Sarah Bleu Webb's True Story
When my daughter was about 15 months old (July 2008), she had a reaction to freshly ground peanut butter at the health food store. She had also just tried a strawberry for the first time and then the peanut butter so it was confusing which food she was reacting to as both were new foods for her. She turned red and hives appeared all over her body and she was irritable and crying. I tried soothing her and nothing helped. I asked a nearby store clerk in the health & beauty section for her advice, and products that could calm her skin and she was speechless. We quickly headed back to the hotel where I gave her a bath and tried to soothe her. I knew it was an allergic reaction to either the strawberry or the peanut butter but since we don’t have anyone in my family with food allergies I didn’t know very much about food allergic reactions at that time. After that we avoided peanut products and strawberries. A few days later, my mother offered my daughter a hard-boiled egg and just at the slightest contact of the egg to her mouth she developed little bumps around her mouth. I knew that she was having an allergic reaction and told my mom not to give her any more- although I don’t think she actually ingested any of it.
About 3 months later (October 2008 at 18 months old), during dinner, she ate some roasted potatoes and pasta with pesto sauce. About 15-20 minutes after she finished eating dinner she started rubbing her eyes hard, her face turned red and her eyes started to swell shut. She had pesto sauce on other occasions but without an allergic reaction so it was difficult to understand what she was reacting to. Her breathing started to become strained and we raced out the door and drove to the emergency room. I kept telling her to ”just hang on honey,” and that “we will be at the hospital soon and everything will be ok, they will help us”. I was so scared and I remember praying along the way. I could see that she was scared and confused too. When we pulled up to the door of the emergency room I grabbed her out of her car seat and raced inside. The security guard tried to tell me that I needed to check in first but I informed him that my daughter, wasn’t breathing and they took us in immediately. There were about 5 doctors working on her at the same time. The doctors were hooking up different things, giving her a shot, and checking her vitals. Fortunately, by the time we were brought inside the ER her breathing was returning to normal and her anaphylaxis was subsiding.
I am so grateful to God that she survived that night. We were in the ER for several hours for observation as her eyes were still quite swollen from the reaction. Her allergic reaction was to the pine nuts in the pesto sauce. As we were discharged from the ER we were referred to see an allergist and prescribed an Epipen Jr. and instructed to use Orapred and children’s Benadryl for the next few days and that if her reaction returned to use the Epipen Jr. and return back to the ER. I was so nervous about everything that happened. The next day I started searching out food allergy support groups, we went to see the allergist and I started researching everything I could about food allergies.
Over time we have learned that she has allergic reactions just from surface contact with allergens.
She has had allergic reactions to shopping carts, playgrounds, and at friend’s homes, thankfully these reactions to surfaces with allergens were not anaphylactic, although we always have the Epipen Jr. with us everywhere we go. She is anaphylactic to peanut, all tree nuts, egg, and sesame seed. She also has eczema. Through her annual blood work her allergens are getting worse and her reactions are increasing. We have limited her exposure as much as possible by rarely eating out, and also not visiting other homes, unless it is the home of another food allergic child with similar allergies and the home is free of her allergens.
I also became certified in infant, child, and adult CPR with AED and Epipen trained by the Red Cross.
I am still learning so much and I am grateful that we found PAK. The support is amazing. Often feeling isolated and alone, just being connected with others going through the same thing has given me hope and strength.