Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Allergic Reaction, But From What?

Sunday morning was Londo's turn to sleep in. I had a great morning with the kids and fixed them a breakfast of eggs and toast. In fact, I thought I was doing awesome because I staved off a tantrum over the toast with some quick thinking.

The Pumpkin had requested regular toast with jelly, so I fixed it just the way she likes it and put some homemade strawberry jelly from my MIL on top. After a couple bites, all of a sudden the Pumpkin said she wanted toast with just butter. She was about to freak out about it (ah, Three-And-A-Half, you don't make things easy), when I offered to give her the cinnamon raisin toast with butter I was just fixing for myself. Well, that would do nicely! And tantrum averted!

At the end of breakfast, I saw a couple red spots on my daughter's face. The Pumpkin has sensitive skin, so she is always getting odd bumps and spots of eczema and the recent impetigo and whatever else. So I looked at it as I wiped her off and thought I'd keep my eye on them.

Within 10 or 15 minutes, the spots looked bigger, redder, worse. I called her over from playing and examined them again. That's when I noticed a more blister-like appearance. Like a lightbulb came on, I realized they were hives. It must have been an allergic reaction, and the only thing she is allergic to (that we know of) is peanuts.

I wasn't sure how to react. I kept my eye on it for another 5 or 10 minutes. During that time, I proceeded to go through everything she ate or touched that morning. She's had eggs for years, cooked the same way, with salt and pepper, and it's never been a problem. The regular bread is the same one I make her sandwiches on every day with no problems. The jelly? The one that she said she wanted and then pushed away after two bites? Hmmm. Was that the same jelly that we've had before finding out about her peanut allergy? Was that the same jelly I used to use for PBJs? I have no idea. While it didn't seem likely, I couldn't rule it out entirely. What else had she touched? Just the same toys she'd been playing with since yesterday.

What on earth could have caused the hives? Where were the peanuts hiding? How could she have come into contact and/or ingested peanuts?

The hives started to look like they were fading. I realized I needed to wake up Londo. I wanted to be sure he saw what I saw before they were gone (we debated for a year over our perceptions of what happened when the Pumpkin first tried a little bit of peanut butter). And I needed my co-parent to talk through what happened and what we should do.

Londo and I started talking through what it could have been and what we should do (and I should have done). He threw out the jelly, just in case it had been contaminated. But he also pointed out that we just brought a bunch of unsafe candy into the house from the the trunk-or-treat the kids did at the Pookie's daycare. Although we didn't have any candy with actual peanuts in it(aside from plain M&Ms), there were candies manufactured in places that also have peanuts and there were a couple from a bowl that also had packaged peanut butter cups.

But she had been playing with all that stuff the day before with no reaction. And that morning, she hadn't gone near any of it! In fact, I had put all the candy up in a cabinet so she wouldn't ask for candy for breakfast (like she had the day before). Could it really have been from touching something like a counter that had touched some candy that was made in a place that also had peanuts? And then when she ate breakfast, she got some little remnant in her mouth? Really?

She was fine, and the hives went away after an hour or so, definitely within two hours. She didn't need the epipen, but it occurred to me after the fact that I should have at the very least given her benedryl as soon as I realized they were hives. I don't know about giving her the epipen, and I think I need to talk to the allergist. If her reaction was just hives, I don't want to freak her out by stabbing her in the leg with a needle. She was breathing fine and didn't say her throat felt funny, even when I asked. But I should have given her the benedryl. And woken Londo sooner.

This experience has freaked us out a bit.

On the bright side, her reaction was minor. A couple of hives? That's not bad. If that's her reaction to being exposed to peanuts, maybe we don't have to worry as much as we have been.

However, what we've learned about peanut allergies is that it's basically russian roulette with reactions. With one additional exposure, she could have an anaphylactic reaction. It doesn't necessarily have to be progressively worse reactions over many exposures. So, we still need to be hyper-vigilant.

And on the really-freaking-me-out side, even though it was a minor reaction, her exposure to peanuts must have been a really really tiny exposure through some cross-contamination because nothing she ate or was around had actual peanuts in it. We haven't had any peanuts or peanut products in our house in over 6 months. There are very few things in the house that are even made in facilities that also have peanuts, and those aren't things that she eats or even goes near.

We've been careful. So careful! And still, she somehow was exposed to something that caused the hives. Some tiny, unseen bit of a peanut. Some unaccounted for cross-contamination in my own house! My house that is supposed to be a safe haven for her!

