A series of events over the last few months has completely changed our lives. I’m talking COMPLETELY!
If you have been following our journey you know that my youngest son was diagnosed with severe food allergies a few years ago. No matter what food you are allergic too, food allergies change your life.
He had a long list of foods that we needed to avoid but peanuts were the most dangerous. Although not life threatening wheat caused serious problems for him including digestive issues, eczema and more.
Over the years we added some foods back like carrots, melon, banana and others.
In the summer of 2014 we saw an allergists in preparation for preschool. He tested off the charts for peanuts. I still remember his doctor telling us he would NEVER outgrow his allergy.
Annual Allergy Check Up
This August we started the process for his yearly allergy appointment. We did the blood work and scheduled another appointment three weeks after that for the consult.
When that appointment arrived my husband and I both went. I dreaded the skin prick/scratch test and wanted support. I also wanted to inquire about oral immunology therapy and I had not been able to find a doctor in Arizona who practiced OIT.
The nurse administered the test and it didn’t look too bad. I’m no expert so I just waited. She came back and said, he has NO FOOD ALLERGIES!
ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!
The boy who sat out every birthday party, who had to leave the park when people came with peanut butter or trail mix, the boy who had never had all of the things that most people think are “normal” rites of passage has no food allergies.
The Oral Challenge
We scheduled an oral challenge for peanuts for the next week. An oral challenge is when you eat very precise amounts of an allergen at specific intervals to “test” for an allergy. This is done in a doctor’s office in case there is a bad outcome.
The day came and we nervously went to the allergists’ office.
FACT: You should never perform an oral challenge at home if you have a history of food allergies!!!
We had been telling our son that he was going to eat peanuts at the doctor to see if he was still allergic. He objected.
He has always been one of those kids who never tested his allergies. He was careful. He is the kid that when he saw food in a class, party, park, etc. he would say, “I have allergies, that will make me sick!”
We convinced him that we didn’t think he was allergic anymore. I think the thing that convinced him was when we told him he wouldn’t have to wear his bracelets anymore.
We were all really nervous. The oral challenge takes about 3 hours. We took peanuts and peanut butter. They prefer to use peanut butter but I knew he wouldn’t eat it. He isn’t a fan of the consistency.
After barely getting the first dose of peanut butter down they agreed to use the peanuts.
With each dose we held our breath. He played.
We stared at him. He grew bored.
We prayed. He ate his peanuts.
When all was said and done he passed his peanut challenge.
He is not allergic to peanuts anymore.
Life After Peanut Allergies
Even with proof we were skeptical. Our Epi pen still hangs prominently in our dining room. It took weeks before we stopped carrying it everywhere we went. He is not allergic to peanuts anymore.
Do you hear me, HE IS NOT ALLERGIC TO PEANUTS!
Let me say that if you are not a food allergy parent (or family member) you won’t really understand the weight of that comment. Really, that is life and death.
If you have a child with food allergies you might be crying right now. I know I am. There are conflicting emotions and that is ok. On one hand you really get how BIG this is. On the other you know that your child is allergic and there may not be a chance to outgrow it. For the rest of your child’s life you will live the feeling that today could be the day that they have a reaction.
I told you…life changing.
Taking on Wheat
A few weeks later, we went on to the next part of our plan. We reintroduced wheat.
Our son had never had a severe reaction from wheat but it impacted the quality of life. He hadn’t had wheat since he was about 18 months old.
Slowly, cautiously we gave him wheat. We watched, we waited.
We couldn’t believe it. There were no noticeable reactions. None. He had already tested negative on blood and skin tests.
He has been eating wheat for over a month.
Two weeks ago he had his first donut. His teeth would chatter with excitement has he brought that pink, sprinkled donut to his lips. HE LOVED IT! My baby had his first donut.
Let me take a break and let out a loud sigh and take a deep breath.
When Food Allergies Change Your Life
Our son has zero food restrictions. Yesterday was a birthday party at his school. He got to eat a cup cake! I’m done restricting his food, he is not allergic anymore.
We don’t know how or why he got over his food allergies. Some people will insist he simply outgrew them, others will talk about healthy bacteria and the immune system, while others–those who have prayed for him believe it was divine healing. It may be all three.
I do know that every day is a gift. I thank God for every day with my kids. I thank God that we walked this food allergy journey and that at least for now it appears to be over for us.
A Changed Child
I’m thankful and still a little in shock. If he coughs weird or eats something new I watch him like a hawk. I’m not sure if this will ever end. I will tell you that he is more carefree now. I think the weight of the allergies kept him cautious. Now he is more daredevil.
Food Allergy Parent
Being a food allergy mom and a food allergy advocate was a big part of who I was. It is a weird feeling to be on this side of it. Even the subtitle of this blog is Allergy-Friendly, Whole Food, On A Budget.
Everything is different, our shopping list, the special stores or online orders, having to always be prepared with food when we leave the house, avoiding all but two restaurants, not to mention that a large part of my huge pantry is dedicated to gluten-free peanut-free products. I’m still trying to figure this out.
When I heard about the two kids who died recently from food allergies it hurt. I hope it always does. I hope I’m always this sensitive to the weight of food allergies. I will admit, there was a small amount of relief that my son is not allergic anymore. But I’ll always have the feeling this gift could be taken away.
Having a son with food allergies made me a more compassionate person. It helped me realize that there are children in every school in the country who live with food allergies. Many of those kids are constantly on alert because a food could kill them. How could you actually learn something if you were afraid?
If you have no food allergy connection thanks for hanging in this far!
I Need Your Help
I want to hear from you. I know some of you come here for the allergy-friendly recipes and meal plans and others are just here for the plant-based resources. Please take 2 minutes to fill out this survey.
I want to know which foods you avoid. Before food allergies I baked with whole wheat, with food allergies I struggled with gluten-free baking, now I need to decide where to go from here
Your survey answers will help me decide what types of recipes to make. If the answers are overwhelmingly gluten-free I’ll avoid gluten, if they are split I’ll likely do a little of both (like I did in the beginning of this blog).
This short survey will help me immensely. I really need you to fill it out.
Now that that is out of they way, will you celebrate with me? Cry with me? Either way, I understand this is big. I’d love to hear from you. What is your story? Do you have food allergies? Do you fiercely advocate for your child with food allergies?