Aw, Nuts

Hey all – I am so excited to have my amazing friend Kim posting on the blog today about her sweet daughter’s nut allergy. I know so many of you can relate, and I hope you find some comfort and solidarity in Kim’s story!

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I need to apologize. I plead ignorance, but that isn’t good enough. I’m sorry that I didn’t take your child’s food allergies seriously. I’m not going to make any excuses, I’m writing this in hopes that others, who aren’t affected, or who just aren’t affected yet, may realize that it IS a big deal. And it can happen to anyone.

My husband and I grew up rural. And when I say rural I mean it. Less than 200 people populate my home town. His was slightly larger, but he grew up the same way. Farm kids didn’t have food allergies. Or any allergies to speak of. We had dogs and cats and we ate dirt and played in cow paddies. We ate blackberries off the vine. Bees stung us. We lived in hay fields in the grass seed capital of the world. Or the US. Or something like that anyway. Our kids would be just like us. We have good genes.

WRONG. A week ago my three year old was diagnosed with a tree nut allergy. Today I picked up her epi pens. Have you seen an epi pen? I hadn’t. They look similar to the insulin auto injectors my diabetic father uses. For my three year old. My three year old has to travel with pens full of medicine that may potentially save her life. My three year old.

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Talk about feeling helpless. Talk about mom guilt. It took us three years to realize that this might be a nut allergy. She could have died because we assumed our kids wouldn’t have allergies. It didn’t happen how it was supposed to. She didn’t have difficulty breathing. She didn’t have hives or swelling. She just threw up. For a kid who never got sick it was unusual. So we avoided walnuts for a while after the first instance. Maybe she is sensitive. Then we forgot to warn people and she had banana nut bread at a relative’s house and threw up again. We had been eating Oat Nut bread for YEARS with no issues then one day she had two bites and threw up. She ate a raw cashew and immediately threw up everything she had eaten that day. This time she complained that her throat felt funny. So I called and made an appointment. They stabbed her nine times in the back with a little plastic toothpick while I held her in my arms, and now we carry epi pens. Now we have to train everyone she spends time with how to use them. We have to explain what foods are the most dangerous. A week ago I didn’t read food labels. Today I read them all. Today I worry that a nut is going to kill my child. Is that dramatic? Probably. In a world where our children practice active shooter drills at school. When you can’t watch the local news without hearing a story about pedophiles, child abuse, or bullying. Or the trifecta. Now I have to protect my kid from nuts too. WORRYING IS A FULLTIME JOB, Y’ALL!

I’m sorry I didn’t take your child’s nut allergy seriously. I’m sorry I once shared a meme that downplayed the risk of bringing a peanut butter sandwich to school. I’m sorry you have to worry about this too. I’m sorry you have to carry an epi pen. I’m sorry there are assholes out there that don’t give a shit because they don’t understand. Now I do.

K. Voelz

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