Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Penguin "gets" it; and she's only 11.

Often, parents of food allergic kids lament the fact that no one "gets it".

True food allergies are scary, serious scenarios. In fact, anaphylactic reactions can be deadly. (No, I'm not being dramatic, the chances may be slim in the general public, but when you are talking about people with a history of anaphylactic reactions, the odds of a severe reaction increase with each exposure.)

However, others don't always get it. The adults in charge often don't "get it". They are in automatic mode, they aren't well trained, they have too many kids to take care of to think of just one kid's increased risk. There are too many variables and reasons for food restrictions (Anaphylaxis? Religion? Picky eater? Paranoid parent? I feel the last one is a moot point, since parents have the final say on their children's bodies, but I digress.) Speaking of digression, let me get back on topic...

Yesterday, we had an unexpected rainstorm. It's been sunny for days, hot in fact. We'd shed our winter coats and sprung out the shorts. And then...clouds. A sudden downpour.

I didn't really think much of it. Not many people did, I'm sure, other than to regret their outfit choices or lament the umbrella left home, in the back of a closet. I did have a momentary thought to rainy day recess at the school, but since Penguin isn't anaphylactic and we've been told that Bumblebee can challenge nuts whenever she feels confident enough to risk it, I didn't think twice about lunchtime.

When Penguin came home she announced that she didn't eat lunch.

Okay, first I was frustrated. Why? Why on earth would the child skip lunch when she knows it will trigger a migraine? When she knows it makes her sick? When Bumble bee has a singing show in a few hours that none of us want to miss? When she knows that the following day is a long one, with two extracurricular activities?

With wide eyes she explained that it was rainy day recess. She was sent to moniter the first grade classrooms. And she knew that there was a kid in there who has an epi pen for nuts.

Normally, for rainy day lunches, we pack nut free meals. But, I wasn't expecting an indoor meal. Daddy had packed a peanut butter sandwich on gf bread. And her snack was a bar full of protein rich nuts. Lunches have been frustrating since she went gluten free on top of the casein free; we send the danger foods to school, where she can consume healthy (for her) items without endangering her sister.

Apparently the school wasn't prepared for rainy weather either.

Normally, nuts are banned from any epi room class. If it will be used for a meeting, the child's desk is covered in butcher paper and a "Nut free zone" sign is erected. But it was raining, and there wasn't time to screen lunchboxes or segregate kids. During winter it happens so matter of factly that no one notices it happening. But this time...Penguin's take was that every precaution was falling through the cracks. The adults told her to go ahead and eat her lunch, just not near him. But she knew better, allergies are dangerous...ESPECIALLY nut allergies. And he has an EPI pen.

She told me a migraine is nothing compared to an allergic reaction. And she knew she could eat as soon as she got home. So...she took out her strawberries, zipped up her lunchbox and told the other helper that she wasn't taking any chances.

It's not that she made a stand. She didn't actually do that much, all she did was make a very small choice to peek in her lunchbox and then tuck it away, acknowledging that one risk didn't outweigh another. She "got it". Even though we aren't an epi pen carrying family, and we've never had to use one, even before Bumblebee was cleared to be in the same rooma s a peanut.

I'm proud of her. I'm not so thrilled with the school, if I was the child's mother...but I'm not; so what can I say? And I'm happy to report that with immediate snacking after school, and a very early dinner, she only had a mild headache without stomach issues!

And...The child survived with no obvious reactions. He and Bumblebee both did a delightful job in the first grade singing performance last night. :-)

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