You Know You’re Right

I love being right.  I love vindication.  However, there are times that I wished my 6th-sense mommy intuition was wrong.

At Miriam’s daycare, parents send food/snacks for their children until they are roughly 1.5 years old.  I am not an organic/clean food sort of consumer/parent, so practically none of the food that I sent to the daycare was ever made by me or Bryan.  Well, I guess all of that breastmilk that I sent was organic and took a lot of dedication to produce but solid foods were basically whatever looked good in the baby food aisle.

Miriam was running low on snacks at the daycare, so I quickly ran out to the store to pick up baby friendly food.  She was almost 1 year old, and we were giving her “big girl” food like fruit bars.  As I hurried up and down the aisle, I came upon “Jammy Sammy” bars.  It was cushioned between other baby foods that were “organic”, so I quickly put the snack in my cart, comforted by the “organic” label.

Big Mistake….

Fast-forward a few days (maybe a week) later…  I received a call from the daycare explaining that during snack-time Miriam  vomited “violently”, was crying, and breaking out in a rash.  I was then asked why I sent something with peanuts to the daycare.  “WHAT – I DIDN’T DO THAT!”  was my confused response.  I knew that the school was a “peanut free zone”, and sending a peanut laced snack was the equivalent of trying to kill someone.

Apparently, that’s exactly what I had done.  The “Jammy Sammy” bars that I had purchased and sent to the daycare contained peanut butter.  I had bought a peanut free version of the brand before, but apparently the particular one that I hastily purchased DID have peanut butter.  The print was small in comparison with the other lettering, and obviously not pronounced enough to raise the suspension of the lady that handed out snacks at the daycare.  I can’t tell you how badly Bryan and I felt, but if someone who is always very careful about packaging and labels missed the print, maybe I wasn’t such a horrible person. Lesson learned – read the labels at least 5 times before purchasing, and read again before sending snack(s) to the daycare.

Still, we were not certain that Miriam actually had an allergy to peanuts.  I mean, a million things can make a kid puke, right?  I took Miriam to the doctor and the doctor agreed.  Great – probably no peanut allergy???  She mentioned a research article about sensitizing kids with a risk of peanut allergies and maybe we could try peanuts again.  I remembered the article, because it had made such a splash in the popular press.  However, considering the consequences of a severe reaction, it didn’t seem like the thing to do.  I am not an MD, so I thought maybe we would give the snack one more try.

Notice the oversized strawberry. It is labeled as “peanut and strawberry”, but I missed it. “Organic” and strawberry were the only things that registered with me.

This is the Jammy Sammy I had previously gotten for the kids. Sans peanuts….














About a month later, we tried the snack again to see if she had the same response. WOW – it was bad!  I gave her the snack, turned to give Rachel and Sarah their food, and before I could turn back around – BLAGHHHHHHHHH!!!  Miriam puked so hard it looked like something from the Exorcist!  She rocked so quickly and with so much force during the vomiting episode that I was afraid that her highchair would turn over.  The area around her mouth became blood red and then she started coughing.  Bryan was in the next room and came charging in to see what was going on.

We quickly got her out of the highchair and made sure she had a clear airway.  Other than coughing for a few minutes, she was fine. I knew instantly that it must be a peanut allergy.  Bryan just didn’t think that she had a “real” allergy.  His reasoning was that maybe there was something else in the “Jammy Sammy” that was making her sick.  Again, I am not an MD, but the degree and acuteness of the reaction was remarkable.  I consulted with Miriam’s pediatrician and had a lengthy conversation about allergies. In all due respect, her counseling almost sounded scripted.  I am sure that she deals with uptight parents a lot, but I was persistent.  She recommended a blood test that was a “food allergy” panel.  If that was positive we would move forward with an allergist and more testing.

Well, the only thing that was suggestive of an allergy was peanuts and those measurements were “probably not clinically relevant”.  I did a little background research about the IgE food panels, and read that there are several things that can decrease the sensitivity of the results.  Given the lack of clarity, I pushed for a referral to an allergist.  I had to wait 3 months to get Miriam into the allergy clinic.  Apparently the specialty clinics are very difficult to get into (I had been through this with Rachel and her nephrology issues).  Since avoiding peanuts was relatively easy, I decided to make the appointment with the clinic in our hospital system to ease the transfer of information between doctors.

Miriam’s appointment was yesterday.  The timing couldn’t have been better – Miriam developed a GI bug Saturday that lasted until Monday.  Sarah became sick Monday, and I had been feeling queasy for at least a day.  My queasiness almost caused me to miss taking her to the appointment, but somehow I rallied.  I figured that I would grab a trash can and get on with it if I needed to vomit.   Motherhood is like that.

After taking a detailed history, the doctor ordered an indoor allergy panel and a peanut allergy test.  Fortunately, it was done during the office visit.  Miriam wailed during the testing.  I don’t know how, but my girls are so strong.  I nearly fell out of the chair while holding her, because she was thrashing so vigorously.

As I said at the start of the blog, I love being right, but this time I really wanted to be wrong.  Miriam had a “very strong” reaction to the peanut allergen.   The doctor congratulated me for not trying to “sensitize” her to peanuts or exposing her further.  The allergist explained that she was retiring in a month and that she would transfer Miriam’s care to a “great” food allergy specialist – Yeah.    I was disappointed that Miriam would be followed by a different doctor, because the current allergist reminded me of Mom – straightforward, yet caring and friendly.

on the left – indoor allergens, not very much reaction. on the right – “positive control” top, saline “negative control” middle, and peanut allergen bottom.

After being trained how/when to use an EpiPen (YES – AN EPIPEN!) and given an “emergency plan”, we were finally on our way out the door.  We aren’t supposed to let her have any nuts until she is screened further.  I hope that she isn’t too limited, but we will see.  Being a peanut free house is going to be a tough journey for us all.

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