I was never a quiet baby. I fussed all the time, and I was always sick, but never with anything more severe than the flu. One day, my mom was at her job as a high-school teacher when she got a call saying I was sick, but something was different this time and she needed to leave right away. When my mom got to me, I wasn’t breathing. Turns out, my grandmother, who was nannying that day, had let me lick some peanut butter off of her finger. When I wouldn’t go down for my nap a few minutes later, she went to check on me, only to discover me covered in hives and with my eyes and lips swollen. I was in anaphylactic shock, but luckily I got to the doctor in time, and I ended up being okay. My mom, on the other hand, was not quite as okay. The story goes she had severe anxiety about me leaving the care of anyone but her or my father, and she was having panic attacks about it, especially when reading over paperwork about Epi-Pens and anaphylaxis.

This painting is of my mom thinking my peanut allergy was her fault. Because there isn’t a known reason why one person can eat peanuts perfectly fine and the next can’t, she blamed herself. In my STEAM project, I researched the mechanism of peanut allergies- how they work and how they are treated. I specifically focused on oral immunotherapy, as I participated in oral immunotherapy clinical trials for my peanut allergy. Finally, I discussed how this incredible treatment and feat of medical technology eased my mom’s stress and worry, and ultimately let her sleep soundly at night.

One Comment

  1. Madeline, thank you for sharing this with the group. I do not have any allergies like this, but I understand well how they can affect your life in so many ways and even how you have needs to carry meds with you most of the time as a just in case. As far as your mother goes, I completely understand how she feels as I have two special needs boys that I feel the same way about. You never can fully trust someone else with them although they my two do have an older sister that watches out for them most of the time.
    It is amazing that your grandmother came in to check on you most of the time when my kids were quiet, I could give them a few minutes before making sure they were not just getting in to trouble. Even more amazing is that you made it through with not breathing. I am sure that the ride to the hospital was a very scary moment for everyone involved. I would be interested in if this has happened to you again or if this was the only time that this has happened to you.
    As far as the picture that you posted, it makes me feel for your mother in ways that you may never understand. The amount of grief that she has or had if really hard to understand unless you yourself have been there.

    Nate Lammers

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