The Day I Almost Killed My Daughter

I have been wanting to write about this day since I’ve started my blog… but it has just been too hard to relive.  I cannot really answer what has changed since that day over a year ago, but just the obvious one, time, and as part of Food Allergy Awareness month I wanted to share more of our food allergy story.  

That day was, to put it mildly, a nightmare.  There were so many emotions wrapped up into that day.  Anger, frustration, scared, sad, helpless, relieved, exhaustion, and about 501 other emotions that probably don’t have words to describe them.  

That day started out like any other typical day and ended like a very untypical day.

At an early age we knew our precious little girl had “something wrong with her.”  After many, many long nights and many doctor visits we found out our daughter had allergies to {2 foods} at 5 months and {an additional 2 foods} at 9 months.  

We were shocked, sad and also relieved to finally “have an answer” to what was wrong with our little girl.  

At 5 months old we figured out her allergies with the help of a GI specialist and through an elimination diet with me {I was breast-feeding.}   We saw some improvement in my daughter but not completely and at her recommendation we went to see an allergist when she was 9 months old.

This is when my daughter was allergy tested on her skin.  Putting our baby through allergy testing at 9 months was not easy.  Tears ran down my face as they pricked her arm with a panel of some of the most common allergens.  I sat watching her arm, trying to distract from scratching them for 20 minutes while praying the entire time that there were no reactions.  

But there were.

We finally had more answers and an hour later I was carrying an anaphylaxis plan and trained on how to use an EpiPen.

I walked out of their office that day and our lives were forever changed.  

I think things really set in then as I stopped to pick up her potentially life-saving medicines on the way home.  That seems like the point in time when I “really” I started on this food allergy Mom journey, and eliminated these foods from my diet {I was breast-feeding} and my daughters.  

I read about how to avoid cross-contamination, learned which companies made allergy-friendly products, called companies where it was unclear to me if they would be safe for us, and read up on about 101 other things I never knew about food allergies. 

Now we jump up to early March when my daughter was just about 11 months old and we were honestly “just getting the hang of things.”  My husband and I were in the stages of baby led weaning while avoiding her {four known} food allergies as well as some other foods we had noted were causing some eczema and some other foods we were advised {tree nuts} to avoid by our allergist until further testing when she was older.

My husband decided to take a quick trip to BJs (Costco-like store) for some essentials, and as he drove off my daughter and I were just finishing up lunch together and I decided to cut up a kiwi to snack on.  

I checked our food journal {we documented all the foods both me and my daughter ate as well as her symptoms} and saw she hadn’t had a new food introduced to her in about 5 days, so I decided why not give her something new today!  (Many physicians recommended adding new foods into a childs daughter every 3-4 days if allergies exists.)

I sliced up the kiwi really small and proceeded to feed less than a dime-sized piece to my daughter. 

I turn my back to place the rest of the kiwis into the refrigerator look back at her and think – ‘hmm, something doesn’t look right,’ ‘her face is swelling and breaking out in hives.’  

Is this what an allergic reaction looks like?  Could she be allergic to kiwi?!?!?!  That small, sweet, and fuzzy fruit.  

I grab the Benadryl (our first step in our allergy action plan for treatment of hives) and administer to her.  

I then reach for my phone to text my husband to come home quick as something doesn’t seem right.

Call my Father (he lived next door at the time) to come over because I was scared.

I then take my daughter out of her high chair to comfort her and assure her “It will be okay honey, Mommy is here and I won’t let anything happen to you.”

I hold my daughter tight.  I realize she’s swelling more.  I hold my daughter even tighter and try not to panic.

My Father comes over to the house, sits on the sofa and I hold my daughter as he watches and tries to distract her.

She starts having trouble breathing.  

My husband walks in (4 minutes after her first ingestion of kiwi.)

She’s having even more trouble breathing.  

“I think we need to administer the EpiPen” I say to my husband.

My Father calls 911.

I pull my daughters pants down.

My husband (bravely) injects our 11 month old with epinephrine into her thigh. 

He / it / we save her life.

Her swelling resides a tad.  She starts breathing a little better.  She vomits.  

Her swelling comes down a little more and is breathing more normally. 

The minutes between her ingestion of the kiwi to the epinephrine injection felt like eternity.  The minutes until the ambulance arrives felt even longer. 

The ambulance finally arrives, evaluates her, and we wrestle to strap her into the ambulance chair and transport her to the hospital.

They hook her up to monitors and take her blood pressure, oxygen levels and other vitals.  Along the way she rubs her eyes and face, and she swells more (we realized as we got to the hospital that her hands were never washed, and that she was continuing to give herself a reaction with the residual kiwi on her hands and transferring to her face.)

BusyBeeKate-NoKiwi

Thankfully we were prepared with epinephrine (adrenaline) which is a medication that can reverse the severe symptoms of anaphylaxis.  Many people know this to be an EpiPen (although other versions do exist) and it is given as a “shot” to the affected individual if they are having a reaction.

After any administration of epinephrine you must go to the ER to continue to be treated and monitored, and we spent the remainder of that day in the hospital with our daughter, who was discharged in the evening still exhibiting hives and swelling but all-in-all was ‘okay’ after her experience.

We replay that day over and day and have been told that we did everything we were supposed to do after the reaction.  At present, strict avoidance of problem foods is the only way to prevent anaphylaxis, although researchers are working on preventive therapies.

For us this means a lot of vigilance – label reading, asking a lot of questions when eating away from home (which is very, very rare for us,) always carrying an EpiPen wherever we go (actually always carrying two in case one malfunctions or a second dose is needed,) and learning and educating ourselves more and more about food allergies.

I almost killed my daughter that day by giving her that small, sweet, and fuzzy fruit.

Conclusion

After this incidence we were fearful to give our daughter any new foods (particularly fruits.)  Our allergist agreed on further testing and we also found out she was allergic to 3 other foods (including pineapple- more on that here,) for a total of 8 foods.  My daughter has since outgrown 4 of her allergies, and 4 still remain – peanuts, eggs, kiwi and pineapple.  Many people are just as surprised by the fruit allergies as we are, and, honestly, they are just as difficult to manage as peanuts and eggs.

If you see a food allergy parent reading packages or what others deem as being “overly” cautious please don’t judge.  Food allergies are scary, life-changing, and can be life-threatening.  

I encourage you to take time to learn about foods allergies.  1 in 13 children are now affected by them.  There is a good chance if you have kids that someone in their class, on their soccer team, or in your church or neighborhood is affected by them.  (Check out my five things I didn’t know about food allergies post.)

I almost lost my daughter to food allergies and our lives will never be the same since that day and I hope one day there is a cure or treatment for all food allergies and that another child never has a similar (or worse) experience what we did that day.    

May is food allergy awareness month and May 10-16th is food allergy awareness week.  During this month I will be posting some allergy-friendly recipes, sharing more of my experiences, and also featuring some reflections from other food allergy parents.  Please stop back and also visit me on Facebook and Twitter

For further information about food allergies, please visit:

FARE – Food Allergy Research & Education
KFA – Kids With Food Allergies

Thanks for listening.

Posts on this site are based on my personal journey of  food allergies, and are not intended to influence your food choices. This site is not intended to provide medical adviceThe suggestions here are not intended as dietary advice or as a substitute for consulting a dietician, physician, or other medical professional. It is the reader’s sole responsibility to determine which foods are appropriate and safe for his or her family to consume. Always consult your doctor. The author makes no claims regarding the presence of food allergens and disclaims all liability in connection with the use of this site.

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