Monday, June 02, 2008

Peanut Allergy Stress

Yesterday we went to a church play. It was an incredible program and both of our older boys had small parts. After the play there was an announcement to head downstairs for the art show and for refreshments. My heart sank, “why didn’t I ask if there were going to be food?” I had checked the bulletin in the morning but I had not asked anyone about it. The kids had been dismissed and had headed down immediately.

Seth took off downstairs. He had Thomas with him and found Jonathan right away. Then, he looks around to see people bringing out trays of cookies and offering them to the kids and guests. To him, it felt as if someone was handing out camouflaged poison. Where was David???

Since David is 4 ½ cookies and sweets are very tempting to him. We’d like to think he wouldn’t take something like that without asking us but we know that when it comes down to it, we can’t count on it yet. More than likely he would ask the person handing out the food if there were nuts in the food. That doesn’t work. The cookie might be touching a peanut butter cookie or it might be made with a product that is not nut safe.

Seth found David and took him outside. He explained to him that the food wasn’t safe for him. He explained that not any of it was safe—that there was no way to know. He talked to David a bit and calmed him down. Then, he started to give him the candy bracelet that was in his treat bag given to him for being in the show. He read the candy label and it was not safe (had a peanut warning on it). David was upset again. Seth then promised him that we would go to McDonalds playland for a treat.

Meanwhile, I am inside, with my 6 month old and my 3 year old, trying to keep the 3 year old from grabbing lots of cookies. People are trying to help me by giving him animal crackers. All the while, my 7 year old wants to show me his art work.

This was a stressful situation. We had to get out of there as soon as possible. We left absolutely stressed out. We realized that no one did anything wrong. But we left feeling frustrated and a bit angry.

Oh, dealing with this allergy so difficult! I believe in a lot of ways, it will get easier as he gets older. And, we are still learning. I have so much to learn. I should have asked if there was going to be food. I should have asked instead of thinking it would have been publicized. Then, I could have prepared. I could have brought David some kind of special treat. I could have talked to him ahead of time and told him he could not have any of the food there. I could have prepared my other kids appropriately. I don’t expect that events change because of our struggle. I don’t. I also don’t want to avoid public events because of the allergy. I just have to find that middle ground. I realize that just telling the people about the peanut allergy is not enough. I need to be more proactive. I need to make it a point to find out when there is going to be food served—-and especially served to the kids. I realize that I cannot talk about the peanut allergy to people enough.

The following words were shared with me last night. They make sense to me and I hope that thoughtfulness will happen more and more as I am more proactive.

“Having a child with a severe food allergy is like having a child with a disability. As parents, you are responsible but you hope that others will make concessions for your child.”


John & Carrie said...

Wow JA. My heart goes out to you and all that you go through. Thank you for sharing your struggles and what you are learning through it all.

Kimberly said...

I am so sorry to hear that this happened. I can't even begin to imagine how hard these types of things are for you guys. It's really a wake up call for the rest of us that sometimes work with kids and with children's programs at school or church or wherever - that you CAN'T just go around passing out food to kids without permission from the parents. I know that I'm guilty of doing this. I also know that just thru your situation I've tried to be more conscientious of what I put in any food that I will be taking out into public. I will keep praying for you guys and this situation!

Amy Jo said...

Oy, JJ. I'm so sorry. Even reading your description of the events caused me stress! I can't imagine being there. Thank you for sharing.

John & Carrie said...

Reading your entries on allergies always make my heart go out to you. While I don't have a child with severe allergies, your posts have helped me be better at protecting Sarah. We used to just explain to the church nursery workers that she couldn't drink anything but what was in her sippy cup and try to explain it a little. Last month, I finally remembered before church an idea I had had for awhile--to type up something about Sarah and her aspiration. For several Sundays, I kept giving them a new one each week. Then they said they didn't need a new one. This past Sunday, I had to step in her classroom for a minute and I saw that they had taped Sarah's warning up on the wall several places. It was such a huge sense of comfort to see that.
I have learned from your blog that educating people is what really makes a difference in protecting our child. Sometimes I would think--oh no, something so innocent as water could really hurt my do I get people to understand that!! But through you JA, I've learned educating people goes a long way. Thank you for sharing. It has helped me. And I've found that once I explain that she has aspiration and something so simple as water goes down her air pipe, people are really understanding.
I know what I go through is nothing compared to what you go through with allergies, but I wanted to let you know that you have helped me.

Jane Anne said...

Carrie- thanks for the encouragement. I'll will have to write you an email. We are constantly learning and re-learning how to handle things. Every situation is different. People react differently, too, in similar situations. Again, thanks for the encouragement!

Seth said...

Thanks for eloquently conveying the stress we felt. BTW- that quote must have come from a very wise person.

Seth said...

Thanks for eloquently conveying the stress we felt. BTW- that quote must have come from a very wise person.