The Taynors

The Taynors

Friday, June 1, 2012

Dealing with Allergies

Quick background just to get up to speed.  If you read my 1st birthday post (or you were at RJ's first birthday party) you are already aware that we have discovered that Ryan has food allergies.  After much debate, we took him to a recommended pediatric allergist to identify what made him break into hives.  I also wondered if what he was allergic to had anything to do with his awful eczema and cranky behavior. 

After doing a skin test of just a few common allergies, we found out right away that he is highly allergic to eggs.  So at that time we eliminated eggs from his diet, even if it is just an ingredient in a bigger recipe.  I didn't notice any change in his behavior or eczema, but he didn't have any further breakouts for a while.  We also sent him to get a more detailed round of blood work to test for a whole list of common allergies.  A couple of weeks later (before getting the blood test results), after eating baked ziti and meatballs, he had another pretty serious reaction.  We pumped him with benadryl and washed out his mouth, face and hands, and he seemed to recover pretty quickly.  A few days later, Mike got the call with his allergy results.  It came back saying that he is allergic to egg, wheat, peanuts, almonds (tree nuts), cats, and dogs (in that order of severity).  These results were a punch to the gut. The nurse advised that we remove all egg and wheat products from his diet completely, continue to avoid peanuts and tree nuts, and try to keep the cats and Ryan in separate parts of the house.  Ugh!

So we have done what the doctor ordered and have been watching his diet super carefully.  We have also on our own decided to go completely gluten free and to remove corn based products (one day after eating a corn puff type snack, he broke out in hives all over his face and then had bad eczema for a few days).  That means no wheat, oats, barely, or corn.  At this point its easier to just say what he CAN eat instead of what he can't.  His diet includes fresh fruit and vegetables (nothing canned or processes because that normally means they have been mixed with gluten products), milk, cheese, and plain proteins (chicken, ground beef, ground turkey, natural sausage).

This change has been hard on sooo many levels.  One night, Mike and I were talking about some of the things we needed to start doing, and Mike looked at me and said "Wow, this is really going to change our whole life huh" and that is 100% true.  I'ts hard to find enough things that Ryan can eat, it's hard to prepare meals, it's hard to grocery shop, it's way more expensive, it's hard to go visit with other friends or other homes because we have to bring all of our own food, it's hard to pack him for daycare, and it's hard to come to terms with the fact that something is making your child sick and you don't have any understanding as to why (more about the why later).  And we haven't even gotten to the point yet where he understands whats going on... I am not looking forward to that.  Mike and I have not gone totally gluten free, egg free at this point, mainly because its so hard and expensive to meal plan, but if we are eating at the same time as Ryan, I do try to eat whatever he is eating.  Right now if he sees someone else eating, he wants it too... so I want to avoid the temptation for him.  I have been paying more attention to what other toddlers eat, trying to get some new ideas...but I feel like whether its the wheat or the egg... he can't have anything!

Have I seen any changes?  This is a hard question.  I would say his overall eczema has improved.   His cheeks aren't as raw and the spots all over his back and neck are better.  His mood seems a little bit better too, he is just a normal toddler now.  BUT even with all of the drastic diet changes, things have not gotten completely better.  There are still days he wakes up with screaming red cheeks, he still has bad eczema on his ankles, behind his knees, and on his hands.  He is still always scratching his face and legs and has a clear runny nose (all signs of allergies).  Bottom line is that I am still confused.  I am not sure what exactly he is having reactions too, are things better without the wheat or did it now make a difference?  I would feel better about this whole process if the change was more clear and I had a better understanding about what is going on.  We are due to go back to the allergist in a few weeks, and I may go to a second doctor too, just to get another opinion. 

Here is my biggest question, why?  Why do all of these kids have food allergies?  Why does every elementary classroom have 3 kids with epi pens?  Why do we have to have peanut free tables at lunch?  When I was growing up, there was maybe 1 or 2 kids in the entire school with food allergies... so what are we doing differently (wrong) that has lead to this food allergy epidemic (and asthma and autism epidemics but that's a whole other discussion)?  I am not buying the idea that just more children are diagnosed, because young kids today have allergies severe enough that they wouldn't have gone unnoticed back 20 years ago.  Something is seriously wrong, I just wish I knew what it was so that I could make the changes needed to keep my family and any future children healthy.  I am starting to lean in the direction that it is the vaccines that are making our kids so sick, but I have a lot more research to do before stating any opinions.

Thoughts, ideas, opinions, research are all welcome!!  I am looking for any answers people have for me.

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