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Saturday, March 31, 2007

This Is Just Not Fair!

I pride myself on being a strong person. This whole peanut allergy thing brought out a new element in my psyche however. Last Sunday we were at a brunch hosted by our dear friends who happen to be from France. The laid out a beautiful spread with croissants, pains aux chocolates, pointe aux cerises, brioche, crepes and of course champagne!

While we really enjoyed our time, I did have a personal 'rock bottom' experience which had nothing to do with our hosts. Of course our daughter loved the sight of the gorgeous spread that lay before us. All I could do however was give her a platter of baguette and apple slices with juice. Our mistake was not bringing a specific breakfast for her but in reality I was more struck by the difficulty of managing her allergy in this situation.

I had an amazing Nutella crepe ... of course Nutella has hazelnuts and though she did not display an allergy to walnut with our allergist, it does seem that people can be allergic to specific tree nuts so it is not worth taking the risk. I decided to put jam on her baguette and reached for the knife ... of course I quickly recoiled as the knife neared my outstretched hand - the knife had been used to spread Nutella on another crepe.

So I asked for a new knife and while I did that my daughter reached out and grabbed a slice of brioche which has (I think) has egg in it ... I quickly took it out of her hands.

Even as I write this a week later I still feel a little overwhelmed. We are not 'those parents'. Dealing with peanut allergy, egg allergy and anaphylaxis is very difficult for us given that our natural style is laisse faire. Obviously we are still adjusting to our 'new reality'. It is very difficult for people who are used to being the life of the party to now shift into seemingly neurotic, overbearing parent mode. It is just bizarre.

I have to admit that as I looked around the brunch table and saw the other couples enjoying themselves, laughing, chatting all the while (appropriately) oblivious to the fact that I was struggling to make sure my daughter had something safe to eat, the first thought that entered my mind was 'this is just not fair'.

I know how ridiculously defeatist that sounds but it was the first thought that entered my mind. I am a big proponent of 'it is what it is ... move on'. I am a realist by nature.

That is all the more reason that I felt I should blog about my moment of vulnerability ... it was an out of character experience that in retrospect I feel was totally justified and appropriate. Sometimes this whole thing is overwhelming. Sometimes parents of anaphylactic children will feel all alone. We are lucky ... our friends are very supportive. That being said it is unnatural to worry so much about every little thing your child eats ... you have to be strong! The allergy is omnipresent.


Growing in Grace (Nicole) said...

I've felt the same way. It's hard to be upbeat all the time. Sometimes you just want your child to be able to have a piece of cake like everyone else.

NoPeanuts said...

Exactly. I think it is important to maintain a logical, pragmatic approach but is also important to honest with your feelings. We do a good job keeping an even keel and sometimes it is just tough. This particular situation was overwhelming the first time through and I suspect I'd be okay next time. Being 'particular' is far from my default style ... I simply have to adjust!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing. This is new to us, too (our child is only 17 mos old) so we're just learning what we can and can't do. I worry A LOT but it's nice to know we are not alone.

NoPeanuts said...

I'm happy you found the site helpful. You will become more comfortable with the allergy over time but it is very hard initially.

It is important to be prepared ... just tonight we accidentally gave our daughter cannelloni that had egg in it. Thankfully it was a minor reaction (hives and swelling on her hands) but it is always scary to see a reaction, and it's a huge relief when it subsides.

Anonymous said...

I am on the older end of the peanut allergy wave - I'm 26. I've had peanut anaphalaxis all my life. It now feels completely 'normal' to me and although I have to be careful, I try to control it and not the other way around.

I can't imagine how scary it must be to have a young child with a life-threatening allergy. But don't despair: if your childrens' experiences are anything like mine, they will grow to be adults, go off to university and will have happy productive lives and lots of support. It's helped me to 'live each day to the fullest' and not sweat the small stuff- truly a blessing in disguise.

Things that are now second nature:

-I never go anywhere without my epipen (or 3 on camping trips!).

- Reading labels on EVERYTHING - not just food, but cosmetics too. tip: start at the end. That's where the warning is so it saves time. Also, reading backwards forces me to go more slowly along long and familiar ingredient lists).

-My friends are wonderful hosts who enjoy the 'extra challenge' of hunting down Chapman's ice cream - one close friend uses my visits as an 'excuse' to try out her new dessert recipes (the rule is, she can try anything out on me as long as it's nut free... I was the first to try her homemade blueberry and maple crepes...mmmm).

-I pack 'alternative snacks' (fruit, crackers) for people on planes so they have a peanut-free snack to eat if they sit near me.

-I can't imagine a meal at a restaurant without an extended conversation with the server about nut contamination at every restaurant.

However, I've never known any different and don't think much of any of these things.

Good luck and take heart: there are 'kids' who have survived this into adulthood and are out there flourishing, happy, and safe.

NoPeanuts said...

Thanks for taking the time to write your note. It is very encouraging. I look forward to a day 24 years hence when my daughter can write a similar note, especially after what we went through today (refer to today's post: 'Did This Blog Save A Life Today').