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What to do about a family member who doesn't "get" allergy prevention

(25 Posts)
Whitetara Wed 26-Feb-14 13:55:49

I'm a bit of a lurker....but feel like I"m going mad sometimes.

I live with my husband and 2 children in my mother in law's home. It's been this way for a while and she doesn't have an issue with it. She's 87 and the situation is mutually beneficial but generationally challenging esp regarding risk assessments generally...

My youngest daughter had a reaction to a peanut last summer and required hospital treatment with prednisolone - not an anaphylactic reaction that time.

We have been seen by the consultant paediatrician who has suggested blood testing next June before she's due to start school. I cannot remember why the wait. In the meantime we have been told to avoid nuts, check ingredients, and been provided with an information pack plus contacts for the allergy nurse until they blood tests give a definitive result.

My problem is mostly my mother in law and also husband. My mother in law seems to be of the opinion that if it's out of dds reach and not done when she is around, then it's fine for her to eat products containing nuts.

I've just had a run in with her this lunchtime over some cereal bars that she has bought for her own use, but are labelled as containing peanuts. When I suggested that this was not the best idea and that I feel uncomfortable with it and that it was potentially a risk and best not do it etc, she wouldn't look at me but was pulling sceptical faces and saying that it was just A reaction to ONE peanut but then begrudgingly said that she'd make them disappear. However, she told me that she thought I was over reacting (I have been labelled this way for basic child safety issues, such as not allowing children to play alone in the garden with no garden gate and no supervision, getting decent quality (pricer) car seats that come with good reviews, plus other things I can't remember)

She got a bit huffy when I asked her to wash her hands after eating the nut bar and just sort of dabbled briefy under the tap (well one of them....)

My question is: well, I would welcome any comments including if you think I need to take a chill pill, but also how I should deal with this/them, especially as noone is taking me seriously and is just dismissing me as over reactive.

Hubby is also of similar opinions and has also labelled me that way.

Also, at the weekend if I had not been there he would have involved dd in an activity with birds that invovled monkey nuts. I sometimes dread to think what would happen if something were to kick off when I wasn't around as I'm not even sure either of them could actually recognise the signs.

He said he thought it was only if she ate them! I am having an uphill struggle with this and no other back up except my colleagues who are a bit shock about it all.

Sorry for the rant. I'm a bit wound up....

chocoluvva Wed 26-Feb-14 14:22:54

Could you have her tested sooner rather than later perhaps? That would either set your mind at rest or give you the official backing of medical doctors - surely your MIL wouldn't disagree with the experts?

Martorana Wed 26-Feb-14 14:27:30

If I were you I would be pressing really hard for a diagnosis- you shoudn't take risks with a potential peanut allergy.....

mistlethrush Wed 26-Feb-14 14:29:21

Does your DH know that 'monkey nuts' ARE peanuts?

Whitetara Wed 26-Feb-14 14:40:40

@chocoluvva and @Martorana: I've been trying to get hold of the nurse to find out why there was a decision to delay the blood work. There was so much information going on at the visit that that was the one bit of information I didn't retain. Too busy trying to remember all the avoidance stuff and other information.

@mistlethrush: he does know sad... it was a monkey nut that caused the hospitalisation....he just didn't get that you don't need to eat it to react and hadn't thought that it would be an issue. I was only when we arrived at the craft tent that I saw the big barrels of monkey nuts that I said we need to avoid this place as there are nuts everywhere. It was then that he made the comment about her not eating them.

Thing is, all the avoidance/labelling stuff is advice from the consultant anyway, so she's still disputing medical advice...she even supposedly read through all the paperwork we were given.

chocoluvva Wed 26-Feb-14 14:48:11

Oh dear. Could you afford to have her tested privately perhaps?

Whitetara Wed 26-Feb-14 14:57:36

I hadn't thought of private testing actually. Is it worth doing?

peggyundercrackers Wed 26-Feb-14 15:05:53

i think you were over reacting to MIL buying bars and consuming them when your DD isnt about - i think thats OK for her to do. i do think you need to be careful but at the same time i dont think you cant dictate to others what they can/cannot do or what they can/cannot eat.

we have a family member who does have a serious peanut allergy and has been hospitalised by it a few times but she doesnt mind if we have them in the same room as her, as long as shes not touching them or eating them shes fine with it, she carried her pen about with her and i can only recall her using it when she knows she has eaten something then its off to hospital.

mistlethrush Wed 26-Feb-14 15:06:49

I understand that there's been a recent trial where they have managed to desensitise a whole lot of children who had been very allergic to peanuts... might be worth investigating that too.

