What is it with this food allergy epidemic that is taking over lately? Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, glutten, whaaat?!?! Growing up in Colombia I had no idea what is was like to live with a food allergy. My parents would make me taste everything that was served on my plate. “Try the green tomatoes, they taste like mangoes” said my dad every freaking time. By the way, nothing tastes like mangoes… except mangoes. There was no “take a bite, let’s wait five minutes and see if you swell up like a blowfish.” My brothers and I would eat at our school cafeteria every single day, and I’m sure the thought of us being rushed to the nurse because we accidentally ate a peanut never crossed my parents mind. I think the only times my parents ever got a call from our school was if one of my brothers was in trouble…not me, I was a saint I tell you ;). Birthdays, sleepovers, play dates….all unsupervised!
You see, Antonella, my wonderful, unbelievably responsible 6 year old little lady is allergic to Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Lentils, Egg Whites, I’m tired of this list, Soy beans, sunflower seed, allergies suck, pinto beans and lima beans! Oh, and dogs and cats. I have to admit that when I first saw this list my levels of paranoia broke through the roof. I am now the president of Paranoid City. She was 3 when we found out. She ate an oatmeal cookie that had a little piece of walnut. It wasn’t like half a walnut; it was a miserable little speck of a walnut that I obviously didn’t see. So her lip begins to swell and she starts saying that her mouth itches. Oh, CLEARLY she was just bitten by a tiny bug that I can’t seem to find anywhere around her. It wasn’t until my mom had to shake some sense into me that made me realize…hmmm maybe it was something IN the cookie…or maybe it was still a bug (I could only hope). So we took her to the emergency room and the nurse takes one look at her and says: “Food allergies huh?” “Oh no, I think she was just bitten by a bug (someone please snap this denial out of me!).” After the doctor gives her some Benadryl and an Ice pop, I explain to him that I really do think something bit her, but just in case I’m wrong, please check this left over cookie I have in my pocket. With a quick glance he picks out a teeny, tiny piece of walnut (I swear he must’ve been an eagle in his past life) and looks at me and says “Your child is allergic to nuts.” Straight to my face. Guess it wasn’t a bug bite after all.
So here we are three years later and I have a PHD in FAQ’s. Ask me anything. I have googled, researched, purchased books and intensely emailed her pediatrician and allergist. I can scan down a list of ingredients faster than Usain Bolt crossing a finish line. And although Antonella is well trained (I hope) and is very cautious with what she eats, I’m still a paranoid mess. Every time I get a call from her school I get a small heart attack. I don’t know if they know me so well by now or if it’s just school policy, but as soon as I answer they say “Hello Mrs. A, It’s not an emergency.”
Last night I picked up her new epipen since the last one was about to expire. Three years and we haven’t used it once! I must say, I think we’re doing a pretty good job around here!
PS: Stay tuned if you’re wondering how my Operation Polar Vortex is going, we’re still trying…
Me: “Antonella, I love you all the way to the moon and the stars and the entire universe.”
Antonella: “Aaaaaw you’re so sweet! And I love you more than I love USHER :)”