Destiny In Bloom

A life & Death Affair

A life & Death Affair

posted on July 13th, 2010 / by Andrea Catlett / 14 Comments

12 million people suffer with food allergies, and my son is one of them.  Often he is the only kid at a party who can’t eat the cake or have a treat bag.  When he is at the park and other kids are running around with peanut butter sandwiches in their hands, we immediately have to leave.  Many people are unaware that some food can suddenly kill someone, but it is on my mind 100% of the time.

When my little boy was 15 months old, my husband and I gave him less than a pea size piece of peanut butter.  My husband was eating a peanut butter sandwich, and since my son was over the age of one, we thought it would be okay.  My son instantly broke out in hives, started to vomit, and then grabbed his throat like he was choking.  I ran to our cabinet and opened the bottle of Benadryl that I had just bought because a friend suggested it for a plane trip.  His throat stayed open enough to swallow the Benadryl, and slowly his hives began to decrease.  While running to get the Benadryl out of the cabinet I called our pediatrician’s office to leave a message for the on-call doctor.   Immediately the pediatrician called us back, and she said that as long as he is breathing we wouldn’t have to go to the ER.  He was breathing at that point, so we just watched him and continually gave him Benadryl every four hours.  We actually ended up giving him Benadryl for 10 days straight, as his hives were still present.

That was one of the scariest days of my life.  From that point on our family’s life has drastically changed. We rarely have safe restaurants to eat at, shopping takes forever with reading EVERY SINGLE LABEL, birthday parties (as I mentioned earlier) are scary, every Sunday we have to check the snacks at church, and much, much more.  Now every day we walk out of our house with an EpiPen, Benadryl, Albuterol, inhaler mask, and disinfectant wipes, so that he can be taken care of if he comes into contact with any type of nut or peanut butter.

Many people are unaware of the severity of life-threatening food allergies.  They think, “Oh so and so might get a tummy ache, or they might break out in hives.”  Life-threatening food allergies can kill a person within minutes.  Someone with a severe food allergy can go into anaphylactic shock, which may result in death.  Anaphylaxis (pronounced ana-fill-axis) can start with just tingling in the mouth and can lead to swollen lips, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, drop in blood pressure, and then unconsciousness.

A person can go into anaphylactic shock from various allergens.  The most common food allergies are: Milk, Egg, Peanut, Tree Nut, Soy, Fish, Shell Fish, and Wheat.  There are other food allergies, but these eight are the most common.

Five things parents with food allergies would like you to know:

1) Please always wash your hands when you or your kids are with people who may have an allergic reaction to food allergens.   (It is greatly appreciated when people go out of their way to make sure children are safe, so this would include washing hands after any food allergen is consumed or touched.)  Most people don’t know that when my son touches a door knob that someone else has touched after eating an allergen, he is likely to have an allergic reaction.

2) Please don’t judge parents of kids who have food allergies because they are often overcautious about their child’s well being.  My husband and I often describe to people who don’t have life-threatening food allergies that it is like your child is sitting down next to poisonous snakes.  Everyone knows that poisonous snakes could kill you, but food can kill my son just like a snake could kill yours.

3) Learn how to use an EpiPen. If you know people with food allergies, please take time to learn how to use an EpiPen. It may help save someone’s life.

4) Be sensitive to parents and children with food allergies.  Advice is usually best given by a medical provider.  In addition, no one knows their kid better than his or her parent.

5). Allergies, Asthma and Eczema. Kids with food allergies often have other medical concerns such as indoor/outdoor allergies, asthma, and eczema.  These medical conditions are a lot to deal with on a daily basis.   Often kids with asthma are more likely to have a severe allergic reaction when coming into contact with a food allergen.

Thanks for taking time to read this blog and spreading awareness regarding food allergies.  If you would like to know more about food allergies, some websites are listed below with further information.

In addition, if you would like to help raise awareness, join “The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network Walk (FAAN)” this summer.  To find the nearest FAAN walk check out:

Andrea Catlett is a fun mom who is always trying to celebrate life.  She often celebrates fun bizarre holidays like National Lollipop day or National Lemonade Day.  She presently is in school working towards a Masters in Divinity.  Her heart is to work as chaplain in a children’s hospital as well as further her education in marriage and family counseling.  She has been a children’s pastor and has grown up as a pastor’s kid and one day hopes to be a therapist to pastors, church leaders and their families.

Andrea Catlett

Andrea Catlett

14 Responses to “A life & Death Affair”

  1. Thank you so much Celeste. I know your church does an amazing job keeping children safe. Hats off to you and your husband for making an environment friendly for kids with allergies.

  2. I had no idea about any of this information. I have been guilty of thinking parents were totally over-hyper about the whole peanut allergy thing and have been irritated when their child's allergy inconvenienced me. This completely changed how I look at things. Thank you so much for sharing this. It is so important for people like me to become educated! Thanks again!

  3. Great article. Thank you so much for the insight.

  4. Wow Kelli I am always glad to come in contact with other moms/families who deal with life threatening food allergies. Both of my kids have asthma, eczema and all sorts of allergies. I am so glad to meet and encourage other moms/families who know how this can be an overwhelming daily task. I will be praying for Griffin and feel free to pray for my boys as well. I wish I could give you a hug! Great love and blessing to your family.

  5. Oh, Andrea. I just love you! You are such a good mom and a wonderful blessing to everyone around you. No one could do your job the way you do!
    Keep up the good writing <3

  6. Wow Andrea, thanks alot or the information on food allerigies, I did not know it was that serious. Now I know it can kill a person. thank you. It is nice to hear from you, I still miss you alot and you are very special to me. I know that God has bless you with two lovely kids to take care of, if anyone can do it, you can, because you are a great person and I know you are a great mom. Gave my love to all I love you. Stay strong in the Lord and God will do it for you what ever you ask of Him.

  7. Thank you for bringing attention to this topic. Both of my daughters have food allergies among a host of other medical conditions. My youngest has a life threatening rice allergy. This one is especially difficult since it is considered a non allergenic food. My oldest is going to preschool this fall and it is a scary thing for me with her food allergies.

  8. Marilyn! I am so glad you read this blog. I love you so much. Thank you for the kind words!

  9. Andrea, thank you for educating us. This is really important information and has caused me to think about how to be more sensitive to people with food allergies.

  10. Thanks Diana for your comment. A rice allergy is difficult! I know a host of medial conditions are stressful on a family. I pray that you will always be encouraged and have a reason to smile. Thank you for taking time to comment.

  11. Great article! Thanks for the insight.

  12. Thanks Andrea for the great information! It really could save a child’s life!!

  13. Incredible information. I know your mother from church and will be passing this information on in my Parenting class for all Parents I come in contact with in the future. thanks for sharing. You are a very courageeous woman. God's Blessings on you always.

  14. Andrea thank you for your article I have a son that since he was a baby he has allergies to everything , he is 15 now, I understand your situation my heart is with you if you ever want to talk to me call me 503 6998976 God is the only one who can help us I know he is there for us love sandra j carlson