Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fright Night

Okay. Major episode tonight... or lack thereof. That's what makes it notable.

My son Sean, who is almost 8 and who has a severe peanut allergy, tonight managed to eat five tortilla chips at a party. Unremarkable. Except that they were chips made exclusively with peanut oil--highly refined peanut oil. Imagine a slow-motion defensive line tackle, and you pretty much have how I proceeded to handle the situation once I read the ingredients label.

After my initial adrenaline rush, and telling Sean to back off any food for at least 10 minutes so I could monitor him for any reaction to the chips (and be sure it was the chips that caused any possible reaction), I marveled at the situation: Why didn't he get sick--at all? Would he? Technically he could get sick within a 24 hour window, but with Sean he usually gets sick within seconds. But tonight? Nothing. I sipped a glass of wine, adjusted the halo on my costume (ha!), and thanked God for nothing short of a miracle.

I double-checked the list of ingredients on the bag. The fourth of about five ingredients was "highly refined peanut oil". I shook off my panic and walked into another room to talk to Ian. "Highly refined peanut oil--I'm guessing it's processed so much that it no longer has the peanut protein in it," I said. "The protein is what makes him sick, but still... I dunno. I can't wait to call his allergist and ask him about it."

The rest of the night Sean was fine and enjoyed ourselves. I kept an extra eye on him, as I normally do at parties with lots of food. I watched him for signs of any reaction, and asked him ad nauseum if his throat was itchy or if anything bothered him. "Nope! Feel normal as always!" he reassured me.

I tucked him into bed, and we all said our nighttime prayers--including a special one to the guardian angel who watched over my little guy tonight. And then I went downstairs and immediately looked up information on refined peanut oil. What I found backed my suspicion: Technically deemed safe for people with peanut allergies, it has not notably caused a reaction in those with the allergy. And while I don't think it's something he should have, it's good to know that he lucked out tonight in unwittingly eating the highly refined stuff.

So I'll double-check and triple-check on him tonight before I turn in. And I'll definitely drop his allergist a line on Monday. But to say I'm grateful he was okay tonight, when even trace nuts are so dangerous to him, is an understatement. I couldn't stop hugging him at bedtime.