Teens and PA

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How's this for advice: "Become a purist" That's what my PA son's doctor told him in the ER as he was being treated for the second time in a year. He meant "eat only what you can actually identify, meat, potatoes, simple veges. Stay away from casseroles and unidentifiable food dishes or desserts." It's hard to get teens to listen.

Now he's in England, at his cousin's wedding. The caterer was given explicit instructions: NO PEANUTS or peanut products in anything. OK, plain enough and my son did the right thing and questioned the caterer himself. However, the caterer failed to identify the nuts that COVERED THE WHOLE OUTSIDE OF A CAKE as crushed peanuts! Naturally, my son AJ went right for it... purist talk right out the window. He then proceeded to do everything wrong! He didn't tell anybody, got a neighbor to drive him home (20 min. away) for "some allergy meds he needed" Took the Benedryl, and went back to the reception! He still felt ill and took more Benedryl, not his Epi pen! He threw up, and then asked the same guy to drive him home!!! On the way the man was discerning enough to see my son struggling with his breathing and took him to the ER where he had to wait 3 hours to be seen by the public health doctor. My daughter finally was notified and rushed from the reception to the ER and took charge, got him treated and notified me.

I am very upset that my son would jeopardize his own life because he "didn't want to make a big deal" How's dying at your cousin's wedding??? He said he is fine, but I don't know. I wish he were home right now. He has steroids to take, hope he is at least following that advice!

So, the point of this, besides venting, is teach your teens to advocate for themselves, not to be so shy or unimposing that they would risk everything. Teach them that, no matter what, they need to get medical attention every time and to not take matters into their own hands. This could have been so much worse!

Now the flight home...Continental!

On Sep 4, 2006

I'm so sorry to hear about your son's reaction---you must be very, very worried about him right now.

It is incredible that he had to wait for 3 hours in emerg!

Hopefully this experience will scare him into being more careful. That's what happened to me when I was in highschool--I ate something I shouldn't have and didn't seek medical attention until I was having breathing difficulties that weren't going away. I didn't have an epipen (wasn't given one by the doctor) and didn't really know *when* to seek medical attention, though. I've been extremely careful to avoid severe allergens since that day!

Edited to add: I don't know if what was going through my head was similar to your son's experience, but:

On that day, I was at a family reunion and didn't want to draw attention to myself. Also, I was in denial about the severity of the reaction . . . I was really really scared and was concerned about appearing to make too big of a deal out of it---if I said I needed to go to the hospital and then didn't end up with a swollen face and severe breathing difficulties I was afraid that I would look like I was a hypochondriac or something. I think part of it too was that I was having a difficult time remaining calm and not panicking . . . I knew that I couldn't keep the panic down if I admitted out loud that I felt that I needed to go to the hospital.

Also, I just wasn't thinking that clearly--and that is part of the reaction too. I felt detached from everything--like I was in an altered state of consciousness. My first proposed course of action: to go outside because I thought the cold (it was winter) would help me "snap out of it.") My sister, who was also having a reaction, was shocked that I would even suggest that and ran to find one of our parents. I'm not sure whether I actually would have wandered outside on my own . . . suddenly the need to get to a washroom in time (was quite nauseous) seemed more urgent than anything else.

I hope your son has a safe flight back!

[This message has been edited by LisaM (edited September 04, 2006).]

On Sep 4, 2006

DD only told me that she thought she was reacting to peanuts when she had her SECOND reaction. It wasn't a major one, BUT...!

We knew she was TNA, but she'd never had trouble with peanuts. She did give up peanuts while we waited to see the allergist, and then had to give up several other tree nuts as well.

She had a more serious reaction a while later to macadamia nuts, and after allergist confirmation, gave up all nuts.

We were out at Starbucks one night, and she ordered a cookie - the ones sitting right next to the macadamia nut one, picked up with the tongs in the cookie case.

She noticed me just kind of LOOKing at her, and shrugged. She LIKES those ginger cookies.

As her nut allergies are getting worse, we've talked and talked about this. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting through and sometimes NOT!

I made pea-butter cookies recently, and Sunbutter ones this past week. I said I liked the peabutter ones better - more like peanut butter flavour. She admitted that peanuts/ flavour scares her now.

