Guest Blog: William “Walnut” Whitehouse

Our guest blogger is Melissa Stewart, mother of two. She will introduce herself:

Hi. My name is Melissa, and I’m from South Carolina.  I swam competitively for 12 years.  We Southerners live in the sun.  I gave that up when I became a Yankee and moved to Michigan 10 years ago to teach at Adrian College.  To seal the deal, I married a Michigander. A really white one.  His last name is Whitehouse, but my friends call him “Mr. White-Whitehouse.”  I knew he was rashy and allergic to everything when I married him, but I didn’t think about passing down those allergies to our children…

Six weeks ago we were at a staff and faculty picnic with an incredible potluck spread.  I picked up four homemade, walnut-cranberry cookies and gave one to Oscar, my three-year-old, and one to William, my twenty-two-month-old baby.  (If you are counting, that left two for me!)

Shortly thereafter, we loaded up in the van to drive our 35-minute trip home.  William faces backwards in the van so I can’t see his face. But not long into the drive he started to fuss and cry. After 20 minutes, I pulled over to see what was wrong, and his face was swollen to the size of two faces—he could not open his eyes because they were swollen shut.  I was terrified. So I jumped back in the van, called the doctor on call and headed to the emergency room.  We arrived 15 minutes later.

They did not ask my name, his name, if we had insurance, where our shoes were or anything. They grabbed William and promptly gave him 3 different shots, including an EpiPen, and put him on an I.V.  Then they put us in an ambulance and moved us over to U of M children’s emergency room, where they gave my 22-month-old baby another EpiPen shot.

The doctors said several times that this was a life-and-death matter, that the first time was a warning.  William is fine now. We have been to an allergist. We have EpiPens everywhere, and we read every food label. Did you know that BBQ sauce sometimes has walnuts? I do now.

Doctors actually don’t know for sure why there are an increasing number of folks allergic to peanuts and tree nuts.  They don’t know if it is genetic or environmental.  (My husband, by the way, is not allergic to tree nuts.)  But many of us who didn’t grow up with nut allergies now live daily with them.  Not only do we live with them, but so do William’s grandparents, cousins, classmates, teachers, and babysitters.

From a mom who was surprised to find out she had a child allergic to walnuts, many thanks to all of you who are helping us live with this life-threatening allergy.

More info about walnut allergies from the Calgary Allergy Network of Canada

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One thought on “Guest Blog: William “Walnut” Whitehouse

  1. Hi! I have a friend who’s son is extremly allergic to nuts…he had his first reaction from putting peanut butter on a pine cone, he didn’t even eat any of it. She has also learned A LOT about reading labels! One day he will learn to warn others about his allergy and read labels for himself. Good luck!!

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