A Note To My Readers….

This is just a quick reminder that very soon http://www.momversusfoodallergy.wordpress.com will become www.momversusfoodallergy.com.  This new site will give me some new flexibility, which I’m excited about.  

My tech-savvy husband has helped me make the switch, and we’ve figured out how to carry over your email subscriptions to the new site!  You will get an email to confirm that you would like to indeed receive new blog posts from the new site.  At this point, the choice is yours and I hope you’ll want to keep receiving blog posts from Mom Vs. Food Allergy!  We’ll be transferring email followers over in the next day or two, but I wanted to give you a heads up that you’d be receiving this email.

Those of you who that follow on your Reader will have to “Follow” the new blog on your own-that I can’t do.  I also hope you’ll continue to follow Mom Vs. Food Allergy.

I must say, I am very thankful for my followers and email subscribers-sure gives me a boost of confidence that I’m helping fellow allergy moms.  Thanks so much and enjoy your weekend with your family!

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New Things On The Horizon (With An Important Announcement)

This Sunday is the FARE Walk For Food Allergy!  This is the first time for our family to participate, so I’m looking forward to it.  I’m thankful for organizations like FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) for raising funds to research a cure for food allergies.  So far our location has raised over $22,000!  We have a group of 13 going, so we decided to get t-shirts for our team, Nathan’s All Stars.  THANK YOU to all of you who donated to our team-we appreciate it!

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Nathan loves baseball, so my brother designed this t-shirt for us.  While I’m at it, I need to give him credit for naming this blog, too.  He’s an avid reader, great with words, and a huge supporter of Nathan-all that helps me out a bunch!

Notice anything different about the website on the back of the shirt?  It’s a bit different than the website you’re on now-and yes, it was on purpose.

If you’re reading this blog-THANK YOU!  A blog is absolutely useless if no one reads it, and it was my intention to reach out to fellow food allergy parents to help them on their food allergy journey.  I’m hoping you stay on this blogging journey with me and hop on over to my new (but very similar) blog site and enter your email address (I don’t share email addresses) if you want to continue to receive postings as soon as they happen, or follow the new site on your Reader.  This new site gives me a bit more blogging flexibility, so I hope you hang with me through the transition.  Thank you to my husband, Brent, for making it happen and for helping me put on the last few finishing touches in the next few days.

Again, THANK YOU, to my readers.  I hope to see you on the flip side at www.momversusfoodallergy.com (instead of http://www.momversusfoodallergy.wordpress.com).  Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Pinterest, too!

Another One Bites The Dust!

Over 3 1/2 years ago Nathan was an itchy little 6 month old with a rash on his belly.  It took us nearly a month to pinpoint what was causing the rash & itching.  That was just the beginning of our food allergy journey.  Today, he had his food challenge and ate oatmeal for the first time since he was 6 months old eating baby oatmeal cereal.  It felt so weird, but I was so happy for him!  He was thrilled to be trying a new food.  Last night he told me, “If I don’t get a rash when I eat oats, I’m going to eat all the oats in the house and you won’t have any left!”  Thankfully, the oat challenge went off without a hitch, he didn’t get a rash, and we can scratch that allergen off the list-another allergen bites the dust!  Another victory that makes me so excited that I want to shout it from the rooftops!  I can’t wait to share oatmeal with him at breakfast, make Sunbutter No Bake cookies, and make our own nut-free granola.  Finally, we are kicking another allergen to the curb and crossing it off of our long list.

First bite of oatmeal at oat challenge

First bite of oatmeal at oat challenge

When we got home, Nathan enjoyed another small bowl of oatmeal.  Then, he ran for the Home Free Cookie samples we received at the beginning of the summer.  He remembered that I told him he could try them once he passed his oat challenge.  He found the box that was full of samples for us as well as our local food allergy support group (can’t wait to pass them out at our next meeting!).  He doesn’t like chocolate, so he went for the mini crunchy vanilla cookies and he really liked them.  So did his baby sister.  These cookies are organic, gluten free and Top 8 free-and are REALLY tasty.  The chocolate chip cookies reminded me of Chips Ahoy! cookies, but much better.   Thanks so much to Home Free for sending us the samples for our local allergy support group.  I’d definitely pick up a box of these organic treats the next time I’m at our local health food store.

