Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Rookie

When you get over the shock of any diagnosis, the second step is usually the questions. With Scootch's diagnosis of peanut, tree nut, and egg allergy, you bet I had plenty. I felt like an allergy mom rookie, still learning the ropes and afraid to question the inane things out loud for fear that people would scoff or laugh at their absurdity. As the anniversary of his diagnosis approaches, I made a short list of the funny, and surprising things I've thought about in the past year;

- What the heck is a water chestnut? Is it in the nut family and something Scootch could potentially be allergic to?
The water chesnut is an aquatic vegetable, given a nut name for its peculiar appearance. It does not pose a threat to nut allergic individuals.

- Should Scootch be prohibited from playing with acorns?
Oak and chestnut trees belong to the Fagaceae plant family. Although they have some biological similarity to nut trees (cashew, walnut, almond, pecan, etc.), the two plant groups are distinctly separate families. Their allergenic proteins are not the same. That means someone who’s allergic to tree nuts will not automatically be allergic to acorns or chestnuts. But, there are documented cases of anaphylaxis to acorn or chestnut. The greatest danger is if he should happen to ingest any of them. The part that causes the reaction is the inner 'meat', so just picking up a whole acorn shouldn't be too much of a problem if his hands are thoroughly washed afterwards. However, if he does pick up a nut that has been smashed or compromised and then sticks his hands in his mouth at any point, there is the potential for a reaction. So I discourage him from touching them just in case.

- What about pine nuts?
Pine nuts (pignoli nuts) are technically seeds. However some allergic individuals show sensitivity to them.

- Mangos are related to cashews, and plums, cherries, peaches, and nectarines are in the almond family. Should he be avoiding those foods as well?
No. These relationships are viewed as being of a "second cousin" type variety and most allergic individuals have no reactions to the fruit even when allergic to the nut of the same family.

- A coconut is technically a tree nut, but in the palm family. So is that something to avoid as well?
Since coconut is in the palm family, it doesn't cross-react with tree nuts. However the FDA has labeled it as a tree nut in its criteria, and therefore is listed as such in the allergy information. Most nut allergy individuals tolerate coconut fine.

- What about coconut oil in bath products?
Since it is a palm oil, the reaction varies with each individual. Coconut oil is generally deemed safe for topical use for people with nut allergies.

- Shea butter is made from shea nuts, should that be avoided?

- What about nutmeg?
Nutmeg is made from the seed of a fruit bearing tree, so it is not a nut.

- Since peanuts are actually legumes, should I be looking for any legume allergies as well?
Soy beans, lima beans, green beans, and peas, are all included in the legume family, but additonal reactions vary by child. Thankfully, so far, Scootch hasn't shown any sensitivity to other legumes.

- Did you know that some bread crumbs contain eggs?
Not until recently. And I feel guilty for that. Just goes to show that you really need to read EVERY label. Even if common sense tells you that the ingredients should just be stale bread and air.

You get the idea. And unfortunately, I'm still learning. We go in for review in a little over 14 months when Scootch turns 3, and who knows? Maybe I'll get a promotion for all my hard work. ;-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Simple Math


plus one very special friend;

lets them do this without me being overwhelmed with fear;

And equals this on the ride home;
I'm confident they were very sweet dreams. :-)
(Most of the photo credits go to my dear SammyJo)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Note to Self

When the daycare teachers mark off on the experience sheet that your child needs extra clothes, I need to heed the warning and pack more clothes. Otherwise they do creative things to get my attention, like use Scootch's mittens on his feet since he stomped in puddles today and didn't have any extra socks to wear.

Monkey footed socks and all, I love this little boy.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Celebrate Memories

My mother's name was Christine. She was the oldest of three children. Her favorite color was orange, and her favorite place to be was the beach. She hated anything raspberry and her favorite flavor of ice cream was Moose Tracks. Her favorite drink was Southern Comfort. My mother loved being a teacher, and said her favorite grade to teach was 3rd because "they were old enough to know how to listen, and young enough to still respect you." I think I'll always remember that she kept a jar of pretzel rods in her classroom that I would raid every time I was there. My mother liked to paint, although I never saw her do it growing up. Her paintings hung in our house and at my grandparents. My mother liked to cook and bake, and loved to make cakes for people's special events. I have a box full of pictures of her creations for weddings, Court of Honors, baby showers, baptisms, communions, and birthdays. My mother was good at photography, and used to turn our bathroom into a darkroom so she could develop her own film and pictures. My father even modified an old countertop so it would fit over our bathtub so she had a place to set up the tubs for the developer, stop bath, and fixer. I still remember the smell of the developer on her hands after she'd hole up in there for hours. My mother used to clean with bleach and water, and so I remember that smell on her hands too. My mother always had cold feet, and she hated it. She was a perfectionist, and would agonize over details, just like I do.

