Sunday, May 5, 2013

Don't Feed My Monkeys

I have so much to share, and I'm not sure where to begin. So I will start with explaining my title.

I have four little monkeys: Bubs is an almost 8 year old boy. GirlyGirl, Cutie, and Curls are girls, ages 6 1/2, 3, and 2. Bubs and GirlyGirl have food allergies.

When Bubs was just a baby, we discovered that he could not handle milk-based formula. He would vomit and break out in hives. So we switched to soy-based formula. After he turned 1 he was fed scrambled eggs. That resulted in vomiting, wheezing, and hives. So we invested in a nebulizer and avoided eggs. I knew another family who has a child with a peanut allergy, and they suggested I take him to a children's asthma and allergy specialist. So at 15 months old he had blood drawn and was tested for an allergy to milk, eggs, and peanuts. They tested for milk and eggs because of our experiences, and they chose to test for peanuts as well since peanut allergies are on the rise. We discovered that he is highly allergic to all three: milk, eggs, and peanuts. We fumbled our way through the next several years including a trip to the ER with anaphylaxis (from milk), but we became pretty good at feeding him in all situations. I provided most of his food at daycare (all except fruits and vegetables and a few pre-approved snacks), and on the rare occasion we went to a restaurant, we brought his food in a lunchbox. Oh yeah, he also has asthma.

Bubs has always been a rowdy boy with lots of energy. I know, some say that boys will be boys. But this was more intense. He was aggressive towards others, and we couldn't seem to get it under control with various behavior modification techniques. 1st grade was a rough year that made us take drastic measures. We met with various behavior specialists seeking answers. That's when we met David, the school's behavior specialist. He listened to our history, and I casually mentioned his food allergies. David suggested that food may be to blame for his aggressive behavior. He suggested that his body is on edge all the time. We ended up paying a visit to our local naturopathic doctor and had more blood work done, this time testing for 184 foods. The results showed that he is allergic and sensitive to 56 of the foods tested! He was put on a strict elimination/rotation diet. I was completely overwhelmed! But I quickly figured things out. And as for his behavior, well, he is a completely different kid! I only wish we had done this sooner. I'll share more about this later.

GirlyGirl seemed ok with all foods, except she had terrible cradle cap and eczema as a baby. Because of what we knew about food allergies and eczema, we switched her to soy formula. But when she was old enough for milk, she seemed to do well with it. Since our lives were peanut-free both at home and at daycare, we never saw any problems. Until the day they made walnut muffins at daycare (she was 4 1/2). She broke out in hives over various parts of her body. I quickly took her to be tested. It turned out she's not allergic to walnuts, but she is highly allergic to peanuts! The walnuts must have been contaminated at the factory. Of course this fact didn't change our lives much since she was already peanut-free. It is a bit more challenging now than she's in kindergarten. The families provide daily snacks and the school is not peanut-free. But we have gotten by just fine so far.

Cutie and Curls have been tested. Results show no allergies for Cutie and slight sensitivity to wheat for Curls. We have not seen any problems with her eating wheat so far, so we are just keeping an eye on it.

Well, that's much longer than most of my posts will be, but I thought I should explain why I don't want you to feed my monkeys!

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