Our Peanut-free Journey

Life with a peanut allergic son.

First Scare — September 4, 2012

First Scare

So last week we ate at Olive Garden. Something we’ve done many times. Alex gets buttered spaghetti noodles and doesn’t eat the salad or breadsticks. Not because he can’t but because he chooses not to.

Fast forward to the end of the meal. The mints. Everyone loves the Andes mints you get after your carbohydrate laden meal. Alex especially likes them because they’re safe.

However, after eating the mint he starts to complain that his throat burns. Odd. He’s never complained about this before. We try to ascertain exactly what is going on. Did he drink water after the mint? That would make your throat burn. Nope. No water.

Then he starts to panic. He feels weird. His throat burns. A full on anxiety attack is happening.

If my husband hadn’t been there I would have given him his Epi-pen. But since my husband noted that he had no other symptoms he didn’t want to use them. I ask Alex about other possible anaphylaxis symptoms and he starts to say his stomach hurts. Again, is this real or anxiety?

We decide to head to the ER. He is not in any distress except for the anxiety of a possible reaction.

On the way to the ER he asks to play with my phone. Once his mind is off the incident he is magically better. We stopped at a Walgreen’s and I got some Benadryl and he took a dose while in the parking lot. Crisis averted.
No Epi-pen, no ER.

But did we do the right thing? I don’t know. The allergist would probably say no. I would say no. My husband would say yes. Who’s to know?

Disney World and Peanut Allergies — October 31, 2009

Disney World and Peanut Allergies

NikonDisney 734

We just got back from a trip to Disney World and it was wonderful! I wish that I could say that I had tons of fabulous information for you but the truth is that we didn’t eat all that many meals *in* Disney. However, they are very knowledgable of food allergies and cater to those people extremely well. Here are some standout things that Disney does/has for food allergy sufferers:

  1. Every Disney theme park has an information center. At this information center you can ask for a stapled packet of papers that lists their restaurant and food vendors in that park. It then is broken down by types of food and what allergens/cross-contamination possibilities exist at certain places to eat. A great little packet to keep with you during your stay at the park.
  2. Each restaurant is well versed in the plight of the food allergic patron. However, Chef Mickey’s was an all-star  restaurant to eat at with a peanut allergy. The chef came to our table and took me around the buffet letting me know what was and was not safe. He explained that they are trying to go as peanut-free as possible. They are even trying to become a self-sufficient restaurant so they control everything that goes into the food. There were only a few breakfast items my son could not have that included granola (the only item left with actual peanuts in them), French toast (chance of x-contamination at the bakery it’s made at) and a couple of the desserts such as brownies. The highlight for my son was the Krispy Kreme doughnut which is peanut and x-contamination free.
  3. T-Rex Cafe was another great restaurant to work with. Again, the chef came out and told us what was and wasn’t safe and that the only peanut product they had was not used anywhere near the kids meal station. While I realize that a peanut product (a dip I believe?) being in the kitchen could cause x-cont. issues, I felt comfortable with the chef’s knowledge of food products to trust him. My son was fine and even got to have a slushey for a drink.
  4. Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Pops. If you’ve ever been to Disney you know what I’m talking about. The popsicle is shaped like Mickey’s head and is vanilla ice cream covered in a hard chocolate shell. Yum-O! These are made by Nestle specifically for Disney and are free of peanut and tree nut allergens. My son had one at each Disney park we went to. He loved it.
  5. All (pretty sure that’s what the paper said) Disney restaurants used a Canola oil in their kitchens. No peanut oil used at all.

So there you have it. My top five reasons to spend your next vacation at Disney!!

Another good dining experience. Carraba’s — August 27, 2008

Another good dining experience. Carraba’s

We went out to dinner on Sunday night and had some errands to run before eating. I completely forgot to bring food for Alex so I was taking a chance that there would be something on the menu for him to eat. I told the waitress right away about his peanut allergy and she went back to the kitchen to get some information. I was very happy to hear that they do not use peanut oil or have peanut products of any kind in the kitchen. They did however have pine nuts, but truthfully, that did not bother me. He was able to get spaghetti and meatball (just one, Lol) with no worries. Just because he could have it though did not mean he ate it. Lol. The boy just doesn’t like eating anymore.

