I remember when I first started blogging, I had all of these new, brilliant ideas that I was just DYING to share with the world. I couldn’t wait to tell everyone what new recipe I had tweaked to make it allergy friendly for my crew. Back in those days, Allergic to Air had that nice, new-blog smell to it. One of my new favorite blogs to read, Hey, Beth Baker! is just like that! Not only is she amazingly creative and adventurous, she’s a very gifted writer and words things just right! I’m always excited to see a new post from her in my mailbox or newsfeed! Beth was gracious enough to share her food allergy story with us, so without further ado, here’s she is!
I remember the first time I saw eczema on my daughter’s leg. She was three months old and I was rocking her for her morning nap. I had to work that afternoon and I wanted her to take a nap before we left. But she wouldn’t. In fact, she was really cranky. I couldn’t figure out why. It was a chilly day in February and as I checked through my still-kinda-new mama checklist of why she might be crying I decided to change her diaper. I took off her cute little pink sweatpants and she had raised rashes on both calves. Weird. Her diaper was clean so I took her temperature and she had a fever. I called the pediatrician in a panic and insisted she be seen that afternoon.
When I showed her legs to the doctor he kind of gave me a sweet, “I’m trying not to be condescending” look and told me it was just eczema. That she would grow out of it. But she didn’t. In fact, the raised rashes turned into puss-weeping sores. On both legs. She also had rashes on her scalp and arms. So I kept taking her to the doctor. And they kept giving me steroid creams and foams to lather on her. They told me to cure the eczema so I spent hours online trying to find home remedies and lotions that worked for others. But nothing helped! Nothing! I asked the doctor if he thought it could be food allergies and he told me he’d never seen food allergies cause skin eczema.
After four visits to my pediatrician, he too felt he’d exhausted his eczema knowledge. Time to see a specialist. He recommended a pediatric dermatologist who worked out of the local children’s hospital and after a two month wait, the day of our appointment finally came! I was trying not to be too excited but couldn’t help but have hope that the dermatologist was going to give my poor baby’s skin some relief.
Perhaps as an omen, as soon as the doctor came in the room my daughter Lucy started screaming. She did not like this doctor! The doctor asked some questions about what medications Lucy was on and what her home environment was like. She changed her medicines to some stronger ointments and looked me in the eyes and said, “There’s nothing we can do to relieve her symptoms. She is going to have to come back every month so I can monitor her eczema. Get used to coming.” But it didn’t sit right. I couldn’t bring myself to make the next month’s appointment. Something in my gut was telling me this was not the solution.
So we didn’t make another appointment. Summer [and the stronger steroid creams] brought some relief to the weeping sores and I began to hope that Lucy had indeed grown out of the eczema. It had been seven months since I first noticed the sores and they were now once again raised rashes, rather than open sores. One night while at a friend’s house Lucy found a peanut on the floor and rubbed it on her face. Immediately everywhere the peanut touched turned bright red and rashy! [Thankfully she didn’t put it in her mouth]. I gave her some Benedryl and the rash eventually resided. The next week I put some scrambled eggs on her highchair tray and she had another reaction. This one was worse! She looked like a red-bearded lady. It was scary! Our doctor shared our concern and we were off to another specialist [an allergist/pulmonologist this time]. And another long wait to get an appointment.
Finally, when Lucy was 13 months old she was tested for food allergies. She tested positive for eggs, wheat, dairy, and peanuts on a skin prick test. On a scale of 1 to 4 she scored 2 on peanuts, 3+ on wheat and dairy, and 4+ on eggs. The allergist also told me she believed Lucy’s eczema could be related to her food allergies. And she was right, as we started to eliminate allergens from her diet her skin began clearing up as well.
To verify the skin test and get some base numbers, our allergist sent us for bloodwork. I didn’t even know they could test for food allergies with bloodwork! These tests came back showing that the allergies were worse than we initially thought. We had agreed to limit her exposure to the allergens but after the bloodwork the seriousness of the situation set in. Skin contact with these allergens would be bad. Ingestion could be life-threatening.
I think every mama of an allergen baby has that moment when it sinks in that things are going to be different for their kid. That the situation is serious. And then, maybe more slowly and over a couple of weeks, you start to think of things like birthday parties and playdate snacks. You have to think about having a little person who’s not ready to self-govern their diet. That’s when it became real for me.
I bought as many cookbooks as I could find to try to figure out how to give her sweets and treats that other kids could have, but taking out the wheat, dairy, and eggs proved challenging. It’s been a long road but nearly two years later I finally feel capable of making allergen-free food and treats for Lucy that our whole family can enjoy. And when her little brother was diagnosed with an egg allergy I couldn’t help but exclaim, “That’s it?! Alright!”
Isn’t Lucy a doll?!?! Thanks so much, Beth! Now everyone run over to Hey, Beth Baker! and sign up to get her posts! Do it! Do it now!