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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

Bones & All by Camille DeAngelis

Bones & All

5/5 Stars

Before the end of the second page you’ll know whether this grotesquely beautiful coming of age story is one you can read.

 

Penny Wilson wanted a baby of her own in the worst way. That’s what I figure, because she was only supposed to watch me for an hour and a half, and obviously she loved me a little too much. She must have hummed a lullaby, fondled each tiny finger and toe, kissed my cheeks and stroked the down on my head, blowing on my hair like she was making a wish on a dandelion gone to seed. I had my teeth but I was too small to swallow the bones, so when my mother came home she found them in a pile on the living room carpet. The last time my mother had looked at Penny Wilson she’d still had a face. I know Mama screamed, because anyone would have. When I was older she told me she thought my babysitter had been the victim of a satanic cult. She’d stumbled upon stranger things in suburbia.

It wasn’t a cult. If it had been, they would have snatched me away and done unspeakable things to me. There I was, asleep on the floor beside the bone pile, tears still drying on my cheeks and blood wet around my mouth. I loathed myself even then. I don’t remember any of this, but I know it.

Even when my mother noticed the gore down the front of my OshKosh overalls, even when she registered the blood on my face, she didn’t see it. When she parted my lips and put her forefinger inside— mothers are the bravest creatures, and mine is the bravest of all— she found something hard between my gums. She pulled it out and peered at it. It was the hammer of Penny Wilson’s eardrum.

 

Maren is a teenager with a problem she can’t control. She is an eater–a cannibal, a ghoul, a monster–and she was born this way. Her hunger is insatiable, but not constant. Maren feeds on love; she will gobble you up if you show her the smallest bit of affection, bones and all.

On the morning after her 16th birthday, she wakes up alone.

I came down the hall and found a note on the kitchen table:

I’m your mother and I love you but I can’t do this anymore.  
                                                                DeAngelis, Camille. Bones & All: A Novel 
She is an eater–a cannibal, a ghoul, a monster–and she is alone. With nothing else to lose, Maren packs her belongings and sets off to find the father she suspects is just like her. Along the way she discovers eaters who feed on power, knowledge, peace, and more. What she doesn’t anticipate finding is self acceptance.
This is philosophical horror done perfectly. As readers we are compelled to explore our conscience and determine whether our actions align with our values. I suspect DeAngelis, a vegan, was making a statement on the political, spiritual, and ethical ramifications of eating animals and their secretions, but other reviewers have called it an exploration of female power and sexuality. The best books allow you to draw into the narrative your personal line in the sand.
Using a deftly crafted mix of horror and profundity, DeAngelis created in Bones & All a book that is macabre, astute, and infinitely readable.

The Fine Art of Negotiation

Mikey: Nico, get out of my face.

Nico: I’m not in your face.

Mikey: Nico, please! [tap tap tap]

Nico: …

Mikey: Dude, I can’t see what I’m doing. [tap tap tap]

Nico: …

Mikey: Oh my…Nico! You’re hovering! It’s annoying. Stop.

Nico: I’m not hovering.

Mikey: Are you seriously [tap tap tap] kidding me right now? [tap tap tap] I can feel you breathing. Stop hovering!

Nico: But I want to see what you’re doing!

Mikey: [tap tap tap] Too bad. Go away.

Nico: Dude, I can’t see what you’re doing if I go away!

Mikey: Not my [tap tap tap] problem.

Nico: Okay, how about if I hover from a distance?

Mikey: [tap tap tap]

Nico: Well?

Mikey: You can hover from a minimum of 10 feet away. [tap tap tap]

Nico: Dude, I can’t see anything from 10 feet away!

Mikey: [sigh] Fine. You can hover from a distance but that means I can’t feel you breathing on me at all. If I feel your breath, you’re done. [tap tap tap]

Nico: Yes! Okay, move over. I need a better spot to hover from a distance.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Score 5 out of 5 stars
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
Genres Young Adult

My disease is as rare as it is famous. It’s a form of Severe Combined Immunodeficiency, but basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in fifteen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla. But then one day, a moving truck arrives. New next door neighbors. I look out the window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black–black t-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly. I want to learn everything about him, and I do. I learn that he is funny and fierce. I learn that his eyes are Atlantic Ocean-blue and that his vice is stealing silverware. I learn that when I talk to him, my whole world opens up, and I feel myself starting to change–starting to want things. To want out of my bubble. To want everything, everything the world has to offer. Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.