I'm glad she feels that way, but wonder how many minor reactions she's had and not told me....

She's away this week with her boyfriend, and although I did check to make sure she had Epi and Benedryl, there wasn't much else I could do. They're staying with friends of his family, so that scares me some, not to mention the restaurants etc.

DD is 19. TNA at age 8. PA last Nov. Most of the time she thinks I'm a nag, that I'm paranoid about HER allergy. Can't help it!

On Sep 8, 2006

Bev...how is your son? Is he home yet?

On Sep 8, 2006

Thanks so much for the insight into what he could have been thinking/not thinking! I will show him this conversation and hopefully he will see that he's not alone in being embarrassed to "make a fuss." He is on his flight home now and will be back at the house tomorrow afternoon. And then it's back to school for him!

On Sep 8, 2006

One more thing, about the back to school, his school nurse called and we had a discussion about his being scared of the Epi-Pen. She was so firm that he will be given it if he needs it, no matter if he's scared or not. She said it doesn't matter if he's a senior or whatever, it's non-negotiable! It's wonderful to have the school's support. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

On Sep 8, 2006


your son might also be interested in reading the interview with 6 allergic teens conducted by AllergicLiving. They are much more comfortable with speaking up than I was at their age:


Let us know when your son arrives home safe and sound!

On Sep 20, 2006

That site is great! I never knew about it. Thanks so much for sharing it with me and my son. He is home and no further problems. I think the whole thing was more worrisome to me than him...ignorance is bliss (can be deadly). But we have been able to have some good discussions about this whole thing and perhaps it won't happen again. Or if it does, he can know how to better handle it. Thanks again for your good advice and just being there. BEV

On Sep 20, 2006

I read this post initially when I was in a hurry but then I couldn't find it later to respond.

I have a relatively loose comfort zone compared to a lot of people here. I do go out and eat baked goods and frequent a lot of restaurants others wouldn't dream of going to.

But I'll let you know my #1 PA rule, and you should pass it on to your son. [b]If something looks like a nut, smells like a nut, or is something that a person might want to sneak a nut into, if you cannot read the ingredients yourself, DO NOT EAT IT.[/b]. Of course, this excludes if you make whatever it is yourself from scratch. This *does* include crushed up graham cracker topping, pie crusts, muffins, chili, cookies, etc.

The whole "purist" idea is good in theory, but in practice by a teen boy, it can have very serious loopholes. Lots of people like to cook almonds in their green beans, for example. Green beans would seem to be a "pure" thing, but not always. Same goes with the meat and potatoes. People bread things, put sauce on things, that might not be safe. Chili seems relatively harmless, but a lot of people use peanut butter in chili sometimes to thicken it up. Heck, they posted on here a few months ago that a company was introducing a peanut butter-filled hot dog, and you can't get much purer than a hot dog.

I understand that it can be pretty embarrassing to make a fuss about ingredients around other people. It's hard when you're a person who doesn't want to draw attention. I've gotten really suave with flipping over packages and reading the ingredients, so most people don't even realize that I'm doing it. When you're at a catered event, it's pretty easy to sneak into the kitchen or off with a waiter to question the staff and read ingredients without anyone noticing.

Also, as your son is aware, a guarentee there's no nuts somewhere doesn't actually mean there aren't any. So if anything looks questionable and you're not comfortable, it helps to act like you're asking because you've never seen that particular dish before. Aka, squinting, getting a confused face, and asking, "What is this?" "what's in this?" to the other people at the table.

This approach works well for the shy PA people since you're not directly stating your allergy, and younger PA people since people aren't likely to look at you like you're crazy for not knowing what you're being served. Because either they will tell you straight out if it is a nut (in which case you don't have to ask the waitstaff again about it and just not eat it), or they will tell you it's something else (in which case you can excuse yourself for the bathroom and take a trip to the kitchen to double check). This is usually the route I take in that kind of situation. It can actually help you out in a social situation, especially if no one else knows what it is either, then you all can ask the wait staff together and you'll have made a few friends.

I'm glad your son turned out okay, and I hope he does okay on his flight home and that this experience will help him avoid more reactions.