Within seconds of touching peanut butter, our one year old's face began to swell.
Photo © Apryl Duncan
The staff observed him closely to make sure he wasn't going into anaphylactic shock. According to his medical chart, his allergic reaction was ranked an 8 out of 10, with 10 being the worst.
The rash continued to spread across his body even 8 hours after exposure.
Photo © Apryl Duncan
My son received a shot of epinephrine and a prescription for a week-long dose of antihistamines before we left the ER. Mom and her nerves received no medication, unfortunately.
Once I broke the news to my mom friends, they rallied behind our family immediately. Within minutes, I had friends from all over the U.S. sharing allergy resources, advice on what to do next and just plain moral support. My colleagues here in the Parenting Channel of About.com also shared their personal stories and it was surprising to see how many in our group have at least one child with a food allergy.
Without having any prior experience with food allergies in our family, my husband and I were total rookies. All we knew was that we were now the owners of four EpiPen Jr.'s. Two for the cars. One for the diaper bag. One for the house. And never going anywhere again without one in our possession.
Of course, life with a child who has a peanut allergy has changed our outlook on everything. We read every food label before buying groceries. We threw out anything in our cabinet that could be a danger to our son. We bought him a medical bracelet that identifies his nut allergy and lists our emergency numbers.
We tell his caregivers about his nut allergy every single time they see him. Yes. Every. Single. Time.
We have them use the practice EpiPen Jr. before we leave to make sure they know how to use our baby's medication in case of an emergency. I carry the two pictures you see here on my mobile phone to show anyone taking care of him that when we say nut allergy, we mean nut allergy.
If you've never had any firsthand experience with an allergic reaction to food, it's easy to dismiss the severity of what it can do to your child. So, the pictures of my boy come out and people gasp. But to me, this means they get it and will be more cautious because they've seen the results of what the tiniest bit of exposure to nuts can do to him.
What's your food allergy story? Share it with other parents in the comments section below.
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