Trying out Home Free cookies

    Trying out Home Free cookies

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Overall, it’s been a great day.  I just have to say I’m so thankful and blessed that prayers have been answered.  There was a time that I never thought he’d be eating oatmeal again.

 

One happy boy!

One happy boy!

(I was not monetarily compensated for this short review of Home Free Treats, but did receive some samples.  This post does not contain affiliate links, and the opinions are my own.)

What’s That Smell?!…..Our Journey Part 3

What’s that smell?!  Oh, that’s the eggs baking in the muffins.  I hadn’t baked with eggs in over three years, and I have to admit….it smelled disgusting.  But it was exciting.  There I was in the kitchen the night before Nathan’s second food challenge (woohoo!) digging through my Betty Crocker cookbook, and mixing up a batch of  “real” blueberry muffins.  Once the batch was in the oven and the aroma filled the house, it just smelled weird.  I almost couldn’t handle it.

Nathan was again so excited to be trying something new!  This food challenge was even more exciting to him because he actually got to eat something, rather than just sipping soy milk.  With a food challenge, the patient goes in with an empty stomach…basically so there’s not much to throw up if they have an adverse reaction.  He was definitely hungry and those muffins looked so good to him.  Here he is waiting for the doc to come in to get us started with those muffins.  Don’t ya just love the mustache prop that he got at story time the day before?

MustacheEggChallenge

It was about 9:15 and the egg challenge was under way.  I was nervous, but still hopeful that this would open up yet another new food in Nathan’s diet, even if only in the baked form.  Studies are showing that if an egg allergic person can tolerate baked egg, then it may help them fully overcome an egg allergy.  That’s how I understood it from our allergist, anyway.  The first 1/8 of a muffin was down the hatch, and Nathan settled back in to watching his movie.  Tip:  If you ever get to do a food challenge, take lots of things for your child to do, especially if they are young.  Food challenges take at least 2 hours so keeping them busy can be a challenge in itself.

Every 15 minutes the nurse would come back and check Nathan’s vitals.  First check?  Everything is good.  Let’s move on to 1/4 of a muffin.  Down the hatch.  This boy is hungry.

FirstBiteAtEggChallenge

After the next 15 minute check, Nathan got sleepy, and wanted to hug on my arm, but was ready for more.  “My stomach hurts”, he said, “and it’s snowing outside guys!”  Gotta love the train of thought of a 3 1/2 year old!  I got a lump in my throat, and I got a bad feeling, but the doc thought all was still OK so we went for the 1/2 of a muffin.  Nathan started eating this portion, and unfortunately I had to head home to pick up our daughter.  My husband stayed with Nathan and they started watching his movie again.  Another 15 minutes had lapsed, and the nurse opened the door to come in for his vitals check.  Hives.  She saw the hives that my husband didn’t see since Nathan was sitting on his lap.  By this time I was at home with Julia, and texted the hubby to see what the status was.  No reply.  I comforted myself by assuming he was just chatting with the allergist.  Sadly, I was wrong.  I knew I was wrong, but just didn’t want to believe it.  A mother’s instinct is soooo strong.  Brent finally called me, explaining that by the time the allergist came in to check Nathan he was sneezing, had hives and was itchy.  The nurse had to administer Epinepherine to stop the allergic reaction.  Thank goodness we were at the doctor’s office and not at home.  I will NEVER do a food challenge at home.  The experience was scary, but could have been deadly had we been at home.  We were disappointed that he couldn’t have baked eggs, but thankful that he was OK.