Yes, I gave a book 5 stars!

There is a face + hand motion + word combination I make when I’m annoyed and feeling superior. It makes one of my best friends laugh whenever she sees it. She claims it’s because she knows exactly what I’m thinking but I know the real reason is because I look a chubby Kermit making a scrunch face. I made Kermit Scrunch Face several times while reading Everything, Everything.  

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is one of the young adult buzz books for fall 2015. It certainly managed to insert many of the hallmarks of previous young adult buzz books. There’s terminal illness, plot twists, socially awkward yet remarkably well spoken teens, difficult parents, star-crossed lovers, and the intense rush of first love. 

Any of the above is cause to bring on an extreme case of Kermit Scrunch Face. Despite that, it’s a book I would recommend to fans of young adult fiction, especially the 8th grade girls whose parents okay’d The Fault in Our Stars (they have similar levels of sexual content). I wish the book didn’t have that one sex scene (mild, tastefully done) because it’s a book I would love to carry in the library. Diocesan rules are real.

The primary reason Everything, Everything is so worth reading to me is its excellent treatment of diversity. When I read that Madeline, the main character, had brown eyes, I read the sentence twice to make sure I read it correctly.

How sad that a main character with brown eyes took me by surprise.

You can imagine my reaction when I read Madeline was half-Japanese, half-African American. I was thrilled, especially when her heritage was treated as a nonissue. She explained her race (in an online chat) the way one would disclose their favorite book: like it’s just another piece of trivia. Olly, the cute boy next door, wanted to know what the “F” in Madeline F. Whittier stood for.

Olly: i was going to email you back, but saw you were online. your recipe cracked me up. has there ever been a spy in the whole history of spying that’s admitted to being a spy? i think not. i’m olly and it’s nice to meet you. 

Olly: what’s the “f” stand for? 

Madeline: Furukawa. My mom is 3rd generation Japanese American. I’m half Japanese.

Olly: what’s the other half?

Madeline: African American.

Olly: do you have a nickname madeline furukawa whittier or am i expected to call you madeline furukawa whittier?

Madeline: I don’t have a nickname. Everyone calls me Madeline. Sometimes my mom calls me honey or sweetie. Does that count?

Olly: no of course it doesn’t count. no one calls you m or maddy or mad or maddy-mad-mad-mad? i’ll pick one for you.

Olly: we’re gonna be friends

I don’t care if your black, brown, green, or purple. I’m concerned that you don’t have a proper nickname.

Other things I loved:

  • The illustrations by Yoon’s husband. They were a sweet addition to the story.

  • That Madeline was 18 years old. Her maturity, her feelings, and the risks she took were those of a true young adult.

What I didn’t love:

  • Exuberant descriptions
    • “He squeezes my hand and my lips part and we’re tasting each other. He tastes like salted caramel and sunshine. Or what I think salted caramel and sunshine taste like. He tastes like nothing I’ve ever experienced, like hope and possibility and the future.”
      • I guess we should be glad he didn’t taste like Doritos, but salted caramel and sunshine? Reign in your unicorn steed, Oh Mighty Hipster, and stick with descriptions that are a little less twee. 
  • Dialogue between teenagers that occasionally suffered from an extreme case of John Greenitis. 
    • “In my head I know I’ve been in love before, but it doesn’t feel like it. Being in love with you is better than the first time. It feels like the first time and the last time and the only time all at once.” 
      • So weird! That’s exactly what my high school boyfriend said to me after he refused to see Pretty Women because it was too “chick-y.”

Conclusion, because this review has gone on long enough: I would normally give this book 3-3.5 stars. given the previous addressed Kermit Scrunch Face triggers. In fact, originally I did. I changed my mind the more I thought about how rare it is to see a person of color as a main character without race being part of the story. We need diverse books! Also, this picture of Nicola Yoon, her husband, David, and their daughter. It wins the internet and is the only known cure for John Greenitis.