Up until my youngest started school, I didn’t realize just how hard things could be for a food allergic child and the rest of us. Because no longer was I 100% in control over what she ate or what she had access to.
When I was pregnant with her, I became allergic to pineapple. After she was able to start solids, we discovered she was allergic as well. Also to pineapple. Our situation is a bit different I think from other situations. Maybe a parent is allergic to peanuts, and a child is allergic to shellfish. Or maybe there’s no allergy at all in the child or parent. But the exact same allergy is not something I hear about often.
My first reaction was bad, everywhere the pineapple touched, I felt like I was burned. I ended up very ill and terrified. My tongue started to swell. Probably our combined reaction since I was pregnant with her. Her first reaction was sores all around her mouth. My reaction was after fresh pineapple; her reaction was after canned pineapple. We knew from then on we had to watch for pineapple in everything she would possibly eat or drink.
Fast forward to her starting school. Pineapple is common on the school lunch menu. But they ensured they’d make sure she’d never have pineapple – they would have an alternate item for her any time there was pineapple. Some say “Just pack her a lunch every day.” That’s not something we could financially do all the time. And even if we just did it the days the menu outright says “pineapple” there are other things to worry about.
Like that one time the school made a major mistake. A mistake that could have taken her life. They soaked the apple slices in pineapple juice, and whoever prepped them didn’t tell the ones serving them. A major miscommunication that changed our lives. We are forever grateful to her teacher who was sitting down to eat her own lunch and noticed that the apples had pineapple juice on them. She wasn’t in the lunch room with her, she called her assistant teacher in the lunch room telling her to get the apples away from our daughter – they were soaked in pineapple juice.
It was too late; she’d already eaten all of her apples. They are her favorite food. The nurse called my husband. She didn’t know what signs to look for. Her second ever pineapple exposure included her tongue swelling. If it wasn’t for her teacher’s fast response, even after the apples were already eaten, her tongue could have swollen way more than it did. But we were able to get to her in time with medicine (which is also what started the car that blew its motor’s problems). That prompted us getting her an epi-pen. Hindsight, we should have gotten one sooner.
Her doctor here was reluctant at first to prescribe the epi-pen. But really with 2 exposures and the second one being so much worse than the first – he ended up agreeing.
The school takes her allergy much more seriously now, but the mistake never should have happened in the first place. Her allergy is just as serious as a peanut allergy – which they are always on the lookout for.