Posted in Food allergies, Parenting

Bring Out The Cheese!

Last Thursday, we went for Little Dude’s follow-up appointment with his pediatric allergist.  It was freezing cold and there was oddles of traffic so I’m super happy we took the train and subway to go to the hospital.

We first sat down with the doctor who asked how things were going allergy-wise.  She was thrilled when I told her that we had successfully introduced milk in baking and cooking.  I also talked about the insane reaction that Little Dude had after taking Amoxil a couple of months ago.  Then, after some more waiting in the toy-filled waiting room, we went back in to see the nurse who would conduct the scratch test.  This time, she skipped the synthesized dairy altogether and used a drop of fresh milk right off the bat.  I was really eager to see how it would go, because last time, the test spot started reacting before we were even out of the nurse’s office.

Well, it turns out that we would be receiving good news.

1.  Despite the fact that Charles did react again to the fresh milk, his reaction was so small that the allergist gave us the green light to try hard cheeses with Charles.  She went on to say that if the hard cheeses were ok, that we could then try softer ones and even yogurt!

2.  Because Charles’ reaction was smaller than the control spot, the allergist is pretty confident that Little Dude’s dairy allergy will be history by the time he’s 3.  We will have a follow-up appointment in 6 months to keep monitoring his progress.

3.  It turns out that the little guy isn’t allergic to penicillin.  Though he had an immune reaction, it wasn’t an allergic reaction.  It was a serum-sickness-like reaction to either a virus or the Amoxil.  Since there’s no way to know which it was, I was told to avoid the Amoxil, but told that other forms of penicillin should be fine.

Perhaps, by his 3rd birthday, Charles will be able to have some buttercream icing or whipped cream on his cake!

Posted in Food allergies

Little Dude’s Food Allergies: Progress!

So today we went back to see Charles’ pediatric allergist to retest his reaction to dairy and flaxseeds.  I decided to take him into the city with the commuter train.

He was really excited when the train arrived on the platform and we lost no time in boarding.  Charles happily sat down while we waited for the train to leave, but when it did he had the surprise of his life!  Oh my, he became so startled when he realized that the scenery outside the window was moving, he quickly gestured that he wanted to sit on me.  Of course, his surprise isn’t really surprising, when we’re in a vehicle, he’s always strapped in.  This time, though he had more freedom.  As soon as he realized this, he became super happy and split his time between looking out the window and chattering with the random people who would pass by us inside the train.

We arrived at our appointment with about 20 minutes to spare and were called in rather quickly.  We first went to see the allergist who asked how everything was going and if we had discovered new reactions.  When I mentioned basil, she told me that she thought (given the very small reaction he gets) that it is more of an irritation than an actual allergy.  She was also very happy to hear that the little guy eats a variety of foods and wasn’t bothered when I told her that, besides water and juice, Charles has a variety of non-dairy milks instead of toddler formula (even though she had suggested we keep him on soy-based toddler formula until 2 years of age).  I guess she found him to be pudgy enough to go without the formula 😉

We then went back to the waiting room and Little Dude had fun drawing with the markers while I listened for his name to be called.  It didn’t take very long until it was his turn and back we went for the skin scratch test.  The nurse tested his reaction to dairy and flaxseeds and we were sent back to the waiting room for 10 minutes.  I expected the patch of skin exposed to dairy to react very quickly as it had six months ago, but was hopefully optimistic when, after 5 minutes, there was still no reaction to be found.  By the time we were called back in, Charles had had a very small reaction to dairy (a LOT) smaller than the first time ’round and absolutely no reaction to flaxseeds!

Score 1 for Charles!

Because of the big difference in reactions to dairy after a six month dairy-free period, a second scratch test was then done with a drop of real milk on his skin (as opposed to the synthesized dairy solution that had been used earlier).  This time, we weren’t even back in the waiting room and his skin had already started to puff up around the scratch.  Oh well, we can’t win them all now, can we?

Nonetheless, our allergist was super positive about the results.  She encouraged me to try flaxseeds again, starting with very small quantities mixed in with other stuff and working our way up to bigger quantities if Little Dude doesn’t react.  She also explained that since Charles had hardly reacted to the first dairy test of the day, we should go ahead and try to use cows milk when we bake (and work our way up from there).  She explained that the solution they first used didn’t contain all of the proteins that fresh milk does and that this usually indicates that though I very clearly still can’t give the little guy a glass of milk to drink, I can use it in recipes because once it is heated up and mixed with other stuff, its composition changes enough that Charles’ body doesn’t recognize it as being a danger.

Perhaps, in January, when we have another follow-up appointment, I’ll have more good news!

So….score 2 for Charles, right?

