I’m writing this while it’s still very fresh.
Because I feel like I need to process it all.
Earlier this week I was engaged in a heated discussion in the comments section of a fellow blogger and fellow mom of food allergic kids about how Israel doesn’t take food allergies seriously.
Earlier this morning, I blogged about how frustrated I feel with the Israel medical care system.
And then, like a freak thunderstorm that knocks down the tree that just misses your house, the Universe decided it wanted to tell me something.
I think. Or else it’s all a very very strange coincidence.
Around lunch time, I got a call from my husband. He was on his way home with the boys from school. The 9 year old had just thrown up all over the car. My husband then told me that my son had eaten a candy at school and started feeling sick after. He was afraid it had nuts in it.
But he wasn’t sure. My son hadn’t read the ingredients.
Our smart son; our careful son; the one who has had now 7 years of experience living with food allergies… he slipped up.
Of course, one can understand. It was a sucking candy. Not a chocolate bar. Not a cake or a cookie or a brownie. An orange-flavored hard candy. At least that’s what it looked like and even tasted like to him.
In all our years of reading ingredients, we have never once ever come upon a hard sucking candy with nuts in it (save for coconut oil, which he is not allergic to.)
I think he got complacent. And, like any 9 year old boy, careless.
Maybe we got complacent. We stopped nudging him.
Either way, today, after years of wondering what it would look like to face anaphylaxis in the face, I did.
This wasn’t his first allergic reaction. He’s had three reactions in the past, but all have been treated successfully with Benadryl.
Today was different. I could tell. Kinda. But not for certain.
As soon as he got home, I could see he was pale. He also couldn’t breathe from his nose. And while he could still breathe from his mouth, his throat hurt and his voice sounded like he had something stuck in his throat.
I wasn’t quite sure he “needed” the epipen. But I held on to it as I evaluated him. I looked in his throat. It looked swollen.
I had just given myself the epipen a few months before for what I had thought was allergy but turned out to be food poisoning. At the time, I told myself, “It was good you did. Now you know it doesn’t really hurt. Now you will really give it to the kids if they need it and not worry about it hurting.”
A lot of parents of kids with food allergies have this fear. “I don’t want to give him the shot. It will hurt.”
But thank goodness, I did. Later, after we took him to the doctor; after the doctor checked his vitals and told us we did the right thing; after he gave him steroids as a follow up treatment; he told us, we did the right thing.
It was only after that my husband pulled out one of the wrapped candies the teacher had given us to show us what he ate.
It said Praline on the cover. My son didn’t know what a praline was. Because it’s a nut candy, he’s never eaten it. Also, it’s not something children generally eat in anywhere in America I’ve ever been. So he’s never seen anything like that.
Pralines are not nuts, themselves. They are a nut-flavored candy or cookie. It wasn’t part of our vocabulary … the one we’ve always used when training him on what to do around found.
Of course, if he had read the ingredients written in teeny tiny crumpled up type on the wrapper, he would have seen the word “peanut.” We did.
I can’t be angry at my son. I am too thankful right now he is alive.
I am thankful he trusted his body and got help right away.
I’m thankful that his teacher called us immediately as soon as she heard he had eaten the candy.
I’m thankful my husband happened to be nearby with the car and could get him from school.
I’m thankful I had the courage to give him the epipen even though I wasn’t sure he “needed” it.
I’m thankful there was a clinic open to see my child (even though the first two ones we called were closed and no one available to answer the phones).
I’m thankful traffic on the one lane road to Misgav wasn’t extraordinarily slow as it sometimes can be.
I’m thankful the doctor on call at the clinic happened to be our pediatrician, who knew us, and who we felt comfortable with.
I’m happy he took us seriously. I’m happy the nurse and the receptionist at the clinic also took us very seriously. I’m happy the teacher (who called us later) and the children in my son’s class all took it seriously.
Of course, I am most thankful he is sitting next to me right now bugging me to get off the computer and get him a popsicle.
He is ok.
He is ok.
And, perhaps, there are Israelis who take food allergies seriously.
After today, I imagine some of them will likely take them more seriously than they did before.
I’m not suggesting the turn of events was all the work of something supernatural or magical. Or that someone or something was really trying to send me a message.
(They do take it seriously.)
(He is in safe hands.)
(You will know what to do.)
(He will be okay.)
But, one way or another?
Jen Maidenberg is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. She posted the above on her blog on Oct. 25, 2012. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/