Scary Parenting Lessons I Learned with Food Allergy Scare

Yesterday, I learned three valuable parenting lessons from a very scary situation that put us in the ER last night.  Those lessons are:

1.  Listen to my inner voice

2.  Listen to my kid

3.  Slow down

My daughter is very allergic to cashew nuts.  We first learned this when she tried a few at 3 years old and ended up sporting swollen lips and wearing head to toe hives.

The next episode didn’t happen until 7 years later and I had hoped that she had outgrown this pesky allergy. After repeatedly telling friends who had her in their care about her cashew allergy and then sending them off with an emergency bag that contained an Epi Pen and Benedryl, she was exposed to cashews while in my care.  We tasted a cupcake at a local restaurant.  A cupcake that I assumed that she had enjoyed before at the same place.  I failed to ask what was in the cupcake and within minutes we were rushing to Urgent Care to receive treatment.  Sure enough, the cupcake contained pureed cashews in the frosting.  I thought that I had learned my lesson.

Almost a year to the day later, it happened again yesterday and again, under my care.  This time the situation was a little different.  I had ordered a pizza for myself at a local cafe that makes amazing and very healthy fare. My girl was not with me.  I did read the ingredients before ordering because I was curious about what would be on this healthy pizza. I thoroughly enjoyed half of the personal sized pizza, placed the rest in a to go container and rushed off to get my girl from school.

She entered the car quite hungry and admitted to me that she had skipped lunch because she hadn’t felt hungry at that time.  My motherly instinct was to feed this kid fast and when she smelled the yummy leftover pizza, I was thrilled that she wanted to try something healthy, so I offered her a few bites.  I will never ever forget her next question.  She asked me if the food was safe for her to eat.  Why I ignored that little inner voice that told me that I hadn’t asked to be sure, I will never know.  I told her it was pizza, so of course it didn’t have cashews in it and that I had read the ingredients at the eatery, but I had not asked to double check!!  Well, darn me darn me….she ate a few bites and within minutes, she fearfully told me that she didn’t feel right.

At first, I didn’t feel a sense of urgency as I thought maybe it was the spice or the onions that were making her lips feel weird.  She didn’t have hives and she didn’t look like she was in distress, but she told me that I had to listen to her because she was listening to her body and it wasn’t right.  She was also starting to cry and that broke my heart.  Thank goodness I then decided to listen to my kid and follow her instincts to get her to the ER.  I gave her Benedryl, pulled out our Epi Pen and off we went.

When an emergency room thinks that a food allergy is suspected, they don’t mess around and they take you right in.  The doctor confirmed that her lips and tongue were swelling and immediately pierced her leg with the Epi Pen and started an IV with saline, followed by more Benedryl and then steroids.  treatmentAs this was all happening, I reached the restaurant by phone and confirmed that cashews were indeed an ingredient in the pesto pizza sauce.  I tearfully told the doctor that I had once again exposed my own child to her enemy food and her response was first and foremost that my girl would be OK, that she was out of the woods and that I did the absolute correct thing by listening to her and bringing her right in.  She also told me to go easy on myself and just to be super diligent from now on about checking labels, asking questions and think twice about frosting and sauces. [Read more…]