Saturday, May 24, 2014

Autism, Allergies and Other Things that People Have Told Me Aren't Real... on allergies...

Have you noticed the allergy wars that have been going on lately?

Mostly it's something that I try to ignore... because people lamenting about how hard it is to accommodate one kids allergies for one meal, usually makes me feel rather ill.

I'm not going to delve into the whole "what should school's do" argument, because honestly I don't know, and because if all goes the way I pray that it goes, it's not an issue that I hope we'll ever have to deal with.  I really, really feel for parents who do have to face this issue. In truth I can't imagine sending Mae to school, knowing that she actively craves the foods that are the most damaging to her, and can't yet control that craving.

Were allergies a consideration when we decided to home school?  Nope, because we didn't know that all of our kids were going to have them.  We didn't know that any of our kids had them at the time.  But it is something that makes me grateful for our choice, because it's easier to make sure no one is about to need the epi-pen I carry in purse if I'm actually there with them, preparing and serving their meals.

As with Autism, there are those who feel the need to tell parents of kids with allergies that they must be "doing it" for attention.  After all, there weren't this many allergies in the past.  Who knew this many kids with allergies growing up?

So it can't be real.

Of course, when we were growing up, we weren't seeing quite as much genetically modified junk on our plates and in every single food aisle in the super market.  We didn't hear about food giants fighting battles to keep that genetic modification off of labels and ensure that people don't know what they're buying.

When I first took Patrick to the doctor and told him I was terrified because he was clearly allergic to something the doctor acted like I was insane.  Patrick was two months old.  His face was swollen.  His eyes were puffy.  His face and body were covered in a bright red rash.  His breathing sounded raspy.  And every person who came into the room said "So you're a first time mom, right?" in a condescending way that made me want to shake them, because they're tone clearly tried to discount any worries that I was bringing to them.

"It looks like eczema" the doctor said and I stared at him.  Ezcema causes your face to swell up and your eyes to swell shut so they're two different sizes.  Was he looking at the same child that I was?

Already allergic...
I persisted.  I wanted testing.

"Some doctors do believe that the proteins from what you're eating can be passed to the child through your breast milk."  He said, "some doctors" in a way that let me know that he wasn't one of them and he thought the whole thing was ridiculous.

I walked out of the office with a hard won referral and over the next three months as I waited to get in to see the allergist I tried an extreme elimination diet that had Patch feeling better some of the time, but that failed to identify the culprit since apparently it takes about 18 hours for the cow dairy protein to get into my milk and while I was adding in new foods once a week after a month of basically eating fruit and meat, it still managed to skew the results (somehow).

Interestingly enough, when I saw the actual allergist who is now Patch's doctor he had no doubt that Patch was allergic to dairy and didn't seem to think that it was odd at all that he was able to react to the protein through my milk.

Over the last 16 months I've learned quite a bit about allergies.  We've discovered that Patch isn't the only kid in our family to have them.

I'm thankful for my epi pen.  I'm thankful I have an inhaler with a kiddy mask in my bag all the time.

And when I hear people talking about food allergies and saying things like "what, do you want to keep your kid in a bubble?" I find myself wanting to say "when it comes to the food they're allergic to, yes.  Absolutely.  I do. I wish there was a bubble around Patch that dairy couldn't pass through that wouldn't keep the rest of the world out."

For me it isn't so much about not being able to have what everyone else is having, or not seeing anything on the menu that my kids can eat.  It's about safety.  It's about that raspy breathing that I first heard when Patch was two months old, that took my breath away.  It's frightening in the extreme to think that a food that everyone else thinks of as "healthy" could seriously hurt my child.

Are allergies real?  Yes, they absolutely are... and let me say that when a family's entire life shifts to avoid a food that's pretty essential in their culture's diet, they probably aren't doing it because it's "fun" or for "attention."  They're doing it because it could mean the difference between life and death for their child.

Which brings me to the whole "wheat" thing.