Whitetara Wed 26-Feb-14 15:15:48

thanks Peggy. Dr is 4 and the pediatrician said that because of her age it was better to avoid completely at home and for us all to avoid as she can't take responsibility for herself yet. I did ask the question about others in the house and thats what shy said.

Ilisten2thesoundofdrums Wed 26-Feb-14 15:23:53

it depends on how severe the allergy is, and you should know that often recations get more severe each time the body is exposed to an allergen.
DS is allergic to other nuts (not peanuts) and eggs as well as a few other things.
He has reacted at school to cocoa in the air in a cookery lesson,
to unknown things around school - probably allergens on door handles etc and then he put his hand to his face which swelled up like a balloon.

Peanuts are notorious for being very "sticky" and getting onto other surfaces so that when someone who is allergic touches them they can have a reaction if they are v. sensitive.

Please continue to emphasise this to your family and to insist on hand washing with soap if anyone has touched anything containing nuts.

mercibucket Wed 26-Feb-14 15:33:42

are you sure that

if it's out of reach and dd is not around

that is not ok? did the paed mean 'best practice' or 'realistic living'? what happens now at school/nursery? i just wonder if there is a middle ground of mil eating in her own room for instance, or after the kids are in bed

can the allergy nurse advise? if it is the case, once you explain you live in someone elses house and cant control their actions, that it is putting your dd in danger, perhaps you can ask the nurse to explain to them

Morgause Wed 26-Feb-14 15:42:20

It's not reasonable to dictate to MiL what she can eat in her own home. As long as she puts them on a shelf your DD can't reach then she shouldn't be dictated to.

BarbarianMum Wed 26-Feb-14 16:28:13

When ds1 was peanut allergic our home was a nut free zone- I needed 1 place I could relax. A friend whose son had the same allergy (more severely) continued having peanuts in the house and feeds them to her other son. Her approach has worked too with no accidental reactions.
So either approach can work. In your situation it does seem as though your mil is being careful so maybe continue as you are unless a doctor tells you otherwise?

Whitetara Wed 26-Feb-14 16:55:43

Thank you so much for all of your replies. It's interesting how varied they are.
@Ilistento: all I know is that the dr said that they cannot predict the severity of the reaction but they can it seems be able to detect the levels required to produce a reaction (if I have understood correctly). I have heard what you also said about reactions getting more severe which is what scares me the most.

I have a colleague with a cocoa allergy as well. It's really tough when it's things that are in so many foods. My other daughter used to have an egg allergy, too, but she seems to have outgrown it.

@Mercibucket: To be honest, no I'm not sure which she meant, but I was told to go nut free at home and that meant everyone, (for now until she is older) and to check ingredients in restaurants etc....it's the whole unknown thing that is frightening me out, that together with the being out of control of my "home" environment. I will check with the nurse as well (when she calls back!)

@Morgause: I know. It's really difficult and I'm really struggling with it. It's because it's not "my" home that I can't dictate anything and have no control or say over anything, and that is extremely frustrating. One thing where I do have control/say is over what happens with my children, one of whom I've very worried and concerned about. I don't enjoy or wish to have to lay down the law. It would be far easier if I didn't live in someone else's house, and then I would have absolute say, but that's the way it is right now and for the foreseeable future. Every time something like this happens it's a reminder of how this is not "my" home and that it's her home, which is hard in itself. It's not ideal but I have to live with it.

