It’s been a year since Avery was diagnosed with food allergies to eggs, milk, soy and peanuts/nuts and it feels like an update is in order. For the full history on her diagnosis and how we manage our day-to-day lives with food allergies, check out my past post All About Food Allergies.
Next month we will have her blood drawn and re-test Avery for her food allergies, and we are also going to test her for fish and shell fish. We will be able to compare the numbers from last year to this year to see if the severity of her allergies are getting better or worse. I’m told with some foods they get worse before they get better, so I’m not holding my breath that she will have outgrown her dairy allergy yet. We know the eggs may take a long time, and that peanuts are likely a lifelong allergy.
Though, we’ve already had one small miracle with Avery’s allergies in the last few weeks. She is now able to tolerate soy. It was the food that she had the least severe reaction to in the past. The doctor said we could try again anytime and we decided in the last few weeks to do so. We started with a few bites of soy yogurt. You can believe I had her emergency kit ready, but we didn’t need it. After trying a few more things with soy, we feel pretty confident that she can have soy safely. The biggest gift is that we no longer have to bake bread from scratch. Every type of wheat bread on the market (yes, even at the natural and co-op stores) has soybean oil in it… This is a huge relief – and timesaver!
In reflecting on the past year with food allergies, I am just amazed at what we have been through. We were so scared by Avery’s initial life-threatening food reaction to egg, and that fear has stayed with us over the past year, ever reminding us to be diligent.
We’ve had to change our entire lives, really. We stopped going out to eat as a family, but try to make special trips with Alex so he doesn’t miss out on that experience. We’ve had to maintain a peanut, egg, and fish-free household for the past year, and we have special methods to keep the unsafe foods away from her (namely dairy). We’ve had to talk through many confusing and some difficult conversations with our daycare provider to make sure we were on the same page. We’ve opted-out of many family celebrations and holiday gatherings because the menu just wasn’t safe enough for us to feel comfortable and the people involved weren’t willing to accommodate us. We’ve learned the hard way that Avery is susceptible to skin contact reactions and that even just a kiss on the cheek can cause a reaction. And I’ve had to maintain an allergy-free diet to continue to breastfeed Avery, making huge sacrifices in my daily routine and diet. The recommendation for dairy-allergy kids is to breastfeed until age two for the nutrients they can’t get from other sources, like calcium. It’s been a long year peeps and I’m really looking forward to having some cheese soon!
Despite all of these challenges, there have been many, many blessings. We found guidance and friendship through the Food Allergy Support Group of Minnesota, as well as emotional support and a fabulous library of materials we could use without having to purchase. Our daycare provider has been extremely dedicated to helping us work through Avery’s diet and safety restrictions, even though she could have asked us to leave or require us to provide all of Avery’s food because of the extra work and attention she has to give her. She even celebrated Food Allergy Awareness Week at daycare, helping teach the other children about food allergies. This really meant a lot to us. I’ve learned how to bake (and decorate!) safe birthday cakes and cupcakes, and we’ve attended a couple of birthday parties and brought our own cupcakes using these cool cupcake transporters so Avery doesn’t feel left out.
We have tried what feels like a million new recipes for basic meals and experimented with lots of substitutions on our regular recipes. We get so excited and even giddy when a recipe works well and we can all enjoy it! We’ve made it through our first Easter, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving without many of our old favorite dishes, but trying new things. We went on our first family vacation, packing enough safe food for a week and making sure there was a hospital nearby, just in case. We’ve made it an entire year without having to use the Epi Pen, although we’ve given Avery a lot of Benedryl for questionable situations or minor allergy reactions that were likely caused by cross-contamination.
We’ve learned a lot about food allergies from great books and others who have been there before us. I’ve met lots of great food allergy families and experts on twitter and attended food allergy twitter parties online!
I’m incredibly grateful that I’ve been able to help other families by sharing our story. Like my friend Kristine who realized that her son was having a life-threatening reaction to peanuts because she recognized the symptoms from reading my blog and called 911. And the many people who have e-mailed me after reading our story here and articles I wrote for the Star Tribune web site (here and here). They wrote to get more information… or to tell me they were inspired to see an allergist for proper diagnosis and treatment… or start having their child wear a food allergy medical bracelet… or start carrying an Epi Pen. This is amazing and I am so grateful and humbled that I’ve been able to help others in this way. (I’m all teary over here, peeps).
Thank you for going on this journey with us the past year. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your e-mails. Thank you for telling me that you learned something from my sharing and did something differently because of it. Thanks for being the best readers ever. I mean it from the bottom of my heart. A million thank yous.
You can find more of my food allergy posts, tips & recipes on my Food Allergy page. I’d also love to connect with you on my Marketing Mama facebook page and twitter. This post, and all posts on this blog, are written from my experiences as a parent of a child with food allergies. I am not a medical expert and encourage you to consult with a doctor on your personal medical situation.
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