Friday, August 29, 2008

So the night goes.

Funny, I had meant to start a little update here, and I actually ended up posting on my Matters of the Heart blog.

I originally started a separate blog, thinking that maybe I would be able to find a few people living with the Peanut and Tree Nut allergy issue. Thankfully I have, however, I find myself intertwining both blogs. It is our life and I guess it is hard to separate.

My little guy did well last night, and continues to do well today. I think getting into the doctor ahead of time was the key. He still struggles with his cough, but has not really struggled with getting enough air today.

The medication is doing it's job. The only thing I dislike, it puts him in a really grumpy mood. He is normally a sweet, sweet boy.

Today, he had this growl, and a yell, that sounded like it came from the devil himself. I will be glad when we can discontinue this round of medication.

I'm really hoping that this passes quickly, we have some celebrating to do.

Someone will be two, very, very soon.

I will be back to discuss my cake struggles. Warning...It is not going to be pretty.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Allergies, Eczema, Asthma

Do the three go to together? I am really hoping not in our case. I am told that these three things often accompany each other in certain individuals. We have been diagnosed with two out of the three, and our praying we do not hit the third.

My little guy was having a hard time breathing today, and had an ugly cough. It is hard to describe what he sounds like, it is more what he looks like, that always concerns me. It looks like he has to hold his breath to cough. Almost like his cheeks puff out, and he has a hard time getting it out.

It seemed like everything lined up for us just right. I called our Primary Physician, to see if we could get in, due to the cough. It always starts like this, then by the second night, we are so bad we end up in the ER needing a steroid shot. I wanted to get a head start on it this time. So glad I did.

Went in, and sure enough, Zach started coughing when we were in there. Dr. said is lungs sounded okay, however, the cough didn't sound good, and he could see there was a little trouble on exhale.

They brought up, what I call the "A" word. The "A" word in our house is asthma. It is bad enough we have life threatening peanut and tree nut allergies, I just don't want my baby to have asthma too.

Our doctor said the office had a new Allergist/Immunologist on staff, so I would not have to be referred out anymore. He thought maybe he was available to see us today. He asked if I would like to go on over. Of course I said yes.

Very good visit. Of course, just going over everything again is a bit daunting. He reviewed his tests again and said because of the reaction we were seen for originally he called Zach a true peanut allergy patient.

It made sense after I thought about, first I was a bit taken back. What do you mean, there are false peanut allergy patients? I was a bit sensitive today, it is just a term they use.

I guess, if you just have a positive test, and never a reaction, they are not sure if you are really allergic. We had a reaction first, then a positive test. He also said, given the fact that all our rash/eczema issues have cleared, since giving up all tree nut and potential tree nut products, he was probably truly allergic there also. He was really speaking to the false positive and false negative aspect to the RAST test.

We reviewed the original RAST, and yep all four's and fives. The Dr. was more concerned with the other level (number) that is noted. He showed me data on the probability of reaction with each nut and peanut. It was great data, not sure where he got it.

I really had a nice conversation with the doctor. He said," some people just don't get it." That is so true. Once again, it was nice to be reminded that I can never be too paranoid about this. He has a two year old at home also, so he could relate to that aspect.

He was real big on discussing all the cross contamination issues, which again, was so helpful. I love hearing that I am not going overboard. I am doing everything I can to protect my child, and that is exactly what I am suppose to be doing.

I loved his statement, "people just don't get it." It sums it up so well. The reality for me is, they don't have too. My job is to protect my child, as I see fit, and you can't blame me for that. Trust me, if they were in our shoes, they would do the exact same thing.

Some days, it is so overwhelming to live with this allergy, and the fear it brings, and others, like today, I feel empowered. My God is bigger than this allergy, and I can do this with his help.

I will talk about the asthma issue, and what the new doctor said about that, in a later post. I want to see how Zach does tonight with the medication.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Way to go Spangler

When you have a child allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, there are not many safe candies out there. Most things, say either may contain nuts, or processed near nuts. We stay away from anything at all that says that. Even if it does not say that, and it is at risk for cross contamination, we stay away from it.

It is kind of nice for this mom, I really do not have to deal with having it in the house. However, it is nice for the kids to have a fun treat once and awhile.

I picked up a bag of dum dum suckers today. Here is what the bag says. "This product does not contain peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat or gluten. It has been manufactured on dedicated equipment."

That allergy statement, is music to my ears. I only pray, that one day, every manufacture will be that clear.

