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My husband is a body builder and always ate a cup of cashews with his chicken. He loved the added protein. Mikey, then age 2, had to be like his daddy and eat them with him. He LOVED nuts. He also loved to sit down with his great-grandpa and eat a banana-nut muffin and have a sip of left over coffee. He is a very picky eater so we let him eat cashews and banana-nut muffins as often as he would take them. He never showed any discomfort other than some mild itching. All I ever said was, “Oh, he probably is just sensitive to some nuts.”

One day, about 3 days before his 3rd birthday he was enjoying a muffin with his “Gapa Joe” I noticed he spit out his muffin almost immediately after taking a bite. He began pulling at his lips. His lips got a little puffy. At this point I did not know it was a serious allergy.  I did know to give him Benadryl. As I was giving him the antihistamine I noticed that his breathing was sounding a bit wheezy. He was diagnosed with asthma at 7 months old. I pulled out his albuterol inhaler and gave him some puffs hoping it would help. It did help a little, but I decided to give him a dose of prednisolone to help his airways open up. For the rest of the evening I kept a close eye on him. The next morning I called our pediatrician who ordered some Epi Pen Jr.s for us to keep with us at all times.

5 months later we were visiting his great grandparents again. I loaded Mikey and his younger sister in the double stroller and we left for the walk down. There are 4 houses in-between my house and theirs. I forgot the pen at home. Rather than going back up the street we just stayed put. Well, his grandparents were making a sweet bread dish for church and it calls for chopped walnuts and pecans. I even joked with my sister who was there that “Watch, now since I don’t have his pen something will happen.”  Sure enough about an hour later Mikey comes to me with swollen lips crying of a “nut attack.” I grabbed both children and put them in the stroller and ran up the hill to the house. I called my husband to tell his parents to meet me at the hospital to help with my daughter. I did not call 911, I did not inject the EpiPen, but I did give Benadryl tablets. (the dissolving tablets are great to keep in the car so you do not have to measure liquid) On the way to the hospital his breathing got louder and louder. He threw up in the car 2 times.

We walked into the hospital and they took him back immediately. There we had the room full of doctors and nurses. It looked like something on tv. After things settled a bit they decided he should get some IV steroids to help his airways stay open. He had been given this medicine before for an asthma attack and he tolerated it fine. The nurse came in and as soon as the medicine was injected Mikey started shrieking and scratching at his entire body. He was having an allergic reaction to the medicine. It is called Solumedrol, or methylprednisolone.  Because of this we were admitted to the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) for a day. His body had a few hives, but his lips were so swollen they cracked. It was at least a week before his lips went down.

Before being released I was lectured for not injecting him with the EpiPen and for not calling 911. It could have been worse, but God was with my son. I learned my lesson; I should have taken the pen. I should have called 911. I should have used the EpiPen. I should have left when I saw nuts on the counter. Do not make my mistake. Food allergies are very serious.

Abq, NM