Friday, January 4, 2013

Interview with Mom: Son with Peanut Allergy

1) How did you know there was a problem? How old was he when he was diagnosed with a peanut allergy?

We had avoided peanuts just because I knew that it was one of the most dangerous if you were allergic and most Dr’s will tell you to wait until after 2 to introduce it. At his 18 month check up I had a gut feeling that we should try a peanut butter cracker there in the office. I bought some from the vending machine and tried to give him one when we were in the exam room. He refused to open his mouth, so than I put some peanut butter on my finger and tried to get in his mouth. He refused to open up. Our Dr. left and kept the door open telling me to call if I saw any kind of reaction. After about 5 min I noticed hives around his mouth and severe swelling of his ear. I yelled out for the nurses and they came running in with Benadryl. My Dr. then told us we needed to go right away to an allergist, and she gave us a RX for an Epi Pen.

2) Who took the news the hardest, you or your hubby and why?

 I did. My husband is very laid back. I felt that this was something that I caused him to have. Allergies in general are hereditary. I had food allergies (nothing this severe) as a child but have since out grown them.

3)What do you do to make him feel "normal" when you guys are at a birthday party or play date?

We have a talk before we go to the party or play date and discuss what foods will be there and what the rules are. I try to prepare ahead of time so there are no surprises. We always bring our own food. I try not to make a huge scene out of the food and normally the kids don’t even notice that he isn’t eating the same exact thing as they are. There have been times when the situation is too dangerous and we are forced to leave (or we never go in the first place), this is something we all understand. Safety comes first.

4) Will this be something he will out grow? 

 No. His best chance to outgrow it was around 3. His reactions to the testing are only getting worse each time. His next best chance would be at puberty. Most children with a peanut or tree nut allergy do not out grow it. We just pray every day for safety and a cure!

5) With your son having allergies, do you sometimes isolate yourself?

I try not to. Sometimes it is hard, but it’s not healthy to isolate. This is something that my son will have for the rest of his life. We need to take it head on and still live. Safety is obviously our first priority. Feel lonely? Sometimes. For me, I struggle with a lot of guilt. I feel like this is my fault, like something I did made him have this or my DNA caused this. It is sometimes hard when those surrounding you don’t understand . I have many friends who do their best to understand but reality is, unless you are dealing with food allergies and all that comes with that, there is no way for a person to understand. Has your social group changed? I think it is always changing. Friends come, and go and some people you meet are sympathetic and try to be mindful and others don’t.

6) How does it affect your family/marriage?

We choose to look at this as a family ordeal. We try to stick together. If Tysen can’t eat it, no one does. We choose to not have Peanut butter or nuts in the house. Ever. We don’t allow anyone to bring those items into the house. Ever. We try to teach our children that as a family we need to stick together and protect each other. If eating something makes someone in our family sick, then we (as a family) don’t eat it. We don’t make it a big deal. My husband not being able to eat peanut butter on his waffles is not going to kill him, but if Tysen accidentally got a hold of some peanut butter that was not put away or was on the counter or on a knife or on my husband’s mouth when he got a kiss, it could kill him. In this world kids have become so selfish; it’s all about what they want and when they want it. In our family we are trying to teach that it’s not about what I want, but what’s best for someone else. We try to think about how our actions will affect those around us. It’s not easy by any means. It can be very stressful on our marriage and our family, but it is what it is. We can’t change the challenges that have been placed in front of us. We can only change how we look at them.

7)What advice would you give to a mom whose child has just be diagnosed with an allergy?

Find a support group if you can, or look online for support groups. Educate yourself. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your child’s safety (you may not always be the most popular mom). Understand that there are positive things that can come from this. Know that you can do it and trust yourself!

I have asked many times “Why? Why us? Why can’t we just be normal?” and although I don’t know the answer I do know that there are good things that have come from this. Tysen has such a tender heart when it comes to those that are “different”. He understands what it’s like to be picked on sometimes, to feel left out, to feel as though life isn’t fair. When he sees another child who is feeling left out or upset, he is the first one over making the child smile. He is learning responsibility that far surpasses what I dealt with at his age. He is learning selflessness. As a family we are learning selflessness. I wouldn’t wish food allergies on anyone. It’s not fun or easy, but it’s a part of our life. I have learned to trust more. I have learned that I can’t fully protect Tysen and that God is truly the only one who can.

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