An allergy update (and why I wish we had a dog)

It has been 6 months since The Boy was been diagnosed with allergies (nuts, wheat, soy, dairy and eggs). A few weeks ago we had a follow up appointment with the pediatrician. We were hoping that he would suggest another round of testing to see if he had outgrown any, but instead he suggested we stay the course and retest in the new year. Staying the course means continuing on the elimination diet of all potential allergens.

Living with allergies has changed everything in our house. The obvious is learning how to cook and eat well balanced meals without wheat, soy, eggs, dairy or nuts. Thankfully, 2 books recommended to us have helped immensely. The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook: Two Hundred Gourmet & Homestyle Recipes for the Food Allergic Family and Food Allergy Survival Guide: Surviving and Thriving With Food Allergies and Sensitivities. Without either, I’m sure our lifestyle would be even more hampered. But, thanks to some of the recipes in this book, my wife and The Boy are able to still enjoy home baking. Six months ago, if you would have said to us that we would be able to make and enjoy muffins, breads and cookies without wheat, eggs, or dairy we probably would have scoffed. But these cookbooks have some great alternatives that are delicious and satisfy the food restrictions.

But, as we are discovering, living with allergies is much more than just cooking differently. Since we do not know the extent of his allergies, we have to be hyper-vigilante when he is awake and on the move or else run the (albeit low) risk of anaphylaxis. We are constantly on guard, especially now that he is 10 months old, mobile and like a Hoover, sucking up every morsel of food he finds on the floor.

Like many people, so much of our social life revolves around food. Parties always involve food, and there is always this low level anxiety hanging over you as you constantly watch for a dropped a nut, piece of cracker or cheese onto the floor or just within arm reach.

Birthday cake has been eliminated.

And, with the start of daycare looming in another month or so, the thought that we won’t be there to watch and supervise while he is in close proximity to a dozen other kids is frightening. Fortunatly, the staff are excellent and highly trained in dealing with kids with allergies.

We’ve bought our first Epipen Jr. Let me tell you, nothing drives home the point that things are really different than seeing an example of how to administer an Epipen to a kid in full anaphylaxis.

I suppose it is like living with any condition (for lack of a better term). It is always there. It hangs over everything, and colours everyday decisions. Our hope is that he will outgrow them (as 80% of kids do) by his third birthday. But maybe not. Perhaps this is the new reality of our life. If so, it is going to be made much more difficult when he starts to realize that he isn’t eating birthday cake at the parties.

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