De-Lurking in KC - Meet Our Family

Posted on: Sun, 08/27/2006 - 2:58pm
April in KC's picture
Joined: 08/28/2006 - 09:00


I've been reading the board for a few weeks and decided to de-lurk. My name is April, and my husband and I have three under the age of six, including a PA kindergartner who had his first accidental ingestion and anaphylaxis this past spring at his peanut-free table at preschool...four hours and two doses of epi later, this suddenly became a much bigger deal to us. We've known about his PA since he was about a year old, when DS's mom fed him a Ritz Bits cracker while babysitting. We decided to keep our house peanut-free, and managed not to have any ingestions during the 3+ years between discovery and preschool. We did have some contact reactions and hives while out and about, unfortunately.

I am so thankful to have found this site. I find information here I can't find anywhere else. I like the humor, too.

I live near Kansas City and have noticed that there are a few others from the area. I'm looking forward to connecting sometime.


April in KC

Mom to Three
DS#1, 5 - PA
DS#2, 2 - Avoiding Peanut
DS#3, infant - I'm Avoiding Peanut for him!

[This message has been edited by April in KC (edited August 28, 2006).]

Posted on: Mon, 08/28/2006 - 5:05am
Adele's picture
Joined: 01/31/2005 - 09:00

Hi April,
Glad you've joined us!
I'm curious about the reaction your DS had at a peanut-free table in pre-school. If you don't mind me asking, how did it happen?
Welcome to the boards!

Posted on: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 3:25pm
April in KC's picture
Joined: 08/28/2006 - 09:00

Adele, I was thinking I should probably write up a longer version of my son's preschool reaction for the Reactions/Stories forum, because there's a lot of take-away learning in it, especially for parents who are new to PA or have babies / toddlers who have had only minor reactions.
Prior to preschool, even though we kept our home peanut-free, Nate had experienced some milder reactions while out and about. Birdseed at his grandparents' house. "Peanut Days" sale at an Orschelen's supplies store (walked in only to find peanut shells all over the floor--eek!). Mystery reaction while at the Rainforest Cafe (didn't eat much--possibly airborne). Face splotches while at my girlfriend's house (ate food from home, but her kids occasionally eat peanuts as snacks). All of these prior reactions ranged from face splotches to hives. The Orschelen's reaction involved itchy hives up both legs.
When Nate started preschool, we fretted because Nate was their first allergic kid to carry an EpiPen. Still, they were willing to tackle the topic. We talked to the teaches and administrator before school. We gave them the EpiPen demonstration. We prepared a box of backup medications and two-page document with his photo, symptoms to look for, and what to do in specific situations--highlighting when to call parents, when to use Epi and call 911, etc. We packed his lunch. Foolishly, we allowed him to eat classroom snacks--but the policy sounded so good! The school divided his class into two zones, one peanut-free and the other not. The same kids ate at the same tables each day. The school sent home a letter about the allergy and a list of suggested snacks. Supposedly the teacher was screening everything. We sent in a bag of extra snacks just in case anyone ever brought in something homemade, or they just weren't sure. Supposedly, everyone knew about the allergy.
His teacher taught the kids about the allergy. She was...well, we thought she was great...
One day, close to Easter (how ignorant we were!), an aide visited the class. This aide was a "story-telling lady" who came about twice each month. Apparently, she brought the kids Easter candies. They were small (1 inch size) Nestle egg-shaped chocolates. They gave each kid two eggs. Nate ate his at his peanut-free table. [He's a very smart and articulate 5-year-old, so that's why I know exactly what happened.] He ate some or all of one egg, and he said that he got very scared. [I presume, the "imminent doom" feeling that accompanies anaphylaxis.] He said that he started crying, and he asked his TEACHER (not the aide, mind you) if the candy contained peanuts. His teacher later told us, with great contrition in her voice, that she assured Nate that there were no peanuts in the candy--but without ever checking the label! He said that he announced to her and the rest of the class that he thought there were, and that he wasn't going to eat the other egg. He didn't touch any food for the rest of the day. He told his second teacher (the older helper in his classroom) that his mouth hurt. She fixed him a glass of water. They finished their activity and switched to naptime. He then told his first teacher that his stomach hurt, and he told me later that he was starting to scratch his neck by this time. For an hour, the teacher held him and rubbed his back while he complained of stomach upset and scratched his neck and back. He said that he re-raised the possibility of having eaten candy with peanuts in it--incredible!! When his grandfather arrived to pick him up (the usual routine), they handed Nate over to him, fully flushed, and told them that he wasn't feeling too well & might be getting sick. The drive home was 1/2 an hour. Grandpa started getting worried in the car when he saw how much Nate was scratching, tearing his clothes off, plus Nate said his heartbeat felt funny and fast. Grandpa started calling ahead to Grandma, who met him, assessed the situation, and knew it was an allergic reaction. She said he was just one big hive at this point. She gave a dose of Benadryl and then called ahead & took him to the doctor's office where she worked, which was just 2 minutes away. There, a nurse administered the first dose of Epi (via regular injection, not the EpiPen). Grandma had called us as she was preparing to take him to the doctor's office. Dad/DH was at 40 minutes away, and I was at an obstetrician's visit an hour away. Crazy! Dad/DH met them at the doctor's office in record time. Nate started to feel a bit better and they released him (now seeing this as a mistake). He got home and started vomiting violently. DH called ahead to the ER (2 minutes away), and the same doctor (concerned) met them back at the ER. DH said that Nate vomited through mouth and nose, he was limp and unresponsive, and his lips were turning blue. In the ER, they gave him an aerosolized mixture of epinephrine and albuterol, plus steroids. He improved and came home a second time. I was home by this time. Nate looked like he'd been through a wreck. He was lazy-eyed and limp. His skin was "so much better" and yet still was one big pink splotch. His eyelids drooped, and he had a dry heave while sitting with me. Luckily, the worst had passed. I know now that we should have had him under observation. The incident took a huge toll on him and on us. His trust in his teacher and others was greatly damaged. The next day, I tried to give him time and space to tell me about it at his own rate. He broke my heart and also made me proud when he said, "You know, mom, there's a bad thing and a good thing about dying. The bad thing is that, when you're dying, it hurts a lot. The good thing is that, when you die, you don't really die. You get to go to heaven." How do you as a parent cope with a world where your 5-year-old has to think about this? The school called, concerned, and I had to talk through my own shaking, because my husband's anger was still visceral at this point. The teacher said that she had returned to school later that night and had combed through the trash to find the candy wrapper. Sure enough, "crushed peanuts" were an ingredient in the candy egg. We loved the teacher. We knew that mistakes are human, and yet we were so angry and disappointed at so many were we not called at so many points along the way? Nate ate the candy more than an hour and a half before being picked up that day. He demonstrated a lot of sick symptoms for a very long time for no one to have called us.
More important than our anger with the teacher, we were angry with ourselves for foolishly trusting that someone else would and could protect our kid.
This is more than you asked, and also much less than I can tell about the incident. It has changed everything about the way DH and I approach this allergy, and we thought we were pretty careful before. Everyone and I mean everyone in the story, ourselves included, botched a number of things. The thing is, Nate can't afford to be our training exercise. We're trying to get it right for him.

