NoPeanutsPlease is an independent blog.

All views, opinions and conclusions are solely those of the author and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by any other party.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Dealing With Fear

So what has happened in a week?

I have noticed that my mindset is beginning to shift. I am more cognizant of ‘danger foods’, I have removed offending food products from our home and I have finally started to remember to carry the Epi-Pen when we go out. It takes time to learn new habits cold turkey!

I have also noticed a profound change in the way I feel. Perhaps this is akin to the grieving cycle? I will dig into this a little further as there is quite a volume of content out there on the psychological and quality of life impact of a peanut allergy. While I am not grieving per se, I have definitely felt some sort of psychological process at work.

The first step was just coming to terms with such an earth-shattering event, and accepting the lifelong consequences of an allergy that has been referred to as a ‘disease’. As a realist by nature, I have been able to quickly get past the fact that my daughter has this allergy. I spent much of the past week talking to friends and doing research but I have not caught myself asking ‘is this really happening?’ I just wanted to build a base of information so that I know what I am up against.

Now that I have done enough research to have familiarity with peanut allergies I find that I am developing a pretty healthy fear … alas that is the downside of being a realist – you dig out all the facts, not just the good ones!

Though we’ll be sure to shelter our daughter from our fears and concerns to a limited extent, I dread that day when she is old enough to develop fears and anxieties of her own.

So, why am I afraid?

1. Peanuts are almost ubiquitous in our food supply. Complete avoidance is not realistic.

2. Based on my research, it appears to be a virtual certainty that by the time our daughter is 8 years old she will have had multiple additional anaphylactic episodes.

3. For at least the next few years our daughter will not be cognizant of her allergy and will certainly not be able to articulate it to others. Give her a peanut butter cookie and she’d eat it.

4. Based on my research, it appears to be a common theme that such a severe reaction to peanuts is not something a child is likely to grow out of.

These are scary facts when considered in aggregate. We have a close friend who has a severe peanut allergy. The major difference between he and a child is that he is aware of his condition. Further, in most emergency situations he would have time to self-inject with an Epi-pen and call his own ambulance. Our daughter is not even aware that she has an allergy.

Further anxiety stems from the fact that we are still not 100% sure that we even have a peanut allergy on our hands. While we do have a reasonable basis for this conclusion it will not be confirmed until the end of January when we meet the allergist. At this point we are on pins and needles in case it was not actually a peanut that did this. All we can do is be vigilant on avoiding foods of concern and wait for the official verdict later this month.


Anonymous said...

Speaking from the point of view of a grandparent, the phone call about a severe allergic reaction to your grandchild hits you like a ton of bricks. You want to help in anyway but you feel helpless. The picture on the refrigerator shows a happy healthy grandchild but you linger over the picture more often now and hope everything is going to go smoothly for the child.

NoPeanuts said...

It is very strange. On one level it makes you fearful and on another level you really do settle into some sort of fatalistic 'enjoy every day' mentality.