What’s the scary part?  Had he been experiencing those symptoms at home, we probably would have just given him Benadryl.  Well, maybe not.  I did have to give him the Epi-pen at home once after he accidentally ingested cheese, and the symptoms were almost identical.  Having to give an Epi-pen is a terrifying experience, but the alternative is even more terrifying.  When should you give an epi-pen? When there is more than one body system involved.  Hives and sneezing, like in Nathan’s case.  Breathing problems and lip and mouth swelling is another combination needing an epi-pen.  There is often more symptoms that need to be addressed.  Throw vomiting or lethargy into the mix and you’ve got yourself a full blown anaphylactic attack.  Scary stuff.  If you want more info on how to treat an anaphylactic reaction, visit www.epipen.com or www.epipentraining.com

This reaction to eggs was so surprising to us.  Nathan’s blood test results for soy came back at around 2.0/100 or less.  So did his egg numbers.  No reaction to soy, but anaphylactic to egg.  That just goes to show just how crazy food allergies are, how unpredictable they are, and how the “numbers” from blood tests can’t prove what kind of reaction someone will have.  Our allergist was just as surprised as we were that Nathan reacted.  This is going to sound weird, but I’m so glad we did the egg challenge.  Now that  we know how he reacts, we will be even more careful with him around eggs, reading every label multiple times before something new goes in his mouth.

I’ll end this longer than expected post with this adorable picture of Nathan coloring his EggNots at Easter this year.  They’re made of ceramic and are dyeable and can be decorated just like regular eggs….without the fear factor.

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Disclaimer:  I am not a medical professional.  Do not make medical decisions based on information in this post.  Contact your doctor or call 911 in an emergency.

Our Food Allergy Journey….Part 2

Our Food Allergy Journey….Part 1 ended with Nathan’s first BIG reaction to yogurt in April of 2010 at the sweet age of 9 months.  Fast forward to December of 2011…where his dairy numbers spiked and we found out about his peanut allergy.  I guess a peanut allergy was to be expected, as was the spike in his blood work numbers.  It’s just so disheartening.  It’s scary, and unchartered territory.  I remember our allergist had said that blood test results will often spike before they start to back off.  Well, here’s the spike.  Nathan’s dairy numbers had jumped from 30-something to 98!  This is out of 100, folks.  His peanut tests came back at 60-something.  Even the egg results had gone up a bit.  I was discouraged to say the least, but still holding on to a thread of hope that the numbers would start to fall.  The only good news we received at our appointment that day was that his soy numbers went down a bit, and our allergist was comfortable with doing a food challenge!  However, we declined.  Yep.  Can’t do it.  Would you take a 2 1/2 year old to the doctor without breakfast, expect them to only take only sips of something new for nearly 2 hours?  Yeah, didn’t think so.  We just didn’t think it was worth the trouble at his age, and I’m so glad we waited.

Last year brought us a couple more challenges and changes…….four to be exact!  First, in March 2012 our daughter, Julia, was born.  She’s such a blessing, but we always wondered if she’d have food allergies.  So far she’s not developed any food allergies!  Our second big change was in May, which was the last time Nathan ate out at any of his “safe” restaurants.  We kept having mysterious food reactions, and we just were tired of gambling with his health.  Next, in July 2012, we found out he has a carrot allergy.  What?!  Oh yes, that was my reaction, too.  Poor kid has been eating carrots since he was 7 months old with absolutely no visible, telltale rash.  Good news?  No more constipation issues with Nathan.  Hallelujah!  From a parents perspective, this is HUGE.  Such a relief, in more ways than one.  Moms and Dads, you know what I’m talking about.  The crankiness subsides, potty training is actually successful, and everyone sleeps better at night.  We don’t miss carrots much, and I don’t think Nathan does, either!  Does your child have chronic constipation?  You might look into a food allergy or sensitivity.

The fourth challenge of 2012 was yet another food allergy identified for Nathan.  Pumpkin.  My first thoughts were, “You’ve got to be kidding me, right?!”  Over the course of Fall 2012 I made two batches of Allergy Free Pumpkin Donut Holes, and they were delicious.  The rash that Nathan developed on his torso was not so nice.  Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, it’s back to the allergist we go!  No more pumpkin for Nathan, but, you know, that’s EASY to avoid!  We just make apple pies at Thanksgiving instead of pumpkin-no biggie.

Alright, I need some good news, don’t you?  At this point, I have to be truthful in saying I was getting a little discouraged.  And no more Pumpkin Donut Holes, either?  I’ve got some good news, and it was long overdue, but the smile in the picture below was worth the wait for his soy challenge.

