For most kids, it is a quick run to Kroger to pick up any food items needed for school. ...That is, of course, unless they are making castle cakes and your child has a laundry list of food allergies. We average $300 a week in groceries as it is because Cameron's food is so specialized and have to shop at two different grocery stores (one across town) every week. Castle cake ingredients bump that up another $40 and add a third specialty store. It was on the monthly activity calendar for school, so it is my own fault I didn't ask what the project was earlier than I did. Fact of the matter is, I asked when I picked the kids up the night before the project. Ingredients were simple enough, but finding ice cream cones that look like surgar cones without wheat is challenging. Finding candy topping without carmel color (may contain milk) is also tricky. Modified food starch may have wheat. You get the point.
All in all we are quite lucky there are as many products on the market that there are today for food allergic children. So, believe me, I am very thankful. That said, I still hate last minute driving across town to find everything I need to help ensure my child doesn't feel excluded or different from the other kdis. Even more, not crazy about being up later than 10 PM, so baking a specialty cake at 11 PM isn't top on my list of things I love to do, but I love my child and must fight this fight with him. Tonight it was meatloaf. They are having it for lunch at school tomorrow, so I needed to make a special one for him. After cleaning up the kitchen, and drooling over the thought of sitting on the couch for a few minutes, it dawned on me... I forgot he needs mashed potatoes too. SH*T!!
Monday, July 5, 2010
Many parents of food allergy kids worry quite a bit about going to the park. I suppose some don't even take their kids, while others wipe down the entire play set before their kids get on it. I would say I worry a little on the worry scale. I don't worry quite as much about the child who ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, then wiped their peanut butter covered hands all over the monkey bars, but worry more about what residue remains on the picnic table or in the wrappers that someone threw on the ground that my child may want to pick up. Probably good practice to wipe down a public table and not pick up random trash in any event, seeing as though that is just nasty, but the nasty factor is compounded by my concerns that even trace amounts will make their way onto the hands of my children who then rub their eyes or put their hands in their mouth. So... we are headed to the park. Note to self: Bring a fire hose to hose everything down.
Sunday, July 4, 2010
I will never forget the day I received the call. It was the daycare calling and Cameron was about one at the time. They called to tell me that something wasn't quite right with Cameron. He'd thrown up and had some hives. Shortly into the call, I heard someone in the background say "Call 911. He is going in and out of consciousness." I don't even recall how I got to my car, but what I remember next was being stuck by a train on my way to the daycare. I could barely breath and only recall the strength to throw the train off the tracks as the car filled with the sounds of sirens coming from all directions to save my child. Upon arriving, the last of many firetrucks and ambulances pulled in with me. I later learned that a "non-responsive" 911 call earns the grand prize of all units in the area responding. I raced through the front door to find my child laying limp in the arms of a caregiver, with drowsy eyes glazed over and barely the energy to reach for me. He was transported to Children's Hospital via ambulance and spent the majority of the day there. In the end, it was an anaphylactic reaction to trace amounts of barley in his baby food. This was actually the worst, but not the first time Cameron experienced anaphylactic shock. He had previously reacted to, and had been diagnosed allergic to, a number of other foods, but we didn't know enough to call 911 at the time. As of today, Cameron is allergic to: WHEAT, BARLEY, RYE, DAIRY, EGGS, PEANUTS, and TREE NUTS. And then we had Carter...
Carter, also known by many as "Carter Bear," was lucky enough to have parents who spent the years before his birth figuring this whole food allergy thing out. We knew you had to be exposed to a food one time before showing an allergic reaction. Sometimes, it seems, food passing through breast milk can be enough to qualify for that first exposure, so we had him tested for everything before introducing baby food. He tested negative to everything, but knew it wasn't a sure thing. With each food we gave him, we held our breath, watched him carefully, and watched the clock as time slowly ticked by waiting for the time to pass without signs of a reaction. We thought we were in the clear and had mental celebrations with back flips and all!! ...until about two months ago. I picked Carter up from daycare. His teacher was holding him when I got there and said he was out of sorts. I chalked it up to teething until we were half way home and I realized he was in pain. Within a few minutes, I pulled in the garage only to find his eyes swelling shut and his face covered in hives. I ran in the house with him and stripped him down to find his body nearly 75% covered in hives while he tried frantically to itch them all at once. My husband, Charlie, was working late that night, so I left Cameron with a friend and raced to the Urgent Care. He screamed the whole way until we were a minute away, then he went silent. I think my heart stopped at that moment and don't recall how I got into a parking spot, but I started yelling to him and grabbed him from the car. I suspect he likely passed out from crying too hard more than anything. I ran into the Urgent Care and a packed waiting room. A nurse saw us within seconds and took us straight to the back as she called out "We need the next room! We have a child who is having an allergic reaction!!" He received shots of steroids and Benedryl and we spent the next few hours watching and waiting for the swelling in his face to subside. Carter is allergic to: EGGS.
One of my jobs as a mother to teach my children how to embrace life and face their fears. I never realized I would have to figure out a way to do that when the very thing that could kill them could be found in the next bite of food they take, in the medication they are prescribed, on the lips the person they kiss, in the lotion they use, on the grocery cart they touch, at the baseball game they attend, in the airplane on which they fly, etc.. This is the beginning of our story...