When Tracy is Absent

Tracy can’t always be everywhere with Benjamin.  We try hard to take her to everything, but there are a few rare occasions when it’s just not best for her to be present.  For example, Benjamin and I went on a 30 mile bike ride on Sunday.  Tracy can’t run that far beside the bike, and we aren’t up to that distance pulling her in the Burley even though she’s getting good at it.  So she stayed back and was fine, though a bit sad.  Tracy also can’t go in situations that would be unsafe for her.

On Saturday, Benjamin had a great opportunity but it was a bad situation for Tracy. Benjamin’s scout troop is working on the aviation merit badge and a group was meeting at the local airport, where he got to tour the control tower, do a “walk-around” of a plane and see how maintenance is done, and then fly (and help co-pilot!) a small plane. I opted not to stay since there were enough other adults present who had been with him before and knew about the severity of his allergy, and since we are working hard to give him increasing independence (which is a big part of why he has Tracy).  So this was the first time in the last month that Benjamin was somewhere without either Tracy or me present.

When I picked Benjamin up 2 1/2 hours later, he immediately told me in the car how fun flying was– and then he started looked in the car mirror because his mouth looked funny. When I looked also it was clear that he was having a minor reaction, which had just started shortly before I arrived. The best we can piece together, since Benjamin had nothing to eat there, was either that the cockpit headset he wore had nut residue on it or — more likely — that he got just a trace amount of residue from the cell phone that he used to call me to pick him up.  Benjamin carries his own phone for just such a situation, but the scout policy is generally that boys are not supposed to have or use cell phones and so he was respectful of that and used an adult’s phone rather than his own. This was a mistake both by Benjamin and by the adults present — and we were lucky it wasn’t worse, even though it was plainly an honest mistake.  Had I been present, Benjamin not only would not have needed to call — but, if he’d called, I would have insisted on using his own cell phone.  More importantly, had Tracy been there, she could have “checked” the other cell phone (and the cockpit headset, which could have been the problem) for residue. Even with no nuts visible (and there were not), Tracy could have kept him safe.

That night, we made sure to train Tracy on checking cell phones … and continued to think hard about situations where she can or can’t be present. The simple fact is that Benjamin is safer and less likely to have a reaction if Tracy is present; we unintentionally proved that again Saturday. We’re happy and a bit lucky that what happened when Tracy was absent on Saturday didn’t progress to anaphylaxis.

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