The Peanut Challenge

“His face is really swollen. How long has it been like this?”, a concerned nurse said to me in the emergency room as she looked at my 13 month old baby boy.

An hour earlier I gave him peanut butter on bread for the first time. Minutes into the delicious sandwich, Rocco started slapping himself and rubbing his eyes. At first we were charmed by his cute mealtime show, but we quickly grew concerned. Red splotches appeared all over his torso and face (yes his torso was visible, because much like Joe Dirt’s close relatives, our kids often partake in topless dinners).

My husband was the first one to put two and two together and take away the peanut butter. Carry the one, and the hives kept coming. Rocco was getting itchier by the minute. My mind escalated this reaction to all sorts of drastic scenarios, and I decided to take him to the emergency room.

“His face is really swollen. How long has it been like this?”, a concerned nurse said to me in the emergency room as she looked at my 13 month old baby boy.

Sheepishly I said “Ummm, that’s just what his cheeks look like in real life”. I actually said ‘real life’, because the ER is apparently a parallel universe for me, where cheeks may or may not take on their ‘real life’ form. Rocco and I have a lot of similarities, and much like I carry my weight in my hips, he carries it in his cheeks. The nurse looked a little surprised that a kid’s head and face could have that much surface area, but seemed to believe me. It was just hives, no swelling.

Fast forward a year and a half to a blood test showing that he has potentially outgrown his peanut allergy. Enter The Peanut Challenge.

When I heard this, I had visions of a Jif whack-a-mole scenario or him wading through a quicksand of peanut butter wearing only his diaper and war paint. Maybe a throw down between him and Mr. Peanut where Rocco crushes that condescending monocle in his bare hands? In reality, we had to go to the dr.’s office and let them give him tiny bits of peanut butter in increasing quantities while they observed him.

The boy is a two and a half year old letter and number whiz, but there are a few areas where he falls short: physical/coordination, anger management and peanut resistance. The third peanut butter installation did him in. Within minutes he had hives all over his mouth and neck. Benadryl was administered and the hives subsided quickly. Question: Why it is that I have had the same zit on my for three weeks but Rocco’s hives left nary a trace a mere 45 minutes after being medicated?

My little voice had been telling me that he would fail it, so I wasn’t really surprised when he did. He’ll probably fail lots more things in the future, but as with any failure, we learn from it, and isn’t that the point?

We learned that if Rocco gets a little lick of peanut butter somewhere down the road, he will probably get some nasty hives that can be cured with Benadryl. We learned that although it is a scary allergy and sometimes inconvenient, he isn’t as bad off as some people with peanut allergies. We learned that we need to be on the lookout for a worse reaction if he ever accidentally eats more than a tiny bit of peanut (epi pen at the ready). Finally, we learned that a little Benadryl triggers a 6 hour nap, perfect for when Mom wants to get some blog writing done.

This post was originally featured on Susan’s blog, Pecked to Death By Chickens. Photo via

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