medic alert.

It’s always really depressing when you realize that everything comes down to you. For years, months, weeks and days, since Beatrix tried her first foods, we have known that she has anaphylaxis; a fairly rare but life threatening form of allergy. Hers is to peanuts, the most common, but certainly one of the most serious. For a while, I thought saying to people “my kid is allergic to peanuts” would be sufficient to gain the required attention. I soon changed it to “my kid has anaphylaxis” to give it a little more weight once that didn’t achieve the appropriate responses that I desired. It seems now that I have to have a 5 hour debate with anyone I mention it to, almost as if I’m on trial purely for wanting to be a good mother and protect my baby. It’s draining. I can’t trust very many people to watch Bea, because regardless of the fact that the liklihood of an attack is very low, I still have to make sure that anybody in her care has access to her adrenaline shot (EpiPen Jr.) and knows how to correctly administer it and when to do so. If you do it wrong, you can risk accidentally stabbing yourself with a shot of adrenaline – in which case you are now at medical risk yourself – or worse, the person who actually needs the shot may die. And it seems that these are the words I need to say to everyone; “she will die”. And this is usually met with eyerolling, smugness and general disbelief, because for some reason, its proposterous that one bite from a satay chicken skewer could kill you. This situation is made much worse by the fact that Beatrix has a very severe sensitivity with her particular allergy, in which if someone eats say, a peanut butter sandwich and then touches the remote of the TV, when Beatrix goes to use the remote, she will either get extremely sick or the unmentionable may happen. These aren’t just hypotheticals given to me by a doctor — I’ve witnessed it firsthand and been horrified. Bea has played with toys touched by a kid who had peanut butter toast and she was rushed to the ER with a purple face and severe breathing difficulty. It sucks that pretty much only my very immediate family and Bea’s childcare takes this seriously enough for my liking — at a recent extended family gathering, my Mum had to get up and make a speech about Bea’s allergy to make sure nobody fed her any food without checking with me first, and 10 minutes after that I found a bowl of peanuts on the corner of a low buffet table right in her reach, and two of the salads on the table had nuts in them when I was assured that the entire party was specifically nut-free. My cousin actually had to hide the nuts somewhere in the pantry cupboard when nobody was looking, because they kept finding their way back into the party no matter how many times I removed them. I had to have a near screaming fight with my 70 year old uncle to assure him that it wasn’t just a “phase” she was going through.

So all of this is hard enough, but when the other half of your parenting team doesn’t even take you seriously, this is when problems arise, especially when you live in separate homes. I caught Ross’ father eating from a bowl of peanuts while I was at his house earlier in the week, and made sure that something was mentioned, even though I knew that everyone knew she was allergic and it was ludicrous that they were even present in the house. This was justified to me by the fact that nobody planned to feed Bea the nuts, and that they were on the kitchen bench and she doesn’t go in the kitchen. Right. Because 3 year olds ALWAYS follow the rules. And they don’t pick up crap off the floor, and they certainly never touch you. I tried to let this go, but I wasn’t reassured that Ross was going to do anything about it, so I decided to ring his father myself and make sure he understood. He said he wouldn’t buy peanuts again and hung up on me mid-sentence. At this point, I was getting pretty livid. It’s not just peanuts, its any nut. It’s anything with peanuts or ANY sort of nut in the ingredients. When I rang Ross to express my anger at his father speaking to me so rudely on the phone, I expected some sort of empathy. None. I quickly gave another short little speech making sure he was going to just double-check with his Dad what kind of foods were not allowed, and I listed some, like chocolate with nuts in it, peanut butter…

Interrupted by Ross, angrily.

“What do you mean, we can’t have peanut butter?!”

I lost it at this point. I started screaming down the phone. What did he think peanut butter was made with? Horse shit? it’s not safe! It could get on household objects. It would leave residue on your lips when you go to kiss her. It gets mixed in with the butter and then the butter is contaminated. I made him promise to empty the cupboard before she visited on the weekend and he agreed.

We now come to today. I decided to go over and check the cupboard for myself, and was expecting to be nicely satisfied that all nut products were removed and the house was safe.

Wrong.

He hadn’t even checked the entire pantry, and had completely ignored the freezer and fridge. He had only removed “obvious” items, like the jar of peanut butter, and a jar of satay sauce. I methodically started working my way through the cupboard when I found two boxes of carrot cake mix, one of the main ingredients being walnuts. I was very, very irritated, but tried to calm myself by justifying that these weren’t peanuts, and maybe nobody was planning to ever eat these cake mixes. But then I remembered that his Dad is very fond of carrot cake, and was beginning to worry that he might even try feed Bea some at the next family party…

I hoped that this would be the only offending item, but when I got to my last location, the freezer, I found a box of frozen satay beef and completely lost it. Satay is nothing BUT peanuts. I don’t care if it was never going to be consumed by her. I don’t care if it was for his Dad when he was home alone before work, there should not be peanut products in the home of a child with a illness that WILL KILL THEM. Luckily my Mum rang just as I finished emptying the cupboard, and I picked up Bea and left. I don’t know when, if ever, she’s going back to her father’s house again. He can come have visitation at my house where its safe. I feel complete distrust and sick to my stomach that someone so tiny and precious isn’t given enough regard and protection. Ross and I have a future mediation session planned in the next few weeks that hasn’t been finalised yet, so I think I’m holding off sending her to his house until I’ve spoken to the mediator or better yet, my own lawyer.

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