by guest blogger, Deanna Cogdon Miller
I will never forget the advice one of my colleagues gave me in the week following our first daughter’s birth – “Welcome to motherhood and a lifetime of worry. The trick is to learn how to live with the worry because it will never go away.”
She was right. There’s always an element of worry to my day. The ‘what ifs’, the ‘don’t do that ors’ and the ‘if you do that you mights’ are always popping into my brain and escaping my lips. For the most part they’re little things but every once in awhile one will hit that has greater significance and consumes my thoughts more than I should let it.
As I glance at the EpiPen sitting on my counter, now is one of those times.
Last Friday our amazing sitter called as we were driving home from work asking how close we were to home. My ‘momdar’ was immediately activated because she’d never done that before and so I asked what was wrong. She explained that our one year old had been eating supper and started breaking out in a blotchy rash around his face – his eyes were watering, his nose running and he was sneezing. I asked about breathing and she said everything seemed fine. My next question was, of course, what was he eating?
Carrots, peaches and a light spread of peanut butter on a flour tortilla. All things he’d had before but as soon as she mentioned the peanut butter, my mind went into overdrive. When we arrived home and saw his blotchy face and watery eyes we loaded everyone into the car, gave him a dose of Benedryl and went to the IWK.
The verdict? We don’t know yet. Hence the worry. The emergency doctor told us that his reaction didn’t look like a typical nut allergy but that we may have just been lucky. We are being referred to an allergist and they gave us an EpiPen lesson before we left the hospital.
The rational me knows that there are a ton of families out there dealing with nut and other serious allergies. In fact I recently read somewhere that as many as one in fifty Canadian children live with severe food allergies. Schools are more aware, manufacturers are more aware and kids with allergies learn pretty quickly what they can and can’t eat.
The emotional me, on the other hand, has cried. I’ve cried because having to constantly think about what your child eats seems like so much to add on top of all of the other parental worry. I’ve cried because I don’t want him to have to worry about this for the rest of his life. I’ve cried as I pour over every label, worried I’ll make a mistake. I’ve cried at the realization that when your child has something like this you have to put so much faith in other people, including strangers. One mis-step in their child’s lunch could have a devastating impact on your family.
I don’t know what’s going to happen when we finally see an allergist. Obviously we’re hoping for the best but one thing is for sure, this experience so far has given me the utmost respect for parents of children with allergies. It has also made me that much more aware of the importance in respecting allergy policies in schools, camps and the community in general. If you ever think that putting one little granola bar with peanuts in your child’s lunch won’t be a big deal, stop for a minute and put yourself in the other parent’s shoes. It’s a big deal. A very big deal.
Deanna lives in Dartmouth with her husband and three children. When she’s not reading stories, dancing to ABBA or burping a baby, she works in communications for Bell Aliant.