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Monday, November 14, 2016

Confessions of a Careless Food Allergy Mom

Almost 13 years of managing multiple food allergies, including a life threatening one to peanuts and tree nuts.  Label reading is second nature.  MOST of THE TIME.  But even diligent moms screw up sometimes.  Like me.  

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In a hurry.  Somewhere else to be.  Stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few of OUR allergy-friendly staples.   Sabra hummus.. check!  Philly Swirl popsicles.. check! AND a 4 pack of our favorite Zen Chocolate SOY pudding.  Not another thought.  Snack time.  They go for what they hadn’t had in a long time.. their FAVORITE pudding. 

They both meticulously peeled off their vacuum sealed pudding cups.  As my 10 year old son was licking every morsel off his lid so as NOT to miss a drop when my 12 year old daughter loudly stated, ‘did you realize these are made with ALMOND MILK’?  Although he hasn’t been tested for almonds in nearly 8 years, it used to be one of his top allergens.  His peanut allergy is off the charts, so we normally avoid ALL products containing nuts.  Sure enough, I had purchased the Zen Chocolate ALMOND pudding by accident.   I had NEVER seen it before.  I didn't even know it existed.  Until now.

You could have heard a pin drop.  My husband, daughter and I went still.

The panic in him was palatable as he ran to the sink spitting out what he had in his mouth.  He started YELLING at me.  All I remember him stating is “do you know this could kill me?”  “Are you trying to kill me?” “How could you NOT read the ingredients?”  Judging by his panic, I knew his ‘fight or flight mode’ was in full gear.

But we waited.. trying to calm him while dodging his angry, scared outbursts.  My normally sassy daughter was quiet as a mouse.  The anxiety in both of my kids’ eyes was obvious.  My son has experienced an epipen and multiple hospital stays due to allergic reactions in the past.  You could sense his fear.    

I became unusually quiet.  I tried rationalizing with my son as he kept yelling at me.  My husband got irritated with the exchange going on between me and my son.  All of us waiting and reacting in our own way.  “Does your mouth itch?  Your tongue?”  Waiting for ANY signs of an impending doom. 

Did I need to give him an Epi shot?  I decided NO.  If it had peanuts, I would have in a split second.  I gave  him one Waldryl blister, 12.5 mg oral solution antihistamine.  2 minutes.  5 minutes.  10 minutes.  One hour.  NOTHING.  Just a scared child and parents.

Beyond an adrenaline rush for us all, NOTHING happened.  He NEVER reacted.  Why?  He didn’t ingest enough for a reaction to occur?  Maybe, JUST maybe… he’s NO longer allergic to almonds.  MAYBE.

I didn’t let him leave my side ALL night.  He even slept beside me, my arm across him.  A comfort for him and me.  However, I didn’t really sleep.  I was too fearful.  Angry at myself.  Too busy berating myself throughout the night… while checking to make sure he was okay. 

I got too busy.  I didn’t stay focused.  I assumed ingredients and packaging I was accustomed to hadn’t changed.  But they did.  I made a mistake.  And this time, we ALL got lucky.

And that’s my confession.  We ALL learned more.  Sometimes, I have to slow down.  Not be complacent.  READ EVERYTHING.  And my kids realized I am human.  Even MOM makes mistakes.  And you know what?  They READ all their own labels and are becoming more and more independent. 

For that, I am thankful.  


  1. So glad he's okay! It's a good reminder to us all how easily anyone (even the MOST informed and careful parents) can make mistakes.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Kathryn. Yes, it's much too easy to make mistakes and my hope is to help remind everyone that we can ONLY do the best we can.

  2. We are all with you, momma! Every one of us has had a moment where we were not as vigilant because it's hard--inhuman really.


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