This is making Londo and me really worried about the upcoming trick-or-treating. I thought we had a good plan in place, but now I don't know what to think. All I know for sure is that we will be extra vigilant and carry her epipen with us where ever we go. There's no telling what her next reaction will be... or what will cause the reaction.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last Night

It's his teeth.
The hard, sharp, white edges
pushing through
soft, sensitive, pink gums.
This painful
process seems flawed in design.

The molars are the worst. They
push through,
push through again,
recede again,
before finally coming out for good.

His sleep is disturbed.
He can't settle
himself. His cries escalate, disturbing
our sleep. We take turns
going to him
because he is uncomfortable lying down.

I walk with him in my arms more steps
than I care
to count. I pace the floor for longer
than I want to track. Is
he asleep enough now? Or should I continue
another minute,
two minutes, five minutes?

I try putting him down. I rub
his back when
he stirs, settling him back
down. I ease up the crib rail.
He stays asleep.
I tiptoe across the room, avoiding

the creaky spots in the floor.
He stays asleep.
I carefully turn the door knob.
It clicks loudly.
He wakes crying, reaching for me.
I sigh and return to him.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Question of the Week - Halloween Fun

Halloween is my favorite holiday, and since having kids of my own, it's gotten even more fun for me. I don't yet have the time or energy or belief in the consistency of 3.5 year old choice to make costumes for the kids myself, but I do plan on that in the future. For now, we've bought costumes, Londo has put out the outdoor decorations, I've ordered peanut-free candy which has arrived, and we've already done one set of trick-or-treating!

This past Friday, the Pookie's daycare had "trunk or treat" in which a bunch of parents decorated the trunks of their cars, lined them up in the parking lot and handed out candy to the kids who went around trunk-or-treating. The daycare is a nut-free school, so we felt relatively safe letting the Pumpkin go trunk-or-treating with her brother (although not all parents were thorough about the no nuts, included one parent having Reese's Peanutbutter Cups in their bag of candy to hand out! URG!). And the daycare/school didn't mind at all, especially since that is where the Pumpkin went over the summer, so all the teachers and administrative types know her.

I informed Londo that I had signed us up to be one of the cars at trunk or treat and that we were using his car, since his interior is black. Besides, he's the one who does, oh, 90% of all the holiday decorating at our house (that pesky Seasonal Affective Disorder continuously gets in the way of my energy to decorate). Luckily, I long ago infected him with my love of Halloween, and he was on board.

He did a totally awesome job decorating the trunk of our car with all sorts of spooky-but-not-scary Halloween decor, including layering the bottom with orange and black balloons, which all the kids loved. He also played our Halloween playlist through the car speakers, which was a nice touch.

Our kids had so much fun walking around from car to car looking at all the decorations and taking the candy and putting it into their pumpkin buckets. My daughter was a unicorn, and my son was a dragon (although it was a dinosaur costume, it was close enough to call him a dragon). Londo mostly stayed at the car and handed out safe candy. I got to walk hand in hand with my unicorn and dragon and help them pick out the candy, making sure we got lots that Mommy and Daddy like. Heh heh.

I thought the trunk or treat was such a neat idea! We hadn't heard of it before, so it was new and fun for us on my favorite holiday. And this week's question of the week is:

What kind of fun activities do you or your kids' daycares/schools do for Halloween or the Fall season?

My daughter's school doesn't have them dress up for Halloween. But instead, this Friday her after-school care class is doing a Silly Hat Parade! This is another neat idea I hadn't heard of before and can totally get into.

Yesterday, the Pumpkin and I had over a friend and her mom, and we made silly hats out of paper bags. I'd seen the idea before, and then found this website with simple directions. I got some paper grocery bags, pulled out the arts and crafts, including sponge paint and hot glue gun, and we made some awesome hats! I'll try to post pictures soon.

Not only did we have fun making the crafts (my daughter LOVES arts and crafts projects), but she has a beautiful hat to wear on Friday. And for once, I'm not scrambling last minute to get her ready for something at school! I may get the hang of this parenting thing before the kids are completely grown up!

What about you guys? Whacha doing for Halloween or the Fall or as silly artsy projects? Anything good going on at your kids' schools or daycare? Are you planning any good Halloween kids parties in the neighborhood? What's your Halloween fun this year?