Tuesday, January 22, 2008

How it began...

I am writing this recipe blog to help other families like ours. My son, Jack, has a LOT of food allergies. It took a long time to get the doctors to take our concerns seriously. He threw up basically non-stop from birth until almost a year old. By around 3 months old, his entire body was COVERED in eczema. You might say, "well, he obviously has a dairy allergy. You should have breastfed (like the recently published article on cnn.com stresses about how breastfeeding prevents food allergies)." Or, "Switch him to a soy or hypo-allergenic formula." That is just it... Jack IS a breastfed baby. This is one reason why our doctors never took us seriously. They just couldn't believe that enough allergens could pass through my breastmilk to cause Jack's health issues. It was explained away as "just eczema," and "just reflux." His continuous wheezy rattle was, "just congestion."
We gave Jack oatmeal baths, coated him in steroid ointments and vaseline, tried Zantac for his "reflux"... You name it. We tried it.
Jack has a wonderful laid-back personality and always has. He was described by his pediatricians as a "happy puker." His continuous throwing up was called "a laundry problem, not a health problem." His slow weight-gain was attributed to the fact that "he was just born so big he is evening out now." Jack didn't double his birth weight until after over 9 months. Average is between 4 to 6 months. I was even told by one doctor that, because of his eczema, he wouldn't (thus WE wouldn't) be able to sleep through the night until over 2 years old!!! Excuse me??? I was REALLY sleep deprived from my up all night scratching and puking infant... That just was NOT an option.
My husband and I were pretty darn sure right away that these were all food allergy issues and I began slowly omitting one food at a time from my diet. It never did any good. I figured out during the dairy eliminations that Jack would be extra bad on days I had eggs too. So, when Jack was around 4 months old, I started eliminating both egg and all dairy (in even the tricky forms). It helped to reduce the number of times a day that he would vomit (down to maybe twice a day), but it didn't seem to help much else. We finally pushed hard enough and got the referrals to see a pediatric dermatologist and allergist. The first appointment the allergist had was two months away though. Furthermore, the dermatologist was useless and didn't tell us a single thing that we hadn't already done enough research on our own to figure out.
At 6 and a half months old, Jack got to see his allergist for the first time. She prescribed him Zyrtec to take every day and Aclovate steroid ointment to apply every day. She could only confirm the dairy and egg allergies at the first appointment because Jack didn't have enough skin free of rashes to even do more than a few skin prick tests. This allergist refuses to do RAST blood tests on children under 1 year old. Our next appointment wouldn't be until Jack was almost 1.

There are a lot of firsts that happen in that first year of life. As good parents, you want to take photos to remember those exciting times. It is just fairly sad to look back now and see what a rashy pukey mess my poor baby was. When Jack was 6 months old, he got to go on two plane trips. We went out east to see family for my grandmother's funeral, and we flew to California to visit my parents, old friends, and my sister's family. We even had professional 6 month portraits taken of Jack... My mother refused to display them. He really looked just terrible.

When Jack was 11.5 months old, I called his allergist back and convinced them to see him right away for his RAST testing. I was losing a ton of weight very quickly trying to figure out everything I needed to eliminate. At that point, I was pretty sure of dairy, egg, wheat, and banana/avocado. I didn't see any really obvious reactions to anything else. Those four were basically instant wheezing, puking, and rashes... Within 5 days of my eliminating those entirely, Jack stopped throwing up! The allergist wanted me to reintroduce one item a day with a little bit of wheat and egg in it to see how he would respond to just my eating a tiny bit. BAD idea. Within a day he was laying on his back unable to breathe or swallow and throwing up into his own mouth. I obviously didn't do that experiment for the full 3 days that she wanted! We got back the RAST results and I was right about EVERY allergen we suspected and then some. His total IgE number was over 8000 (for those that don't know, an average person's is around 40). After that, it took a little while for things to calm down again, and within 2 weeks even his skin seemed to be getting softer again. This photo was taken a month later on Thanksgiving morning:
Jack wasn't perfect, but he hadn't hardly thrown up in a month. He was usually only waking up once a night, and he wasn't nearly as wheezy. Right around Thanksgiving was when I started really cooking and baking allergen-free. Now we are pretty sure that Jack is allergic to: dairy, egg, wheat, soy (intollerant at least), sesame, all tree nuts, peanuts, avocado and banana, and most recently corn. He seems to even react quickly (now that he ingests solid foods directly) to foods that contain "trace" amounts of his allergens due to sharing baking/prep facilities with foods that contain them.

I realized very quickly that there is a lot to be desired from most wheat-free and vegan baking recipes. I think a lot of this has to do with people trying to just do straight substitutions. I did a little research on baking chemistry and started creating my OWN recipes for our family (and yours) to enjoy!

I hope the recipes that I post here will help other families like mine to enjoy food again!!!


Anonymous said...

Bless your heart. Thank you for taking the time to share your story. I know first had that there are people out there looking for answers and information and HELP!!! I am one of them. Thank you for the recipes as well. I look forward to trying some of them for my son.

My prayers are with you and Jack.

Finn's mom said...
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