It Takes A village...
Fellow daycare parents:
I know the looks you give and the feelings you feel. In a past life – I was that parent too. When my son was in Kindergarten, we received a letter about the room being a “peanut aware” classroom so we had to refrain from bringing anything peanut. I remember feeling angry/annoyed and thinking “So my kid needs to suffer because some other kid has a stupid allergy?” but I still followed the rules.
Fast forward 9 years. A sweet bundle of joy arrived. At about 3 months of age, we started noticing hives developing randomly. Sometimes when we would lotion her after bath, sometimes after eating baby cereal. I also noticed she had what seemed a constant cold for about 3 months. All in all, it had no rhyme or reason really so I couldn’t pinpoint what was going on. One day (actually sitting at pizza barn eating supper) it clicked. SHE IS ALLERGIC TO DAIRY! So, I put a dab of cottage cheese “juice” on her cheek and sure enough - hives. When she was clinically diagnosed – I cried. As you know, there is no cure unless your body outgrows it.
Then the learning curve happened at our house. For example, did you know that if you cut a piece of cheese, and then cut a banana with the same knife – my daughter will break out in hives if she eats the
banana? Or if a child is drinking milk and bites my daughter shortly after, she will break out in hives? Or that a picnic table at a public facility has to be wiped down or she can break out in hives? How about her washing her hands in a sink where someone previously used it with “cheesy fingers?” The faucet is now contaminated and her hands break out in hives. Stupid right? But it’s not just hives, they HURT and they ITCH and then we have to Benadryl her which makes her sleepy and hallucinate. It’s not fair.
We also discovered there is such a thing as “biphasic anaphylaxis.” That means that some kids have a second reaction (thus two epi pens) and if you have a history of it you’re more likely to have it in the future. Guess what my daughter has? You guessed it. Biphasic anaphylaxis. So 24 hours later her throat
closes AGAIN from the first reaction.
I remember still vividly in October, when my daughter was hospitalized. We still cannot pinpoint for sure
but it was most likely a food reaction. She got so sick for days and she eventually gave up eating. No fluids would stay in her poor little body. We ended up at Children’s, and along with two bags of IV fluids – she also needed glucose. Her blood sugar levels were down to 47 – which is about where your brain shuts down because there is not enough glucose to function properly and you end up in a coma. Yep. From a food allergy folks.
I would give ANYTHING for her to not have food allergies. She knows that certain things are “owies” and
that she has to ask mommy before she can eat anything. She also knows to advocate for herself by telling other people and kids not to touch her with their cheesy fingers. But it’s flawed. She is 3. And she so desperately sometimes wants to eat “normal food” like mac and cheese and pizza and string cheese.
So why am I telling you all of this? Because I need your help.
Here’s what you need to know. Her allergist had informed us how severe allergic reactions are so much more than just your throat closing like we all imagine it to be, and I wanted fellow daycare parents to be informed. Symptoms include hives, swelling, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, anaphylaxis, and rash. My daughter has had all of the above. The first time her throat closed, she drank out of a cup with cow’s milk. She started coughing (her throat was actually closing) then she looked pale and vomited so many times in such a short amount of time it was horrifying. Her hives in her mouth and her face closed her up and the wheezing started. That was by far the scariest moment of my life. What I have learned since is that the sooner you give epinephrine, the faster they recover from all symptoms and the longer you hold off, the more damage is caused to their little bodies so the faster you Epi them the better. I also wanted you to know that when letters are sent home from the daycare facility about bringing “safe treats,” it’s not because we want to make everyone’s life miserable. Seriously. I love chocolate too. It’s because it helps keeps my daughter safe. And when you to bring in treats that do not follow the regulations: now my daughter is home, I am missing work and income, because she is vomiting still, hours later.
For the parents who listened – even if it was with a crabby attitude like myself years before.. THANK YOU. There are few places I can take my daughter. Knowing she is safe in her home and her daycare are about the only places I can try to control. My daughter’s life is literally in your hands. This is real stuff folks. Her allergy albeit unwanted is real and it can and WILL kill her if something happens. The saying “it takes a village” is more applicable than what one might think. My daughter NEEDS your help and cooperation in order to simply stay alive. Thank you for listening and understanding.
~Contributed by a Bright Child parent