Jun 10, 2014

Peanuts and Tree Nuts and Shellfish...Oh My!

So, the sad tale of Pourciau food allergy woes goes back quite a way.   We have been vigilant about avoiding peanuts and even had Stella retested at age two to make sure there was nothing else we needed to avoid.  Everything looked good, so we proceeded as normal.

Then Damon fed her three pistachios.  

And disaster struck.  

She complained that the nuts were "stuck in her throat," her face immediately began to swell, she complained that her stomach hurt, she started to panic, we started to panic...where was the Benadryl? At home, of course, 10 minutes away from where we were.  Should we Epipen her?  We waffled back and forth.  We snapped at each other.  Damon drove like a Nascar driver toward that Benadryl.  Stella began to throw up.  A LOT.  Hopefully the pistachios were out now, because everything else was.  We finally made it to the Benadryl...took two teaspoons and a trip to sit in the ER (just in case; we didn't admit that day).  It took a couple of days for the facial swelling to go down.  We made an appointment with a Baton Rouge allergist.  In his opinion, we should have used the Epipen when we saw the symptoms going internal.  We did a blood test to see what we were up against.  Stella was a champ when they drew her blood.  Never even shed a tear.  I might have.  

The results?  Stella is a level 6 out of 6 for peanut allergy.  Basically for her, peanuts equal death.  As to other nuts?  She is allergic to ALL OF THEM, except for Brazil nuts.  Who even knows what a Brazil nut looks like?  I don't.  I could google it and find out, but you know what?  I DON'T CARE!  Our new rule is, "Nuts are BAD, mmmmkay?  Don't eat nuts 'cause nuts are bad."  Food allergies have got to be one of the most terrifying things in the world.  Especially when they sneak attack you from nowhere.  I myself have been very skeptical about food allergies.  I mean, come on, what is wrong with kids today?  When I was a kid no one was allergic to normal things like peanut butter.  I ate a PB&J sandwich every day of second grade.  But when you look into the swelling face and panicked eyes of your own child and know that the only thing different about today is that she ate a nut, it makes a believer out of you big time.  I am sorry to be "that mom," but I have to be.  I have to be the one who never lets my kid eat your child's birthday cake because I'm not sure if it is cross-contaminated.  I have to ALWAYS know where the Epipen and Benadryl are.  And I have to be prepared to stab my child with a huge needle on a second's notice.  Which brings me to the next part of this story.  It gets better...and by better, I sarcastically mean MUCH, MUCH WORSE...

June 5, 2014: a day our family will not soon forget.  It happens to be my mother-in-law's birthday so we were planning to treat her to a nice night out.  It was steak night at the country club so we all loaded up in the truck and headed over.  The kids were on their best behavior since it was not kid's night.  Watts was being a little bit of a handful so Damon and I kept passing him back and forth.  We placed our orders and soon the appetizers were there.  Cille was sitting next to her grandpa.  He ordered seafood gumbo as his appetizer, and he knows she likes gumbo, so he shared a few bites with her.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  You see, Damon and I have noticed that when Cille eats shrimp, she usually throws up immediately afterward.  So we did the logical thing and just stopped feeding her shrimp.  I am not sure that we ever shared this information with anyone other than each other.  The main course arrived and I had literally just stuck my fork into my truly delicious looking twice baked potato when I glanced over at Cille and noticed that she had what I call "allergy eyes."  Her face was pale and she had red circles under her eyes.  She started telling us her neck hurt, which in Cille-speak means her throat.  Then she started to throw up.  Damon caught most of it in a napkin and we hustled her to the bathroom.  She continued to throw up there and complain about her throat.  Her face started to swell.  Damon sent my mother-in-law in with the Epipen from the diaper bag.  I was afraid to use it, thinking the symptoms would pass.  I asked for some Benadryl.  We didn't have any.  Ridiculously, we had not learned our lesson the last time.  Damon left to get some from the house.  Things got worse.  Cille wanted to go to sleep.  Not a good sign.  Of all nights to forget your cell phone in the truck, I had chosen that night.  I raced back to the table to get my mother-in-law's phone to call Damon and tell him to come back and take us to the hospital.  Ms. Clara snatched Cille up and took her out the front door to meet Damon with the truck.    I went out the side door and had no idea where they were.  The manager of the restaurant was now with Ms. Clara and the club manager on duty was with me.  We were all panicked.  Damon came in on two wheels and asked if I had Epipen-ed her yet.  I had not.  He made me hold her down while he did.  He did it incorrectly.  He has infuriated me many times in our marriage but I must truly say that in that one moment I could have killed him with my bare hands.  I climbed into the back of the truck with Cille and we raced to the hospital.  They took her right in, and gave her another dose of epinephrine and antihistamine.   Things slowed down.  We started thinking somewhat clearly again.  Damon told me to take the truck and go back to the club to pick up the others.  I took a few deep breaths and left.  Unfortunately, in all our panic we never thought to call the grandparents and let them know that things were settling.  They were still on code red terror alert at the club and Pawpaw had decided to run back to our house and get the other truck to pick up Mawmaw, Stella, and Watts.  We arrived at the club around the same time, and I literally watched as he accidentally backed my truck through a light pole in his panic.  The ER kept Cille until after 1 a.m. for observation, and we scheduled her appointment with the allergist the next day.  

Cille was also a trooper about giving blood, and when her results came in they revealed that she is allergic to all shellfish.  That means I have a child who lives in South Louisiana and cannot eat crawfish, shrimp, crabs, or lobsters.  Ever.  We now have a whole new category of restaurants to avoid and a vehicle in need of some repairs.  That seems pretty bad, but we have a little girl who survived and we now know better how to keep her safe, so those are the important things to take away from the worst birthday party ever.  

To my poor food allergy babies, I am sorry.  Stella, I'm sorry you'll probably never enjoy that first bite of a Reese's.  Cille, I hate that you will probably never belly up to a table piled high with steaming crawfish and burn your lips on the corn.  I don't know why God made you this way, but He did and I'm sure He had a good reason.  I am sorry that Mommy and Daddy get a little stressed out when you eat something that we shouldn't have allowed you to have.  I'm sorry you've had to hear us raise our voices at each other and see the fear in our faces.  The reason that we act so crazy over your food allergies is because we love you and we want to keep you safe, so always remember that even if we are yelling at each other, stabbing you with a big needle, or backing the truck up into things, we are doing all of it out of love for you.   

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