Normally, I consider myself a pretty laid back, go with the flow kind of person. But, this is not true when it comes to my son Evan’s severe peanut allergy. And it doesn’t help that this is the first time that I have left him with anyone other than family for more than 3 hours! So, in the days leading up to his first morning at preschool sports camp, I was starting to get a little nervous. Evan is currently in speech therapy, and is doing so well, but he is not able at present to distinguish what peanuts are, what they might be in or to stop himself from eating whatever is in sight that looks tasty to him. The only thing that seemed to comfort me was accomplishing preparation and visibility!! So, I thought I’d blog about my whole process. This is not exactly how I was hoping things would go, but this is my honest account and I do feel 90% comfortable with the outcome, which I think is pretty good considering.
First thing, about 3 weeks ago, I emailed the sports director at the YMCA where the sports camp is being held this week to see if we could discuss ideas that both he and I had to make this a safe and fun experience for Evan- because along with the peanut allergy issue we also have the “I don’t want to listen all the time and occasionally run off because I am a rambunctious three year old” issue. He never got back to me… So, I went down to the office right before one of my workouts and asked to speak with him in person. Fortunately, I caught him when he was right outside the office and we spoke about my ideas. I asked him to send out an email to all of the parents of participants in the sports camp asking them not to pack any snack items containing peanuts because there would be a severely allergic child present. He reluctantly agreed to this request. Then I spoke to him about my idea to post signs on the area to remind parents, but he didn’t think this was a good idea because he felt it would make Evan feel alienated… at 3 years old? really? This is one of the signs that I had printed:
So, I let this one go, and started focusing on things that I could do to help promote awareness and safety. Even after all that it seems that the sports director never sent the email that he said he would. I am told that he meant to but there was apparently some mistakes involved. I still have not received it. I do think, however, that I got the point across to him of the severity of the situation and my extreme concern.
Last night, I set out to label every item that I could and ask a trusted friend who also has a son with a severe allergy for her advice. She had, in particular, suggested that I include a second set of epi-pens because in the case of an extremely severe reaction, you may need more than one. So, I stuck an extra in his bag as well as the regular. On his normal epi-pen case, I labeled some simple instructions for using the epi-pen. They can be found on the epi itself, but I’m thinking, the more times you see information, the better it sticks in your mind.
Next, I place the epi-pens as well as this babysitter and drop off form into his bag. I found this form here: http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/babysitter_form.html. Kidswithfoodallergies.org is one of my favorite websites for ideas for holiday planning, support, and just so many other things.
I filled it out and just put it in his bag as another place to find emergency information and if someone went poking around in his bag they would hopefully at least glance at it. Then I put a label on his backpack that states: “Epi-Pen In Bag”
Since they eat lunch at the camp (and thus the whole reason for my concern) I packed Evan a lovely vegan and nut free lunch in this lunchbox and put a big label on it, as though I hadn’t beat it through these people’s heads yet!
And finally, Evan wore this peanut allergy bracelet, which he wears quite often, that we bought from www.allermates.com. His name is P. Nutty. 🙂
I tried to explain to Evan not to eat anyone else’s food and to listen to the coaches, but he is a bit unpredictable. When we arrived at the camp this morning and I dropped him off, I asked the sports director to have someone sit with Evan during the snacktimes and he agreed. Evan seemed very excited and perked up especially when we saw his very close friend, a little girl who he was in basketball class with. I asked her to look out for him for me and she said she would, and ultimately this is what gave me the strength to leave him there. When I picked him back up at 12:30, the sports director came up to me with his bags. I thanked him and asked how Evan did and he said that he just needs to work on his listening (which I warned him about), so I would say that is a success! Now, since a friend of mine forwarded me the schedule email, I have found out that there is an Easter Egg Hunt during the camp on Friday so I am trying to decide if I want to be involved in the hunt to make it safe or if I should just take him out on Friday. I’m a teeny bit peeved that the sports director did not mention it to me. I’ll probably update this when I figure it out.
So, it’s not the perfect situation. The people at the YMCA certainly could have been more helpful-especially the sports director-but, I really just had to take it upon myself to try to make Evan’s needs as visible as possible. Thanks for reading. 🙂