Posted in Food allergies

Back From The Allergist: And The Culprits Are…

We finally got to go to our appointment with a pediatric allergist last Wednesday at the Montreal Children’s Hospital after an approximately five month wait.  As the date approached, I became more and more anxious about what the consultation/results would yield (I’ve been having really weird dreams over the past 5 days), but now that it’s over, I must say that I am relieved.

I first met with an intern (the hospital is affiliated with McGill University) who took a brief family history with regards to allergies.  Then, we moved on to Charles’ allergies and she asked about what type of reaction he’d had and to what.  She was very thorough and specific with her questions asking about when the reactions were noticed (for Little Dude, it was after his third time eating a particular food item that he’d react), how quickly they manifested, what type of reaction (was it just on the skin as in hives, did it have an effect on the stools, did it affect the respiratory system…), how quickly the symptoms disappeared and how (for us, it was with the help of Benadryl).  I would strongly suggest anyone going in to meet an allergist for food allergies to keep notes and pictures documenting these informations.  (For the record, I actually did document all of this…except I forgot to bring my notes.)

After being sent back into the waiting room briefly, we were called in by the nurse who would perform the scratch test (aka:  prick test).  She tested cantaloupe, chicken, dairy, flaxseeds, eggs and two other things that I don’t remember for some reason.  After about a 5 minute wait, we rolled up the little guy’s sleeves.  Beside two of the 7 black dots, there was a very clear reaction.

It would seem that as of right now, my son is definitely allergic to dairy and flaxseeds.

*Sigh*

We then met the allergist who explained that the other reactions (which nearly all happened when solids were first being introduced) were probably caused by his system going into overdrive from the allergy to dairy.  She also prescribed an epinephrin injector (something our pediatrician didn’t want to do) because of the progression in symptoms in his allergy to dairy.  I had the choice between the epipen jr. and the allerject jr. and chose the latter because it “talks” the user through the procedure.

This is the one we have.  We have the choice between having our voice instructions in French (great for daycare!) or English.
This is the one we have. We have the choice between having our voice instructions in French (great for daycare!) or English.

Here’s what it looks/sounds like.

I picked the allerject instead of the epipen because I liked the it had voice instructions.  I figured that if my son does have a serious reaction to something he eats, I might be to panicked to remember what to do.  I also think that it’s great for when he’ll be staying with a sitter (whether it be my parents, in-laws or someone else).  This morning, I also went ahead and ordered an allergect tester and carrying case (free of charge).  The tester will allow me to hear and follow through the instructions as often as I want so that I can become more familiar with it.

What I really enjoyed about seeing the allergist is that, unlike our pediatrician, she didn’t make me feel like a bad mother for trying dairy and eggs so early in the first place.  She didn’t scold me and tell me I should have waited until 9 months for the eggs or 12 months for dairy.  In fact, she even told me that I had to become less shy with trying new foods.  She explained that just because my son had confirmed food allergies, to not shy away from peanuts and tree nuts or any other type of food.  Funny how the point of views differed vastly!

I was, of course, encouraged to continue to keep dairy out of my own (and his, of course!) diet until Charles is weaned and to be more attentive if I give my son other seeds like sesame seeds because the allergy to flaxseeds can mean an allergy to those too.

Call me crazy, but though a part of me is sad that he has food allergies for the moment, another part of me feels relieved that we know (at least part of) what’s going on with regards to food right now and that I wasn’t just imagining things and seeing a problem where there wasn’t one.  At the hospital, they’ll be doing follow-up appointments every 6 months to retest the allergy to dairy and flaxseeds and check out any new ones that might have become apparent.  Thought I’m kind of stressed out by the fact that I might actually have to use the epinephrin injector for my son in the future, I’m also feeling more confident in having him try new foods that I didn’t want to give to him because of the fear of a big reaction.

Here’s to hoping that the allergies will be temporary and there won’t be anymore in the future.

Did any of you have a child who grew out of a food allergy?
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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.

Posted in Parenting

Oh No, Not Again!

Guess what?

Yeah, my son had another reaction to something he ate.  *Pulls out hair*.  I swear, I’m going to have to invest in benadryl stocks…

Of course, now I’m getting paranoid, so, naturally, I’ve been doing some reading on food allergies.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

–  It generally takes a few exposures before the body has an immune response to a food that was consumed (which explains why my son seemed fine the first time but then broke in to hives the second or third time).

– 90% of food allergies are caused by an item from the “top 8”: cow’s milk, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, crustacean shellfish and wheat

– Don’t assume that a reaction to a certain food will always present itself in the same way (which means that “just” because my son has been breaking into hives, doesn’t mean his body can’t eventually have a more severe reaction like anaphylaxis).

– Symptoms might appear a few minutes (hives) after eating an offending food, or many hours after (eczema).  This sent off a light bulb moment in my head.  You see, my son has had eczema pretty much from day 1.  Therefore, it is entirely possible that he’s been reacting to what I’ve been eating through my milk!

– If a parent has a personal history of allergies (seasonal allergies, eczema, food allergies, asthma) their child has a greater risk of developing an allergic condition.  In our case, dad has no allergies but I have seasonal allergies and have developed an asthmatic reaction to cats when I was in my preteen years.  It has mostly disappeared now, but I still keep my inhalers just in case.  This surprised me, because I thought that he would only be at risk if either his father or I had food allergies, which we don’t.

– Many children outgrow their allergies to foods other than peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.

Now, I’ve been communicating with a couple of mommas on a food allergy board, both of which suggested that I get my hands on an epipen for my son after seeing how widespread his reaction was when we initially went out to buy some benadryl.

So, where does that leave me?

1.  I need to call his pediatrician’s office again to see if she can write Little Dude a script for an epipen.

2.  Keep up the food log and take note of the other more subtle signs of an allergy.

3.  Keep a food log for myself and see how what I eat affects his eczema.

4. Call the allergy department of the hospital again to see if I can convince them that my son is more important than all of the other children that have an appointment before him to move up my son’s appointment before I run out of things to feed him.

5.  Become “that annoying mom that’s always calling” until I get answers.

Sound like a good plan?