  1. I can somewhat relate to what you are saying in this post. While we did not have to deal with 'allergies' in their true form, my breastfed baby definitely got an upset stomach after I eat a long list of foods (dairy, peanuts, certain fruits, and legumes). Her stool would turn very green and she would be up all night with gas. Somehow, though, most people would try to tell me that I must be imagining it or jumping the gun because babies shouldn't be sensitive to what a mother eats (they should tell my daughter that). Gratefully, she seems to be growing out of these sensitivities slowly (9 mo old). So, I can totally relate to having people dismiss your concerns, I can only imagine how much the stress was/is compounded by the severity of his allergies. Prayers for you all!

  2. As an adult with a dairy allergy I understand how people can look at you and not understand that you do have an allergy that can seriously harm you. People do not understand that a healthy food someone can be deadly for someone else.

    Childhood and school for me was different because school would send home notes to my mom saying that I wasn't eating a balanced lunch because I would never put a milk on my tray. They didn't understand that to me milk would be dangerous not a balance lunch.

    So as an adult it's nice to see diary alternatives in the grocery store. I can now have "ice-cream" which I had for the first time in my twenties.

    I thankful that my mom like you was able to learn to cook for her family with alternatives to the foods me and my sister were allergic to. I cannot have diary and my sister cannot have soy products.

    So when my aunt needed help getting gluten out of two her kids diets my mom was there to help. One cousin is allergic to wheat and the other is autistic and a gluten free diet seems to help him combined with his therapies.

  3. Our grandson Gabe has the most sensitive gag reflex I've ever seen and will vomit if a food is of a texture he doesn't like. He wants no part of yogurt (has come right back up any time he's had even a little.) His diet is fairly limited due to his strong preferences, and my daughter decided to try to add a few new foods. She scrambled an egg for him and he actually seemed to like it. However, about 10 minutes after eating, he threw it all up while sitting on the floor and then broke out in a spectacular case of hives. So, egg allergy!

    He also has very sensitive skin and his mom is always slathering him with Cera Ve. He'll soon be seeing an allergist (his pediatrician is wonderful and listens carefully to my daughter's concerns.) She's wondering now if he is also allergic or sensitive to dairy, which would explain the problems with yogurt . The egg reaction was very scary - thank God for antihistamines!

  4. In all the internet discussions I’ve seen about why so many physical issues are increasing in prevalence in recent years (autism, allergies, and wheat sensitivity being a few of many) among the list of “possible” causes I have seen (pesticides, GMOs, vaccines, power lines), what strikes me as the simplest and perhaps most obvious is never mentioned. Perhaps it is too politically incorrect, etc. But the fact is, until about a hundred years ago, many, many children died very young of things that are completely treatable today. And if you had ANY sort of physical challenge your chances of dying young or being too sickly as an adult to have children of your own were much higher in a world of no antibiotics, few vaccines, no allergy treatments, and often questionable drinking water. It was truly “survival of the fittest”, not in any way to imply that people who are physically stronger are any better in God’s eyes, but they were simply the ones who predominantly survived to adulthood. Now that modern medicine has made it so that a baby who gets lots of ear infections and has a life-threatening peanut allergy has pretty much the same chance of growing up as a baby who only has a cold or two, you are simply going to see more and more people with a genetic predisposition to ear infections and peanut allergies. It’s nobody’s “fault”, just a fact (and in my opinion a wonderful one, since the world is now enriched by all the people whose skills and contributions are not being cancelled out by peanuts, etc.). Also dovetails with the fact that the increase in things like allergies, autism, etc. is predominantly a first-world development – in third-world countries, where sadly, treatment for illnesses that are routine here are rarely available, babies with any physical weakness are far more likely to die than grow up to contribute to the gene pool. And please, please, nobody mistake my statement as in any way sounding like “eugenics”. I think that God’s wisdom imparted to men’s minds enabled the development of the modern medicine which allows so many more people to not only survive, but thrive today. I just think that the increase we see in various physical issues is not so much an “epidemic” as a rebalancing back toward a more realistic distribution after many centuries of survival being strongly biased toward the physically strongest (in the germ, microbe and allergen-resistant way, not the person who can lift the heaviest stuff!). And hopefully this will help both to make people more tolerant of “differences” (as those with no physical limitations become more the exception than the rule), and point many people to Christ (who is the strength to help all of our weaknesses).


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