Pistachio Allergy, a New Villain Emerges


I celebrated my 43rd birthday on Thursday. There is no real significance in 43, it’s just like 42, but older.   And to be honest, I didn’t really feel like celebrating.

Last week started with Adam’s diagnosis with a cashew and pistachio allergy (and a dust mite allergy). At first I wasn’t overly disturbed about the news.  Okay, he won’t eat nuts.  Not such a big deal.  But when I took Adam to get a haircut the next day, I realized how life altering this diagnosis actually is. 

On the way back from the haircut we stopped in one of the many bakeries to get some bread. They had little pieces of cake out for tasting and Adam wanted some.  Without thinking, I picked up a piece of cake and started to give it to him. Suddenly I realized I needed to ask what was in it.

“Are there any nuts in this cake?” I asked the saleswoman.

“No,” she said. I wasn’t convinced.

“Are you sure? He’s allergic to…”

No nuts at all, just cake. Flour, sugar….”

I gave Adam the tiny wedge of cake and continued to The Stick House, a store that makes fancy popsicles. While I walked, still a little nervous, I thought about what would have happened had there been pistachio in that cake.

Would I remember to use the Epipen? Would I take a cab to the ER or would I need an ambulance? Would I keep my cool and do it right or would I loose it? I’ve been in tough situations before, fortunately, not with my kid.

When we got to the Stick House Adam was very excited. He loves popsicles. The store has rows of popsicles in beautiful colors. Adam new exactly what he wanted. He picked up his hand and pointed, “that one”. He was pointing directly at the green one, which, of course, was pistachio.

“Which one do you want?” I asked, hoping he would not say he wanted the green one.

“The orange one,” he said.  The tangerine popsicles were sitting directly behind the pistachio.  I tried to convince him to take something else, which looked the same, but was not next to the pistachio, but he wouldn’t change his mind.

Nervously, I bought him what he wanted. (Jess, I’m sure, would have carried him out kicking and screaming before allowing him to have the popsicle next to the pistachio one.) I relaxed as Adam ate and nothing more than a sticky mess came of it.  But I realized life had changed.

Much like after my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, there was a new villain in our food. Much less common, but potentially deadly. 

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10 years ago

Life has changed and we had the  same diagnosis too!  The biggest lesson I learned was about cross contamination.  My children did have reactions to cross contact with other foods, meaning items made in the same facility have the a chance of mixing with other non-allergic items.
Even though life is different, you’ll soon discover the wonderful food allergy community that is out there as you enjoy new foods!  Trust me, it gets better!

10 years ago

Don’t forget the pen. Put it with the supplies you carry to manage your diabetes. Unless you know a cabbie who is a paramedic and keeps a intubation kit in his cab, call an ambulance. Anaphalaxis is a medical emergency. And if your son is severe enough to require a epi pen, the likelihood that it could develop is high. Also, if you need to use the epi pen, you need to call a cab to take your son somewhere that he can be observed for a few hours. Epi can have cardiac consequences. It sucks that you all have… Read more »

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