Reason #7,384 Why I’ll Never Be Mother of the Year

I just got back from the 7th grade nurse where I had to drop off paperwork and an Epipen for Katie “just in case”. When Katie was a very young toddler we discovered the hard way she had a peanut allergy. Thankfully she didn’t actually eat the PB&J I had made for her, only played with it. I don’t know if it’s because she was too tired to eat – we’d just gotten back from a hard morning of grocery shopping – or if she didn’t like it.

I was busy putting groceries away while the kids were eating lunch, but she was being so fussy. When I looked up I was shocked to see her looking something like Quasimoto with an eye swollen shut, the other very puffy and lips so big she couldn’t drink from her sippy cup.

I left the rest of the groceries, managed to get some benadryl down her and packed up the kids for the pediatrician’s office. One look at her when we walked in and our wait was extremely short. The few minutes we sat in the waiting room, however, was horrible. Parents looked at me like I had beaten my child. It was an easy assumption to make. Her swollen eyes were a reddish/purplish color and she just looked awful.

Scratch testing at the allergist’s office the following week confirmed she had a severe peanut allergy and mild allergy to most other nuts. The doctor then proceeded to scare me witless with stories of people dying of peanut allergies when they ordered chili from the new restaurant with a “secret ingredient” that happened to be peanut butter and stuff like that.

She has eaten things with almonds and pecans, though she’s not a big fan. Most people who are allergic to peanuts are not allergic to tree nuts – completely different family. As I said, she had a mild allergy to most tree nuts. If they show any symptom at all it’s just mild congestion. Nothing life threatening.

So when she was in second grade and wanted to try pistachios I said okay. Todd was at his parents’ condo in Little Rock hanging pictures and the kids were supposed to be helping me in the kitchen. Their job was to empty the dishwasher and both had grumbled about it.

She ate one pistachio, said it was okay and asked for another. So I let her have another. Then she started saying her tongue was itchy. “It’s just the salt making your tongue feel funny, Katie. You’re not allergic to pistachios.” She took a couple things out of the dishwasher and started complaining about her itchy tongue again.

I told her to go brush her teeth and rinse real good. She skipped down the hall to do what I told her, only to come back and say it didn’t work.

By this time I was getting exasperated at her use of a true medical problem she had to manipulate the situation. I truly, with everything in me, thought she was faking.

She walked over to the dishwasher again, pulled out an item or two, and complained about her itchy tongue.

“Kaitlyn Louise, you are NOT allergic to pistachios! Come here and I’ll prove it to you.”

She came over to me, I de-shelled a pistachio, ran it over her check and immediately a red welt sprang up. Um, apparently I was wrong.

I very calmly told Taylor to get his shoes on, grabbed some flip flops for Katie and called Todd while we drove to the hospital. By the time we got there about five minutes later she was talking funny as her throat was starting to close up. We walked in behind a teenage girl with a broken arm and her father, but when I said, “nut allergy,” to the triage nurse we were immediately seen by another nurse. She asked to look in Katie’s mouth and when she opened up my poor baby threw up.

That was all the nurse needed. Katie was in a hospital gown and hooked up to an IV faster than you can imagine. She was given epinephrine and benadryl – the epinephrine wiring her and the benadryl making her drowsy.

Todd showed up and offered to stay with her so I could take Taylor home, but I had done this to my precious little girl. There was no way I was leaving. Within an hour or two all the swelling had gone down and we were told as soon as the IV was finished she’d be able to go.

Before the IV was done, however, she broke out into traveling hives. They’d start out on her legs then clear up and show up on her back, moving from one spot to another. Instead of being released she was admitted to the pediatric floor for observation.

It was a rough night only because she was hooked up to a pulse-ox machine and every time she’d fall asleep it would go off. I don’t think it actually had anything to do with the allergy as I do the same thing when I’m in the hospital. But we didn’t get a lot of sleep that night.

Todd showed up in the morning and I did go home then to take a shower. She was released a little after lunch and was pampered silly after we got home. People sent her flowers and teddy bears and mom waited on her hand and foot. Guilt was definitely working in her favor.

She may have been whining about an itchy tongue at home, but she was so brave and hardly complained at all in the hospital. She actually looks back on that event with fondness. The cafeteria makes a mean chocolate cake and, ever my girl, she loves her some chocolate cake.

The next week we went back to the allergists and he did another scratch test. Sure enough, she had a rather quick reaction to pistachios. Still nothing like her reaction to peanuts, but now we just stay away from all nuts.

I still feel horrible when I think about that evening, but I’m so thankful it turned out okay.


  1. radioactive girl on September 28, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    You should not feel guilty! It isn’t as if you knew she was allergic and then gave them to her!I understand the mom guilt though. My son has asthma, and every time a friend of mine came over, he would start wheezing. We FINALLY figured out that she wears a perfume with gardenia in it, which makes him totally unable to breathe.

  2. Dev on September 28, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Am I a horrible person because I laughed at this? I mean, it’s not funny, but really Jen ~ Have you ever tried out for My Life is a Sitcom? Do they even still make that show?

  3. Becky on September 28, 2007 at 4:15 pm

    Oh, man…I would’ve been scared witless, too! Thankfully there is something you can have on hand for it ‘just in case’.

