A Warning by Richard Bleil
My crisped rice treats are ready to go. They seem out of place next to the stack of chocolate-based candies, including a peanut butter one, and one with caramel, peanuts and nougat. I knew of peanut allergies, so I also purchased plain chocolate bars. I thought I was ready, but it occurred to me that all of the full-sized candy bars I intend to give out are all chocolate. I wanted an alternative.
My thoughts went to a well-known but difficult-to-find candy which has no chocolate, but is basically nougat wrapped in peanuts. But it’s still peanut.
I commented on my social media network and had a comment to the effect of, “you’re giving it as a gift, don’t worry about it.” But I do. And, sadly, the chocolate company that made the plain chocolate bar also makes peanut-based treats, so chances are high that it is not safe for people with peanut allergies. But why bother to worry?
A friend of mine (who will recognize this, and I hope she’ll forgive me for writing about it) has a young son with a severe peanut allergy. A few days ago a well-meaning mom gave her son a cookie. My friend inquired about it, asking if the chips were peanut butter, to which her friend reassured her that the chips were butterscotch.
Unfortunately, she was mistaken.
The reaction began as I’m sure it would for any child with a severe peanut allergy, which, frankly, is frightening enough. As swelling begins, you run the risk of the windpipes being swollen closed. The standard response is a epi-pen, which was indeed applied to this remarkably brave young man. Of course, any reaction severe enough for an epi-pen warrants a trip to the emergency room, which they did where Benadryl was given. So all is good.
Except it isn’t.
The epi-pen and Benadryl wasn’t having the desired effect. The child got worse and needed to stay in the hospital. He was admitted and spent the night, where he had a relapse. Relapses, I’m told, are rare, but they do occur. They spent a very long, sleepless, worrisome night with their child as he struggled. His oxygen was being monitored, and as it dropped he was put on oxygen. Eventually he stabilized, and they could take him home.
This is not something I heard. This is a friend of mine whose child had this response, but even at this, the story does not end.
See, this all happened while they were on a trip, roughly ten hours from home. They couldn’t leave to go home until relatively late the day he was released, and they had to make it a two-day trip. Finally they got home, and shortly thereafter, there was yet another relapse, several days after he ate the cookie.
Again, they rushed him to the emergency room, and again they gave him anti-inflammatory medicines. But he is so young and had been given so many medicines in such a short period of time that this time, he began convulsing uncontrollably. Now we add anti-convulsion medicines on top of antihistamines, and anti-inflammatories, and anything else they might have given. These very rare relapses now have occurred multiple times in this frail young boy.
That night, they thought he was stabilized and wanted to release him, but they could get ahold of his regular allergy doctor who advised against it. He spent yet another night in the hospital. This time there is a happy ending, as he delighted in ordering off of the hospital food menu for breakfast, received Legos as a gift and is tonight at home. I’m praying that he is now past this incident.
Can you imagine how the mom who gave him the cookie, and reassured his mother that it was not peanut butter, must feel? Can you imagine how his mom and dad felt as they watched him convulse uncontrollably in the hospital bed? Can you imagine how many people, family members, friends all worried and prayed for him? Can you imagine why I’m so concerned about what I am giving out this year?
Anybody coming to my door will get full-sized candy bars, and since I don’t have such allergies, they are mainly peanut based candies. And I bought far too many candies. I always buy my favorites since I’ll end up eating the leftovers, but now I also have the crispy treats. No chocolate, no peanuts, just a famous serial and marshmallow made in a facility that I’m hoping is peanut free. From what I’ve seen, it looks like they are. It’s sad that trick-or-treating is so rare these days, but I’m glad I’m ready for whoever comes my way.