Thursday, April 20, 2017

You say peanuts, I say poison (get it, potato patoto?)

I wanted to take a minute and talk about peanut allergies. Now I know, this sounds like a boring topic, but to me it's something that I have to be constantly aware of. When a regular person sees peanut butter, I see anaphylactic shock or death. Now I know that sounds dramatic, but that's how severe peanut allergies are if they aren't treated within minutes. My 4 year old has a severe peanut allergy that we discovered he had when he turned 1. My aunt also has a peanut allergy, and we recently had a conversation that I walked away from and knew I wanted to write a blog post about it. We discussed on the topic of how unaware people are if they don't have a peanut allergy or live with someone with it. So that's mostly the purpose of this blogpost.  To educate. My husband and I have had so many encounters with people who don't truly understand how severe a peanut allergy is. I have had deep conversations with others about my son's allergy, and then later on they try to offer my child food that contains peanuts.  I have had open conversations about the stress and worry the allergy causes our family, and then they have turned around and brought peanuts into our home.  No one has ever done it out of malice or to hurt my child, it has happened because the person didn't understand the severity, or because they completely forgot in the moment.

Some people think it's like other food allergies in which the person just can't eat the peanut and they'll be fine. In actuality, a person with this allergy can't even be around a peanut. If it touches them, they react immediately. Even if they don't touch the peanuts, particles in the air can effect them and they can start having reactions. Let's also talk about cross contamination. If someone is eating a peanut butter sandwich, and then they go touch something else, and then my son goes and touches that thing, guess what? Reaction.  That's why if I see a friend of mine pull out anything with peanuts around us I kindly ask them to wash their hands when they're done.  And don't forget about the part where I Clorox wipe the heck out of where they just sat.  Safety comes first at our house.

What makes peanut allergies so scary is the fact that your body can undergo anaphylactic shock. What that means is it causes your airway to constrict and makes it difficult to breath. An epi pen or Benadryl need to be used promptly after exposure in order to help open up the airway. If it isn't promptly treated, the person can stop breathing altogether and die. Now not everyone with a peanut allergy is as severe as others. Some people just use Benadryl and it helps with symptoms, others need immediate use of an Epi Pen. But in all honesty, this allergy just sucks because it's so dangerous.

Sometimes people legitimately don't make the connection that peanuts AND peanut butter both cause reactions. It blows my mind, but they really don't. Peanuts can be hidden in several different things such as candy bars, candy, cookies, cakes, donuts, chips, ice cream, some Mexican dishes, some Asian dishes, granola bars, and I'm sure several other things I'm currently forgetting. Some places use peanut oil to cook with. Some examples are Five Guys, quite a few Southern restaurants, and Jimmy John's chips. Texas Roadhouse is covered in peanut shells, so that restaurant is out of the cards for us. Always read labels checking if it contains peanuts or even if it says it MAY contain peanut traces. 

Thanks for bearing with me as I blab on and on about my son's allergy, but I hope I was able to help clarify some questions people may have had about what we deal with on a daily basis. Our home is the one safe place where I know my son doesn't have to deal with being exposed to peanuts, so please don't be offended when I ask you not to bring peanuts into his safe zone. It's my job as his mom to keep him safe, and sometimes I feel like we are a burden to those around us. I know that a peanut butter sandwich is a staple for most families. It's such an easy delicious lunch, and I realize it's annoying if you meet us at the park for lunch and you can't make an easy PB&J for your kiddo. I realize that it's annoying when I bring a baby wipe over to you after you've finished eating that delicious PB&J that it comes across as over bearing or protective, but ending up in the ER is not worth it to me.  I realize that all the delicious desserts contains peanut butter, and I'm sorry we can't eat that when you're at our house.  I realize that when you want to go get Thai food with us that most of the delicious dishes contain peanuts and we don't order it that that's such a bummer.  But thank you so much for loving my kiddo enough to help keep him safe.  Thank you for bearing with us as we take away your joy of peanuts.  It's always an awkward thing to ask of others but thanks so much for respecting our wishes. 

So last thing, a couple helpful tips when dealing with people with food allergies. If you're going to feed someone always ask first if they have food allergies. Read all food labels. If you're babysitting a child with food allergies, put all food that contains that ingredient up away so that the child can't get it, and inform all family members about the safety of the child and how important it is not to eat any of the food that contains that when they're around. And know the game plan of what to do if they do eat peanuts, such as if you need to learn how to insert and Epi Pen.

So if you're still reading, thank you for hanging in there!! I hope there was something in here that was informative and that you found helpful.  I realize that there are so many other awful awful allergies out there, and I'm so grateful that we are only just dealing with the one. I know that we have it so much easier compared so many other people.  If you are one of those people, I am so sorry! If any of you have questions let me know. Or if you have any helpful tips or things you have done please let me know! Down below is a link to a peanut allergy bracelet we bought for my son from Amazon. Quite a few people have asked about it so I thought I'd share it.

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