Well i’m at my last day of blogging week and it has been a great week of amazing stories and today is no different. Me and Jo-Ann like many of my bloggers met through Instagram and have discussed many issues girls and stereotypes, giant toy tractors but I had no idea until I posted about my allergy week that she like me is an allergy mum. Her journey with her son has been a long road with a few hiccups but a happy ending. Thank you Jo-Ann for coming to the rescue and saving me from having to write another post haha 🙂
Less than two years ago when Max was six, we discovered he had an allergy to all nuts and sesame seeds. You may think, how could he have got to six years old before we found this out? Well, our little boy has always been a very simple eater with a very small appetite.
When he was born, the first few months of his life were very tough as he cried almost 24/7 in pain until we finally got him diagnosed as allergic to cows milk protein. Once we got him onto the magical Neocate formula (which smelt and tasted disgusting!) his little life was transformed. However, even back then he only ever took 3-4oz at a time. Weaning was a nightmare, he hated all mushy foods and by 12 months point blank refused anything he couldn’t pick up and eat with his hands. And even then, it was a very limited variety of foods.
He was never one to try something new – he knew what he liked and stuck to it. We constantly worried, day after day until he was about four years old and then realized we just had to go with it. Also, by then, his little sister Lucia had arrived and we didn’t have the same time to fret, which was a good thing. (I should also say he seemed to outgrow the milk allergy but we have since realized he still struggles with the A1 protein. But that’s a whole other story.)
Where it all began
In June 2015 Max fell and broke his leg – both tibia and fibula and dislocated his ankle. He had surgery to have it pinned and plastered to his knee. Two weeks after this happened I was making lunch, which included a baguette with sesame seeds on the top. Knowing Max would never eat the seeds I scraped them off and it looked like a regular bread roll which he ate no problem. Cue me feeling a little smug!
However, about 20 minutes later as he sat on the sofa with his plastered leg on a cushion he said he had a sore tummy, so I gave it a little rub. Then he grabbed his throat and said it was sore and he was finding it hard to swallow. Then he projectile vomited the most amount of sick I have ever seen in my life. Lucia was sitting beside him and leapt off the sofa screaming in horror (she was just three) as he kept on vomiting. (Yet somehow he managed to miss his leg cast!)
Next came the rash all over his body, his heart was racing, his eyes were puffy, his face was swollen, several of his fingers became so swollen he couldn’t bend them, his scalp was itching, his nose was running…pretty much all symptoms except difficulty breathing, thankfully.
Instantly I knew he must have been reacting to the sesame seeds because it was the only different thing he had eaten. Looking back though I don’t think Daryn and I realized the severity of things. We had never experienced anything like this before and even though he had all these crazy symptoms he was chatting away, completely alert and seemed fine in himself. After a quick phone call to my mum (a nurse) we gave him some antihistamine and monitored him closely and everything began to settle down – but it did take hours. We now know however that we should have called an ambulance immediately as this was a severe allergic reaction. So if anyone reading this every finds themselves in a similar position, please call an ambulance right away.
Tests and confirmation
We visited our GP the next day and she confirmed the reaction and referred him to a consultant in Paediatric Immunology.
We went to the hospital for Max to have skin prick tests to find out exactly what he was allergic too. He was tested for sesame seeds and a range of nuts including peanuts, hazelnuts, pecans and almonds. It was awful – they literally pricked the skin on his little arm over and over with a needle and for a six year old boy you can imagine how traumatic that was. Then they added tiny drops of nut oils and sesame seeds to each pricked area to let it enter the blood stream.
Almost immediately every single one of the test areas started to swell and go red. His nose started to run and his eyes started to swell. The doctor gave him a dose of antihistamine and monitored him for some time to make sure the reaction settled down.
We were then told he was clearly allergic to all nuts and sesame seeds. We were told that we would now need to carry Epi Pens and antihistamine everywhere we went and that we would need to learn CPR.
That was probably the hardest bit – learning how to do CPR on your child. The thought that you may actually have to use it at some point. Then getting trained on how to use an Epi Pen – or two if needs be. And to always call an ambulance if a similar reaction happened again.
It was only at this time that we suddenly remembered an incident at Halloween two years previously involving a monkey nut. After trick or treating Max randomly ate one monkey nut, which was so out of character for him. And within a few minutes he was sick. Back then we just thought he didn’t like it and didn’t give it a second thought, but looking back this was more than likely the first time he had had an allergic reaction to a nut.
Adjusting to a new way of life
Things felt very surreal and pretty scary to begin with. We now had to start checking all food packaging, ask in coffee shops and restaurants for allergy safe foods, organise a care plan for his school, get training for my parents who look after Max and Lucia when we are working – and what about birthday parties? How could we leave him at his friend’s houses not knowing what food may be served or hand over the responsibility of Epi Pens?
Almost two years on and we are managing well. It helps though that Max is probably the most sensible boy you will ever meet. When we go out to eat he always reminds us to ask for the allergy advice. He will never eat something if he isn’t sure he should. He will always question – just in case. He is amazing and definitely eases our worries at times.
We are all now used to what he can and can’t eat. We remember to lift the bag with his medication everywhere we go. We check packaging on any new food we may buy. We met with the school and the nurse to implement his Rescue Plan (what a name!) and he has a box of Epi Pens and medication that stays in his classroom. All teachers are trained.
As for parties, I used to always stay – just in case. But we are now beginning to let Max stay without me, just like all his friends. But we always send safe snacks with him so he doesn’t eat any of the food provided. Just in case.
He wears a Medical Alert Band everyday detailing his allergies, that he carries Epi Pens and my phone number, which he knows off by heart. It was quite hard to find a nice, simple bracelet that was comfy to wear and small enough for Max’s small wrist but I can highly recommend The ID Band Company if you need one. www.theidbandco.com
We are very thankful that it is only if Max ingests nuts or sesame seeds that he will react. He can be in the same room as them without having any problems. We have always had nuts in the house so we know this. (Though we don’t buy nuts anymore.)
The only nut-based product that is in our house is Nutella as Lucia loves it. Again, this has always been in the house over the years and ironically we used to ask Max to try it, but he always refused – the one time we are now very thankful for his picky eating!! We just always need to make sure that we use a different breadboard for Lucia’s snacks and Max’s snacks so we don’t contaminate his food.
Thankfully, we have never had to use the Epi Pens and hope we never will. Max’s allergies are just another part of our lives that we have all got used to and will continue dealing with on a daily basis to ensure he is always kept safe.
A website we found really helpful is: www.allergyuk.org
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