Mayhem was diagnosed with a peanut allergy after reacting to her first taste of peanut butter in December of 2011 (just shy of her 2nd birthday). Her official diagnosis came via blood test and we were advised to avoid all tree nuts as well. We were prescribed Epi-Pen Jr. and told that we’d be referred to an allergist for (more accurate) skin testing once she turned three.
In February of 2013, we finally had an appointment with a fantastic allergist for skin testing. We weren’t prepared for the diagnosis of multiple serious food allergies that we left with. “This little girl has some very big allergies” was the observation of the nurse five minutes after the scratch test began. We left with a diagnosis of allergy to: peanuts (very serious), all tree nuts (with cashews and pistachios being very serious), sesame and soy (very serious).
And it’s changed our life. Mostly, how/what we eat. And honestly, they’ve been awesome changes health wise, but changes this drastic are a challenge. Go ahead, run to your pantry and see how many items have SOY in them ….. Astounding, right?!?!
So we’ve (I’ve) been on a mission to learn as much as we can about food in this country. Books, magazines, articles, publications, documentaries, you name it – we’ve been devouring it in the past year.
But it’s also brought some lifestyle changes. Probably seen sometimes as a “helicopter mom”, the reasons you’ll find me wiping down the seats at the movie theater or keeping super close tabs on my kid at the park are valid. Because that smear of peanut butter on another kid’s hands or on that chair could trigger anaphylaxis for Mayhem. No thanks. I’ll take the helicopter mom title over my kid’s throat swelling shut any day of the week.
We still have a lot to learn about living with these allergies, but we’re doing our very best and continuing to educate ourselves. We don’t live in a bubble (although, if a bubble becomes available on the island of Anguilla, I’m there), but you’re not going to find us at any food festivals. Or the circus. And major league ball parks are off limits unless there’s a peanut free zone (doctor’s orders). No restaurants with peanut shells on the floor. Pretty much no restaurants at all.
But rather than focusing on what we can’t do or have, we’re focusing on the CAN do’s and haves.
I’m no expert. And I’m certainly not qualified to advise anyone dealing with food allergies, but I have put together a page of resources that I’ve found helpful in educating myself not only about food allergies, but the sad state of “food” in our country.