Wednesday, June 12, 2013

State of the Union: food allergies

A few weeks ago Peter had an allergic reaction while I was driving on the 405 freeway. In case you are wondering, the freeway is NOT a good place to have an allergic reaction. I pulled off at the nearest exit, hyperventilated through a traffic light while my child was screaming "MY LIPS MY LIPS MY LIPS ARE ALL WRONG MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MAKE IT STOP."  I pulled into a parking lot, pulled out the Epi Pen, but Peter got even more wound up at the sight of the EpiPen and we were engaged in hand to hand combat, so I gave him Benadryl.  Luckily, within a few minutes the swelling went down, we turned around and drove to our pediatrician, and everything was fine.

I was an idiot.  A fracking idiot, and I am lucky my child is still alive.  What I should have done was pull over on the side of the freeway and jammed the EpiPen in my kid's leg, regardless of his feelings on the matter.  

I didn't use the EpiPen because I was scared, and I don't want this to be a part of my life. I don't want my child to have a life-threatening medical condition. I don't want to deal with this three times a day.  I have EpiPens planted strategically all over the house and my purse and my first thought in a situation where it was needed was "NO NO NO."  I didn't use it because if I did use then I have to call 911 and that means shit is serious.  And I don't want serious shit to be happening to MY KID.

That was dumb.  Next time I will use the EpiPen.  This time I realized that serious shit can and will happen to my kid and it is my job to stop it from happening or getting worse, not give it leeway with my dumb-assery.


It is scary to think that whatever you food you allow your child to eat might kill them.  Eating is a thrice-daily Russian roulette.  I try very hard not to communicate that thought to my child.


As a result of that incident, we discovered that Peter has developed a few new allergies.  Oranges and food dye.

Food dye.

Do you know what food dye is in?



I may have said this before, but I recently re-read the Little House on the Prairie series, and my impression was that it was seven books of They Make The Food.  Ninety five percent of the books is about caring for the animals about to be food, slaughtering the animals for the food, skinning and curing and preparing the food for long-term storage, getting up a 4 am to put the bread on, soaking beans overnight, and so on and so forth.  I guess that's what you have to do when you can't go to the grocery and buy food out of a box.

Guess what I do with my days now?  That's right, I Make The Food.  We never take Peter out to eat.   Peter does not eat any commercially prepared sweets, ice cream, or bakery-fresh bread.  The new rule is that if it comes out of a box or plastic container, Peter probably can't have it.

Peter and I were discussing this tonight, and Peter came to the horrible realization that Halloween is going to suck this year.  OMG this broke my heart.  In previous years I have operated a trade-in program, so that everything he gets he can trade in for safe nut-free candy, but since he can no longer have food dye, nearly all candy will be off limits.  I promised that we would get a cookbook for making our own candy this week. What did Laura Ingalls eat? Hoarhound candy? If it was good in 1896, we'll probably give it a try.

I just bought canning supplies.

Making The Food is how I spend a really large portion of my day.


This food dye allergy has really been a kick in the teeth for me.  It seems like for the past few years, every few months we get some bad news about some special need for one of my kids (not just Peter), and then I wig out and cry and then we adjust and then that bad news is our new normal.  We learn to live without whatever item and we learn to deal, and then something else happens, and the circle of acceptable food gets smaller, and then we learn to do without that, and then we start this all over again.

The food dye allergy skipped a few rungs on that circle.  It is now easier to put in a box what Peter can eat rather than what he can't.

I kind of lost my mind over this one.  Just a little bit. I hesitate to say my fears aloud, as if I am daring the universe to make them come true.

I will stop crying, dust myself off, adjust to the new normal, and carry on.  I will be a card-carrying hippie who ferments her own kombucha and raises chickens in the backyard (technically against our HOA but you get the idea).  I try to make Peter's life as normal as possible with as wide a variety of food as possible, all of it made with my own two hands. Soon I will be slaughtering my own goats and curing my own sausages.

Side benefit: we eat crazy healthy! Tons of vegetables! We should be way skinnier.

My sister sent this to me a while back, and it made me laugh.  This is us, pretty much.  Between Peter's food allergies and my own food allergies, we need a Venn diagram to make dinner.  Invite us over!

image via Huffington Post


  1. You and your son are incredibly lucky that you are all Ok. I hope it hasn't scared you too much.
    I read a terrific food blog called stone soup that has some great healthy recipes that are really quick to make and generally uses just 5 ingredients for most recipes. The author caters for all types of allergies and suggests alternatives so you can make it nut free , gluten free, etc etc - it's worth having a look at and I hope it can save you some time
    Kind Regards

  2. I'm so sorry that you guys are going through this. I'll keep your family in my prayers.

  3. So scary. I might have done the same thing with the Benadryl. The thought of using our epipen scares me so much! Even though I know it's necessary!

    I have a related question. How do you deal w/ bringing him to a birthday party or a friend's house? I don't really feel comfortable leaving Ren b/c what if the parent doesn't use the epipen when it's needed! (Even though Ren has fewer allergies than your son does and we've never had to use the epipen so far.)

  4. thanks guys. Rita, I hadn't heard of that blog, I'll check it out.

    Becky, we bake a separate treat for him (I let him pick, its usually brownies or a cupcake) and take that with us. I usually bring him something to eat, like homemade pizza (so he is eating the same stuff everyone else is eating). He is five, and I have *never* dropped him off with anyone and left. I think I can still get away with that for a few more years. (I have a sitter that we trust, and I'll leave him with family, but I've never left him at anyone else's house.)

  5. You've been on my mind a lot after reading this post. I'm so, so sorry that you have to live with this fear & anxiety on a daily basis. One could argue that all parents do, but yours is a much, much more major daily part of your life.

    Lily's friend, also 11, has some pretty severe food/nut allergies (don't think food dye is one, though). If it makes you feel hopeful, the girl is very aware of what she can & can't eat...and does get to go on sleepovers and such. (With very closely vetted friends). Good luck with the canning (!) and glad to see your sense of humor seems intact through it all. :)


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