Monday, March 30, 2009

Letting Go of the Eggos

So, here's the overdue update on the N. allergy front. I'll try to make the long stories short, but mostly, it involves two long appointments at the allergist, some expected results and a few good surprises.

We went in for the skin testing appointment last Wednesday, and as I said, I'll try to spare you all the gory details, but let's just say if there was any doubt that this girl has sensitive skin, we have hereby erased it. She had an allergic reaction to the numbing cream that was supposed to make a very uncomfortable experience bearable, but instead made it a cause for tears before we even left the house. When we got there, it was clear that the nurse had not often seen redness of this magnitude in the areas she was supposed to be testing, and announced we might not be able to do the testing at all. My mama bear instincts flared up here, and I'll admit I may have made an already prone to nervousness woman a little more so with my look of dismay.

Anyway. It was determined we could go ahead, but guess what? She wasn't numb. So, every one of the thirteen subcutaneous injections they did were a exercise of two adults holding the screaming baby and one nurse trying to keep from drawing blood. This was after the fifteen pricks which were on the non-numbed skin to begin with so we could see the results. Oh, and the nurse squirted herself directly in the face with the "trees" one, so even though we got a negative on that one, I'd say it's not at all certain N's not crazy allergic to our woods, because none of that one ever got under her skin. At one point, the nurse looked at me, holding up my baby under the intense pressure of my husband bearing down on both of us and said "should I keep going?" Lady, like we're going to bring her BACK here? And what's our option -- we're not putting that cream on her again, right, so we do it again and she feels everything? LET'S GO.

End result: she reacted again to the peanut, the egg, and the dog. Since what we were looking for was whether or not any of the results from the blood work were false positives, it's fair to say these are true allergies. The fact that she did not react on her skin to wheat, milk and soy point to the fact that those were false positives. However, since she has had observed reactions to soy, we're also going to keep her away from those.

The egg was the surprise here. While she showed up moderately allergic to that on the blood test, we thought that since she hadn't had a reaction to her flu shot, her sensitivity must not be that strong. But her reaction on her skin to egg whites was as big as the peanut one. So, we are now avoiding eggs in everything, and I'm going to have to learn to bake like a vegan. Oh, except I can use milk now.

I had not been checking for eggs in the ingredient labels -- there's only so much information you can absorb at once, right? So, while I was pretty clear about what had wheat, soy and milk, I was surprised by the list they gave us for egg avoidance: pretzels, doughnuts, almost all baked goods, and pretty much any noodle in any commercially prepared soup. My girl has been living on soup for quite a while now. Hmm.

When we got home, N. was pawing at the freezer door, begging for a frozen pancake, one of her favorite treats. I knew it was probably a no-no, but checked the frozen waffles just in case. "Can you believe these have eggs in them too?" I said to my mom, holding up the box to her. "Well, um. They ARE called Eggos." Point taken.

So, we're on an egg/soy/peanut free diet around here, which means the peanut butter has to leave the house, even. Given her numbers, we've been advised that if we know she has ingested peanut, we are to go ahead with the epi-pen and call 911, even before she shows any signs of a reaction.

Last week, I tried to have O. eat a PB&J while N. was awake, and I nearly had a heart attack trying to keep them away from each other at the table. In and out of the chair, smearing the sandwich and fingers all around. Yeah, just not going to do it. I've replaced it with Sun Butter, which is made with sunflower seeds and tastes like it. O. didn't eat the first three I made for him with it, but then again he had just gotten over "spitting fire out of his mouth." The fourth, he asked why it tasted different, because as he looked inside "the jelly looks good." I explained to him that it was a different kind that we have to have now because N. can't do real peanut butter, and he seemed to accept it. We built a dinosaur snack out of graham crackers, raisins and Sun Butter today that he had seen in a magazine, and he said "Can we use the kind of peanut butter N. likes?" He is also very interested in "can N. eat this?" and "Read this Mommy, and see if it's okay for N." and "Is N. allergic to grapes? How about apples?" While I've been very clear that he needs to always check with me first before giving N. anything to eat, I'm glad he's at least understanding the basics.

The thought is that she most likely will outgrow the soy and egg allergies if we keep her away from them now. And really, her reactions to those would most likely be an eczema flareup, not an anaphlyactic reaction. Even though the soy is one that is something we're unsure about whether she is sensitive to, I'm fine with keeping her away from both soy and egg for a year or so if it means she can be rid of them after that. The news about peanuts is not so good. Only about 20% of kids outgrow that one by the time they are five. And the ones that do, generally have Ige numbers (that's what they measure in the blood work) of five or below. N.'s was thirty-two.

Her skin is doing really well for the last few days. We're hoping keeping her on an antihistamine will keep that the case, especially because she continues to be exposed to Scout on a daily basis. I'm working on better vacuuming habits, and Scout got a thorough grooming, bath and treatment with some anti-dander liquid over the weekend.

As I mentioned before, we now know what we're dealing with, have a plan in place. While I'm still concerned for her and know that probably our worst experiences will occur when she starts being in more places outside of our control, for now, this all seems workable.

Look for my cooking posts in the near future to involve eggless baking -- I've found some substitutes I'll be trying out soon!1


mep said...

My heart was melting as I read about big brother O asking questions about what N can and cannot eat. So sweet.

You sound good and strong, mama, and I'm eager to read about your eggless baking adventures.

spewdfree said...


My son is allergic to soy, peanuts, eggs, wheat and dairy. I started a website to help others who suffer with food allergies. SPEWD Free has lots of allergy friendly recipes and a food allergy blog.
I hope you find it helpful!

Actchy said...

Hey E..., this eggless cake recipe was in the NY Times Magazine a few weeks ago.

E... said...

Actchy -- thank you so much! I actually came across this article a couple of weeks ago, before I knew we were going to have to avoid eggs, and hadn't been able to find it again, so I really appreciate you pointing me back to it! Thank you also for your kind comments to my earlier post. I know what you mean about sitting around and worrying about it when there's nothing else to worry about. Glad to hear your nephew knows how to handle things.