Posted on: Wed, 08/30/2006 - 10:30pm
mommyofmatt's picture
Joined: 03/12/2004 - 09:00

Thank you for sharing your story April and welcome to the boards! My ds is in preschool now, and your story definitely hit home. I'm beyond glad everything turned out alright for him.
Unfortunately, many of us learn how serious the allergy is and how mistakes happen by actually having an anaphylactic reaction. You're not alone in that experience.
This board is an amazing source of information, I'm glad you found us, and again thank you for sharing your story so others can learn from it! It's vitally important that we do this when a mistake could save another child's life. Meg

Posted on: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 12:18am
dulcinea's picture
Joined: 08/11/2006 - 09:00

April: I, too, have been a lurker here for a few weeks now. But I'm sitting here at work reading your story, crying and trembling. Thank you so much for sharing this! If you don't mind, I'm going to print out your story and share it with my son's teachers.
Lucas started preschool on Tuesday. The teachers assured me that the school is nut-free, and there is another child in his class who is also allergic to peanuts. I asked about snacks, and they said they usually give Goldfish or Teddy Grahams. I feel that they are pretty aware and very nice, but not 100% sure that they "get it". The first day drop-off was chaos. Kids everywhere throwing tantrums, screaming for their mothers. Lucas was fine, but I surely don't see how they got anyone to wash his/her hands upon arrival!
Thank God your son made it through, but it is sad, isn't it, that our little ones have to be concerned about this.
Kim in the Chicago area
Lucas (3.5 - allergic to peanuts and eggs)
Gabriel (1.5 - no exposure to peanuts yet)

Posted on: Thu, 08/31/2006 - 1:07am
April in KC's picture
Joined: 08/28/2006 - 09:00

Thanks, both.
Dulcinea, welcome! Sure, you can use any parts of the story that are helpful. Do consider that it might intimidate them to read about a parent's anger with a teacher for making a mistake. Part of our takeaway was that we would never make a teacher responsible for deciding what goes in our son's mouth. If it doesn't come from home, it doesn't go in. (We provide a huge bag of snacks for this purpose.) He also brings his own water bottle and juice. We know people are human. The teachers appreciate the simplicity of the "don't feed my kid" approach. I ordered some buttons off that say "Don't feed me - I have a peanut allergy." We encourage the school to move them from his bag to his shirt if there's going to be a sub. Plus, they have a designated sub for his teacher who attended our parent conference at the beginning of the year and knows how to use the Epi.
I think it's perfect if there are two levels of protection. One the parent provides by packing the child's foods. The other the school provides by reducing risks of residue, etc., and getting educated on the symptoms and use of Epipen.

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2006 - 12:32am
saknjmom's picture
Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

April, your story just breaks my heart. After tears, anger welled up in many times are ADULTS who are supposed to be watching our children, going to IGNORE symptoms of illness and or allergic reactions?
It is bad enough when one of our children has a reaction or is sick. Just heartbreaking when those who care for them don't listen and continue to ignore warning signs.
Just like the first grader who died at school this week, just like so many kids who have died because ADULTS didn't take the time to care for them properly or even reasonably.
It just makes me so angry to read a post like this.
I hope your child continues to be reaction free and that you can find help and support here.

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2006 - 4:07am
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

i am in missouri...sort of close. i live near joplin. everyone else always seems so far away so it's good to see someone from my "area."

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2006 - 5:14am
April in KC's picture
Joined: 08/28/2006 - 09:00

Thanks, saknjmom and joeybeth. This board is an incredible asset to allergic people (and their parents). Joeybeth, hi from another Show-Me-Stater!

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2006 - 5:45am
saknjmom's picture
Joined: 04/02/2003 - 09:00

joeybeth & april...
I went to college in Columbia, MO...I love KC. My college boyfriend's father lived near the Plaza and I had so much fun there on weekends!!! I'm jealous, I wish I could live there again!
Take care!!!

Posted on: Fri, 09/01/2006 - 12:49pm
joeybeth's picture
Joined: 09/01/2006 - 09:00

i went to college at univ. of missouri-columbia. now that i'm a stay at home mom, i wish i had studied less and had more fun. [img][/img]


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