A part of me is excited by the news, but another part of me is still fearful.  I mean, I know I should try flaxseeds and dairy in baking recipes, but this is my little boy we’re talking about.  We always have benadryl on hand and an epinephrin injector, but still…

I will try though.

Does anyone have experience to share in the realm of disappearing allergies and progressive re-exposure to the past allergen?

Posted in Food allergies, Parenting

Seriously? Basil!

Just a quick post this morning.

I’ve talked about my son’s food allergies before.  His dairy and flaxseed allergies are diagnosed and he is followed by a pediatric allergist to track their evolution.

However, the little guy has been having reactions to something else and we just couldn’t put our finger on it.  As it happens, most of his reactions would happen when he would eat chicken at daycare.  Except we tested for chicken and his allergy test came up negative (not to mention that he eats the stuff at home with no problem).

Eventually, we figured that he was allergic to a herb or spice.  Yeah, that’s helpful.  Companies aren’t required to list all the spices used in their ingredients so we had to go through some trial and error.

And yesterday, when he had another reaction at daycare (this time, he wasn’t eating chicken) we finally figured it out.  The culprit is basil!

His body’s reaction isn’t as strong as it is to dairy: just a few small hive spots here and there and the contour of his mouth becomes red (kind of like a clown face), but neither bother him.

But seriously, who in the world is allergic to basil?  LOL!  I didn’t even know that such an allergy existed (though, I figure I shouldn’t be surprised.  I mean, everyone’s immune system has the potential to react to anything I suspect).

Posted in Parenting

I’m Allergic to Dairy.

Actually, I’m not.

But it feels like it.

Here’s the thing though, I’ve been dairy free for a little over a month (I think) now.  As hard as it was in the beginning, it has now become normal for me.  I don’t look longingly at cheese anymore.  I don’t miss milk or ice cream or yogurt anymore.  I’ve become adept at recognizing the hidden milk names in the ingredient lists and am starting to know which products are safe to eat.  Instead of looking at what I can’t eat, I look at what I can eat.  And there is PLENTY that I can still eat.

However, I wonder when I will be eating dairy again.  You see, as you can imagine, I’ve been reading a lot on food allergies since I first “diagnosed” my son when he was six months old (need I remind you that he hasn’t been officially diagnosed because our appointment with the allergist is at the end of October?) and there is a lot of research.  Among this research there is – you guessed it! – contradicting information.

Some sources say to try again after a few weeks.  Others say to do so after a couple months.  I’ve also read to wait until the age of 1.  And then there’s all of the other foods that I’ve opted not to try yet.  This includes nuts and strawberries, to name a few.  A part of me is afraid that he’s going to have a severe reaction but a part of me wants to try the foods out anyways.  Although “common knowledge” dictates to wait until the child is 2 to introduce peanuts and tree nuts (some say to wait until the 4th birthday for kids who have allergies or who have parents with allergies) new research has revealed that the sooner you expose your child to a food, the less likely they are likely to develop an allergy to that food.

I was thinking of reintroducing dairy in my own diet first to see how my son reacts to it.  If his eczema doesn’t come back and his stools stay nice and solid (I’m sure you’re all very happy to read about my son’s bowel movements haha), it would be a good sign that he’s on the right track to eating dairy himself.

What to do, what to do?

I’m reluctant to speak to our pediatrician about this.  I’m also reluctant to reintroduce dairy in my own diet lest my son develop bad eczema again by his next appointment at the end of the month and she indirectly accuses me of being a bad mom again.  Perhaps I should just wait and talk to the allergist about it at the end of October.

Thoughts?

Posted in Parenting

Allergy Elimination Diet, Part 1: Dairy

After finding out that my son is currently allergic to dairy and that his bad eczema is most likely caused by the dairy (and/or something else) in my own diet, I’ve started an allergy elimination diet in hopes of controlling his eczema without the use of prescription creams.  I decided to start with eliminating dairy first because that is something I am certain his body can’t handle now that he’s started solids.

To help me with this, I went to see a dietician last Saturday.  I needed to make sure that my body had everything it needed (emphasis put on vitamine D and calcium) even though I’d be removing a whole food group from my diet.  The dietician I met with was really nice and had a lot of resources to share with me.

Among the food other than dairy that contains a decent amount of calcium that is well-absorbed by the body, there is:

– Enriched soy beverage (except we agreed that I should try to stay clear of soy as it is very common for children who are allergic to dairy to also be allergic to soy);

– Sardines (with bones);

– Pink and Sockeye salmon (also with bones)

I also told her that I had been drinking almond milk and rice milk (which are both very yummy) and she suggested I check if they contained decent amounts of vitamin D and calcium (which they do so yay!).

She also told me to check the list of ingredients in things such as cold cuts, bread products, cereal, mayonnaise and chips because they are all things that could contain milk ingredients.