My mother lost her mother before I was born. She liked her tea with no milk because she gave it up for me when I was nursing and couldn't handle dairy. Every equinox my mother would get up early and stand a bunch of eggs on their ends so we'd see them when we woke up in the morning. My mother wore perfume, but she usually just used scented lotion. I remember it was called Chantilly, and I'd buy her the biggest bottle they had at Macy's for her every year for Christmas. My mother loved music, and loved to sing. She could play fantastically complicated pieces on the piano even thought she insisted she had "sausage fingers" and not "piano hands." My mother taught me the harmony to "You Are My Sunshine" and we would sing it in the car together. My mother's nails never got very long, and she always admired that I could grow mine out. My mother loved animals, and always kept something in the house with us; dogs, fish, rabbits, birds, hamsters, and even let me keep a newt I found when we were camping one summer. I remember that I was convinced she could communicate with the birds especially, since they would listen to her sing around the house with rapt attention. (I remember that my father would always grumble about our pets, but was always the one bringing home the jumbo rawhides, or surprising us by fashioning screen tops for our creature enclosures.) I remember her putting our rabbits into bed with us to wake us up in the mornings.

During Lent, my mother tried in vain to get us to eat fish on Fridays, and would even buy stuff like dolphin fish and shark fillets to try and tempt us to eat it. My mother used to make liver for me to eat because I was anemic and hated taking my iron pills. She also had a rule about eating a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter for dinner if we refused to eat our meal. I remember my mother showing me that "iron fortified" cereal meant that they put iron flakes in it, by crushing the cereal up in a glass of water and stirring it with a magnet so all the iron pulled out of the food.

My mother would talk or yell through her clenched teeth when she was really angry, but she always had her "telephone voice" ready at a moments notice. I remember that my mother had a bad temper, but would work to control it by biting her own tongue. I remember she would always gripe that the car only broke down when she was wearing a white shirt. My mother liked to spin out on snowy backroads on purpose to keep her driving skills sharp, even though I screamed in terror the entire time in the backseat. And yesterday while my family was riding in the car together I was given the gift of another memory of my mother. I remember that I loved how the bumps felt in the car while I was riding in the way back, and so my mother would swerve and dip into each one while we were alone in the car together and I would rate each one on its "bumpiness."
I remember that today is my mother's birthday. And I remember that she hasn't been around to celebrate it for 14 years. The picture above is the last photo I ever took of my mother, and I like to remember that at the time I snapped it, we were both smiling.

Monday, March 1, 2010

And So It Goes

The event in review went like this. My wonderful cousin called me weeks ahead of time with the planned menu so I could contact the restaurant and find out what was safe for Scootch to eat. I made a list of everything that he could have and clipped it to the invitation.

4:15pm, the day of the party. I've fed him beforehand and packed alternatives for him to eat and drink.

7pm, the soup came. Not the same as what I remembered discussing with the party planner ahead of time, but she did assure me there was only egg products in two of the flavors they offered, and the one they served didn't look like either of them. So he enjoyed the soup.

7:30pm, the salad came, and I ordered a separate one for Scootch with only oil and vinegar on it so he could pick out and devour all the tomatoes.

8:15pm, his dinner came. A completely allergy friendly burger and fries, and he barely ate any of it. It was bedtime at this point so I didn't push it.

9pm, the cake was served. Monkey enjoyed it, but Scootch ate double stuff Oreos instead. He also consumed his entire juice cup, a glass of water, 3 cups of tea, and a glass of milk over the course of the evening.

10:30pm, I changed them into pajamas and we drove home. They managed to keep their eyes open for all of 15 minutes.

2am, Scootch wakes up crying. Daddy sucks out his nose and puts him back in bed.

2:20am, he's crying again. I recognize this cry. Pain. I stumble into their room and try to sooth him. He falls back asleep for a moment and I go into the bathroom to try and find the Mylicon.

2:30am, he's back awake, screaming. Bring him into the bathroom and give him the Mylicon. Hold him against me and rub circles on his tummy.

3:15am, he falls asleep, and the gas rumbling has tapered off. I go lay in my bed on top of the covers in my bathrobe to rest until he wakes up again.

3:45am, he's awake. More swinging and tummy cirlces. I'm rewarded with a few passes of gas and a burp. Scootch whispers to me that he has gone "poop", so I change his diaper. No poop, but very wet. He's soaked through his pajama bottoms so I change those too.

4:15am, I've spent the last half hour laying on the floor next to his crib with his throw blanket covering my feet. He has been periodically waking and whimpering, but I keep patting his back through the crib rails where I'm reaching in. More gas is passed, and he settles back down.

5:00am, I realize he's been sleeping for 45 minutes, and will probably continue to do so. I retreat back to my own bed.

9:15am, morning. They're both singing in their room about the sun and oatmeal. Time to start the day.

Did I plan beforehand? Yes.
Did he eat something not allergy friendly? The only thing I wasn't 100% on was the soup.
Did he still have an adverse reaction? Yes.
But we managed. And if the worst reaction he ever has is gas, then thank you for the gas. We'll just get through these nights one event at a time.