@Barbarianmum: That's a fair point. Thing is I just don't know what is acceptable. All I know right now is that potentially something awful could happen and I want to avoid it as much as I realistically can, but thank you for sharing that as it's hopeful that it can work. I guess some people are more laid back about things than others. (Not me, apparently! wink)

mistlethrush Wed 26-Feb-14 17:07:47

DS - aged 3 - knew he wasn't allowed chocolate (I am violently allergic to cocoa!) and wouldn't have it if given it - so I think that you can make sure that your daughter does understand what the problem is. I would also approach MiL on the basis of 'if you have things with nuts in in the house, I will have to say to DD that she shouldn't accept any food from you, just in case its got nuts in'

(btw, you don't need to put in @ all time - we can generally work out the responses to 'our' questions - and if we read your responses to them all and not just our own comments you don't have to repeat yourself to other people... wink)

Whitetara Wed 26-Feb-14 17:15:32

Thanks. Good idea!

also, I got into that habit on another forum. different conventions...

mistlethrush Wed 26-Feb-14 19:12:43

Its used a lot on twitter too - its just unnecessary here!

greenbananas Thu 27-Feb-14 20:56:09

I think it must be hard living with your mother in law for all sorts of reasons. My mother in law is lovely, but I am mighty glad that we have never had to live with her.

It's hard when family members don't get how serious allergies can be.

I agree that you can't really dictate what your mother in law eats - but you should be able to get through to her about hand washing, keeping out of reach etc. Does your hospital have a information leaflet she could read? Could the nurse talk to her?

I do so feel for you in the situation you are in!

babybarrister Sun 02-Mar-14 07:55:27

Have a look at the Anaphylaxis Campaign website as they have useful leaflets which give a sensible view of level of risk - your family may find this useful. Also why not take them along to appointments - helped with my MIL etc!!! nothing like seeing a real life DOCTOR saying things ....

Personally I have always had lots of things in the house to which DS is allergic and I eat them in the house. At 4 I assume your DD does ot help herself and she should be starting to understand about her own allergy and therefore about asking adults first.

I agree that it is never easy living with ILs. grin

SavoyCabbage Sun 02-Mar-14 08:31:41

We feed our dd2 peanut butter even though dd1 is allergic. We have taught dd1 that she must ask if foods contain peanuts. Also, she must not 'trust' a child to tell her this! She goes to a school where no foods are banned.

I am of the opinion that they have to know that they can't just eat anything they want. It's a part of their lives that they have to be careful and check things. Dd1 wanted a biscuit last week when we were in a park, but the packet had been thrown away so she couldn't have one.

There is an article in the paper today about a man who died after tasting some of his friends soup. Perhaps your dh could read it.

I would concentrate on getting him to understand the allergy and take some responsibility for it.

AnythingNotEverything Sun 02-Mar-14 08:49:46

I think your adult husband also needs to get the message. Has he attended the appointments with you? This isn't solely your responsibility.

You need to agree a strategy together, with the duct it's advice, and the be united in facing MIL.

It's not fair for you to be solely in charge and checking up on everyone.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sun 02-Mar-14 08:54:44

I eat peanut butter and DD has a peanut allergy.

I am just very careful to keep it away frm her and wash my hands and cutlery afterwards

She doesn't have a severe peanut allergy though.

Peanuts CAN cause very severe reactions and reactions to minute amounts in air but not all peanut allergies are alike so don't be too scared until she is checked out.

freefrommum Mon 03-Mar-14 10:38:59

I do feel for you Whitetara! Living with in-laws is never easy and the added issue of allergies must make it even harder. My DS has severe multiple food allergies and reacts on contact (not just eating) but we don't ban the foods he's allergic to at home. However, we do make sure that we are very careful and always wash our hands & faces after eating anything he's allergic to and keep it well away from him. I know that some families choose to ban the allergens from their homes altogether to avoid any accidents and that's fine but probably not very realistic when you're living with other people eg in-laws. I do think your husband and in-laws do need to take your DD's allergy seriously and understand how dangerous it could be to allow her to come into contact with peanuts, including touching them. They need to take precautions such as eating nuts well away from her and washing their hands and mouths carefully afterwards. A kiss from someone who has just eaten a particular allergen can be enough to cause a serious reaction, even anaphylaxis.

The fact that she hasn't had the tests yet is pretty irrelevant in my view as there is no 'definitive' test for allergies and the fact that she had a reaction to peanuts is more important than any test results. I would definitely contact the Anaphylaxis Campaign for advice and information as they are fantastic.

Meglet Mon 03-Mar-14 10:46:59

I'd push for a quicker diagnosis / skin prick test.

DS only had a minor allergic reaction at home (he was 3 at the time) but was at the hospital for a full skin prick testing session 3 months later. The GP also prescribed an epi-pen in that 3 month window just in case something else happened.

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