At his next checkup, I asked the pediatrician about it and he told me that some kids are sensative to peanut butter and it is best to hold off on introducing it until he is three or four years old. He said that if kids eat peanut butter too early then this can cause them to potentially be allergic. Another year past and I was curious, so I decided to give Evan (who was now two) a small lick of peanut butter. He took the smallest lick and did not want anymore because he didn't like it at all. Shortly after, he appeared to be scratching the back of his throat. I do not recommend doing this. At the time, I had absolutely no knowledge regarding food allergies. I had no idea that this little lick could have put my son in a life threatening situation. Luckily for me and my family that didn't happen. I informed my pediatrician and he again told me to hold off until Evan turned three or four to reintroduce him to peanut butter. So going forward, I just made sure that everyone around Evan knew that he may have sensitivity to peanut butter and to not give him any. I still didn't think he was allergic, and the doctor made it seem like he wasn't going to be as long as I kept him away from it for a while. So we never knowingly gave it to him again.
In July 2010, my family and I relocated from Illinois back to Michigan. I found a new pediatrician and after hearing Evan's background, she suggested that we schedule an appointment with an allergist and have him tested for a peanut allergy. On March 7, 2011 my husband and I took Evan to the allergist for skin testing. The testing included indoor, outdoor, pet and some food allergies. The skin test was done on his back quickly and almost immediately it became bright and red. Around this time, I was also starting to learn a little more about the allergy and the sight of his back made me quite anxious and worried. I was still in denial about him being allergic and didn't want to believe that he was. However, the doctor confirmed that he was highly allergic to peanuts. Their allergy testing scale ranges from 1 to 4 and he tested a 4 for the peanuts. He was also tested at level 2 for almonds. Although my son was not tested for all nuts, the doctor advised me to just keep him away from them. He had been poked way too many times that day. The allergist was very kind and gave me a ton of information to take home. It was a bit overwhelming and very hard to digest. When she gave me the Epi-Pen tester and video, this was a major eye opener to me and something I wasn't expecting. Once I wrapped my head around all of this and digested the information, I decided to embrace this allergy and educate myself and my family.
Looking back, I now recall instances that I am pretty sure were the result of peanut exposure. There is one particular time in Michigan that I remember at the grocery store. My parents were in town visiting and they joined me and the boys. I asked my father to get a cookie for the boys from the bakery. This was something that we always did before I found out about his peanut allergy. I didn't realize it right away, but the lady behind the bakery counter had given my father two peanut butter cookies for each boy. Evan took one bite and immediately told me that he didn't like it. When I realized what kind it was, I went back to the bakery and asked for a new one. I explained to her that we are trying to stay away from peanut butter just in case he is allergic. She was nice and gave them each another one, but I was kind of surprised that they were even handing out peanut butter cookies. Usually they are sugar or chocolate chip. As we finished up the grocery shopping, I remember Evan becoming extremely moody and crying off and on. I was getting aggravated with his behavior and decided to take him into the restroom. He then threw up all over the place. I never once thought that it could be from the cookie. I just thought he was sick or something.
There have also been other times when I thought Evan was exposed. His eyes have swelled up a few times and I now believe it was from my husband and me eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches around him. When it first happened, and Evan was only 18 months old and his eye was swollen shut and he was very upset. It was on a weekend so I remember calling my pediatrician's on-call number and asking him what to do. The doctor said that it was most likely a bug bite and told us to give him Benadryl. He was fine after that, but it did happen two other times before he turned three. Needless to say, we are now a peanut and nut free house.
If you can share your story, I would greatly appreciate it. If a parent of a non-allergic child views this blog then your story may show them how difficult and severe food allergies can be. It is also great for all of us to read these stories and be able to relate to each other. Some of your stories may be a little scarier or severe than others, but we all have one thing in common and that is the fact that we constantly worry about our child eating something that could potentially be life threatening.
Please share your story in the comments section below.