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Approved for Consumption:
Anything not on these lists was left an unknown.
Our life changed forever that day.
One could say I've become an expert at being a food allergy mom. We carry Epinephrine and Benadryl everywhere we go. My knowledge of packaged food ingredients and food processing plants is out of this world. I've developed another personality. My husband calls it "The Wolverine." This is when I'm in panic and defense mode, trying to protect Bulldozer from more severe reactions. Non food allergy parents tend to call me crazy when I'm in this mode, usually because they don't understand that food can actually kill my child.
Bulldozer was sick from birth, taking a prescription formula. He couldn't try solids until he as 9 months old. His main source of nutrition was his formula until he was about 2 years old. Some of my scariest memories include Dinomite being a kind big brother, giving Bulldozer, age 1, a muffin from the counter. I was in another room. When I returned, Bulldozer and Dinomite were soaked in vomit. This didn't include the large puddle of it on the floor around them. Bulldozer was struggling to breathe.
Most of Bulldozer's symptoms were ones I could not see. As an infant and toddler, he couldn't tell me what was wrong. It was a very scary thing to watch him react so severely to so many different foods, but the worst days were when I didn't realize what was happening. We celebrated with vigor that Bulldozer survived his first year of life!
Food Allergy Research and Education shares great tips on how to identify food allergies and treat anaphylaxis. If you haven't checked out their website, please do! The list below comes from a wonderful poster they shared in honor of Anaphylaxis Awareness Day.
1. Lung: Short of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
2. Heart: Pale, blue, faint, weak pulse, dizzy
3. Throat: Tight, hoarse, trouble breathing/swallowing
4. Mouth: Significant swelling of the tongue, lips
5. Skin: Many hives over body, widespread redness
6. Gut: Repetitive vomiting, severe diarrhea
7. Other: Feeling something bad is about to happen, anxiety, confusion
1. Nose: Itchy/runny nose, sneezing
2. Mouth: Itchy Mouth
3. Skin: A few hives, mild itch
4. Gut: Mild nausea/discomfort
Over the past 4 years, Bulldozer has grown out of some allergies including most grains, dairy, and eggs. At the same time we've discovered other food allergies along the way. Still, some he's had since he was a baby have become more severe. We are very thankful that Bulldozer only reacts when these foods are ingested.
Bulldozer had his 6 month check up with the allergist last week. In preparation for the appointment I made an updated list of all the foods Bulldozer is allergic to vs. the ones he's not. For the first time ever, the list of foods he can eat, is longer than the list of foods he can eat.
To date, Bulldozer is allergic to:
Any foods even processed in the same plant can cause a reaction if ingested.
Bulldozer can eat:
Update (1/20/15): Adam tried and can now eat Asparagus, Carrots, Coconut, Acorn Squash and Pinapple.
Updates (9/26/15): Adam has officially outgrown his allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, and oats!
You may be wondering how we have survived this?
Over the first six months of Bulldozer's food allergy experience, our grocery bill tripled. I was purchasing all of these special diet cook books and trying to use ingredients I'd never heard of before, which usually Bulldozer ended up being allergic to anyways.
Over time I changed my plan. I hosted a contest on facebook, for anyone who wanted to participate. The goal was to find as many recipes for meals as possible that Bulldozer could eat, using everyday ingredients. This contest helped me put together a month's worth of allergy friendly meals for everyone in our family.
My grandmother is a big magazine subscriber. She would save all of her magazines that included recipes. When I'd come to visit, I would pick up the large cardboard box. My husband and I would then go through every magazine searching for recipes we could use. We also used the internet, but found it to be a little overwhelming with so many dietary needs.
I'd go to the grocery store for hours, reading the labels of every food I could find, starting with the health food isles, and then work my way to the other isles. This was how I discovered a dairy free margarine that didn't cost an arm and a leg. I realized that there are many cereals Bulldozer could eat, as replacements for crackers and other snack foods. The grocery store itself made a difference.
Over time, our grocery bill lowered to about $200 a week for our family of six. There are definitely some foods that we have to buy special for Bulldozer, due to contamination etc. but for the most part, with the exception of sunbutter and energy egg replacer, I shop in the regular food isles just like everyone else.
I am very thankful that I have been blessed with a love for cooking and baking. It brings me pleasure to make a fabulous meal from scratch. Otherwise I feel this road would have been much more difficult. All of our kiddos have lunch boxes for when we're out and about. Eating at restaurants is a bit difficult. At home, to make sure I don't mix up Bulldozer's food or contaminate it with foods he's allergic to, I use color coded plates, cups, knives, forks, spoons, etc. Bulldozer's are green. Dinomite's are blue. Princess' are pink. Sunshine's are purple. When we do travel, we rent a suite or a rental home for a week, so I always have access to kitchen. We prepare meals there, having brought our food with us, and do pretty well.
Food allergies have changed my life forever. Dinomite, Princess, and Sunshine also have some, but nothing in comparison to Bulldozer. More than anything else, I've learned that each day I can keep Bulldozer safe, is a day to celebrate.
Do you have a food allergy story? I'd love to hear it!