Surviving Food Allergies

Hi MOE Readers,

Law-Mom here. I’ve been super quiet on this blog, because…well…there’s too much to list. (“All of the things.”)

Honestly, it’s been nuts. And it’s been making me pretty crabby. And I can feel my crabbiness permeate my writing, so I generally just stay quiet when I am. (“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”)

But I have a topic to write about–besides *constantly working* (which is what I’ve been doing since February)–that I can be legitimately crabby about, so I’m going to be “As Crabby As I Wanna Be” in this blog post. Okay? Thanks.

I’ve written about my eldest’s food allergies before in numerous blog posts. I’m sorry if it’s a tiresome or boring topic to you. Unfortunately, I don’t get to be bored with food allergies, because we live with them every. single. day.

And guess what? I HATE THEM. I hate them so much. I hate them with every ounce and fiber of my being. They affect nearly every aspect of our lives. Food is such an integral fabric of our society, culture, and being. You can’t forget about them or escape food allergies, because you can’t escape food. It’s an ever-present, ubiquitous problem you have to be mindful of and watchful for.

About three weeks ago, my daughter had to go to the ER for the first time because of an anaphylatic food allergy reaction. Though that was the first time we actually went to the ER (and I used the epipen on her), it was not the first time we actually SHOULD have gone to the ER and used the epipen. Though I am not at all grateful for her previous anaphylatic food allergy experiences, I am grateful that, because of them, I knew what to do this time.

We still do not know what she had a reaction to, but we suspect it was fava beans. She has never been diagnosed with a fava bean allergy before, but it turns out fava beans are a legume, just like peanuts and green peas, two of her other allergens. So, we suspect that is it. We will have her formally tested; but until then, we are avoiding them. (Obviously.)

That brings me to one of my favorite topics to rant about, and that is: Popular notions about food avoidance and allergies.

Nothing grinds my ax more than hearing anyone extol the virtues of giving food to kids early so as to avoid allergies. Why? BECAUSE GREEN PEAS WAS THE FIRST SOLID FOOD MY KID ATE AT FOUR MONTHS OLD!

There is no rhyme or reason to the allergy thing, people! Okay, maybe there is, but they don’t know what it is, yet, and it’s NOT whether you feed your kids peanuts early or not. It’s just not. Okay?

We knew of all my child’s allergies before she was one-year old. Her first allergic reaction was to sesame (in hummus) at 9 months old, and then egg, at about the same time. We had her tested then for all the ingredients in hummus and eggs, plus all the other major allergens (because that is standard protocol when food allergies are suspected). It was at that time we learned she was also allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, sesame, and shellfish, all before she was a year old.

We later discovered she was also allergic to sunflower because she would break-out in hives whenever she ate anything with sunflower in it (and sunflower is in nearly everything, let me tell you.)

At fifteen months, she had her first anaphylatic reaction to green peas. Why didn’t she have a reaction the first times she had peas? Who knows, but if you are allergic, the more your body is exposed, the worse the reaction gets. So — you do the logic on “give your kid more early” equation and tell me what you come up with.

I also “love” well-meaning people telling me that my kid will outgrow her allergies (based on what, pray tell?) or tell me about the new treatment that helps “cure” people of their peanut allergy. That is a topic for another blog post, because it really is so much more complicated than I can write in a paragraph. But, yes, there is such a treatment, and it’s amazing and wonderful for the people it works for! I am happy for them! But my child is not a good candidate for it. I have talked to her doctor about it. Yes, I know about the treatment. Of course, I do! But it is too dangerous for her, because of ALL her allergies and their cross-reactivity.

So…yea. I have nothing inspiring or positive to say about food allergies. They are a bitch. I hate them. My daughter hates them. I know there are worse things in life. Things can always be worse.

But not for this family. It doesn’t get worse than that, friends. And I pray to God every day that that never happens to us. And that, by some miracle, she WILL outgrow her allergies.

Thank you for listening to me vent and complain. I have to go see what the ER bill is now.

Econ-Mom: Okay, first of all, this is the internet – you don’t have to apologize about being crabby! Have you seen Twitter!? (Honestly, stay off of that thing, it’s a cesspool.)

I can only imagine how stressful it is knowing that there are foods out there that can literally kill your child! And, yes, our society completely revolves around food!!

Obviously autism and food allergies are really different in many ways, but for me this post highlights some of the similarities. They both are conditions that have increased dramatically in prevalence in the past couple decades (well, autism was likely just under-diagnosed, but, still, it’s sort of the same affect on society). Because of this huge increase in awareness, scientists are constantly trying to study these conditions and figure out what causes them. And guess what? In both cases basically no one has any idea!! But there’s always a “cause du jour” and people will tell you about it. There’s also this contingent of people out there who believe for autism (and perhaps allergies as well) that it’s all in our heads – us over-protective neurotic moms are somehow causing all of this! So that’s fun. Solidarity, Law-Mom.

Law-Mom: Word. Thanks, Econ-Mom.

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