Saturday, June 30, 2007

Finding out our son has allergies

My husband Steve and I got married in July 2005 and in July of 2006 we had our first baby, a boy. We named him Nathan and he was a perfect, healthy, beautiful baby.

Nathan was diagnosed with severe food allergies at 10 months old, last month.
He has food allergies to Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Wheat, Oats and Peanuts. For environmental allergies he is allergic to cats and dogs. It may seem like nothing to most people, it isn't like cancer, autism, or some other tragic condition but it is something and can be very deadly. It also affects our daily lives.

Nathan has been sick since January on and off with colds, ear infections and respiratory infections. He stopped growing as far as weight. He had been off the growth chart. He was hospitalized on Easter 2007 with a respiratory infection and then diagnosed with Asthma. He has had so many skin problems Eczema and rashes. It seemed like we were going to the Doctor every week.

May of 2007 we changed Pediatricians because we got new insurance and our new pediatrician suggested Nathan to be tested for food allergies. We needed to go to Children's Hospital and they would do a blood test. We already suspected he was allergic to dairy and eggs because of the reactions he had when we feed him these things.

Blood tests came back and showed that Nathan was in fact allergic to Milk, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Wheat, Oats and Peanuts. We were told to see an Allergist and Nutritionist to get help with his condition. I tried to make appointments and we were told we would have to wait a over a month before we could get in....are you kidding me? I had no idea what to do or what to feed him. The pediatrician said we needed to carry a Epi pen with us and wrote a prescription for us. Also, we needed to keep Benadryl in the house in case he would have an allergic reaction.

The evening of May 31st, we went to the health food store and tried to find foods that we could feed Nathan. We thought goats yogurt would be good, not the same as cows milk. When we got home I made Nathan dinner and after I decided to try the goats yogurt. After he ate, I left to go to the drugstore to get his prescription filled for the Epi-Pen. Steve calls and said I needed to get home, he thinks Nathan is having an allergic reaction. He said he was coughing, wheezing, crying, swelling up and had hives. I left the store (didn't even get the Epi-Pen - the insurance wouldn't cover it) as fast as I could and raced home. Nathan looked horrible. I didn't even recognize him. I first called the doctors office and they said to give him Benadryl and to call 911. I called 911 and it seemed like it took forever for them to come when really it was minutes. They immediately started giving Nathan Oxygen and said they had to go, one of us could ride along. One of us? Steve said he was riding with Nathan, I didn't want to argue, I got Nathan's diaper bag together and flew off to the hospital, the paramedics were long gone. On the way to the hospital I was frantic and called my parents and my sister. It just seemed to get my mind off of what was really going on. When I arrived at the emergency room at the paramedic came and took me to Nathan's room. It was 8:00pm, Nathan was hooked up to all these machines but I have to admit he looked so much better, his skin cleared up. The Doctors and nurses came in and asked all the questions, but of course they needed all of our insurance information first. At a time like this I didn't feel like answering questions about my insurance. By 11:30pm, they decided we could finally go home, Nathan was long asleep. This is the day we really found out how bad his allergies were and how deadly they could've been.

A few days later we get a call from the allergist office, they seem to have an opening in the next week. Funny how they suddenly have an appointment for us, it took our son being admitted to the hospital to get us an appointment sooner.

Our allergy appointment was long a couple of hours going over family history, etc. Neither my husband or I have any food allergies. Steve does have a little allergy to cats and has had Asthma attacks in the past. The allergist confirmed the food and environmental allergies and gave us some prescriptions for Nathan's itching and to control his Asthma.

Not only were we going to a lot appointments for Nathan's allergies, we were also going to appointments for his chronic ear infections. It seems like he always has a ear infection. We had been seeing a ENT specialist who recommended ear tube surgery and by the end of June 2007, Nathan had the surgery.

His surgery went well and had 2 ear infections since, which is pretty good. It also has been summertime so that also may be the reason. At least now it is easier to detect an infection for me instead of going to the Dr. every week.

On Nathan's first birthday my sister and I took Nathan to the zoo, he just loves animals. I took him in the petting zoo and one of the goats came to lick his hand. I didn't realize how allergic he was to goat saliva, he immediately broke out into hives up and down both arms. It was horrible, thank god I had the Benadryl with me. It is so sad to see him suffer like this.

I was nursing Nathan until he was 13 months, I didn't watch my diet very closely and it was time to stop so if Nathan has a reaction, I can pinpoint what it is from. The Nutritionist gave us a prescription for a formula that Nathan has to drink instead of whole milk. It took a while to get him to drink the new formula and to this day he still refuses it from time to time.

We do most of Nathan's grocery shopping at health food stores and it can be very pricey, it is hard to make things from scratch and work full time. Nathan's food allergies take up a lot of my time. I did make up a Mac N' Cheese recipe made from rice milk and rice cheese and he really loves it.

He has had a couple attacks since he was diagnosed, but they have been minor, hives or skin problems and we just dose him with Benadryl. Usually is was because we ate somewhere and were mis-informed of the ingredients in the food. This has happened at restaurants, we now just bring our own food.

I have tried to find support groups in my area, I feel that by meeting other moms who are going through this too will help me. I couldn't find any. I decided it was time to start my own group. I went to one of the health food stores that I shop at and asked if I could hold a meeting at their stores conference room, they agreed, I made made flyers and posted online to start my group.

Above photo is Nathan with an allergic reaction.