I’m still not sure where exactly I’m going to take this blog, but I thought a good beginning post would be to tell the story of how our son was diagnosed with a peanut allergy. So here it goes.
I will remember the date forever. It was the day before Thanksgiving and our son was 15 months old. We were helping my in-laws clean up in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner the next day (we lived with them at the time), and we were feeding our son amidst the craziness. Our pediatrician had cleared us to feed our son anything at his one year checkup, and so we thought, “Hey, why not try peanut butter?” I mean, it’s every kid’s staple food, right?? What could possibly be wrong with peanut butter? Our nephew lived on the stuff. Every kid I knew would eat peanut butter. It was a solid protein food. It seemed like such a good idea at the time… Anyways, moving on.
So, my husband gave him a bite of peanut butter on a spoon (I was in the kitchen with them doing some cleaning). Within a minute, our son did not look well at all. He was acting uncomfortable and, obviously from the look on his face, was not feeling well. My husband called for me to come over – we pulled him out of his high chair and he vomited all over the floor. I think in the moment we thought that he must be sick. But, within a few more seconds I think we thought, “Hey he might be allergic to peanut butter.” I called his pediatrician right away and got put through to the nurse on call. She validated our concerns with the peanut butter and said that we should get to an ER right away. We grabbed everything and got into the car. By the time we got in the car, our son had vomited again and was definitely not himself. We booked it to the ER. We were freaking out at this point and the ER seemed forever away. (As a side note, we decided to make the trip to a children’s hospital a little further away instead of the regular not-so-great hospital ER a couple of minutes from our house.)
We entered the ER and expressed our concerns right away. We were told to be seated and waited for about 20 minutes in the waiting room (at this point, I was thinking, “If this is a true allergic reaction shouldn’t we be seen a little quicker?”). We were then taken back by a nurse who asked us all of the usual questions. We basically told her that our son had JUST had peanut butter for the first time right before he vomited and we thought he might be allergic. She quickly brushed our concerns aside and settled us in a room and told us the doctor would be there soon.
The doctor came (I don’t remember how long we waited) and we repeated ourselves yet again. He quickly brushed our concerns aside stating that you don’t throw up if you have an allergy and that you have to have been exposed before (which we later learned is NOT TRUE – you can throw up with an allergy, and an exposure can occur prenatally or through breastfeeding, so our son had been exposed). After maybe a minute in our room, he told us that our son most likely had a virus and that they’d observe us for an hour and then we could go home. I did not feel settled with this, and so I made a phone call back to our nurse. She confirmed my thoughts and told us to go have his blood drawn immediately to have preliminary allergy testing done and to watch him very closely over the next day and even up to 3 days because allergic reactions can come and go for 72 hours. She told us that he may very well break out in hives later in the day or experience breathing troubles later that day as well. We took our son to have his blood drawn and then went home.
At home, we put him in a bath to settle him down and in the bath he broke out in hives all over his body and was beet red all over. I specifically remember his ears being bright red. We pulled him out and watched him and he began to make funny swallowing sounds. I called the nurse back and she confirmed that he could very well be having trouble breathing and she instructed us to call an ambulance. We did so and got our first ride in an ambulance back to the same hospital. I specifically recommended a different doctor (for obvious reasons!). We were seen by wonderful nurses and a doctor who took our concerns seriously, gave our son steroids and other things (I don’t even remember, it was such a blur) and he got so much better within a few minutes. We were monitored at the hospital for a few hours and educated a little on peanut allergy. We left the hospital around 6:00 or 7:00 at night and were EXHAUSTED. What a day.