My son turned 3 years old this summer. We found out about his food allergies when he was just 6 months old, which means we have been living with his allergies for 2 and 1/2 years. Sometimes I can’t believe its been that long, and other times I don’t understand how I still haven’t gotten used to it.
Randsom is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. He has other non-food related allergies as well, but those are less severe. We found out about his allergies the hard way. I was starting to give him solid foods, and one day I decided to make one of those “healthy pancakes” made from an egg and a banana. After just a few small bites his eyes were swelling up, and he had little red welts all around his mouth. I didn’t understand back then how lucky I was that he didn’t go in to anaphylactic shock. I gave him a dose of Benadryl and he was alright. It gives me a panic attack just thinking about how lucky we were that day.
I took him in to be tested for allergies just a few weeks later, and we were given the news. We would have to change our lifestyle completely. It was easy at first, because Randsom was still nursing most of the time. Now that he is older, it has become so much harder.
Epi Pens suck. I’m sure you have seen all the articles circulating on social media lately about the cost of Epi Pens and how inflated it has become, which is causing huge financial strain on families who need them. It’s not an exaggeration, folks. These devices cost several hundred dollars, even after insurance! We were told that we should have 2 Epi- Pens per allergy… for us that would mean a $2,400 dollar bill every time we purchased them. And keep in mind that they expire, so if you don’t use them (and we hope we never have to) we have to just throw them away after a few months.
They are also a pain to have to carry everywhere. I have a special bag with Epi Pens and Benadryl that I have to remember to bring with me every time we leave the house. It isn’t too big of a deal for me because I always have a diaper bag or a purse with me, but the trouble is that you can’t leave the medication in temperatures that are too cold or too hot. It makes it hard to go out and about during the summer when the weather is super hot and you are worried that the Epi Pens stashed in your bag are going to be ruined by the heat. I also can’t imagine my son remembering to carry them around all the time as he gets older… he is going to need a man bag or something.
I truly hope that someone will come up with a better solution for people with allergies. That another company will start making a product to compete with the Epi Pen and help drive costs back down. We need something smaller and easier to travel with. They day someone invents an epinephrine injector that fits in your pocket, and costs under $100 I will climb to the highest mountain and shout for joy. Seriously.
It is absolutely terrifying to let your child with allergies go to a play group or nursery without your supervision. Not everyone will understand allergies, especially those who have never experienced them. It is almost impossible to explain to a caregiver the importance of keeping the allergens away from your child. Even just a little bit can be a huge problem, and that is hard for some people to understand. Unfortunately, we have had several bad experiences, where I thought I had made it very clear that my child can’t have snacks that I haven’t approved and that he shouldn’t be around other kids eating… and yet I get called back in to get him later because no one was watching and he ate someone else’s snacks. Obviously my child’s safety is my responsibility, but it’s so discouraging when this happens. It makes it so hard for me to want to attend events like Bible studies, play groups, or anything else where child care in involved. And if I do attend, I end up going to check on him every 10 minutes anyway.
It’s impossible to go out to eat. Actually impossible. The last time we went out to dinner as a family, Randsom was 1 year old and we had even packed him his own food to eat- and he still ended up getting hives all over his body because there was residue on the table and high chair (which I had wiped down first). It was stressful, sad, and we haven’t done it since.
This is probably one of the hardest parts about his allergies, which probably sounds dumb, but I’m sure other allergy mommy’s can relate. We don’t get to go out and celebrate for birthdays, we can’t join other friends when they ask to go out, and you lose a sense of normalcy. It’s so hard to explain to my child that we can’t go certain places because he will get “sick”. I never want him to feel left out, but honestly that is what happens.
Sometimes you forget, and you feel like a terrible parent. No, I don’t mean you forget your child has allergies and let them eat peanut butter. But sometimes my husband and I do eat things that Randsom is allergic to. If we go and give him a hug and forget to wash our hands, or give him a kiss on the cheek, he will get hives all over where we touched him. Its awful knowing that you are the reason your child isn’t feeling well. Thankfully, we have gotten better about remembering to be careful and this is happening less and less often. But it still sucks not being about to love on your kid when you want to.
I know I am not the first Mommy to experience all these things, and sadly I won’t be the last. Allergies in children are popping up at an alarming rate. No one can really pin point why it’s happening, but I have my own ideas.
I also need to mention that I know it could be worse. It could always be worse. There are many people out there who are suffering more than I could ever imagine, and some Mommies who wish all their child had to deal with was food allergies. I respect and acknowledge that- I know I am SO blessed. With that said, are there any other allergy Mommies out there? How are you dealing with it? Any tips?