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August 13, 2012

Hello, Anaphylaxis. How Unpleasant to Meet You.

I was just about to post an update on Jacob’s food allergies, after our visit to the allergist two weeks ago. Instead, here’s the short version: At that visit, we did another skin test (the first was almost exactly a year ago), which confirmed that Jacob is not allergic to wheat, but is allergic to dairy, eggs (mostly whites, but yolks too), peanuts, hazelnuts (and thus likely birch trees) but not walnuts (and perhaps other tree nuts we didn’t test for as well), and codfish. Yes, it is that complicated. But it gets better. Or worse, depending on how you look at it.


I woke up Sunday morning when John told me Jacob was not responding to Benadryl for his hives and was also coughing to the point that he was having some difficulty breathing. It had only been five or ten minutes, but by fifteen, we knew we needed to make some calls: pediatrician, allergist, and 9-1-1.


What followed was a slew of firsts: Jacob’s first epinephrine injection, Jacob’s first ambulance ride, and our first four hours spent observing our little man in a hospital. He is fine, it seems, but we really don’t know what caused the reaction.


It is a strange thing, being the parent in an emergency situation. We didn’t realize how wound up we’d become until things settled down and all three of us wanted to crash. (It was a comfortable space, until you wanted to sleep!) Part of me wanted to freak out at the start, but a stronger part stayed calm, knowing that we needed to communicate information, snuggle Jacob, and maintain the coolness the medical folks had. If they weren’t freaking out, maybe we didn’t need to freak out. At one point, I realized I might have watched too much ER back in the day. Good show, but a little unrealistic.


What a morning. There is nothing like seeing your baby cough like that. Nothing like seeing his skin bubbly and red all over. There’s also nothing like seeing him come back to himself, singing, bouncing, housing a container of Froot Loops.


A year ago we’d just learned that Jacob had food allergies. We’ve learned a lot about how to deal with them in a variety of situations. Again we see we have more to learn, and honestly, I’m not sure where to start.


I do know that I’m grateful we have one of the best allergists in the city, a good hospital nearby, and the insurance and resources not to have to worry about the costs of treating and better understanding our little man’s system. I am grateful for all those who have done research on food allergies and dedicate their lives to these fickle and sometimes unpredictable conditions. I am grateful that Jacob stays with me during the day, and I don’t need to worry yet about how to leave him in a setting with other young children. I am grateful our first experience with anaphylaxis happened when both John and I were home and had no big plans for the day.


In my experience, gratitude is always a good place to start.

  1. Alexandra says:

    Oh man! Just what you needed, right? I’m glad he’s ok. And maybe he at least enjoyed the ambulance? I think Peter would whole-heartedly fling himself down a flight of stairs if he realized he might get an ambulance ride out of it. Miss you guys!

  2. Cindy says:

    I hope he’s feeling ok! Don’t be alarmed if he seems a little out of it for a few days or if some of the foods he can usually eat start making him cranky. The allergic reaction can last in his system for a few days (usually 3, sometimes with me it’s been a week).

    The gratitude you feel is so powerful. That’s what will keep you all going, and will encourage to remain strong. I always feel so lucky when I make it through bad reactions and whatnot – because there is an alternative, and thank God that has never happened. You are given the tools to deal with any adversity that is thrown your way. I believe God builds us with hidden strengths to overcome our obstacles, and as long as you are grateful for those tools, you will be able to make it through.

    I hope he feels better! Let me know if you need anything — obviously from across the country, but you never know 🙂

  3. Kristin says:

    Allergies are terrifying!! I’m so sorry Jacob had such a strong reaction and I’ll keep you all in my prayers!

  4. Oh man, those initiating experiences are just no fun at all! Well, I guess it’s never fun, but that first time is always hard. So glad that he’s ok!

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