I’m sitting down at ten past three this Wednesday afternoon, trying to catch my breathe from the slew of different emotions I’m processing as I consider my day. What a full day it’s been. Praise God that both kids are napping soundly, so that I can practice the deep-belly breathing technique a counselor once taught me, as I sit alone with my thoughts. It sure comes in handy whenever I’m panicky or on the verge of a panic attack. Perhaps this technique could’ve helped while I was racing around the house a couple hours ago, grabbing the kids and quickly loading them into the car so that we could rush to the Emergency Room at our nearby hospital…
Cyrus had his first big allergic reaction this afternoon, and I feel like I’m still recovering from the trauma of it all. I had made him half of a hummus and vegan mayo sandwich, and he was so content eating lunch next to his big sister, who was happily eating her part of the same sandwich. Cyrus loved the hummus! A couple minutes into our meal, though, he started to fuss and then completely zoned out, fixing his gaze straight in front of him. I couldn’t get his attention, and then noticed little red raised welts forming around his mouth. Instinctively, I snatched his sandwich away. He started crying loudly at that point, scratching his face uncontrollably. I grabbed the hummus container next and read each ingredient out loud. “[Insert cuss word] – There’s sesame in here!! Oh no!” I immediately ran over to our medicine cabinet, measured out the correct amount of liquid infant Benadryl into a syringe and forced Cyrus to swallow it. Next, I grabbed his child dose Epipen and prepared myself to administer it. I was probably shaking. I called Ken, frantically, and asked him what he thought I should do. “Should I call an ambulance? Should I use the Epipen now?” Ken and I decided that as long as Cyrus wasn’t having trouble breathing that I should get the kids in the car and head to the ER, especially since we live so close. He would meet me there.
(At this point, you may think it’d be obvious to me that there’s sesame in tahini, which is often in hummus, but I had given my nearly 15-month-old son hummus in small amounts over the past month and he had done fine each time. Looking back, I think the hummus Cyrus ate previously was from Whole Foods and didn’t have sesame in it. Recently, our allergist said that Cyrus could be allergic to sesame because his skin test came back positive, but she was unsure since Cyrus had eaten some sesame oil and sesame seed buns in the past and had no obvious reaction.)
Well, he’s obviously allergic. And it sucks.
Thank God, we made it to the Emergency Room in record time (probably less than 10 minutes) and the staff took Cyrus in to be seen right away. He mainly had hives on his face at this point, and his oxygen levels were normal. The Doctor commended me on my quick action in giving Cyrus liquid Benadryl and said that I did everything right in bringing him to the hospital. He also thought that it was great that I introduced Cyrus to all different foods, even with the possibility of an allergy. Meanwhile, I held back tears as my poor little guy was crying hysterically and so uncomfortable. The hives were now on different parts of his body. The Doctor ordered a dose of liquid steroid for Cyrus to take, which he thought would be the perfect remedy for his hives and discomfort. I’m so thankful that Cyrus didn’t need a shot of his Epipen! The Doctor was so encouraging and answered all my questions about when and how to use that, just in case. He explained that essentially, we could administer the Epipen at any point that Cyrus is having an allergic reaction, even if we’re unsure, but that if he’s not having trouble breathing and are able to give him liquid Benadryl, then that could be enough. I guess it’s a case-by-case basis, but also so hard to figure out since Cyrus is a baby and can’t tell me what’s going on.
Food allergies are a big challenge for me, and for our family. Especially since neither Ken or me have any of these same allergies, and haven’t been around this before. This all still feels so fresh, and difficult to navigate. My heart breaks in thinking about all the ways that Cyrus could be exposed to foods he’s allergic to – ways which are completely out of my control. When we found out that Cyrus could have multiple food allergies months back (to peanuts, eggs, sesame, dairy, and a couple other nuts), Ken and I were so hopeful that he would outgrow them, or that he might not really be allergic to these things, since he has severe eczema issues and that can often distort skin test results, doctors told us.
As I move through the different stages of grief in processing this, I’m reminded that God made Cyrus and gave him to Ken and me, to take care of him and to love him as best we can – that God has the best in mind for Cyrus. But this lack of control on my part, where I can’t heal Cyrus from his allergies or make sure nothing bad ever happens to him, really freaks me out. It’s so hard being a parent, in wanting to keep my kids safe, and recognizing that I can only ever keep them safe to a certain degree. Only God can truly keep anyone safe. And what does that actually look like? In a world with so much suffering and pain, and loss, I grapple with my understanding of a Good and Loving God. Do I really trust God to protect me, or my family? I want to, but is He truly Safe? I keep asking myself these questions, as I read and re-read Psalm 91.
God, I want to trust You and place my sense of security in You, even when it doesn’t necessarily mean that You will spare me or my family from pain. I also don’t want to live in fear, and let fear dictate my choices. I acknowledge that I am scared, though. God, please meet me where I’m at.
This is my prayer today, and will continue to be my prayer as I tackle each day, one day at a time, unsure of the future and yet hopeful that God is there to meet me in whatever that future holds. Thanks so much for your prayers for us as we navigate food allergies. Today was really challenging.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.'” Psalm 91:1
*Photo Credit: Little Loulou Photography