So, there you have it, another great dining experience for us. I know this would be out of the comfort zone of many parents but for us, it was great.

Vacation Fine – RAST not good. — June 29, 2008

Vacation Fine – RAST not good.

Our beach vacation went great. Alex was able to eat out without incident and enjoy most of the things the beach had to offer. He was a like a fish in water with the ocean. He loved it. Although he loved the beach, he loved playing games on the boardwalk the best.

While we were there our daughter did something to her eye and I ended up having to call the pediatrician. As they were hanging up they said that there was a note on Alex’s chart that he RAST test came back and he is still a Class 3 peanut allergy.

Alex started as a Class 3 and then the last two years he was a Class 2. I had such high hopes of it being a Class 1 this year. At least we would be headed in the right direction. But to be a class 3 was such a blow to my already fragile state. Fragile due to the school situation. Which we still haven’t decided on. I have a month to figure out what we are going to do. Right now I am leaning much more toward homeschooling. At least until he is able to understand the symptoms of an allergic reaction and able to administer his epi-pen himself.

This latest test score has pretty much told me that Alex will not outgrow his allergy. I have decided to look into some teaching hospitals around us to see if they are doing any kind of clinical trials. I would love to be able to send Alex to school without worrying that a slight touch of peanut would send him into anaphylaxis. I have read stories of peanut allergic children who ingest a small amount of peanut protein every day. They are able to withstand some amount of peanut with no problem thus taking the “may contain” scare out of day-to-day living.


Next Hurdle — May 20, 2008

Next Hurdle

Now that preschool is over it should be pretty smooth sailing this summer. The only thing we have to worry about is our vacation to the beach next month. When we are home it is pretty easy to make him a dinner to take along to a restaurant. When the luxuries of home aren’t available it makes things a little more difficult. I plan on callling some restaurants at our destination and explaining our situation. I am hoping that I can find some places that are food allergy aware or even better peanut-free. I don’t think the latter is really a possiblity but one can hope!

There are also food-allergy cards you can print out on the internet that a waitress can take to the chef explaining that they have a guest with food allergies and to please avoid cross contamination. If nothing else, it makes them aware and hopefully a little more careful with their food preparation. Wish me luck!

Great Dining Experience! — March 30, 2008

Great Dining Experience!

We went to a breakfast buffet this morning which is a meal that is kind of hard to bring from home. I called the restaurant and they informed me that they do not use peanut oil and to let the waitress know when I got there and the chef would let us know what foods were safe. Now, normally I would just assume that eggs, bacon, sausage and pancakes would be fine at a buffet that does not use peanut oil. They also do not make their desserts in the kitchen which would also make me assume the above would be safe. Well, I was wrong.

The chef came out and told us that the eggs, bacon, sausage and cereal were all peanut-free. The pancakes and french toast sticks however were not. He then said that he had an allergy-free pancake mix he could use to make Alex pancakes. Wonderful! The chef brought out his pancakes and then checked on us several times during our meal to see how things were going. It was so nice. I know that I can never be 100% sure about things when eating out but I felt that this chef was very aware of our situation and did the best that he could to keep our son safe.

A wonderful dining out experience!

Why restaurants are hard. — March 11, 2008

Why restaurants are hard.

On Saturday night we decided to go out to eat. I usually take Alex’s food and then he can get a Sprite at the restaurant. I called ahead to be sure they don’t use peanut oil because if they did we wouldn’t eat there, my husband and I don’t want to eat anything containing peanuts. All is well, Alex had his hot dog, noodles and green beans brought from home and I ordered chicken quesadillas. When my plate came out there were tortilla chips with it. Alex asked if he could have them and I told him I had to ask who made them first. If they were Snyder’s of Hanover he couldn’t have them because they have a “may contain peanuts” warning on them. The girl who brought our food informs me they are another brand and I let Alex have some. No sooner did he put them in his mouth, our waitress comes back and tells us we were misinformed and she would have to go look at what the real brand was and check the ingredients. Now Alex is upset and panic-stricken because he might have eaten peanuts. It turns out the chips were fine but I think it was another wake-up call for us. It’s hard to trust something or someone when it comes to this allergy. Even if you think you covered your bases there is always a chance someone could be wrong.