The rest is a long and boring story, but the upshot is this: we were sent home clutching a bottle of Benadryl, a prescription for two EpiPens, three pamphlets on nut-free, wheat-free and egg-free diets, a good deal of sensible advice from the doctor and dietician and now, nine months on, here we are.
We’ve added a few more to the list since then: sesame’s the latest, which, coupled with chickpea, means an end to my hummus obsession (well, it means having to brush my teeth, wash my hands and wipe down all surfaces after eating the stuff which, frankly, is too much of a faff. I’ll have cheese and pickle).
There’s also green pea, which developed out of the blue after he had spent an entire summer wolfing down peas with no ill effects, and – according to the last set of blood tests – most tree nuts, which means avoiding them all for now.
It’s surprising, though, how quickly you get used to it; it’s having to explain the complexities of what we can and can’t have to other people that’s the problem.
Even though I know very well that just a touch of the wrong food on his skin could trigger a severe reaction, I can’t help feeling like a fraud and a fusspot every time I go into my spiel about the dos and don’ts of what to eat during playdates with Sidney… or whip out my Milton’s sterilising wipes to give the highchair in the park caff a good rub down.
We’ve been lucky, so far, in that his reactions have only ever been skin related. Of course, in the back of our minds is always the worry that next time it could be worse. He reacted very swiftly and strongly to just a touch of both sesame and egg: an indicator, potentially, of a more dramatic effect if he ever actually ingested any.
On the plus side we know what to avoid and have all the medical gizmos and knowhow we need – fingers crossed – to tackle any reaction. That’s all manageable for now: he’s 14 months old and it’ll be a good while yet before I let him our of my sight for any length of time. Nursery isn’t happening, as far as I’m concerned, until he’s at least old enough to communicate how he feels. I simply can’t trust anyone else to keep an eagle eye on him in the same way that I, my husband or our closest family would.
The biggest thing, really, is trying to keep him safe from harm while never, ever wanting him to feel like the funny allergic kid.