Friday, February 1, 2008

The Journey

This is the story of my life with food allergies. Well not my life exactly since I am actually the only one in this family without food allergies.

When my oldest daughter (now 14) was a baby she had a milk allergy which made itself apparent every time daddy snuck her a finger full of ice cream or cake frosting. She would break out in tiny little red bumps which I still refer to as “milk bumps”. One day I decided to try her with peanut butter (knowing full well daddy is anaphylactic to peanuts). I touched it to the tip of her tongue and next thing I knew her face and ears were flaming red and swollen! No more nuts!!!

By the time my second daughter (now 12) came along I was a little more educated and a lot more aware. I paid close attention to what she ate and how it seemed to affect her, I kept a mental food diary of sorts. Eggs and milk were obvious, bananas and cantaloupe made her lips itch, and then there was beef. No one believed me, even I had never heard of a beef allergy, so I kept giving it to her and she kept breaking out. Finally we had her tested and found that I had been right about them all (they didn’t test for beef but I took her off of it anyway). Again the peanuts…they did the skin prick test and put the peanut prick right on top of her back where she could reach it and said “now don’t scratch and just sit there for 15 minutes”. She was amazing! Just 3 yrs old and crying, sat on her hands and did what they told her to. The peanut bump was huge and scary! OK, so now our house is a “nut free zone”.

Now we come to my baby (5 yrs old) and the reason I decided to try my hand at writing a blog…well, that and a deal I made with my father-in-law. When this poor child was a few weeks old she developed what I suppose was a rash but it covered her from head to toe, there was no “normal” skin to be found. The best way to describe it is she looked like she had flaming red elephant skin! It was hot and thick from swelling. She could barely move. We gave her 3 baths a day, 15 min long each, followed by smothering her in Aquaphore. After 2 weeks it cleared up but I knew that food allergies were on the horizon. As she got older we tried her on new foods one at a time, very carefully. She seemed to react to everything! I breastfed her until she was 2 because I was scared to death that if I weaned her she would starve to death. I can’t even remember everything she was allergic to but the foods that come to mind are wheat, dairy, eggs, beef, soy, tomatoes, melons, grapes, and of course nuts. Almost all processed foods were out of the question. I learned to be an amazing alternative foods cook. I even made ketchup out of plums! She struggled with itchy skin for 5 long years until last year when the Headstart program helped us get her tested…again I was right…well, almost. She was not allergic to soy but turned out to be not only allergic to wheat but all grains containing gluten. Let me tell you, even with all my expertise I had developed in alternative cooking I was not prepared for gluten free baking! It is a challenge, especially when you can’t add eggs or milk either. So now I boast “look, I made a cake out of NOTHING”.

So here I am. I don’t really understand yet how this blog thing works so I may not be able to do everything here that I want to. My intention is to write stories as they come to me, post recipes that I have found truly amazing, and hopefully get to hear your stories and favorite recipes too. I’m not sure yet what the recipe copywrite laws are or how that will work but I am looking into it. If anyone does know I’d love to hear from you.


Anonymous said...

I wouls love to know which if any of the allergies your children have outgrown. I am a mother of two boys with food allergies. My oldest is 6 and was allergic to eggs and peanuts. He has outgrown the egg allergy. My youngest was at one point diagnosed as allergice to garlic, tomato, onion, egg and dairy. I think the first three were more sensitivities which are no longer a problem, but he still reacts to eggs and dairy at the age of 4. I'm happy to have discovered your blog.

FoodAllergyMom said...

Welcome to my blog, I am glad you found me too :) . This is a hard question to answer since most of my conclusions came from home trials. I am hoping to have everyone tested this summer if we can afford it and if I do then I will post an update. In the meantime, here is what I can give you (it will probably be lengthy):
Amanda (14 yrs old) used to break out when she had dairy, she out grew that when she was 1. Now, however, she gets a stomach ache from dairy so I think it didn't go away so much as change it's manefestation.
Nikki's (12 yrs old) case is very complex so I will just say I don't think her allergies have changed much.I will know more when we have her tested.
Emily (6 yrs old) is the one I have been able to document the best. She has outgrown sensativities to tomatoes, melons, and grapes. Her home diagnosis of a soy allergy was swapped for a Dr's diagnosis of a wheat/gluten allergy, but I don't think she outgrew it, I think I was just wrong.
I guess my big answer would be that for the most part their allergies have all remained. As for the peanut allery, it is VERY rare for anyone to outgrow it. Be careful of that one! The more times your child is exposed the worse it can get. The body becomes more efficient at fighting the allergen each time which means a more severe reaction. Best of luck to you and your boys, hope to see you again!

Sophie said...

I'm not sure if you know that answer to this question, but do you know if it's possible to be allergic to pine nuts and not peanuts? During my third year of college, I ate pine nuts for the first time and my throat and mouth started itching and getting numb. I freaked out and my then-fiance-now-husband brought me benadryl and I went to the doctor the next day. She said since it was the first time I tried pine nuts, it was just a minor reaction, but next time I could die if I ate them (!) - so she prescribed me epipen. The strange thing is, I'm not allergic to peanuts, and I've read that they're related...I just think it's strange that I'm not allergic to other nuts, but then again, the human body is a very complex vessel.

FoodAllergyMom said...

Hello Sophie, it's nice to meet you. Yes you can definitly be allergic (even anaphylactic) to one nut and not to others. My huband is anaphylactic to all nuts. My older 2 daughters are only allergic to peanuts. My youngest is allergic to peanuts, pistachios, and cashews. Have you ever been tested for food allergies? You are right that it would be odd for you to only be allergic to pine nuts (although certainly not unheard of). Your tummy troubles could be aggrevated by other undiagnosed food allergies. Best of luck to you and I hope to see you again.