Sunday, October 27, 2013

An Unexpected Diagnosis- Food Allergic

We started E on solid foods when he was 6 months old and followed the same routine we did with M- skipping cereal and making our own baby food. E really enjoyed his meals so we began adding in new foods fairly quickly and being our second child, we weren't as careful at doing the whole "give one food and wait a few days for any potential reaction" routine. It would come back to bite us in the end. 

I started him on yogurt at 8 months and noticed he started to get red around his mouth right away. I assumed it was just a contact rash as E has had sensitive skin and eczema since he was around 3 months old.  A few days later we had pancakes for breakfast and gave E some. He loved them!  Within five minutes, though, he got red around his mouth and hives popped up on his cheeks and he started rubbing his eye.  I immediately thought he might be allergic to eggs not thinking that there was milk in the batter, too. The next day we tried yogurt again because 1) we're dumb and didn't really think one of our kids would have a food allergy and 2) he was our second and we were kind of lax about the whole new food thing and wanted to know if it was milk or egg that bothered him. Poor E flared up within ten minutes getting hives around his mouth and up to his eye and his entire eye got red and watery and itchy. We decided then to halt all new foods and wait to speak with his pediatrician at his 9 month appointment. I took a picture of his reaction just before he started screaming and pulling at his mouth and we watched him like a hawk. 

At his 9 month appointment, his pediatrician took one look at the picture I took and said, "oh no" and referred us to an allergist immediately.  He got an appointment within a couple weeks due to a cancellation and I explained everything to his allergist. She had a skin test done for milk and he failed it quite obviously. At this point we didn't test for anything else, but after a failed attempt at trying soy formula (E's slow weight gain and my milk supply being newly pregnant were concerning both my pedi and myself) I ended up taking him back in and Dr. H tested him for egg (due to the pancake) and soy. He failed both as shown in photo below- egg is bottom right reaction, soy is on the left, and controls are on the top. 
Our son was diagnosed with severe food allergies and is considered anaphylactic to dairy and egg. Dr. H gave us a ton of paperwork to read and several good websites to use as resources including where there are forums that you can chat and ask questions of other moms and allergy specialists.  It has become a life saver for me even if I still have days where I don't feel like I truly belong. My child can't possibly be THAT allergic, right?!  She also had the nurse come in and demo two different epi pens and had me chose one on the spot. That's when it really hit me that this was no joke. I chose the Auvi-Q talking epi pen and left the office overwhelmed and with Dr. H's number in case I had more questions (I did, of course, and phoned her several times).

E has since passed a skin test for soy, but his food allergies are still no joke. He had to be enrolled in daycare for several months when my mother-in-law underwent chemo treatments and while there we had an unfortunate reminder of the reality of an anaphylactic food allergic child. He had a substitute teacher in his class one day and despite all of their precautions and rules in place for the safety of kids that have food allergies, E was fed yogurt by the sub. The school called me immediately and I gave the okay to administer Benadryl. By the time they gave it, he had gotten hives and was starting to wheeze. He also had a cold, so the director hesitated to administer the epi pen as did I.  I flew to the school to pick him up and monitor him myself. I was so scared for him and incredibly disappointed that he had another reaction that I didn't say much to his teachers or the staff until the next day. In hindsight, he should've been administered the epi pen that day and I won't make that mistake again. Thank God E is alright. 

I had hoped that he wouldn't have a reaction that day and that maybe this whole food allergy diagnosis was a fluke. Seeing the hives and hearing him wheeze was heartbreaking. He was itchy and suffering and this WAS still the real deal. It's also hard when you feel half of your family just thinks you're a neurotic over protective parent. Those that have seen him react take us seriously (my mother-in-law has us check ingredients for her all the time) and panic along with us when he gets too close to something off limits (i.e. when his cousins walk around with bread and butter, chocolate, yogurt, etc). It's gotten better in that we asked my brothers and sisters-in-law to have their kids sit at the table to eat now. They've all also told their little ones that Evan can't have certain foods because it could make him sick. Its a start, but now E climbs on chairs (and tables) so we have to be even more diligent. 

Birthday parties and family gatherings with those that aren't aware are anxiety inducing for me at times. Some days I wish I could put E in a bubble to protect him. I really hope he outgrows these allergies by the time he's in preschool. Most, but not all, kids outgrow them around age 3. We carry his epi pens and Benadryl with him at all times and have extras for his daycare providers. We got two books about his allergies for him and M to learn and I have an Allermate alert bracelet for him as well. This is our favorite book so far, but it only covers his dairy allergy. 

E's next allergy test is on my birthday in March and I'm hoping and praying he passes at least one of the two remaining allergy tests. If he does, we'll do a food challenge in the doctor's office to see how he handles the food. It's a 5 hour process if all goes well. Gulp!  Until then we continue to read food labels on everything and protect him the best we can. 

More to come: Egg Allergy and the flu shot. 


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