Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Allergies! Yikes!

This has to be one of my greatest parenting challenges.
M is allergic to soy. He's been blood tested and came up negative. However there is a very visible reaction when he has something that contains soy. He gets a red rash on his face. His hands get puffy and turn blotchy and purple. He starts coughing and wheezing and producing mass amounts of saliva, dark circles appear under his eyes. Then there's the not so visible part of the reaction. The emotional upheaval and tantrums, not sleeping through the night for 3-5 nights in a row. We carry an epi pen because he had a bad reaction that affected his breathing in the past to a piece of pepperoni.

M spends a lot of play working through his challenges of a soy free existence. When he pretend cooks he asks everyone their allergies and then proceeds to make dishes that contain these ingredients and tell everyone that they can't have any because they are allergic. We can't go out to restaurants because almost everything contains soy. We can't buy any packaged products because they all contain soy. Most candy is off limits. I make everything from scratch. Let me tell you cooking from scratch is time-consuming. If he wants something I feel that I must make it for him. I don't want him to feel deprived at all. Sometimes the answer of "We will get the ingredients and make it" does not satisfy M. He cries and wonders why he's plagued with this. Usually he's very good about asking before taking snacks but lately he's gotten into a rebellious stage where if he's told it has soy he'll try to grab it and eat it. Vacations are the hardest. It's so hard to avoid soy when you have no access to a kitchen.

D is intolerant to gluten and dairy (though she seems to tolerate butter alright). Her visible reaction isn't immediate. Her intestines suffer the worst of it. We are wondering if she might be celiac. She gets explosive diarrhea from gluten and a bleeding diaper rash. She gets constipated and gassy from dairy. Both make her scream and cry in pain when she tries to sleep. She gets very emotional and cannot be put down. It is a terrible thing to watch as a mother, knowing that something I fed her made her feel that way. I learned a new level of time consuming and difficult cooking: gluten free, dairy free, soy free. Eh Gads! My goal these days is to make tasty things that both my kids can and will eat. Often I have to make 2 treats, 2 kinds of a bread, 2 kinds of pasta. I love the products that I have tried from Enjoy Life. Their chocolate chips in particular have saved me! Both kids can and will eat their products. Their granola bars are just the right size for a kid and they are so handy. I always have a few in my purse.

What I have learned over the last year about living and loving kids with allergies:
1. Always have food and drink with you
2. When attending a party bring a tasty treat to share that your kids can have
3. Find fun things to do that don't involve food
4. Make and freeze treats and bread
5. Make the large meal one that everyone can eat (this saves a lot of time and effort)
6. Make sure the kids do not feel that their allergies are a burden (I have the attitude that this is a fantastic challenge to make something better than the storebought version)
7. Garden (growing food ensures that you control what's in it).
8. Find out what's on the menu and make a suitable alternative to bring to dinner's or let the hosts know about allergies.
9. Have rescue remedy on hand (this will tame the emotional part of the reaction)
10. Have benadryl and epi in the bag that goes with the kids. It does no good if one parent has the bag and the other parent has the kids.
11. Essential oils work for many of the reaction symptoms.
12. A bath with epsom salts will help with detoxing.
13. Make sure the child's system is healthy. We use Vit. D, C, Quercetin, and plenty of Omega 3's. We also make a lot of broth to cook with.
14. There is always a website out there that will help.

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