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Monday, February 23, 2009

Finding out We Have a Kid with Food Allergies

When JMonster was just at a year old, he was a scrawny little thing. Tall for his age (at about 85th% at that point) he was not even ON the chart for his weight. My twin sister had plumped all 3 of her kiddos up using peanut butter, so we decided to try it out. Our first attempt to give JMonster pb&j was a more ways than one! He took one bite and spit it out. He HATED it! I couldn't believe it. I LOVE peanut butter. Absolutely could eat peanut butter, as well as almond butter, walnuts, almonds, and almost any nut, every day for almost every meal. So what was I doing having a kid that didn't like peanut butter?

After we gave him the bite of peanut butter, we took him upstairs for his bath. By this time (just a few minutes, actually) his face had turned red. Hmmmm...that's interesting. We undressed him, and noticed his chest was red. Even more interesting. We started bathing him and noticed his eyes swelling. Uh, oh, get the Benadryl! (And, we'd better not do THAT again.)

JMonster didn't walk until he was 16 months old. Around the time he was 14 or 15 months old we visited our family in Texas and he spent most of his time cruising the houses behind a push toy. One hot Texas afternoon he was pushing one of his toys around his Aunt Holly's house while Aunt Holly, G-Ma, and I were trying to get ready for a dinner party. He fell as he walked by his G-ma in the kitchen, so she bent down and helped him back up and off he went, pushing that push toy through the house. A few minutes later I noticed some hand prints on JMonsters arms and shoulders. They looked almost blistered! "Mom, what did you have on your hands when you picked up JMonster?" "I'm toasting the...WALNUTS. Oh, no. The walnuts! He must be allergic to those, too!"

When we got back to Atlanta we took JMonster to see his doc who sent him on to see an allergist. The doc did a skin test, but even before the results came back declared him allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts. We were sent for a blood draw so they could get a better idea of the severity of his allergies (this was a horrendous experience I can share more about later), which came back as positive.

So now we know, JMonster is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. He reacts to small amounts, as well as to foods that have been manufactured in plants with these things. He's reacted at a local jumping room...they serve uncrustable pb&j sandwiches as one of their party fares. He's also reacted to foods that aren't labeled as being a problem at all. Along with the peanut allergy, JMonster is also allergic to dogs. Dogs have a protein in their saliva that is similar to peanuts, making the connection between peanut allergies and dog allergies very strong.

We are now one of those families that carries Benadryl, epi-pens (more than one at a time, thank you!), eye drops, and an inhaler. JMonster wears a medic alert bracelet, and he gets zyrtec twice daily (especially now that spring is arriving...he also has seasonal allergies!). We pray that JMonster will either outgrow these allergies, or that the researchers will one day come up with a complete cure. Because, I'll tell allergies stink!

I'd love to hear your experiences with food allergies and allergies in kids in general!


The Cookbook Junkie said...

That's interesting about the connection between dog saliva and peanuts. We just found out a few months ago that my peanut-allergic son is allergic to dogs too. We found out about the peanut allergy 3 years before the dog allergy.

Yep, food allergies suck! There are worse crosses to bear ( which I tell myself often) but they still suck.

Swizz said...

There are definitely worse crosses to bear...I have friends that can testify to that. But that being said, food allergies are those things that people take too lightly, don't understand, and look at you crazy when you ask to read the package (or request that they don't eat that right next to your son!)...that's what makes it tough! You actually have to be the mama bear!