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Allergies

The First Nut-Free Weekend

Do you ever feel relieved that the weekend is over? I love weekends, but sometimes it’s so nice to sink back into the Monday routine and let go of that “I have to get everything done” feeling. Or maybe it’s the opposite for most people…as a blogger/freelancer my work consists of sitting at a computer while music or the television plays in the background. My weekends mean deep cleaning, errand running, freezer cooking, and packing in enough family fun time in to last us through the next week.

 

Not going to lie: I love Mondays.

 

This weekend was really up and down. Since we found out about Eva’s allergies on Thursday afternoon, our heads have been spinning. Kyle was able to rearrange his work schedule so that he had Friday off, so we started the weekend with a conference at Eva’s new school. We had to go over the long list of Eva’s allergens, provide all of the medical documentation, give them a copy of her Food Allergy Action plan, and leave them Benadryl and Epi pens to keep on hand.

 

The Food Allergy Action plan is something that’s become a standard for kids with allergies. It lists the allergens and carefully lays out each plan of treatment depending on the symptoms that are developing. It also includes emergency information and Epi pen instructions. The school had us fill out their own medication paperwork as well, so Eva’s file went from skinny-new-student to bulging-red-flag kid in just two weeks. The meeting really reinforced our positive feelings about her new school, because they were prepared with the right questions and I don’t worry at all about her care even with the new allergens. I just wish for her sake that she didn’t have that little cloud hanging above her – the one that means she needs to move to a separate room while the other kids open their lunchboxes.

 

I will say that the initial anger and disorientation gave way to some sadness and fear this weekend. Some of the sadness was for Eva because she won’t be able to be free of her Epi pen for quite a while (if ever). A lot of the sadness was because we said goodbye to our cats on Saturday night. After three and a half years of swearing at them when they tripped me in the hall and yelling that I was taking them straight to the shelter when they clawed at our furniture, it was really hard to actually pack the box of gear, put them in their crates, and watch them drive away without us.

 

I ended up overpacking – the new owners got all of their gear plus new food, new litter, a new litter box, bags of washed and labeled toys, and a two page letter about the cats (including their kitten pictures) tucked into a photo book about cat care. The fact that we found a good home for them in just two days is a complete miracle (do you have any idea how hard it is to adopt out two adult cats?!?!) and the family they’ve gone to has two little kids who will love them and play with them and make them happy. So it was all good. Except the part where it sucked to say goodbye.

 

 

The next day was spent vacuuming and washing and dusting and spraying and basically de-cat-ing our entire house. We have carpet, drapes, and upholstered furniture and the previous renters also had cats, so we have our work cut out for us. It’s supposed to take almost six months to really get rid of the cat dander, especially because we have to clean the vents, move the furniture, wipe down the walls, etc. It took a lot less time to get rid of the nut and seed problems in our house – one quick sweep of the pantry revealed the food that could cause an issue (including sprinkles, hot cocoa, and Nestle Toll House chocolate chips – who knew?).

 

 

Being pro-active feels good and the sadness is fading quickly. The fear, on the other hand, seems to compound every time I look at the Internet. The articles and warnings online are terrifying, but it’s actually been my email that’s been really scary. People have been sharing their experiences and I’m so glad to hear from everyone, but there are a lot of stories where the punchline is, “We don’t know what happened…one minute he was fine and the next minute we were waiting for the ambulance and trying to get him an airway.” Just as scary have been other well-meaning emails that say things like false positives are likely and we should give her peanut butter to really make sure. I understand medical skepticism, but I think people are missing the part where the test could be accurate and PB could kill her.

 

In fact, I think the scariest part of all of this have been the reactions from other people. The majority are concerned and ready to get onboard, but the most common reaction so far has been disbelief – how can Eva be allergic to cats if she’s had them for so long? How can Eva be allergic to this cookie if she ate ten of them last week? Maybe we should give her another cookie and see…

 

In all fairness, that was the first reaction from Kyle and me. However, I called the doctor on Friday, ran through the numbers, confirmed that we needed to get rid of the cats, and even called in a second opinion. So Kyle and I had to make a choice: go with our instincts and assume that the tests were wrong or go with the results and completely shake down our lives. We decided to go with the tests and follow all precautions – we’re still a little skeptical but if we’re wrong and we aren’t careful, Eva could be in real trouble. Did you know that a child’s windpipe is the size of a straw until they’re about four years old? That’s why they can’t eat uncut grapes. It’s also why you don’t f$^# with allergens.

 

So, with Eva’s parents on board, we get to be a real pain in the butt about everything. I don’t know how she’s going to eat out anymore. I think we’re pretty done with Costco food samples. Trips to other people’s houses are going to be carefully monitored activities for a while. Oh, and the holidays? Forget about sending us cookies because apparently baked goods are a huge minefield and even if you’re giving us a bowl of gumdrops, I don’t know if they were once sitting on a counter next to peanut butter cookies. I get to be that mom now. No-I-Don’t-Want-Your-Cookies-or-Fruit-or-Anything Mom. And, hey, who doesn’t love her?

 

People keep telling me their kids grew out of some of their allergies by the time they were five. The doctor gave Eva a 20% shot at that. Four more years, four more years…

 

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4 Comments

  • Reply Ask Your Dad Blog

    I’m sorry it’s been so stressful. We’re happy to accommodation any and all dietary restrictions over at our place any time you guys come over or need a sitter. Just give us a list or something!

    Also, no matter how much you clean or give away, as long as Kyle is around, your house will be a little nutty 😉

    October 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm
  • Reply J. Darling

    As aweful as this is, I’m sure you guys will learn alot about reading labels through this process! Eva may have inadvertantly made your kitchen healthier in some ways! I know that’s a pretty hollow “bright side”, but hang in there, Mama Bear. You’re doing a great job looking after your cub.

    October 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm
  • Reply Gaylin

    I hear you, after 17 years of grain allergies, people still say to me – well surely you can have a little . . .

    My usual response is: Do you want to call 911 for me!

    Be as proactive as you feel you have to, it is your daughter’s health & safety that matters.

    October 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm
  • Reply Hope at Disneyland

    You made the right choice for your family. I would always operate on the side of caution than to take a chance. It’s going to be strange at first, but I have 100% certainty that you’ll all figure out the new system and will adopt it like it’s been there all along. 🙂 I’m sorry about the cats, but I’m glad that they found a great home. Allergen-free hugs for all of you! 🙂

    October 29, 2012 at 1:49 pm
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