Sunday, January 22, 2012

food allergies are real so stop acting like they're not


i really never thought i'd be a parent that has to carry at least 3 epipens, a bottle of kids benedryl syrup, and albuterol with a nebulizer almost everywhere i go. i never thought i would have to constantly worry about my son when he is out of my sight....worrying about whether or not someone else is feeding him something that he is allergic to. i never thought i would have a 1 and 2 year old that knew how to use an epi-pen and are being taught to say "oh no! i had a nut! (or milk or eggs or tuna or cheese or a cookie...etc)" and stick their trainer epi in their leg and count to ten.

sure, id heard of food allergies, i even had some when i was younger. the only reaction i had ever heard of was a stomach ache and maybe a headache. but now i have a child that has such severe reactions to normal food that it could kill him if we don't be careful and act quickly. he has spent countless hours in the E.R. in his short 20 months of life. he has probably gone through gallons of benedryl and is now on a daily dose of pulmicort to keep his breathing stable if he gets exposed to anything that could cause a reaction.

if he eats so much as a bite of egg, cheese, peanut, fish, or drinks a gulp of milk or goat milk he will get very sick. each reaction is different. some worse than others but they all end the same. hives, wheezing, projectile vomiting, fever, and many times a trip to Vanderbilt Childrens E.R. for breathing treatments because his O2 level gets so low.
i'm pretty sure that most of the people that know reed think that i'm seriously over reacting, or that i'm just that overprotective parent. but no, i'm not. sometimes my own mom worries that i'm too relaxed with my kids. i let my 1 and 2 year old play in the woods while i'm in the house doing dishes or making dinner. i don't care how much mud they roll in...or eat (yay! something reed isn't allergic to!) i don't freak out if its cold and they're out playing in puddles. needless to say, i'm not worried about germs or dirt or cuts and bruises. what i am worried about is food. i stress about it daily. i check labels obesessively. i have horrible dreams some nights that someone is feeding my child peanut butter or giving him milk and i can't get to him to help him. i worry about the next reaction he might have and if i'll give him the benedryl in time. if i'll stick him with his epi before its too late.
nobody will understand anyphylaxis until they've seen it happen. it is scary and horrible and when its your own baby its even worse.
their lips swell up. their ears swell. they can't swallow. they throw up. they wheeze horribly. they turn blueish. and they cry and cry and cry. not loudly because they can't. but just enough to make you so sad you can't even stand it. you hold them. you give them their medicine. you take them to the hospital. you hold them some more while they get stuck with needles, given breathing treatments, given steroids, and they cry some more. of course you cry quite a bit too. then you go home and spend at least 1 sleepless night watching them. making sure they're still breathing. checking to see if their chest is still rising and falling. then you hold them some more.
later people will treat you like you're crazy. like something like that couldn't really happen because of delicious food. but it can. and it does. and its absolutely terrifying because you have read the stories about little ones dying just from a bite of food their tiny body couldn't handle. you just want someone to believe you so that you wont have to worry so much about your baby when they're out of your sight. you want everyone you know to learn how to use an epipen. and most of all, you want to go give your child another hug and thank God that you still have him.

***this is NOT a recent picture. so for all the family members seeing it....don't freak out. we didn't just get back from the hospital :) its just the last picture i have of him in the e.r.

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