When “safe” isn’t safe...
My Cecelia is a social butterfly and loved by her peers. She is invited to many birthday parties and play dates. Most, if not all, of her friends know she has allergies and let their families know she needs to be safe. I have to let go of a bit control while letting my child not only spread her wings but learn to self advocate.
This past weekend, we were at yet another party and the host was very excited that all the foods were safe or there were alternatives that would be. Of course there were snacks before pizza and my Cecelia politely asked me if one snack was safe. I wasn’t sure and talked to the host and they had the packaging available. This was perfect- not only did our daughter ask before she touched anything I could physically see the label to verify if it was an option. That snack was safe. She happily and excitedly sat with friends and talked and snacked while the pizza was being handed out. I handed her a slice and requested she stop eating the snack to eat her dinner.
She looked at me and said I’m not eating that snack, I’m eating the other snack. My heart sank. My stomach tied itself in knots. She didn’t ask about the other snack. I had dropped my guard and didn’t think she would have taken it without asking. I immediately went searching for the packaging and read the label. No warning for her allergies. There was no warning for any allergen... I grabbed my phone and went directly to one of my favorite facebook allergy groups and did a search. My search came out they were safe. I was relieved.
A little while later I catch her scratching her leg. I say use your napkin thinking she just has food on her hand. I didn’t think twice.
We get home and immediately have her jump in the shower because it’s late and close to bedtime. My husband gets her out of the shower and notices her leg is a bit rash-y looking. He asks if she touched something or if it’s from the hot water. I tell him the story of her snacks. I second guess myself and do another internet search and some serious digging on the snack website where there’s a warning, buried in the fine print. The snack is manufactured in a shared facility with her allergens. We don’t do any foods with “may contain” or “processed in the same facility” due to her allergies. I realized my first search wasn’t the most up to date information regarding the snack.
I start to panic and let my husband know there was a warning on the snack website. He calmly says lets get the Zyrtec and monitor her. My Cecelia looks at both of us with panic in her eyes, takes the medicine, and immediately vomits all over the kitchen floor... My husband and I look at each other and start making mental checklists of what we need to do.
We calm her down (she suffers from anxiety which many food allergic people do- another blog for another time) and say we aren’t upset about her eating the snack but she needs to know why we don’t just grab food and eat it. She’s now crying and saying she’s sorry. This makes me cry and my poor husband is cleaning up the floor.
After a few more minutes we are able to all regroup and check her over and medicate again. We monitored her for another half hour or so with no new symptoms and no rash evident. With that, we have all learned or remembered why we need to stay ever vigilant when it comes to foods.
Thankfully this was a very minor reaction to an unsafe food. We hope this story will help others learn from our mistakes or see why we have to be so cautious with foods. Allergies are very scary but you can still a full life even if you may have to be a bit more careful.