“This is my PSA about why telling Stella ‘just don’t eat peanut butter’ or ‘just have her sit at a peanut-free table’ isn’t enough. Stella has a peanut-free table at her school. Her school has been in constant contact with us about her allergy, and we have a ton of protocols in effect for prevention and treatment.
We are on the fourth day of kindergarten, and on Day 3, someone brought peanut butter pretzels to the peanut-free table, forcing Stella to be sent to the nurse’s office, away from her friends, to be monitored while she finished her lunch. This is despite the fact that every child who sits at the peanut free table has to have a waiver signed by their parents saying that they won’t send peanuts to school in order to keep their friends safe.
Today, Day 4, Stella came in from lunch recess and she was flushed and lethargic. Her teacher was concerned and took her to the nurse. By the time she got there her face and tongue were covered in hives and her throat was itchy. They called me and administered epi. If they had waited any longer her throat probably would have closed up. I made it to the school at the same time as the ambulance and we got her transported to the hospital. The school staff, medics, firefighters, and everyone else did great. And now we’re sitting in the hospital so that Stella can be monitored because she has a history of biphasic reactions, and they are frequently worse than the initial reaction.
This happened despite precautions being taken. Stella didn’t eat anything with peanuts. She only eats food that we prepare and send in for her. This most likely happened because someone else sent a peanut butter sandwich to school with their child, who then touched something that Stella touched, which caused a reaction. If someone eats peanuts, and then plays on the same playground that Stella is on, she (and any other allergic kids) are at risk. We realize that we can’t live in a bubble, and that the world isn’t going to stop for her, but we just want her to be able to breathe, and school needs to be a safe place for her.
Right now, Stella is doing ok physically. She’s still got some hives on her tongue, and she’s sleepy, but the reaction seems to be responding to the epi for now. We aren’t out of the woods yet but she’s resting comfortably and being monitored. Emotionally, she’s having a hard time. She’s scared and she was afraid that we were mad at her. She’s also confused, because she didn’t eat any peanuts, and doesn’t understand why this happened to her. This will most likely trigger anxiety for her, and hopefully, she won’t be afraid to go back to school.
Please. I’m begging you, even if peanuts aren’t banned at your school, please don’t send them with your kids. There are a million other delicious, healthy options out there. I have a kiddo with sensory issues; I understand that some kids are really picky and it’s nearly impossible to get them to eat. But at the end of the day, I just want my baby to be alive.
Someone is inevitably going to say that we can’t ban all allergens and that people who have other allergies have to learn to deal with them. And that is correct. However, peanuts and nuts are especially bad because they linger on surfaces and can easily be transmitted. This is also possible with other allergens, but to a lesser extent. Here are some things that you can do:
1) Don’t eat food in places where it isn’t necessary. If you go to the park or other shared space, don’t let your kids play on the equipment or touch things while they’re eating.
2) Encourage hand washing. Not only is it sanitary, it goes a long way towards preventing allergic reactions. Hand sanitizer DOES NOT kill peanut proteins. Thoroughly washing with soap and water is the only way to remove peanut protein. If you absolutely must send peanuts with your kids, please ask them to go to the restroom and wash well with soap and water before they touch anything.
3) Don’t feed kids that don’t belong to you unless you know them and are aware of their allergies.
4) Keep food out of the classroom. Even a peanut free cupcake may have traces of peanuts in it if it was prepared in a kitchen where other food was prepared. This also goes for other major allergens like soy, egg, and dairy. If you want to celebrate a birthday at school, stick to non-food treats so that everyone is safe and included.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Stephanie Peterson. It was originally shared on Facebook. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
Read more informational stories about living with food allergies here:
Do you know someone who could benefit from this story? Please SHARE on Facebook and Instagram to let them know a community of support is available.