Thursday, March 21, 2013


Tomorrow we'll find out if my son has outgrown his peanut allergy.
When he was two years old, our allergist said, "Thirty-three percent chance he'll outgrow it."
No idea where a statistic like that comes from and I am so horribly bad with numbers, but thirty-three feels at least a tiny bit hopeful.

Max had an anaphylactic  reaction to a mini Butterfinger when he was two.
Not even "fun-size".
The tiny little square bite that leaves people like me rabid for fifteen more. At least.

The mini butterfinger.
A toddler-sized nibble of a tiny piece of candy. 
Immediate vomiting and hives.
I was calm. How was I so calm and so sure?

Benadryl the car, buckle carseat, drive to ER..."You will be okay. I promise you will be okay." (this I repeated to my son as much as I was saying it to myself)
I remember looking at him in the rearview mirror as he kept scratching his neck while his airway began to close.
It took us six minutes to get to the hospital where the doctors swooped in and wasted no time fixing our boy.

Since then, we are always armed with an epi-pen and an action plan.
For six years, it's been drilled into Max's vocabulary, "Is this okay? Is this safe? Any nuts?"
We are stern and direct and serious about this allergy, but we also don't live in a bubble.
Although I am happy to share information about food allergies and commisreate with other parents who share this issue, I'm not a food allergy advocate.
I'm not the Peanut Police.
I am an advocate for my son's safety, but I don't expect the entire school to be a peanut free zone (he does sit at the peanut-free table at lunch).
I don't expect my dad to give up his Naturally More PB habit (he buys that shit by the case).
I don't count on other people to take this allergy as seriously as we do, which is why Max will politely decline birthday cake or ask where a product came from (and even then, when we're told it's from somewhere "safe" or reliable or trustworthy, more often than not he'll still say, "No thanks"). 
We use common sense.
I am so proud of Max whenever I hear him tell an adult or a peer that he has a peanut allergy.
He is so matter-of-fact and practical about it.
It's scary to have a life-threatening food allergy, but he doesn't let the fear get bigger than him.
(there are thirty years between us and I should really take a page from his book in that department)

I have found that when people don't seem to take a food allergy seriously, it's only because they haven't been well informed or educated.
The mom who lets her kid run around the playground with a peanut butter sandwich in one hand probably doesn't realize that my son will break out in hives simply by touching the oils left on the monkey bars or swing.
She's not a bitch, she's not insensitive...she is feeding her kid (and if her kid is anything like mine, there are probably three things in the bland rotation of what they'll eat for lunch).
We read labels vigilantly and then read them again.
We wash our hands a lot.
We ask questions about ingredients at restaurants and parties, but ultimately rely on our own judgement and err on the safe side.
Sometimes I roll my eyes when Max pours himself a bowl of plain Cheerios, asking, "No nuts, right?"
I'm like, "Max. Those are safe. They were safe yesterday. Same Cheerios. Yes."
Then I'm like wtf Kim? He hasn't let his guard down. All these years and this kid is on the ball. Every day. 
Yay, Max! Yay for being proactive and cautious every single day.
 Like his life depends on it.
Because it does.

If he hasn't outgrown this allergy, he will be okay.
We will be okay.


Rachael said...

Beautiful, Kim. I know how scary it is and how tedious it can become always being on high alert about the food Max consumes. I only hope that Jackson is as diligent as Max and errs on the side of caution when he is old enough to understand. I hope that I as a mother, am as calm and rational in the face of adversity as you. Whatever happens tomorrow, you will be okay and life will move right along its beautiful path with or without those pesky peanuts. Xoxo

Kim said...

Thank you, Rachael...
means a lot that you took the time to read this.
I thought you'd relate and wanted you to see that Jackson will be okay, too :)

Margie said...

Damn peanuts. Kudos to your boy for knowing the dangers of his allergy.

Kim said...

for real. I let him slay a cardboard Mr.Peanut on the boardwalk with a plastic sword one summer.