Friday, March 25, 2011

The allergy thing...

We haven't talked too much on here about the MVPs food allergies, but they are a big part of our life and determine to a great extent what we do day to day.  The  MVP has been confirmed allergic to 12 items from the common (peanut, egg, milk) to the absurd (garlic, mustard). The main impact on us has been that it adds an hour of work every day as we prepare each of his meals and snacks for school (they provide food at his school, but we mainly can't let them give it to him).    It's pretty frustrating, and we've been holding out some hope that it's a baby thing and he'll outgrow most of them (neither V nor I have any food allergies).

There are basically two courses that doctors prescribe for treating allergies:  completely avoid exposure to allergens and hope the body forgets (what our doc has prescribed), or intentionally expose to allergens and hope the body acclimates.  That the two main treatment methods are exactly opposite, and that neither has strong evidence behind it, is beyond frustrating.  Your treatment course is determined by which doctor you happened to pick.  That so little is known about food allergies when they affect so many people is surprising, and leaves us in the positioning of questioning our choices.  Are we needlessly churning our wheels to avoid allergens (try going a week without consuming garlic... be sure to read all ingredient labels and scratch off anything with the ultra-ambiguous "spices"), or are we not being careful enough and thus condemning the MVP to a life-long food restriction that we could have resolved?

Today, the MVP's school called to tell us he was having a "severe" allergic reaction.  That's a subjective term, but what they meant was

  1. his lips and face swelled quickly while eating and he simultaneously developed a rash on his face and body, which are a potential sign of anaphylaxis (swelling around the mouth is especially concerning)
  2. they administered a high dose of Benadryl 
  3. someone sat next to him and monitored his breathing to make sure it didn't become labored or obstructed
  4. they did NOT administer an epinephrine injection but would have if the symptoms had become any worse
  5. the closest parent needed to drop everything and come in, and take the MVP to a doctor 

Here is what he looked like when V arrived at school (though you can't really see the rash in the photo)
I'm miserable and I don't understand why.

When we got to the doctor's office, they rushed us right in without paperwork and the doctor saw him within 5 minutes.  He looked him over (by then the benadryl had kicked in and he was looking better) and listened to his breathing and declared that there was no danger.  He prescribed a strong oral steroid for the next five days.

He's had many reactions in the last year, but this one was the worst so far.  The kicker of it all is that we have NO EARTHLY IDEA what caused the reaction.  All of the food he had was from home and was stuff he had eaten before that had been confirmed non-allergenic. The most likely culprit was some ground up sesame seed, for which the MVP has been tested and confirmed negative (and has eaten before in small quantities)!

This, by the way, is what an allergy test looks like:
I'm miserable and I don't understand why.

For extra parenting style points, the above photo was taken on the MVP's first birthday - on the actual day.  Yay!  He's had three of these skin prick tests, which is the good kind of allergy test.  The bad kind was the one where three people had to hold him down while a nurse pulled half an ounce of blood out his arm.  Good times.

Anyway, all this serves as a reminder that the allergies are not just an inconvenience but a real medical issue, and we have to be vigilant and prepared.

I realize that the tone of this post has been a bit on the negative side.  To balance it out, here's a video of the MVP climbing a slide.


Familia said...

Mateo, hope you are recovering fully; wishing you well!

Dave Pease said...

Poor MVP. Keep your chins up, all... hope the allergies clear up quickly.