As most of you know Brooke suffers from a sever peanut allergy. And by sever I mean this...
This was her after 6 hours, 2 steroid shots, and two Benadryl shots because of one bite of a piece of crust off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the age of 16 months.
That's right, something that you probably feed your child on a daily basis could kill my child within minutes. That's why ever minute since this day we are on constant alert. 5 people a day die of anaphylaxis and 50,000 others end up in ER's around the world yearly because of allergic reactions. After the sandwich episode and hearing those facts, our lives have never been the same.
Have you ever tried to avoid peanuts? They're all around.
They are on the play ground, they are at the movies, they are in restaurants, they're in candy, they're in dog food... they're everywhere.
Her most recent reaction was from food coloring that was processed in a plant where peanuts are also processed. Yeah, it's that serious.
I know peanut allergies are a big deal to a lot of my followers because I can tell which posts get the most hits and a lot of times the most popular ones are ones discussing allergies and EpiPens. So tonight I just want to be completely raw and transparent with the people who came here inquire about that. The one's who seek out help and support in this area.
Food allergies SUCK!
There's no other way to say it.
A few weeks ago we made the choice to move our daughter from the "Peanut Free" table (I'm sure all of you parents of school aged PA kids know what I'm talking about). She had started to tell us and we had started to see signs that she was having a hard time connecting and making new friends during lunch. Because of that she was having a hard time finding friends that wanted to play with her on the play ground afterward. She said, and I have observed on the days that I've gone to have lunch with her that most of the kids play with their friends that they sit by at lunch. Which makes sense. You sit there and eat your lunch and talk about what you're going to do when you get to the playground. We've all been kids, we've all been there.
So after speaking to the mom of the only other girl that sits at the peanut free table, the school nurse and her teacher, we decided it would be best to move her with her classmates at their room table in the cafeteria. As a precaution we made it a rule that she is to sit only on the end and that she would help her teacher check the lunch of whoever sits next to her to ensure there is nothing with peanuts or peanut butter. It's been about 2 weeks and so far so good. Brooke is beyond happy that she gets to be just like all the other kids.
The only other stipulation is that I made her promise to wipe down her area before she sits down with a disinfectant wipe, provided by me daily. Her allergist said the biggest threat was the risk of Brooke sitting down where someone had eaten peanut butter previously and it had not been completely sanitized. If she were to get even just a tiny amount of peanut protein into her mouth, nose or eyes she will have a reaction.
Well the first week or so I just grabbed a handful of wipes and shoved them in a plastic bag and told her to throw them away after she used them. After awhile I went to refill the bag and I noticed there was still quite a bit of wipes still in there. I questioned her and reminded her how important it was to use them and she assured me she was. Well this morning when I packed her lunch I only put two wipes in the bag; one for today and one for tomorrow.
As I was cleaning out her lunch box when she came home I pulled out the usual: half eaten sandwich- bag unzipped so the crumbs and left over jelly can spill out everywhere, half finished bag of gold fish- why do they insist on saving those last three?, stickers from the all important cafeteria sticker machine, and a napkin-unused.
The last thing I pulled out was the bag of disinfectant wipes- contents = 2
At this point I was upset. Thinking she was being lazy I questioned/drilled her. "What's worse?" I scolded. "Taking two seconds to wipe down your table or ending up in the ER?!"
She looked at me for a minute and then she burst into tears and said "Wiping my table is worse. Everyone asks me why I do it and when I say 'Because I'm allergic to peanuts' they all say 'Ewwww! I don't want to sit by you!'
Now I know we cannot and should not protect our kids from every little thing but I'm telling y'all, my heart broke into a million pieces right then and there. And then Mama Bear kicked in. I thought of a million reasons why those kids were jerks. I thought of a million things I wish I could do to shelter her from them.
We'll move to Montana and home school... that'll take care of it.
I'll eat lunch with her every day... that'll do it.
But then it started to all sink in. Kids are kids. Most don't know any better. To be honest, if Brooke didn't have this burden I'm not so certain she would be educated enough about it to not be the one to say those hurtful words to someone else.
I do however need to mention that Brooke's teacher and school nurse have been amazing through this all and before she ever made the transition from the peanut free table they educated the children on the dangers of food allergies (including pictures) and why it is important for those with these allergies to avoid them. So it's not like they have never heard of "allergies" before and think it's some scary communicable disease.
Mostly my heart broke for Brooke. My heart broke because all she ever wants, all anyone ever wants is to belong. To feel like your just like everyone else. And she will never ever be like everyone else and it's beyond her control. Beyond any ones control.
So, I sucked it up and talked through it with her. She recovered pretty quickly. I however did not. I'm not ashamed to say I excused myself to my bedroom, locked the door and had a good ol' cry.
This is not the first time this allergy has broken me;
I cried that day in the ambulance when all I could do was sit back and trust that the medical response team was doing all they could do and pray the swelling would stop.
I cried the first time I went shopping and tried to read all the labels of ever single thing I put in my shopping cart, realizing this was my new reality.
I cried when a not so kind airline representative told me I was a careless mother for taking my child on an airplane with such a serious allergy.
I cried when we toured at least 8 different preschools to find one that even know about the severity of food allergies and how to handle them.
I cried when I was literally on my way to take her to her new preschool on her very first day (she was beyond excited) and the school called and said that they decided that she was too much of a "risk" and asked me not to bring her.
I cry when I see the anxiety she lives with on a daily basis because of this allergy.
Rest assured I usually wait until I'm alone or at least away from Brooke before I have my melt down. I don't ever want her to transfers my fears, worries or hurts onto herself.
One thing I have been able to do, the only thing I do have control over is my constant, never wavering prayer of protection over her. Continually I go to God and cry out about these things above and others and say "God! You made her. You gave her this allergy for a purpose. I am faith believing that you will protect her and guide her steps as she navigates through this. She is your child Lord. Please place people in her lives that will walk along side her on this journey, build her up on this journey, protect her on this journey. Because you know Brian and I can't do it alone."
And let me tell you what, the Lord has been faithful to answer that prayer. We have been absolutely blessed by the relationships she has made BECAUSE of this allergy. She has and has had amazing teachers, school directors and nurses that go above and beyond for her. She has a lot of amazing people in her corner.
So tonight we talked about what the kids have been saying. We discussed ways on how to deal with the things people say and how we should never do anything to make someone else feel bad about themselves.
And most importantly, we move on. That's all we can do.
Well, this was a long one but I know someone out there needed to hear that they are not alone on this journey. Food allergies SUCK, plan and simple. And sometimes a Mama needs to know she's not walking this scary path alone.
And can I just say I adore my little Ava and her loving protective heart towards her older sister. After Brooke told us about what has been going on Ava said "Well some kids in my class have peanut butter and I try not to sit by them. I'm always be careful not to touch anything with peanuts because I love you too much Brookie." Out of the mouths of babes huh?
There's nothing in this world that can't be fixed with a little impromptu freeze dance party. These kids are such a sunshine in our lives, even on rough days like this.
I am a stay at home Mom living with my 3 beautful kids and amazing husband in Texas. We relocated here from California and it's been an adjustment getting used to living on our own without any family in the state. We're learning though. We make it through with our faith in God, our good humor and our love for one another. Please keep in mind, this blog is a peek into the daily ramblings from a stay at home mom with three young kids, so please don't take anything too seriously.