Now What

I think I’m going to regret this post. Then again, I might not. I have a history of asking for help and receiving advice beyond what I imagined. This may be one of those times.


Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

We’ve been on vacation in Lake Tahoe for the last couple of weeks. On Monday we went to the community pool to swim and have lunch. Nico went into anaphylactic shock after eating a veggie burger and garlic fries. We were transported by ambulance to Reno. He’s fine; I’m not.

That’s the short version of events. The longer version involves a great deal of paragraphs and whimpering on my part. Forgive me, lend me your ears, and tell me it’s going to be okay.

The boys ate their lunches in lounge chairs 10-feet away from us because the pool was so crowded. I read a book while I ate and occasionally looked up to make sure they were okay. They were.

Nico called out to me when he was done and asked me if he could go swimming. I looked up and noticed his naked chest covered with sandwich crumbs. I mean, honestly. I couldn’t believe he didn’t notice he was covered in food. Normally I would have him clean himself off, but for some reason I felt like I had to do it. I called him over and nudged the Mister so he could share a chuckle with me over our carefree, messy son. Had I not called him over, he would have been in a very crowded pool when he went into shock. My head would have been in a book.

As he walked up, I noticed his lips looked different and that he had welts around his mouth. He also had crumbs all over his face, so my first thought–trying not to panic–was that there was hot sauce in the burger that “burned” his skin the way orange or lemon juice does when not diluted. The Mister agreed with me.

I asked Nico how he was feeling. “Great,” he said. He wasn’t lying, but in the rolodex of Worst Possible Scenarios I keep in the back of my mind is his old allergy to nuts. I decided to ask the lifeguard for Benadryl.

They didn’t have any, and if they did, they weren’t legally authorized to dispense it. Fair enough, so I walked back with Nico and asked the Mister to go buy some at the store down the street. He was almost out the gate when I called him back.

“I’ll do it,” I said. “And I’m bringing Nico with me.”


If you drink much from a bottle marked ‘poison’ it is certain to disagree with you sooner or later.”
― Lewis Carroll

I started walking towards the car, thinking I would pick up Nico when he reached the gate. Suddenly, that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted him right next to me. I walked back and together we crossed the parking lot. Nico was inexplicably crying, saying he was afraid he was going to be allergic to all his favorite foods and that he would never be able to eat veggie burgers ever again. Dramatic, but I thought he was being 8 years old. No 8 year old wants to leave the pool to go to a pharmacy. I’ve since found out that an “impending sense of doom” is a sign of anaphylactic shock.

We were 10 yards from the car when I felt an urge to run. It felt like someone was pushing me between the shoulder blades, forcing me to move faster. I dragged Nico behind me as fast as I could without hurting him and told him could sit in the front seat as a treat. Really, I was satisfying my urge to keep him as physically close to me as possible. I’m glad I did. I noticed him scratching his palms.

It took us 5 minutes to get to the pharmacy, with each minute bringing a more alarming, more difficult to ignore symptom. By the time we pulled into the pharmacy parking lot, he was coughing uncontrollably and his skin was a bright, angry red from the tips of his ears to the bottom of his feet. There is an urgent care next to the pharmacy. I parked in the first spot I saw with all the finesse of a 15 year old without a learner’s permit.

We walked into the urgent care and that is when everything escalated. They took one look at Nico and called the paramedics. They gave him an injection of antihistamine strong enough to knock out an adult and hooked him up to the monitors. He was hypotensive and tachycardic (low blood pressure, high heart rate), his oxygen saturation level was dropping, his tongue and throat were swelling shut and he was scratching his eyes so hard the nurse debated restraining him. I could no longer deny what was happening.


I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Benadryl started doing its job by the time the paramedics came. Nico’s condition was still serious, but they felt good canceling the helivac (I blanched when I heard it was under consideration) and said we would be safe going by ambulance to Reno. The hospital across the street refused to take us, and rightfully so. They aren’t equipped to handle cases like Nico’s.

We reached the hospital safely and quickly, with Nico monitored the entire time. At the hospital he received more medicine and steroids. After a few hours of observation, we left with 4 prescriptions and an epi-pen. Anaphylaxis lasts for days (tack that on to the many things I learned that day) so he has been on medication and steroids every 6 hours until today. Now he takes one medication daily. Dropping down to only one medication is nerve-wracking enough, but the news I got from the food vendors today was enough for me to officially declare that I am beside myself with fear.