  4. Jenster on September 28, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Tori – Thanks for understanding!Dev – You’re not a horrible person. I forgot to mention in the post that I think it’s kind of funny now, too. Didn’t seem quite so funny at the time, though.

  5. Jenster on September 28, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    Becky – And thankfully we’ve never had to use the EpiPen. It’s nice that she’s older now, too, because she is so careful about reading ingredients and stuff.

  6. Monnik on September 28, 2007 at 7:06 pm

    That is scary, Jen. Nut allergies are freaky. Glad she wasn’t hurt!

  7. D.O.M. Dan on September 28, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    Now I know why some schools ban peanut butter sandwiches, peanuts, etc.

  8. Lainey-Paney on September 29, 2007 at 9:08 am

    I have a severe food allergy to peaches of all things. Crazy….the pediatrician told us that if a parent has severe food allergies, that the children have a higher chance of having severe food allergies, but not necessarily to the same food as the parent. So, that’s why when Gage got hives….we weren’t THAT surprised that it may be a food allergy—but we still have no idea what he’s allergic to! I’m glad your kiddo is okay. It sucks to have that b/c so many cookies are labeled “may contain nut products”…so it can be very limiting.:(

  9. Daisy on September 29, 2007 at 9:51 am

    I’ll have to tell you the story of how I wasn’t mixing Sunshine’s blood pressure medicine some time. EEKGlad that Katie is okay! :o)

  10. New Diva on the Blog on September 29, 2007 at 11:01 am

    We’ve all done things we feel guilty about! I’m pretty sure you can’t think of yourself in terms of “mom” until you have.

  11. Sherry Smyth on September 29, 2007 at 11:04 am

    Jen, I’ve tagged you in a book meme…I’m interested in your answers!!

  12. Gretchen on September 29, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    My mother guilt is letting my baby fall off my bed. Not once. Twice. Thankfully, he was okay. And…I’m a careful parent. We all are. We’re just not perfect. I remember when I took him in for a smashed finger. You know the scenario: 2 y.o. plays with the sliding glass door while mommy is trying to visit with a friend over coffee (Lord forbid). Mommy warns said 2 y.o. and gives stern look. Mommy sails into mid-air in a futile attempt to prevent the sliding glass door from smashing the 2 y.o.’s fingers. Luckily, the nurse on duty said I could check my maternal guilt at the door. 🙂

  13. Bookwormom on September 29, 2007 at 8:21 pm

    I’m glad all’s well that ends well. It could’ve been much worse. It’s true, though, that guilt and mistakes are a mom’s lot in life.

  14. susan on September 30, 2007 at 1:47 pm

    Isn’t it amazing that we take on all the guilt of the world for something that clearly isn’t our fault? I’m so impressed with how calmly you dealt with the situation. And am glad you can laugh at it now. My youngest is such a Drama Queen that I wouldn’t have beleived her either!

  15. CindyS on September 30, 2007 at 11:15 pm

    Hmmm, but her fingers didn’t welt up. That’s the weird thing with allergies. I’m allergic to bee stings and was stung by at least three bees in the face when I was seven at a camp ground (the wood pile had dozens of kids crawling all over it but it had dwindled down so when I jumped up I squished a hive). I wasn’t scared and even though I remember a lot of it, like my mom telling me to not fall asleep in the car, I don’t remember her crying and apparently she was a mess. They discovered just after I was bitten that it was a 40 minute drive to the nearest hospital and I normally sleep in moving vehicles. My father was making light of it by showing me my face in the mirror but again, I don’t remember seeing anything wrong. My dad said he didn’t even have time to say anything when he went through the hospital doors – I was snatched from him so fast. I do remember getting two different shots in each arm and then I had these little blue pills that I had to take for a few weeks. Since then I have been stung once in the butt if you can believe it and I didn’t have any reaction to it. Still we were at a wedding there a few weekends back and someone was aggravating a bee and I asked them to stop annoying it while I was there. (I’m not afraid of bees at all but people who swing at them make me crazy) Someone asked if I had an epipen on me and I was all ‘uh, no,’ and then realized just how stupid it would be to be an adult and die of a beesting.I’m going to talk to my doc next month about getting an epipen to carry with me when I know I’m going to be at outdoor events.P.S. I already know you are a great mom so a little pistachio incident is not going to make me believe anything different. What’s cute is that she did everything you told her but she was good enough to keep at you and say ‘hey, it’s still itchy!’CindyS

  16. Lynilu on October 2, 2007 at 11:58 am

    Been there, done that, albeit with other allergy-inducing agents. Horribly frightening. But I don’t think you should beat yourself up … it just is what it is. 🙂

  17. Whymommy on October 3, 2007 at 9:34 am

    Oh, wow! These nut allergies are awful! Glad everything turned out ok for her!

  18. Aunty S on October 8, 2007 at 6:48 pm

    Hey Jen, If Katy is allergic to things like peanuts, pistachios, and other tree nuts have the allergists said anything about shell fish/shrimp? Grandma Mobley was allergic to them and I am allergic to crawfish (at times). And Mike is allergic to bees. Most of the Mobley-Firl kids are allergic to something.

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