Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Food Allergies - Our story

Happy Tuesday Friends!
I have been meaning to do this post for awhile now as FOOD ALLERGIES are a part of our everyday lives & something that causes THIS momma to loose sleep at night.
Dominick & I have been through a LOT together when it comes to his health. He has truly given us a run for our money. I pride myself in the fact that since the MOMENT he was born I could tell when something just wasn't right in regards to his health. My concerns with his breathing are the reason he was evaluated and spent 4 days in the NICU.
My concern with the fact that his cough at 6 weeks didn't feel right landed us in the pediatric emergency room with a pneumonia diagnosis.
Dominick has been seen and evaluated by more doctors than I have in my life, I swear!
He has been diagnosed with the following: eczema, asthma, chronic bronchitis, food, medication & environmental allergies, iron deficiency and beta thalassemia minor.
He is 3 years old.
EVERY SINGLE TIME I had a gut feeling about something, there was something worth being concerned about. I have never ONCE taken Dominick to the doctors and it be JUST a cold. My husband swears by my gut instinct with our kids, it has never steered us wrong.
The very first time Dominick had a reaction to a food was one of the SCARIEST days of my life. It rates up there with his allergic reaction to amoxicillin that landed us a 3 day hospital stay.
Dominick has been very intuitive from the start, even though he has no idea that he is! From the first moment it was safe to try the top allergen foods, he had no interest. He ironically does not like any of the foods he is allergic to. I know, because he ate them. That's the funny thing about food allergies, your children does not react the first time they try something.
Dominick was about 16 months old and my youngest sister Shannon was over hanging out with us, Giovanni had gone to a structure fire & Samantha and Sophia were on their way over for dinner. I had ordered pizza and in the mean time Shannon was snacking on crackers with peanut butter. Dominick wanted to try her snack. He took a bite of the cracker sandwich and approx. 2 seconds later spit it out without actually eating it.
I never thought a thing about it. Maybe he doesn't like peanut butter. NO ONE in our immediate family has severe food allergies.
About 10 minutes later we were all eating dinner and we noticed that Dominick had been coughing A LOT. It was almost like he was chewing his food and swallowing it too fast. I kept giving him a drink and it wasn't until he turned his head and I noticed the WELTS down the entire side of his body from head to trunk that I knew what was happening.
And then I heard it, he was wheezing SO LOUD that when I went into the other room to grab my shoes and the diaper bag you wouldn't know I had left him TWO rooms away. My entire body went NUMB. I jumped into the car with my sister & Dominick and drove to the pediatric hospital as fast as I safely could. Calling an ambulance honestly never crossed my mind. I just knew we needed help & we needed it NOW.
He began to get pretty drowsy on the way to the hospital and his breathing was pretty shallow.
We parked barely, I don't even recall if we parked in the a spot or the side of the hospital.
I ran into the hospital and the nurses could see us coming. His reaction was so bad YOU COULD SEE IT ON HIM when we were down the hall. We were met in the waiting room by a handful of nurses & the doctor on call. They evaluated Dominick right there in the waiting room (we were the only ones there) while I checked us in.
Several hours of observation, a dose of EPI & Benadryl and we were released home with a peanut allergy diagnosis and a prescription of epi-pens. We had to give Dominick a dose of Benadryl EVERY 4 HOURS for a WEEK to ensure that it had cleared his system. Dominick has the reverse reaction to Benadryl might I add...it does the opposite of make him sleep.
We were referred to an allergist for further testing. A few weeks later he had his appointment and they drew his blood. We would return a week later for the results. The shock I felt when we got the results is indescribable.
Allergies are on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the worst.
1 is considered sensitive & 5 is considered anaphylactic, if left untreated can result in death.
Milk: 3
soy: 2
wheat: 2
eggs: 5
peanuts: 5
dust: 2
dogs: 2
cats: 2
amoxicillin: given his previous reaction they gaged approx. 4
I cried A LOT. I remember leaving the doctors thinking what on earth are we going to feed our child. The next day when we left Dominick with my mother in law so that Giovanni & I could go to Wegman's and shop for safe foods. We had to read EVERY label and were feeling SO FRUSTRATED with the ingredients being so common. We spent over 2 hours reading labels and I cried A LOT.

We have come a LONG way since then! :)
Dominick continues to go to the allergist annually for testing. His last test in October of 2014 revealed that he had "out grown" all of his allergies with the exception of: eggs, peanuts & amoxicillin.
The peanuts actually got worse and were gaged off the chart.
The eggs went down 1/8 of a percent. The doctor reassured us that since it went down that it was a good sign. It however didn't go down enough that we can even consider doing food challenges to build an immunity. We will see how he tests again this October.
We were told that his peanut allergy will not get better. He has a ZERO percent chance of out growing that. We were told that if he is ever ingests peanuts to immediately call 911 & give a dose of EPI. Every reaction is worse than the last with food allergies.
SO why did I tell you this story & give you a glimpse into this part of our lives?
FOOD ALLERGIES ARE SCARY. Parents of children with food allergies have a bad stigma. 
People just don't understand.
And that's not their fault, I didn't until I wasn't given a choice.
Your pb&j sandwich could KILL my children.  
How crazy is that? A childhood food staple for so many is a death sentence in our house?
Most people don't memorize food labels like we do.
Most parents don't call and ask you weeks ahead of a menu so we can plan to bring similar foods so our children don't end up left out.
Most parents don't call the restaurant they are considering trying with a list of questions before driving there.
Most parents don't need to call food companies and CONFIRM that foods aren't cross contaminated.
Most parent's don't get anxious about the thought of their children eating something without them present.
Most parents don't need to remember epi-pens & Benadryl before going on a walk.
Please don't take it personally if it seems like I don't trust you & food around my children. The truth is I don't, but just as you are learning about how scary this world can be, for a child with food allergies we are learning how to safely live in it.
You may have noticed that I said children, Aidan went through allergy testing around 16 months as well. We were kind of iffy on doing it as he has never been exposed to the foods Dominick is allergic to. WE ARE A PEANUT FREE HOUSE. But we went ahead and gave it a shot. Aidan tested a 2 to peanuts. The allergist advised us given that he scored that without ever being exposed he is confident that he is just as allergic as Dominick is.

So a peanut free house we will remain, forever & ever.
Until next time friends,
XO Jessica

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