Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The School Nurse

I am getting to know her very well. We speak at least several times a week. And I am none too happy about this new relationship.

This is Carmella's third year at this school. And until this year she has never been to see the school nurse. I don't even think she knew she existed.

But then she went and got herself all allergic to cashews and the nurse and Carmella and I have all become the bestest of friends.

I am not sure if I ever gave an update to Carmella's allergic reaction but when I took her for the initial skin test she only showed allergic to environmental stuff: every kind of tree pollen, grasses etc. But they didn't have a scratch test for cashews so they took her blood and sent it off to be tested. Sure enough she is severely allergic to cashews. Apparently there is a scale. Anything over an 8 on this scale is considered severely allergic. She is a 12 for cashews. She is also a 7 for sesame seeds and a 6 for pecans. That is thought of as just "sensitive to" so it is advised we avoid those things too. So far only the cashew allergy will cause the anaphylaxis reaction.

So while Carmella's allergy is severe it is fairly simple to avoid by her just not eating cashews. Sure cashews might be hidden in a few foods but Carmella doesn't like those foods. But just in case someone pins Carmella to the ground and pries open her mouth and shoves in a fistful of cashews and then makes her chew them up and swallow them she has an epi pen.

And in case your child doesn't require an epi pen then you have no idea the amount of paper work and protocol that is involved letting your child have one at school. I think it is easier for a convicted felon to purchase a gun than it is for a 7 year old to have her medically necessary epi pen and benedrayl at a public school.

So I spent the first week of school getting forms filled out, meeting with doctors, the county nurse, Principal and school nurse so that Carmella would be eligible to have her epi pen at school.

The reality of Carmella ever needing to use her epi pen gets slimmer and slimmer each day. The child is well on her way to developing an eating disorder because she is terrified all foods might have cashews, sesame seeds or pecans.

She asks in the lunch room about every single item they put on her plate even though they already know she is allergic to cashews, sesame seeds and pecans because it is on the computer and warns them when she purchases her lunch. Not to mention that we go over every morning the menu of what she can eat. Not to mention she doesn't even like foods that might contain cashews, pecans or sesame seeds. Not to mention they are a peanut and nut free cafeteria. However, Carmella, since birth and was clearly a double agent in past life, operates under the assumption of "trust no one"-- especially your mother. She is the one who fed you those cashew nuts in the first place.

But even out of the lunch room at any given moment someone might be trying to feed her a cashew, sesame seed or pecan. They get lots of treats at school. And even though we sent a note home explaining her allergy and to please not feed Carmella a cashew, sesame seed or pecan she is still suspicious, worried. Every other day I get a call from Carmella, her teacher, or the school nurse reading me some label or asking me if Carmella can have such and such.
Gummy bears?
Oh for Christ's sake, yes.

If it doesn't say cashews, sesame seeds or pecans she can eat it. But nevertheless I got a call the other day because they were making ice cream.
These are the ingredients the nurse said:Sugar, half and half, vanilla, ice, rock salt. Can Carmella have some?
Yes. Wait, is there nuts in that ice?
What? Oh, ha ha, well I just wanted to be sure. . .

So all this attention and allergy awareness has made Carmella very paranoid. So she goes to visit the nurse at least once a week if not more often for various allergy related complaints. I can't blame her. When she had her reaction to cashews she experienced every symptom of an allergic reaction you can have: burning mouth, sneezing, vomiting, GI distress, itchy eyes, hives, wheezing, shortness of breath etc-- in the span of 3 hours. She's 7. How is she to know that every time she doesn't sneeze her throat might be about to close up. I get that she is worried but if the adults could do a little to ease her anxiety it might be a tad helpful. Instead, they are more paranoid than she is.

The first time she went to see the school nurse was because she was sneezing too much. The nurse called the house and Ryan happened to be home. The nurse wanted to know if she could give Carmella some Benedrayl. Ryan said sure. So she gave Carmella 2 teaspoons of Benedryal. Later, Carmella came home complaining that all day she felt "dizzy" at school. Well, duh! I'm surprised you were able to remain upright. I told her if she had a problem with just sneezing to request the Claritan. Benedrayl makes you sleepy.

Last week she went because she had the tiniest patch of poison ivy. I don't mean to make fun of her as poison ivy is in the cashew family. But I was on top it. She was getting Claritan everyday and calamine lotion. It had been a few days so I slacked on the meds. But apparently the tiny patch started to itch again and Carmella got worried it was going to spread to her whole body. This is what I get for googling poison ivy rashes with her right next to me.

Apparently the nurse felt sorry for her because the nurse also has poison ivy. So I was summoned to bring the calamine lotion and claritain to school. Which I did and then spent 30 minutes talking with the nurse about poison ivy.

Now I don't know about any of the other times Carmella goes to see the nurse as I am only called if there needs to be medication administered or I have to come get her. So she could very well be visiting the nurse everyday for all I know.

Again, yesterday I saw the school nurse pop up on my caller ID. I knew I sent her to school healthy and had packed her lunch myself so I couldn't even guess what the problem was going to be.

The nurse informed me that Carmella had a headache. She had taken her temperature and sure enough Carmella had a fever. 101.1 I had to come get her. This was at 2 pm. They get out at 2:20. So I just got Beau too.

And because she wasn't feeling well I let Carmella lay in my bed and watch TV all afternoon. And she didn't have to do her homework. Beau however, did have to do his homework. And he wanted to know why I was being so nice to Carmella and not him. Which, in my defense I don't think I was being mean to Beau. I was just letting Carmella watch TV. Which I suppose they don't normally get to do during the school week. But what else are you suppose to do when you are sick? I mean, I would go ride my bike if I were sick but Carmella isn't like me so I let her do that thing that I hear most people do when they are sick, you know, rest.

I explained this to Beau but he didn't seem to understand. . .

I took Carmella to the doctor today and she has a sinus infection. A result of all those environmental allergies, I guess. I definitely empathise as that is my plight too.

This business with the school nurse it getting out of hand. I am thinking I am going to have not only put her on my Christmas card list but might as well start inviting her to parties.

So today Carmella stayed home from school and you'd think the school nurse got a reprieve but no. When I picked Beau up he told me that he went to see the school nurse today.

Oh really. Why?

Because I had a headache, he explained.

Oh. I see. And did the nurse take your temperature?


Did you have a fever?


That's because you are not sick!

I know. I just wanted you to be nice to me too.

Whatever, go do your homework.

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