My adorable two-year old boy, Hank, has a severe allergy to peanut protein. Thankfully peanuts are not native to our area so we’re less likely to encounter them while playing outside.
Where trouble comes is at meal or snack time.
Hank is so severely allergic to peanuts that he cannot eat foods that are handled or processed in a plant that also handles or processes peanuts. To do so would be like playing roulette. Literally with his life.
Someone who is severely allergic to peanuts can stop breathing quickly and within 10 minutes be dead.
We don’t take it lightly. This isn’t an intolerance. It’s serious. We have become proficient at reading product labels carefully. I pray the manufacturer is labelling well. In some respects we are at their mercy. We also homemake nearly all of our baked goodies.
Most of the time Hank is just like any other kid and our home functions just like anyone else’s home. The only difference is our house is peanut free and we have epinephrine auto injection kits.
Hank has learned to say, “I need peanut-free”. 🙂
Many people do not know what to do if an allergic reaction happens. I hope to put a little more awareness into the world. Not just for my son, but for others like him.
Unfortunately, there are even corporations who in an effort to protect themselves from “liability” exclude children like my son. As a result, they exclude families like ours.
Two such companies/corporations are:
Fred Meyer Play Place
I wish they would understand that the true liability comes in when a caregiver refuses, either by fear or by “policy” to administer epinephrine to an anaphylactic child.
At two years of age my son is not able to do it himself. At twenty years of age he still may not be, say if he is unconscious from anaphylaxis.
If my child suffocates, becomes mentally brain-damaged or dies because of some company’s “policy” to never administer life saving medication while they care for my child, I will sue them!
What’s a family to do?
Stewardship is key. God calls us to steward all his creation well. Our bodies, the land, the gifts He gives us, others and especially the little ones He has entrusted to our care. Because of this, whenever I leave Hank with a caretaker, I make sure they know where his epi-pens are and review how they are used. Most importantly, I ask:
“Are you comfortable giving my son a shot with his epi-pen if needed?”
If the answer is, “No” I won’t be leaving Hank in that person or organizations’ care.
To date Hank has had peanut twice. I learned from this how allergies work. In general, the first exposure does not produce observable symptoms.
It’s subsequent exposures that really count.
Hanks second exposure was about an eighth of a teaspoon of peanut butter. Within ten minutes he was swollen all over, had various types of hives, excessive nasal secretions, itching and coughing. He was on Benadryl around the clock for almost two days. By God’s great mercy Hank didn’t die that day. We didn’t know anything about allergies and thought surely he wasn’t allergic because he’d had peanut butter once before and was “fine”. What we didn’t know was that the first time he ate peanut butter his body developed antibodies to it. Every exposure after that is more and more dangerous.
The next time he eats peanut protein he will become anaphylactic.
For someone with this allergy every repeat exposure results in increasingly severe symptoms. A quick and confident reaction is absolutely essential.
Has the child touched or eaten something containing peanut? Has someone who ate a peanut product touched my child?
Any of these symptoms can be a sign of life threatening allergic reaction:
Sudden and excessive nasal secretions, Swelling of the torso neck or face, diffuse hives, itching, gagging, sudden blotchy skin, and anaphylaxis (suffocation).
So what do you do if someone with this allergy comes in contact with something containing peanut protein?
- Administer one epinephrine shot. And a quick dissolve Benadryl.
- Call 911 as fast as you can.
- Call the parents and comfort the child. Tell him help is coming and hold them.
Don’t wait for anaphylaxis to start before taking action!
I hope this will help others and raise awareness. Thanks for reading.
Dear Jesus, thank you for the gift of a child with a severe allergy. Through this experience you have taught us so much about stewardship and to never fear man. Even, if that means we don’t participate in certain corporations. I pray more and more people will become aware of the importance of administering life saving medication when needed. Amen.