This week I speak to Martha who lives in Florida. Her son D is allergic to milk, egg and peanuts. D’s allergies are serious and Martha carries an EpiPen for him. Thank you Martha for taking the time to tell your allergy story.
How did you first find D has multiple food allergies?
From the moment my son was born, I knew something was wrong. He would go to the bathroom 20 times a day, had a horrible rash and would spit up. In the night he would choke on his reflux. Once he was 100% on breast milk he got better but still had reflux for which we started medication. He got better but had horrible colic and eczema and he just looked miserable. I told the doctor and he suggested I go on a dairy free diet. He also said it was nearly impossible that he could be allergic. So I did go dairy free but after a week, I saw no change so I stopped.
At around 6 months I decided to give him baby yogurt and withimn minutes his face came out in a red rash. I called the paediatrician and she told me to put hydrocortisone cream on him. I did and it calmed down. I put him down for a nap but 15 minutes later when I went to check in, he was covered in hives. I ran to the doc where they referred me to an allergist. I went to the allergist and they said he was not allergic but a few weeks later he grabbed his older sister’s bottle which had cows milk and again he was full of hives and red streaks. By the time we arrived at the doctor’s his tongue was hanging out and he was drooling. This time around I went to a paediatrician allergist where they indeed confirmed an allergy not only to dairy but egg and peanuts also.
At what age was your son when the allergy was first diagnosed?
He was first diagnosed at around 7 months.
How did you find the process of getting your son a diagnosis?
I found the process to be stressful as he was misdiagnosed by the first allergist. Once diagnosed, it has been a learning process and mostly, I needed time to come to grips with my fears for his future. My fears are mostly about him attending school or just being a careless teenager.
Is D in childcare? How did you find leaving him in someone else’s hands when he has a cow’s milk allergy.
He is not in childcare and if he has ever been babysat it has been in our house where there is minimal dairy and anything we do have, is hidden.
Sometimes it can be quite difficult to diagnose and get support for allergies. Did you have good support from your doctor/allergist?
I found it to be stressful. My doctor just couldn’t believe he was allergic to dairy. When I took him with the rash my doc actually suggested he got burnt from the milk and not that he was allergic to it! I was like, really what about his tongue hanging out?
What did you find most difficult about putting him on a free from diet?
Everything has milk in it. It took me a while to just get it through my head that he would not be eating much that wasn’t made by me. Luckily, I had some time to assess it because he was still a baby and only eating baby food. Finding a milk that i could switch both of my kids to so there would be no worries of him having dairy was also difficult. Is there one product you wish you could find for your child what would it be?
A good pizza.
Are your friends and family understanding?
Some were understanding, others thought I was being dramatic until they witnessed D having a reaction. How do you find eating out with a child with allergies?
It has been ok so far. D has not had a reaction yet at a restaurant. However, I am always anxious about it.
Did you and your family go free from also?
No, I have pretty much banished everything but there are a select few things I keep high and hidden. My other Toddler is pretty much dairy free.
Thank you Martha for taking the time to tell us D’s allergy story. It is very interesting (and disappointing) to see that things aren’t any easier in the USA for getting an allergy diagnosis than they are here. Most of my interviewees to date have been from Ireland or the UK and a common theme has been the difficulty in getting a diagnosis for their children. I am in shock that the doctor suggested D had been burnt by the milk. It is great that you persevered and got the diagnosis and importantly the Epipen and you are working very hard to keep your little man safe. Thanks again for talking to dairy free kids and I wish you and little D well for the future.
If you would like to take part in this interview series of real life allergy stories on dairy free kids, please drop me a line laura @ dairyfreekids.ie