Yeah, nuts. And rats, and dammit and bloody hell and dammit all to hell. (nice beginning to a Christmas post isn't it? but such is life...chiaroscuro, remember?)
So Sunday we did our annual nut factory thang. We individually scrubbed, cracked, blanched, roasted and ground enough nuts for Panforte, Linzer sables and Baklava. It took us four hours, but that was OK, we watched all the extras on my new HP and the Half Blood Prince DVD (man, did they ever flub the ending!) and laughed and joked, broke two nut crackers and generally had a pleasant time. It is quite literally a labor of love, which always makes a repetitive, time consuming job seem so much less tedious (like most of motherhood!). We do all of this meticulous nut preparation so that our son Liam, who is allergic to peanuts, but not tree nuts can share in these special Christmas treats. Almost all nuts that you can purchase have been cross contaminated with peanuts during processing, therefore in order for us to have "safe" ground walnuts for the Baklava we have to scrub, crack and grind those puppies ourselves. This has been something special we do, just at Christmas, so that our sons can have a taste of foods that are otherwise off limits.
Yesterday, using the fruits of our labors, I made the Panforte (with homemade candied citrus peel too, these are also usually cross contaminated with peanuts), and proudly presented my family with a slice of the finished product after dinner.
It was very good. Rich, sweet, chewy. Yum.
Shortly after consuming his piece, Elliot started complaining of an "itchy tongue", after another few minutes his face had broken out in hives. Yes, he had an allergic reaction. This is our son without nut allergies. Who outgrew an early peanut allergy and is required to eat peanuts on a regular basis to keep his immune system recognizing that they are not a threat. Who was down to only one food allergy to eggs, much to our grateful relief (even though it is a severe allergy, it is so much easier to deal with than his brother's complicated list of multiple anaphylactic allergies).
The reaction was not life threatening, but it was still very scary. He has obviously developed a new allergy to hazelnuts or almonds. I want to cry. I just want to cry.
The chances had looked pretty good for E outgrowing his food allergies. Over half of children with food allergies do. This would have meant him not having to wear his epi belt (containing a syringe of life saving epinephrine) everywhere he goes, not having to be scrupulously careful about every morsel of food that goes in his mouth or even what he touches, being able to get fast food, go to the movies, go to a birthday party without all the preparation and planning normally required...in other words a chance to be more of a regular kid, a chance to drop the constant vigilance surrounding food and have so much less of a burden on his small shoulders (because worrying about dying if you eat the wrong thing is a lot for a kid to carry). Our hopes for L outgrowing anaphylaxis are tiny to non-existent, he is simply that much more allergic, but things were looking good for E...until yesterday...developing a new allergy at 9 years old points in the opposite direction.
Did I mention I want to cry?
10 more sleeps until Christmas...and I am off to very carefully, and rather joylessly bake those Linzer sables and Baklava that I prepped for yesterday, which will be eaten with furtive caution only by the grown ups. (will be making a safe version of the Linzers for E & L with regular eggless sugar cookie dough)
Blow by blow report from our Nov/Dec 2011 Orlando extended family vacation of a lifetime. Set to private to protect our superhero alter ego anonymity, leave a comment here or email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to take a gander. Disney haters need not apply.