For this Mom, who just wants to keep her son safe, one meal at a time, I do not think that is too much to ask.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How it all happened.

Not sure when, or where, I remember the very first sign of problem. One thing I will say, anything I write in this blog, is simply my interpretation of our situation. I am by no means an expert, or authority, on any allergies. I just know what has happened to us, what we have been told, and how we handle our daily living.

Hindsight is twenty twenty, they say. Looking back, I can tell you all the signs I missed, and of course, all the things I should have, or shouldn't have done.

Truth be told, I am really bad about second guessing myself. All that aside, I refuse to play the blame game on myself.

Zach was born a little early, after a horrible pregnancy. I read, not to long ago, about a study done on stressful pregnancies and allergies. Who knows???

Everything that could go wrong, went wrong, every test that could come back bad, came back bad. Tons of outside emotional stress, and a long stay in the hospital on bed rest, when I had sixteen month old at home. Even when I got home, I remained on bed rest, until a week before he was born.

He came into the world looking perfect, doesn't every mother think that? He was though, everything was fine. He looked good, took to nursing right away, and slept better than my first baby right off the bat.

A couple weeks later, he got, what the doctor called, eczema. He also had the cradle cap real bad. Nothing took the rash away. We finally got a prescription cream that kept it at bay. This rash lasted a very long time, it also came up in different places. Not once did anyone suggest it was something I could be eating.

When Zach started solids, he often would get rashy around his mouth. He also always had a rash on his bottom. Not where typical diaper rash was, this was high up on the back of his bottom, the cheeks.... When his diaper was off, he would just scratch and scratch.

I did not know this until recently, not sure it would have changed things for me, however.....
I was told, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you wait until your child is three before introducing peanut products. Do you know how many kids under three I know that eat peanut butter...

I also was told, after the fact, that a child that develops eczema early, is more prone to allergies. Again, I say, why did I find out these things from my doctor after the fact. Would I have waited to introduce peanuts given that information.

We will never know. At thirteen months Zach had a tiny bite of a peanut butter cup, it was Halloweeen, he was fine. A couple months after that, I gave him a quarter of a peanut butter sandwich with his lunch. He LOVED it.

After lunch I went to nurse him for nap. I looked down and he had a welt on his cheek, I watched him, within minutes his face was covered. By the time we got to the doctor he had welts from the top of his head to his stomach.

He was given a shot and an at home course of steroids for a week. We were also instructed not to give him peanut products and see our regular physician.

Now, even though we did not have the official diagnosis, I was devastated. I knew enough about a peanut allergy to know this was horrible news. This was something that could kill my son.

This is where it got sticky for me. Our physician said," looks like he might be allergic, don't let him have any." I thought, that is not good enough, shouldn't we know for sure? He said, "well, if you want we can do a blood test." Of course I want to know.

A few days later he calls and said we need to discuss Zach's allergies. That was plural. He went on to say that Zach did in fact have an allergy to peanuts and it was life threatening. He was also allergic to Almonds, cashews, filberts, walnuts etc... etc... There was not a nut he was not allergic to at a high level. He had fours and fives on most nuts on his RAST. Even nutmeg. He also had some level one's on a few things, wheat, clams and lemons. All I kept thinking was, and you did not even want to test him. What if I had given him almond butter instead.

We went into the office to get our referral to the allergist and our epi-pens. The rest is history. It is daily living with this scary allergy. Not sure if I am even incredibly happy with our allergist at this point.

One thing I do know, that Zach's rashes cleared up after we eliminated from his diet, anything and everything that said may contain nuts, processed in a facility with nuts and anything that had any nut in it. Amazing. There were so many things we ate that had trace amounts of nuts in them.

We have a totally nut free home for the safety of my child. There are so many situations, that come up on a daily basis, you deal with when you have a child with life threatening allergies. Reading other blogs, connecting to other families in similar situation, and now blogging myself, have all been a tremendous help.

This is how we found out the single thing that has changed our life forever. I look forward to sharing more of our journey as we march along.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My welcome message.

Living with a peanut, and tree nut allergic child, is one of the biggest challenges I have had to face to date.

In my next post, I will give you "our story", the one where we found out our lives would change forever.

I have been doing a lot of reading, and have found some great families out there, blogging about this very subject.

That is what kind of led me to branch out, and separate my blog. I will still blog at Matters of the Heart, however, "Nut Free Living" will be dedicated to just our peanut and tree nut allergy issues.

More often than not, the stories will intertwine, because, this is our life, as we know it.