We established some time ago that Holland has food allergies. She is one of those classic kids with the eczema/food allergies/asthma trio that seems to be pretty common. She had a very clear reaction to eggs when she was a baby. After that happened, we had skin testing done - where they pricked the skin on her back and tested several different things, including eggs, peanuts, and several varieties of tree nuts. She had a positive skin reaction to eggs and cashews. She was negative for peanuts, but not long after had a reaction after getting peanut butter on her fingers. After that incident, I just always counted peanuts as an allergy (especially since John has a mild peanut allergy). I don't believe we ever tested almonds (or maybe we did and she was negative), but our nephew Connor has a pretty serious almond allergy, so we decided to stay away from those as well. So, we just pretty much followed a nut free diet for a few years. And we had an EpiPen handy at home and at school...just in case.
We steered clear of eggs with Holland for about a year. Then we slowly started introducing food items like pasta, salad dressing, cakes, and cookies with egg IN them, and she did fine. Eventually we tried egg again, and it seems like she has completely outgrown that allergy.
I guess as the time passed I kinda lightened up about the food allergy thing. I still checked labels for nuts, but didn't think a whole lot about it. About a year ago, we were grocery shopping and I had to run out to the car for something. When I came back into the store, Holland and Eden were sitting in the cart eating WINDMILL COOKIES, which are full of ALMONDS!!! I freaked out a little bit, AND realized that I didn't have the EpiPen (had forgotten the diaper bag, and didn't think about it because so much time had passed without needing it). But everything was fine and Holland didn't have a reaction to the almonds. So cool, no allergy there.
Then probably 4-6 months ago John made angel hair pasta and chicken with sundried tomatoes and pesto for dinner one night. I checked the label and it said it contained "pine nuts." We talked about "do you think she could be allergic?", but went ahead and tried it anyway. She was fine. Not allergic to pine nuts.
I guess that's where I started getting TOO comfortable, thinking that possibly she had outgrown ALL of her food allergies, or maybe even that she never had them in the first place!
Well, we loved the pesto so much the first time we decided to buy more. This time we shopped at a different grocery store, and the only pesto they had said that it contained cashews. We had another conversation about it, along the lines of "do you think she is allergic to cashews?" "Well, I guess we can try it, so far she has been fine, not allergic to anything." So we bought it and about a week later, John made it for dinner. Honestly, I didn't even think about it again.
Shortly after we began the meal, Holland started to complain about a stomach ache. Now, you have to realize that we have been through 5 years of feeding issues. It's not uncommon for either of them to complain about...well, pretty much anything....to get out of eating. So, I kinda blew it off and made her keep eating. :( Then her eyes started itching and she started rubbing them. Again...not really all that unusual. Sometimes if she is playing with the dog too much, or crawling around on the floor before dinner, and rubs her eyes, they get itchy. Then she rubs them with greasy dinner hands, and they get worse. So I STILL didn't realize what was happening, and I STILL made her keep eating. BAD MOM ALERT! I took her to wash her hands thinking that it could be the dog, brought her back to the table to sit on my lap, and put a few more bites in her mouth. Then all of a sudden it dawned on me.
"John, is this the pesto that had the cashews in it?" "I think she might be having a reaction to the cashews!" By then, her eyes were starting to swell...especially her left, her nose was running, she was really, really itchy all over her body, and she was complaining about her tummy hurting.
I gave her a dose of Zyrtec (which she was due for anyway) and took her up for a bath thinking I should at least get it off her skin. She was pretty cheerful and played in the tub, despite the fact that by this point it was getting late and she was in pretty pitiful shape. After her bath I did our usual hydrocort and Aquaphor routine for her eczema, put her in her jammies, and put her in bed while I went to call the doctor. I didn't know if I could/should give her a dose of Benedryl right after she had her Zyrtec, and I wanted to know what to watch out for.
While I was waiting for the doc to return my call she started throwing up. She threw up once or twice, then fell asleep. John laid with her while I was on the phone. When I came back in to check on them she started throwing up again, this time in her sleep while lying on her back. That was pretty scary. We got her up, she threw up again, then went back to sleep. After that she was fine...slept threw the night with no issues, and woke up in the morning back to normal.
I did locate the EpiPen in the midst of this, but was pretty aggravated with myself for not having it more handy. I got a little lax. But now we know. She IS allergic to cashews and I will make sure I keep checking labels and always know where the EpiPen is!!!
About a week before this incident she had an appointment with the allergist and we had talked about doing bloodwork/more allergy testing, but I still haven't followed through on it. It's not just about making the time, but about whether the benefits of drawing blood will be worth the drama of putting her through that. She had to have so many immunizations this year, on top of one hospitalization and IV in October. I'd really like to wait a loooooooong time before having to approach her with any needles again. I'm almost more comfortable avoiding peanuts and any tree nuts that we aren't sure are safe for another year or so...and keeping the EpiPen handy. Still trying to decide on that one.