I wish I hadn’t cried so much!” said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out.
I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears !”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

I’ve been in contact with Nico’s pediatrician and allergist since Monday. He has an appointment in July once all the medication is out of his system, but the assumption has always been that his nut allergy returned or he developed a new allergy to another nut. Ergo, we were told to abstain from nuts until he completed testing. The Mister met with the catering company that produces the food for the pool and has pictures of every single item he put in his mouth, along with the ingredient labels. There are no nuts and, according to the catering company, no nuts in any of the items on the menu.

There are eggs, wheat, soy, and dairy ingredients, but no nuts. When the Mister told me this, I demanded to see the pictures and read the ingredient sheet myself. No nuts. I read it twice and then one more time. I looked up at him and said, “Well, shit. Now what?”

Now what? We were going on the assumption that there would be a nut somewhere, but there isn’t. Nico has wheat, dairy, and eggs frequently and soy regularly. Could one of those caused the anaphylaxis even though they haven’t before? He’s had all the above–minus the soy–since Monday and nothing has happened. But he’s also been on mega doses of anti-histamine. As it slowly leaves his body, can we expect him to have another “event” (I can’t even call it by its real name)? What can he eat? What is safe? How am I going to handle the 8 hour car drive home, where we will be crossing stretches of dessert with poor cell phone coverage and no nearby medical facilities?


If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Nico’s appointment is the week of the 21st, and I need to figure out what I can feed him safely until then. And because I know someone will ask–I did–I can’t feed him meat. I asked him if he would eat meat, just a little, until his appointment. He started crying and said, “Please don’t ask me to do that.”

Here is where you jump in and say this very same thing happened to you last year, and this is how you handled it and lived happily every after.

Zombie Training


Zombie 1








We decided to let Nico join the Boy Scouts. He loves it! Loves it so much that he gets dressed, without being told, two hours ahead of time. This past weekend the troop went to Corona for the Green Zone 11 Apocalypse Training (survivalist training with the word zombie in it to sound cool).

Nico loved it. Mikey liked it. The Mister didn’t have a great time.

I couldn’t go because at the last minute I got a coveted appointment with my hair stylist. I hadn’t been in so long that I touched up my roots at home 3 times. When I got out, I texted the Mister that I could head out that way, but he told me to stay put. The event had such promise. Here were some of the items on the agenda.

**Red Cross Class- First Aid/Emergency Prep/CPR
**Water Purification and Outdoor Survival Skills
**Knots and Paracord (open baggie in your bag and
trade ticket for your paracord)
**Naturalist for You- Native American Skills- Shelter
Building, Foraging for Food, Plants for Medicine
**Zombie Research Center- How a Pandemic Happens
and Zombie Information
**Self Defense/Fitness
**Outdoor Cooking- GS Troop 356- vagabond stoves, box,
dutch and solar ovens and fire starters.
**Duct Tape for Survival at Duct Duct Bloom
(take the eye bolt out of your bag)
**Earthquake Information- Cal State Fullerton
**Survival Gear from Household items
**Food Safety- Cee Duckett
**Alternative sources of power- Solar, Pedal Power
Stage Weapons
Special FX Makeup

I mean, right? So cool. According to the Mister, it had the potential but was unorganized. The event planners held it at the same place Corona used to host The Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which is now the Old World Festival.* There was stuff to buy, but the Mister couldn’t find most of the educational stations.

But the boys got to fight zombies, which is always a plus, and I’d like to try it again if they hold it next year. One, because this was a first-time event and there is only room for improvement and refinement. Second, and I’m going to be honest here, I love my husband very much but he doesn’t do well in unorganized crowds. Amusement parks, festivals, malls during holidays or on the weekends, IKEA…

I think for us to get the most out of an activity like this, I needed to be there to be the cheerleader, to remind him that the odds of the boys being kidnapped are low, and to point out that a hot, crowded, dusty field of apocalypse training only feels like the end of the world.

*I don’t know why The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is now in Irwindale, but I suspect the faire, which I hear is huge, outgrew the venue.

