5.14.2015

re-nest life / living without peanuts

i'll start off this post by saying that i'm not gonna get all preachy here or anything (or at least try not to!). but i do have this forum and i do have several peeps who check this out when i have something new to share or say, and in the spirit of food allergy awareness week, i thought i'd share a little bit about our family + our story.

simply put, little mr. re-nest #2 has a severe peanut allergy. 

this is probably the scariest thing i have ever faced.

saying that sounds odd because i know there are things waaaayy more filled with dread that i could face, but i fortunately haven't in my thirty-six years. but i will say that when you find out that something so innocent, so much a part of everyday kid life, something that you have so little control over, could take your child's life, well, that's up there as one of the the scariest things i think i could face. 

three days after his reaction.
long-sleeved pjs did a good
job covering up the spots!
it all started pretty simply. it was december 22, 2013. little man was almost seven months old. we were basking in the glory of getting him to try new foods and introducing new foods. i did this with such precision. introduce a new food and watch. only have that food as a new element in his diet for five days. introduce the next food. i was making all of his food. i took such joy and pleasure in making his baby food. 


the day before, we had gotten the all-clear from his pediatrician to start introducing proteins, so i cooked and pureed him up some chicken. very clean, very simple, just chicken cooked in the crock pot with water. nothing added. he gobbled it up at dinner that night.

ninety minutes later, little mr. re-nest #2 was covered from his bottom to his neck in red spots. he looked like he'd been bitten by a million mosquitoes. no breathing issues seemed to be at play, but we took no chances and got him right to the emergency room. after what seemed like forever and every doctor in the ER that night looking at him, it was deemed likely an allergic reaction, he was given benedryl, and we were sent home with instructions to see our pediatrician the next day. a heavy dose of steroids later and he was fine. but it was still outstanding: what caused this? so we did a blood test.

this was the first test where we found out he had "a slight allergy to peanuts." "slight" in this case meant his reading was just above what would be a normal reaction to the allergen. we decided that peanut butter would be held off until he was two-years-old, and we kind of went on our merry way. it wasn't until we were switching pediatricians that some bells and whistles started going off.

i'll stop here and say this: i do not have a medical degree. i try to stay off of webmd as much as possible, and i try not to self-diagnose. i trust physicians. i trust them with my health, but more importantly, i trust them with my kids. but i should have asked more questions. i should have asked for more clarification. i shouldn't have been scared.

fortunately, our new pediatrician recommended we see a pediatric allergist + immunologist. we found a truly amazing one in dr. sakina bajowala with kaneland allergy + asthma center. one appointment with our little peanut (ironically, that was the nickname i gave him when the nurses put him in my arms in the hospital), and we had even more confirmation. we were dealing with a severe peanut allergy. no longer were we "just staying away from peanut butter," but in that afternoon, everything changed. 

the good news is that, as a family, we've adapted. yes, we carry epi-pens everywhere with us. thank goodness, we've never had to use it yet. but i can promise you, i won't be afraid to. we have to train anyone who will be alone with our little peanut about how to use it + what to watch for. it's forced this mama to cook a whole lot more at home. when we do eat out, there are three restaurants in our town that we've identified as somewhere where we can all eat. we read every label. twice. and read it again the next time we go grocery shopping (because even though allergy warnings have gotten a TON better, brands can change their production centers and methods from time to time, which means the labels can change. the very first time i went grocery shopping after his diagnosis, it took three hours. and i cried in the bread aisle.) we talk to chefs at restaurants or we just pack a meal for little mr. re-nest #2 when we go out. sunbutter has become our best friend. and, god bless little mr. re-nest #1, he has so adapted, far beyond our wildest expectations. he has zero concern in speaking up to an adult getting ready to give him food that he doesn't know where it's come from. he knows he can't eat peanuts because we don't know how the little peanut will react. he is so protective. it's a beautiful thing that we have witnessed.

so, if you've made it this far in this diary entry, thank you. no sympathy needed because there are so many families who deal every day with this, and this has become our reality and that's okay. but i understand that if it's not your reality, it's hard to remember or to think about. and, in sharing this story, hopefully it helps shed some light into one example of what and how food allergy families deal. 
little man's first chocolate
sunbutter cup. i think he
likes it!

and, just in case you are wondering what sunbutter is or tastes like, i totally recommend it! (for this peanut butter loving fool, i actually love it more than peanut butter now.) i totally encourage you to check out some of the amazing recipes over at one spot allergy (like the chocolate sunbutter cups....ah-mazing!) 



p.s. you might be asking yourself, what caused the reaction from december 22, 2013? the food processor that i used to make his pureed chicken has blades that i also used to make my daily chocolate protein shakes which would include peanut butter. the blades were cleaned, had been run through the dishwasher, but there was still a tiny, minuscule amount of peanut butter attached that i didn't see that got into the chicken. scary stuff. and one more time: if you made it this far, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading this far. i really do appreciate it. 

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