!)

At the end of the night, we went away with a tired little guy and renewed fear and loathing for peanuts. The next day, however, our pediatrician gave us a prescription for another type of epi-pen, and an unexpected suggestion:

"You know, I believe Noah reacted to almonds last night, not peanuts." We learned how bakeries often use almond paste in their product, and sometimes forget to declare this as an allergen.

We know he's allergic to almonds (he's allergic to EVERYTHING!) but learning that they, too, could put his life at risk was just a little much for this mommy.

I don't want to become one of those seemingly deranged parents of kids with allergies... but I want my son to grow up, with as few visits to the ER as possible. (I even shed a silent selfish tear when I realized that Toblerones are now a thing of the past!)

So if you see me or another crazed mother in the grocery store looking wildly at the nutritional information on the back of each product, just let us be. If your family is blessed to thrive without allergies, have a little patience for the kids who make it harder for you to pack your children's lunches.... and thank you for leaving your peanut butter at home for my little guy's sake!