All Hallow’s Eve

Doctor Who

If it’s possible to be a grinch outside of Christmas, I suppose I’m one when it comes to Halloween. I can count on one hand the number of times I have carved a pumpkin. It’s something I never really did as a child, so the Mister does it with the boys every year. I find the ghoulish decorations depressing, and the costumes some of the teenage girls wear make me want to pelt them with a collection of hardcover Gloria Steinem books. If I had my way, I’d probably turn out all the lights and read a book. And yet, somehow, we have a party every year.

Except this year. I couldn’t do it, even though Halloween fell on a Friday. I knew that I would come home from an all-day meeting feeling tired and antisocial. I compromised with Mikey and allowed him to invite his two best friends. I had Nico do the same thing, but they already made plans. I told everyone when they arrived that I was tired and probably going to stay home and grade papers while they walked the neighborhood. I ended up passing out candy with the moms, even though I wanted to do nothing more than hide my introverted self under the covers. I ended up having a great time. Sometimes I need a good shove into social situations, and almost always I’m happy to have stepped out of my comfort zone.

The best part of the night had to be when a Weeping Angel came to the door and confronted our 11th Doctor. (Doctor Who reference!)

Rufferee 2


The boys convinced me to get Buddy a Halloween costume. For almost a week I debated returning it, but I’m so glad I didn’t. He looked adorable and was the hit of the neighborhood. He barked and barked inside, so I brought him outside and had him lie down next to me as we handed out candy. He was a little excited for a few minutes, but then he curled up on his bed and slept. When you’re mostly blind, deaf, and have trouble walking, sometimes it feels good to do nothing more than snuggle next to your people.

2014 PJs

My mom established a Halloween pajama tradition that the boys look forward to every year. Like the name strongly suggests, she buys the boys a new pair of pajamas every Halloween in an enormous size they can grow into. They usually have a spooky theme, but now that they are getting older those themed pajamas are hard to find. Everything is dark and plaid for their size. No matter–they loved their new pajamas. Every year they wake up on November 1st and claim they had the best night’s sleep of their life thanks to combed cotton.

I wasn’t planning on being here today, but I thought I would regret not jotting down a few thoughts on one of the last celebrations before the new year. I hope you indulge me.


R Collage

My teacher’s in-service (I was well enough to go) was in Yucaipa at St. Francis X. Cabrini Catholic Church, which has to be one of the most beautiful Catholic churches in the area. It was stunning and huge! As I exited the freeway, I noticed that the famous apple orchards of Oak Glen were to the left. Going to the apple orchards is something I always wanted to do as a family, so that’s what we did on Saturday.

I didn’t know which orchard to pick, so I chose Riley’s because it was the first one that popped up online and looked pretty good. The boys had a great time. There were a ton of activities for them, including tomahawk throwing and archery. I was nervous when it was Mikey’s turn to throw the tomahawk. Mikey is a fair athlete. He gives it 100% and loves sports, but he will never be a professional…football player, for example. I’m more than OK with that, but the mama bear in me didn’t want him to toss a tomahawk in front of a crowd of people and have it land in the dirt 5 feet from the target. I shouldn’t have worried. He listened to the directions quietly and got into position. Then my serious, small-for-his-age 10 year-old let that tomahawk fly. It whistled through the air blade over grip and hit the target with a loud whack. Head shot, I’ll have you know. The crowd made a murmuring sound of surprise and the guy in the tri horn hat looked at me and said, “OK, he’s a natural.” Then Mikey went on to make 5 more shots like tossing dangerous weapons is what he does for fun after he runs out of babies to pinch. Nico, it turns out, is a natural at archery, even though they didn’t have a left-handed bow. I walked away both proud and slightly concerned that we are raising the Dixon brothers from The Walking Dead.

As much fun as it was, we wouldn’t go back to Riley’s. It was far too crowded and the trees were picked bare. We only managed to get a few apples, and only standard varieties you can get at the store. When I came home, I went on Facebook and saw that our priest went apple picking, too! While we were there at the same time, he was at a different orchard. He couldn’t remember the name, but his pictures showed him drowning in bushels of apples. Our orchard was more picturesque, but the man walked away with apples from an apple orchard. Which is, like, the point when you go apple picking. Clearly he had God on his side during the apple orchard selecting process.