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I love this picture because it reminds me how excited he was that morning to be trying something he had to avoid for so long.  What 3 1/2 year old doesn’t like watching movies for 2.5 hours while drinking something new (on an empty stomach!), and getting lots of attention from the nurses?  What mom likes to sit there wondering if her child is going to have an anaphylactic reaction because he’s never had soy?  No mom does, and I had to hide my fear, and my husband did, too.  We.  Were.  Terrified.  My palms were sweating, my stomach ached, and I was on edge.  Two hours later, we were cleared to go home, although a food challenge isn’t over until 6 hours after it starts.  That was a loooong day of watching him intently for any breathing changes, hives, sneezing, coughing or stomach aches.  I know he got tired of me asking, “Are you OK!?”  I’m happy to say, he passed his soy challenge in January of 2013 and here’s a picture to prove it!

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Gotta love the Bob the Builder shirt covered in his stickers from the allergist’s office!  Those were his Gold Medals for the day, and he was one happy kid!  Brent and I were relieved, too.  We were (and still are) thankful that we can cross one allergy off of Nathan’s long list, and know that he won’t have a bad reaction to soy.

Our Food Allergy Journey….Part 1

Our food allergy journey began around January of 2010.  Our son, Nathan, was just 6 months old and had begun to eat solid foods.  He was a typical baby, except for the mysterious rash on his belly.  After a doctor visit for what we first thought was a heat rash or virus, a prescription for steroid cream, and a few weeks worth of oat baths, the rash was still there.  Our pediatrician was unsure of the cause of the rash so I began scouring the Internet to find some answers.  We began to think it might be food related, and after many late nights of Googling, I finally found one website that said an oat allergy will present itself with a rash on the belly.  Back to the pediatrician we go, requesting food allergy testing.  Along with oat, we tested soy and wheat.  Oat and soy tested positive and wheat was also very low, but most likely a sensitivity.  Oat allergy?!  Who in the world is allergic to oat?!  This just baffled me, but we dealt with it.

Fast forward to April of 2010, Good Friday to be exact.  I was so excited to try yogurt with Nathan, but knew to only give him a little bit at first.  He loved it!  After Nathan devoured about a quarter of the container, I put it in the fridge…..and there it was.  A hive.  And another.  And then another.  What was happening?  His lips began to swell.  I was getting nervous.  His cheeks became red and puffy.  I called for my mom.  Moms can fix anything, right?!  We began frantically wiping his face, tongue and hands.  I began to cry.  What was going on?  Mom suggested we might go to Urgent Care, just down the road.  I was panicking.  My palms were sweating.  Nathan seemed so calm.  He seemed happy, his breathing never changing.  We monitored him closely, and by the grace of God the hives began to subside.  About 45 minutes after his first bite of yogurt the hives were nearly gone and all the swelling was just a blur in my mind.  Knowing what I know now, we should have called 911.  This was just the beginning.  The picture below doesn’t show just how bad his hives and swelling were, but you can definitely see the redness and swollen lips.  It got worse from this point before it got better.

Nathan after his first reaction to yogurt, April 2010, 9 months old

Nathan after his first reaction to yogurt, April 2010, 9 months old

Our pediatrician referred us to a local allergist, who, through blood work, confirmed his dairy, oat & soy allergy, as well as identified an allergy to eggs.  I remember barely making it through the phone call with the nurse with his test results, breaking down in tears as the phone call ended.  We were dealing with full blown food allergies, strictly avoiding all allergens as well as tree nuts and strawberries.  When I was pregnant with Nathan, I worried about everything except food allergies.  It never occurred to me that he would have food allergies.  I had planned on feeding him a wide variety of foods from the very beginning.  I had no idea what was going to be thrown at me.

Now what?  What do I do?  Where do I turn?  What do we eat?  So many thoughts clouded my thoughts.  The positive thing was that Nathan was still only 9 months old and didn’t know what he’d be giving up.  Finger food was easy, for the most part.  And so our food allergy journey began.  We began researching recipes, books, websites-anything we could get our hands on.  “I can’t do this”, I thought.  But, I can.  And, we do.  I’m going to tell you how we manage, cook, play, socialize, travel, and EAT!

To Be Continued…..