A few weeks ago, we learned from someone in the area that preschools were not accepting children with food allergies. Preschools are private and therefore have this right. I don't remember if it was before Adam was born of when he was a baby, but I know it was before the diagnosing of his allergies that I felt the distinct impression that I need to be prepared to home school my children.
Jason and I are not people that support home schooling in general. If it is necessary due to physical or mental issues, that's one thing, but otherwise we feel very strongly that children should be immersed in either a public or private school atmosphere, in order to develop in the best way possible. Of course there are always really negative parts to public and private schools, but I'd rather have my children face these issues while they are young and in my home, so I can teach them, than have them run free after they leave my home, completely naive about the world.
Previously we have held several discussions with our pediatrician and specialists about Adam and his future in a private or public school. The answer has always been a quick and comforting, "He'll be fine!" that is until today.
Last week, while trying to find ways for our family to become more social and participate in events in the community I called our local YMCA. Part of my reasoning for calling was that I had found out they had free day care available while parents worked out at the gym. A friend had also told me they have a preschool there. I wanted to obtain some information for the future, since next year I will be signing up Owen.
It turns out they can not accommodate children with food allergies in their day care facility. They can accommodate children with food allergies in preschool, to the best of their ability, BUT parents rotate bringing in snacks. Sippy cups and drinks of various kinds are always available and around. A teacher can be trained and always on sight in case of the need to use an epi-pen, BUT they can't guarantee 100% safety.
After speaking with the woman on the phone, I actually felt confident that despite the lack of the 100% guarantee, Adam would be okay there. I can't even give a 100% guarantee in my own home, just because the boys' allergies vary so much.
Then last week came. Baby A had used Adam's bottle nipples while taking some bottles of her own formula. The formula is 75% lactose free, but definitely NOT dairy free in any way. We had washed the nipples thoroughly, or so we thought, but the minute Adam had the nipples touch his face, where ever there was contact, he had a rash. It took me a couple days to figure out what was causing the rash, but when I did I was not a happy camper to say the least.
I sterilized the nipples, boiling them and adding Clorox to the water. Thankfully the rashes stopped coming. But then the reality sank in. If Adam is breaking out over contact with a nipple that had dairy on it, and it had been washed, what does this mean about his allergy to dairy? Is it getting worse in severity too? I called our doctor.
A new sticker was put on Adam's file. It says something along the lines of "allergy to dairy by contact." Today while in the doctor's office with Baby A, the doctor brought up the issue. I explained in detail what had occurred. He kind of laughed and explained that he had been at a seminar last week about food allergies. He had been thinking about Adam. One of the stories (either told by video or in person) was about a little boy with a severe milk allergy. His friends were picking on him at school about his food allergies. One of them decided to throw an open container of milk at him. Instantly he broke out in a blistering rash. Then the doctor became serious. He told me that I NEED to have epi-pens EVERYWHERE I go. And then he said it,
"It may be too dangerous for Adam to go to school."
I know I am in denial about all of this, because I still have milk in my house and really have no desire to remove it, thinking that I can handle this, but then again, Adam broke out because of a spoon used for cereal in the morning just today.
I know there are several other mothers out there with kids who have life threatening allergies that send there kids to school. I ask that you please comment and give your input and experiences.
I know too though that in the last couple of months alone, we've been to the ER over heart monitor stickers. We've been in the doctor's office receiving the tiniest amount of egg in a vaccination causing a whole slew of affects including hives, vomiting, etc... Adam has a lot of allergies and they all seem to be worsening.
It's one thing if it's just milk, but then it's another to have a list that's really long.
So, right now I feel very mixed up inside. But, in the end, what will be will be, and we'll just deal with it. I can teach my kids at home. It will be a lot of work, but I can make it fun right? Secretly I'm going to still hope that Adam will be fine to go to school when the time comes, but if I find some really cool teaching materials, I may just pick them up!