My husband and I have a little girl named Bella (Isabella). She'll be 3 in October. We found out she was allergic to peanuts the hard way when she was 18 months old - a reaction from eating. I suppose we were lucky in that she didn't go into anaphylaxis. She had a tiny bit of toast with peanut butter on it. Within minutes her eyes were swollen and her face covered in hives, nose running. We called the doctor immediately who told us to give her Benadryl and get her in to the office right away. Luckily it did the trick and it didn't go beyond that - her hives subsided and we made our way into the office. In hindsight, I was pretty blase about it. I mean, I even took the time to shower and put makeup on before I left for the doctor's office. I can't believe I didn't rush right in! What an idiot I was!
Anyhoo, to make a long story short, a few weeks later we had a skin prick test that showed positive for peanuts (the biggest welt), along with almonds, walnuts, and cashews. Fast forward to May 2007 for our second skin test. She showed negative for all tree nuts (yay) along with sunflower and sesame. But we're still dealing with the peanut allergy. Is it weird that eliminating the tree nut allergy was a relief to me? I felt as if there was some hope of her body chemistry changing to accept peanuts in the future too...
Even after a year (plus), we are still educatiing our families about what they can and can't do around our sweet little girl. No, you can't eat them around her; no she can't hold them; no you can't hug or kiss her if you've eaten them within the last few hours; no really you can't; yes, i DO need to ask the restaurant about their allergy awareness - i do need to ask what's in each dish (you know, peanut butter can be in everything from spring rolls to enchiladas!).
I'm sure I am seen as overbearing at times, but when you have someone with a peanut allergy who can't discern for themselves what they can and cannot eat and I have to be their voice (along with her father), then yes, yes we are overbearing. it's a struggle, but one we live with day to day and one that we are overcoming day by day.
We try to live as 'normal' a life as possible. I don't want to be an alarmist, but I can't downplay how important this is either. This proves to be difficult when we encounter people who think we are exaggerating her allergy or think that she'll just be a 'little itchy' if she has nuts. The best is when we hear people tell us 'she'll grow out of it'. I just smile and say, "we hope so, but for now you need to know how to use an epi-pen."
I try to keep up with the latest research, and I am confident that before Bella is a teenager, there will be some sort of preventative treatment. I have to be. It's one of the only things that keeps me optimistic about seeing my daughter through high school and college.
How do you cope? I hope that other moms (and dads too) find me - I know I'll be looking for all of you.