Awww Nuts!

Living With Peanut Allergies
by JAK’s guest mom blogger from Kenosha, Melinda Munro

I love peanut butter. Slap it between some white bread with jelly or bananas, slather it on toast, dip apples in it, bake it in a cookie, and don’t forget the all holy peanut butter cup, I love the stuff! Or at least I used to. READ MORE…

My love affair with the creamy, goopy, salty sweet, American go-to ended when my son had his first allergic reaction after a tiny bite of a peanut butter sandwich.  He vomited and hives spread all over his body.  It took two days for the hives to completely go away. So I learned that my son, like an increasing number of young children around the country, has a life-threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts.

Since then, I’ve come to loathe peanuts and tree nuts, which seem to be EVERYWHERE. Most kid-oriented activities seem to include some form of treats with nuts, and there’s almost always a PB&J lurking nearby. A trip to Monkey Joe’s resulted in an outbreak of hives even though we didn’t see anyone eating anything with peanuts. Catching a flick at the movie theatre is risky if anyone near us is eating candy with nuts. There’s no chance of me taking him to a Brewers game with all of the peanut shells strewn about. And don’t get me started on the children’s museums that serve PB&J. For my son, his allergy means missing out on a lot of common childhood experiences and for me it means constant vigilance and planning to keep him safe.

I’ve learned there is no cure for food allergies; the only treatment is to avoid the allergens. If my son ingested a peanut or peanut product, or even a safe food that had been cross contaminated by coming in contact with a peanut or peanut product, his immune system would identify the food as an invader and attack it. The symptoms can range from a minor irritation like hives to anaphylaxis ; a sudden drop in blood pressure, breathing difficulty, vomiting, extreme facial swelling and in severe cases, death.

The best resource I’ve found to educate myself about food allergies has been other parents. There are many wonderful blogs and online food allergy websites where you can connect with other parents dealing with the same food allergy. But even with all of this information available, I still wanted to connect with someone locally who understands the challenges of raising a child with severe food allergies.

According to the nurse at my son’s school, our elementary has the highest number of children with food allergies in our school district. The nurse encouraged me to start a support group, but privacy issues make it difficult to reach out directly with these other parents. So I recently start a Facebook page to offer support for families with peanut and tree nut allergies called Kenosha Peanut Allergy Parents.

Our goal is to provide local support for people and families dealing with peanut allergies, and to form a community where issues regarding those allergies can be discussed. My wish is to reach as many families in the area as possible. I would love to have a mentoring system for parents who have just found out that their child has peanut allergies and also have parents at each school who can help answer questions and concerns for incoming students and their parents. Our group is still new and we rely on word of mouth to grow, so please pass along our FB page and email to anyone who may be interested.

You can connect with Kenosha Peanut Allergy Parents at http://www.facebook.com/KenoshaPAP or KenoshaPAP@gmail.com.

Melinda Munro, of Kenosha,  is a stay-at-home mom of a 6 year old and 4 year old. Her son was diagnosed with food allergies shortly after his first birthday.

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