Speaking of milk ingredients, did you know that there are a whole bunch of hidden names for milk protein?  I found this pdf document that lists them all from kidawithfoodallergies.org an awesome site full of ressources on food allergies.  They also provide a list of hidden names for other common allergens such as eggs and wheat.

I’ve been at it for a little less than a week now and though it is hard (as I LOVE dairy) it’s not as bad as I though.  There are so many great products out there after all.  The hardest part is thinking before I order something while eating out.  For instance, having the cheese sandwich at a local sub shop is not a good idea when one is not allowed to eat cheese.

Right now, my son’s eczema seems to be under control (I must grudgingly admit that the prescription creams are doing wonders in that department) and hope that the fact that I’m not having dairy anymore will have a positive impact once the creams run out.  Changes don’t happen overnight and I know that I have to wait at least two weeks until I see changes caused by my change of diet, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed so that I don’t have to eliminate another major allergen from my diet.

I’m also happy to say that we have not had any allergic reactions since my son’s smoothie last week so I’m hopeful that his other reactions were just caused by his immune system being on high alert from the dairy he’d consumed.

Now, I just have to find a dessert that I can have when my friends come over this weekend.  Hey, I don’t suppose anyone knows a good dairy-free recipe eh?  (You know, the kind that doesn’t contain milk, butter, cream, chocolate or the like…)

Posted in Parenting

Waaaay Past Annoyed

First off, I apologize in advance because I am about to launch into a rant.

Those of you who have been following this blog for the past month, will probably have an idea of the issue I am about to address.

I just got back from the pediatrician’s office.  We went back in two weeks after his previous visit because Charles has had more allergic reactions to food.  My goal was to at least get a script for an epipen in case his next reaction turned into something worse than hives.  I also wanted a RAST test (which requires blood to be drawn) to be prescribed so that I could know exactly what he is allergic to right now.  That way, I can be more certain of which foods (besides dairy) to avoid.

Here are the salient points from our appointment…

1.  The pediatrician won’t prescribe an epipen because he’s too young.  To further argue her cause, she cites that he has “only” had hives so far.   “Just don’t give him the foods he’s reacted to (duh!), keep some benadryl with you at all times (double duh!) and bring him to the ER if his reaction is more severe (triple duh!)”.  So if my 7 month old stops breathing on me after eating something then I have to drive 20 min. to the nearest hospital.  Excellent.

2.  We’re also not getting a blood test done.  I can’t really cite the reasons; by that time, I had decided to learn from her and ignore what she was saying.

3.  When she asked me to repeat which foods he’d had a reaction to, I recited them again.  Mentioning that I was certain about an allergy to dairy, tomato and cantaloupe and was still unsure about wheat, eggs, fish and blueberries.  She nods her head and asks me how old he is (what, you mean you didn’t take a few minutes to read his file before calling us in?!?).  7 months.  And then she goes on to scold me because supposedly he’s too young to be having fish, eggs and dairy.  WTF?  Since when?  It’s not like I gave him nuts.  And it’s not like I had any idea that he’d have a reaction in the first place because neither my partner or I have any food allergies.  Besides, I didn’t know when I started solids that his eczema was most likely a sign that he was reacting to something that was in my milk (more on that in the next point).  In her opinion, my son should be on cereal, fruits and veggies.  Good thing she doesn’t know we’re not doing purées!  Also, the introduction of solids, much like every other aspect of parenting, has many many many schools of thought.

4.  I told her that I’d read that his eczema might be a result of an allergic reaction to the lactose he gets through my breastmilk because I eat dairy.  I went on to add that I was meeting with a dietician tomorrow so that she can help me with an allergy elimination diet starting with the removal of all milk products from my meals.  The pediatrician tells me that I should definitely be removing not only dairy but anything else that my son has reacted to so far as though it was the most obvious thing in the world (let me remind you here that the last time I went – two weeks ago – she had asked me if I’d had to remove anything from my diet since giving birth and when I said ‘no’ she didn’t suggest that dairy was one of the things that was probably causing my son’s bad eczema).

5. As seems to be the case with our recent appointments, she kept focusing on his eczema.  So, I ended up getting a prescription for a moisturizing cream, another prescription for a cortisone cream for his body, another one to control his itchiness and a reminder that the cortisone cream we already have at home is for his face…

Basically, we’re going to be treating the symptoms instead of the cause until our appointment with the pediatric allergist comes up in October and hoping that his hives stay “just” hives to avoid a trip to the ER.

I’m really hating our health care system right now.  I know that the grass only looks greener on the other side of the fence and that no matter where I’d go, I’d have to face different challenges, but the grass is looking pretty yellowish to my eye on my side of the fence right now…

OK, rant over.