Monday, November 15, 2004

Squirrels and Nuts

We figured out conclusively last night that the Sprout has a peanut allergy.

Not to panic - it's just hives, not breathing difficulties (so far). On two previous occasions, he got hives from food but we couldn't pin it on peanuts exactly. But last night, while patting peanut butter cookie dough into balls, he definitely had a reaction and it could only be from the peanut butter.

I have no experience with hives. Wow. Can they ever come on fast. It was 10 minutes between the dough rolling, a tiny taste, and the full-body hive action. And his allergy is even a contact allergy - he got hives all over his hands from the peanut oil. And then he rubbed his peanut-buttery hands into his itchy little eyes. Ooh la la la. We stuck him straight into the bathtub and rubbed him with baking soda/water.

He had some eczema this Spring/Summer, and one of the drugs that the dermatologist prescribed was an antihistamine that helps eczema patients sleep without itching too much. Luckily, we had this antihistamine on hand and gave it to him the moment all the hives appeared. Within 10 minutes of that, the hives stopped itching and started to clear up. Poor little bunny. It was really scary for me, since I've never been around hives much, but Jim handled it with his usual aplomb. And we agreed that I should finish making the cookies since there seemed to be no risk of Sprout suffocating.

I'm going to consult with Sprout's doctor about how allergies can progress, so we know what the risks are. Jim eats peanut butter every day, and having it in the house seems to have no effect on Mister Bobo. That's a relief. And Bobo helped me make cookies with ground almonds in them last week, with absolutely no histamine reaction. So it might just be peanuts, and not all nuts. If it's all nuts, then I'm in trouble.

As a tradition, I usually make a ton of Christmas cookies around this time, and most of them have nuts in them (I am a squirrel, after all). I'm thinking that I'll hold off on making some of them this year, though, since it seems like teasing to make cookies in front of the Sprout that he can't have.

The bittersweet part of this whole story from last night is that the peanut butter cookies were unbelievable.

I'm always shopping for a good cookie recipes (collecting good cookie recipes is one of my haphazard hobbies), and only 1 in 20 is worth keeping. Most of the cookie recipes out there should be drop-kicked off a cliff, in my opinion. And I am a dessert snob, after my four years of working at Calories. It has to be pretty stunning to make my list.

Last night's Magic Peanut Butter Middles were a keeper. You make a paste of peanut butter and icing sugar - this paste is rolled into tiny little balls (a la Sprout). Then you also make a chocolate cookie dough, and wrap each peanut butter ball in chocolate dough. The finished product is flattened with a glass onto the cookie sheet and baked for nine minutes. And presto: a chewy, chocolate cookie with a surprising, creamy, peanut butter middle! Oh my God.

Jim had to run down the alley at 9:30 p.m. to take half of them to John and Amy, so we wouldn't both get tummyaches from gorging ourselves. And now, Sprout had such fun (and doesn't connect "make a cookie, anna putta onna sheet!" with being really itchy and crying), that he wants to make more cookies...


Blogger Alicia said...

oh, the poor dear! i get the same exact reaction from mushrooms. only my hives last about 5 days.

if you're looking for some really good cookie recipes, i have a few that are out of this world. i would be happy to share:) drop me a line if you are interested.

8:21 pm  
Blogger Gwen said...

Five-day hives sounds absolutely wretched, from what I saw the other day. I bet you're not often tempted to eat a mushroom.

Thank you for the recipe offer - perhaps we should do a swap! I'll dig up a few really good ones for you.

9:45 am  
Blogger Paul said...

Hi Gwen, fellow Canadian librarian here, but just tripped across your post because you mentioned the peanut allergy. I don't want to scare you or anything, but my 2.5 year old son also has a peanut allergy, and it's really not something you want to brush off lightly. Do talk to your doctor, who should refer you to an allergist. Just because your son only had hives this time doesn't mean that's all that will happen next time - unfortunately, from what I've read, the reactions in a peanut allergic child often increase in severity. My son has carried an epi-pen since he was diagnosed, and he understands (as much as a 2.5 year old can) "no nuts for me!". There are tons of good resources out there and I'd be happy to share the background information my wife and I have found.

Not sure if you can track me back from this comment, so if you want to get in touch, there's contact info here.


1:44 pm  
Blogger liz said...

I have to agree with Paul on this one. In fact, if I had a car I'd drive up there right now and take you guys to get a kid-epi-pen! I have carried one around for years (with timely replacements, of course) because of some allergic reactions I had to beestings.

The thing that is burned into my memory is "Well, this time it's just a rash, and maybe you'd never get anything other than a rash, but the next time could be the time your throat swells shut for the first time, so you better carry this just in case."

Thank goodness you had antihistamines on hand!

Oddly, I have an allergy to macadamia nuts--but only a contact allergy with macadamia nut oil, not an allergy to eating the nuts themselves. So I think it can be quite selective. Perhaps he'll still be able to eat other nuts.

2:38 pm  
Blogger liz said...

PS: those cookies sound fantastic!

Maybe I'll attempt them at my bakefest-spree this weekend.

2:40 pm  
Blogger Eileen said...

Poooor Sprouters!! Auntie Beans in her wisdom also recommends the epi pen. You can squirrel them away in nifty places. Can't be any worse than hauling around an asthma inhaler for life. Breathing is awfully swell, I think. Swelling bronchial tubes and throats: not so swell.

Peanut butter is overrated.


3:05 pm  
Blogger liz said...

So, since I have to carry an epi-pen *and* an inhaler, what does that make me? (Besides a heavy-purse owner, that is.)

3:29 pm  
Blogger Gwen said...

I think it means you're 'swell'. (Sorry, couldn't resist).

3:49 pm  
Blogger Gwen said...

Thank you all for your concern and for your comments. I have a call in to the doctor, and I'm going to talk to him and hopefully to an allergist. And I will make sure that the Sprouters doesn't get anywhere near a peanut between now and then. Luckily there are two other children at the same daycare who are allergic to nuts, so that place is already nut-proofed.

3:51 pm  
Blogger MicaelaA said...

Wow. Sprout concern.

You would be amazed at the allergy stuff out there - lots of good books, websites. Be sure and look at some of the British publications for a different perspective.

I have allergies I manage by avoidance, mostly. The bad news about peanut allergies is ... well, you know already. The good news is that it can be outgrown (by late teen, adulthood).

About nuts -- they ARE different. We use the word to describe all sort of things. But cashews are related to cantalope. Hazelnuts are from lovely plants that look more like lilac bushes than anything else. Pecans are from graceful trees. And peanuts are legumes, really, from underground. So it'll be a challenge to learn about what he's going to be dealing with. But you'll do fine!

8:55 am  

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