But it’s OK if you think so.
You may remember back when we found out that Mayhem had a peanut allergy. It was indeed a sad day for this life long peanut lover.
There was a lot of uncertainty though. Mayhem’s (peanut ONLY allergy) diagnosis came via a blood test (after a visible reaction) but skin testing is much more accurate and provides more insight. Skin testing, however, isn’t done on kids until they are at least three years old, so we had to wait more than a year to have her tested again.
We have a pediatrician who didn’t want us to take any chances. Even though her blood test came back with a positive reaction for peanuts only, he strongly advised us to avoid all tree nuts as well as sesame and a few cross contaminators. He also mentioned that there was a chance that we got a false positive result. But until she could have a skin test, it was better safe than sorry.
So for the past 15 months we’ve been diligent about reading labels, avoiding those substances, and carrying an EpiPen. It’s not a terribly difficult job, and the hardest part is that you feel like a pill when you’re constantly asking questions. Every time we’ve been invited to go out for a meal, I ask “where?” so that I can internet stalk the restaurant website/menu/nutrition and allergy info ahead of time. Every time we’ve been to a party or event with a spread of food, my kid is on my hip or I’m hot on her heels.
And it’s not because I’m rude. Or picky. Or a helicopter mom. It’s because I needed to make sure I knew what she was eating. And I didn’t want that to be anyone else’s responsibility or worry. I didn’t want anyone else to have to read labels or research menus online ahead of time. I didn’t want to spend 15 minutes questioning a waiter, waitress or chef about what’s in what dish while everyone else is ready to order. And I REALLY didn’t want to use this:
This week we were finally able to get her in with an allergist for skin testing. And I was fully prepared to hear that I’ve been a helicopter mom. Fully prepared to hear that her peanut allergy diagnosis was a false positive. Or fully prepared to hear that she does indeed have a peanut allergy, but it’s not that bad. I was ready to admit that I’d been hovering, questioning and denying my kid the “good stuff” for no good reason. Being a pill. And that I could stop.
I wasn’t, however, ready for the actual results we received.
The skin test results are given a rating on a scale of 1 to 4+ with the higher end being a very highly allergic reaction. According to her allergist, she scored a 4+++ for peanuts. She scored the same 4+++ for cashews and pistachios. Oh, and by the way, she’s actually allergic to ALL tree nuts. In addition, she’s allergic to sesame. She’s about a 2 on that one right now, but the allergy will get worse if she’s exposed to it more. And then the kicker … she’s a 4+++ for soy as well. SOY! That one hadn’t even been on my radar!
And before you start asking all kinds of questions, please know that I’m not an allergist and I’m still processing all of this myself. My understanding is that you can be allergic to a substance without having any outward reactions, and that allergy can also get worse with continued exposure which can translate to a much more severe reaction later on down the road. So basically, all those scoops of vanilla soy protein powder that I’ve been adding to her smoothies may just have been making an unknown allergy worse.
After the appointment, my husband and I talked and decided that this really wasn’t going to be a huge adjustment for us. We’ve already been off the nut wagon for a solid year and we keep the sesame at bay as well. We’d just have to keep doing what we’ve already been doing and eliminate soy from the mix.
This morning, one the first things I did was toss the soy protein powder into the trash. Then I started checking labels on everything else in the pantry, fridge and freezer.
Ummmmm, you guys, soy is in EVERYTHING! Oreos, Ritz crackers, Quaker oatmeal squares, and cereal just to name a few in our house. So now I’m even more aware of our dependency on processed foods. And that’s HAS to change.
The bottom line is I’m still going to be that lady. The one who asks where you want to eat ahead of time. The one who doesn’t let her toddler run around the food tables at a party with the other kids. The one who will politely turn down the goodies you offer. The one who will very possibly bring her own snacks/meal for her kid to eat at your party.
And I’m not being rude. Or picky. Or hovering.
But I don’t mind if you think so. Because I’ll do whatever it takes to keep my kid healthy and safe. And not make it your problem. I’m a mom, that’s my job.