Friday, October 15, 2010

Answers...Looking for Answers

8 years ago I had a dear client whose son had anaphylactic reactions to several foods. Due to the high level of anxiety Mary had to endure being constantly vigilant to keep her son safe (and the fact that she had seen him nearly die a few times), she had developed an anxiety disorder. I remember thinking clearly, "I pray we never have to deal with that...but it's probably due to something which we don't plan on exposing to our future children." The 'something' in our minds that was responsible for severe food allergies were related to a child's immune system being bombarded at a young age, as in vaccinations. We have been VERY conscious about choices we made surrounding what our children were exposed to, and have done literally hundreds of hours of research on subjects like vaccinations, medicating fevers, circumcision, prenatal ultrasounds and labor drugs. We made our personal decisions for our children, to avoid vaccines. At this point, he's two and a half, I can say that it would have been likely that our little guy could have had a severe reaction to the vaccinations, since the fillers in the shots include things that his little body would have reacted to, the least of which would have been eggs (albumin is a common filler in vaccinations). The ONLY medication he has EVER had was one dose of Tylenol on the third day of a flu with a high fever. I took *nothing* while pregnant, avoided caffeine and never had a drop of alcohol. I really thought these practices would make it less likely we would end up living this kind of experience.

Just so you are clear on the extent of his sensitivities and allergies... He reacts with eczema flares, rashes, or hives to the following: dairy, soy, gluten, corn, eggs, flax, avocado, banana, olive oil, squash, apricot, pineapple and mango...and his anaphylactic allergies are to walnuts and peanuts. This does not include other foods that affect his GI system. He was 18 months old before we got a solid stool out of him, and that was after eliminating everything you see above. We became aware of the peanut allergy when he came in contact with some on his wrist, and it flared up to his chest. That time the benadryl worked. We decided not to risk another exposure, or getting caught without an epipen. At that point, we still had other nuts in our home, but didn't give him any. We visited our primary care doc for an epipen prescription, and thank God, last month when he had the walnut, we had it with us.

The research we have done on how to evaluate his system and proceed with testing has resulted in a less than clear outcome. There are very different approaches from a western (allopathic) medical perspective, and that of the holistic health care providers. If you think you won't ever try something...have a child with a chronic problem and a suggestion from someone who said it worked. We have seen many practitioners for our little guy, but haven't gone down the blood/prick tests of western medicine yet. Here's why...

Even a doctor at National Jewish in Denver, a world renowned allergy center, says that the only way to truly test a food is a food challenge test. This means a nurse sits with you for hours while they give you more and more of the food, check your eczema, etc, and log results. It's $200-$400 per FOOD. Blood tests and prick tests can have many false results- positive AND negative, which means you could potentially take food away that isn't actually a problem, or give them a food that wasn't ok. Unfortunately, with friends, we have seen both instances of this, and it's SO FRUSTRATING!

SO! We haven't been eager to subject our 2 year old to those tests, and then take a food away that could potentially be a false positive. Remember that we didn't know he would actually have an anaphylactic reaction until last month. AND we have hoped beyond hope that as he gets closer to 3 that he will grow out of some of the sensitivities, as we've been told may happen as well. The end result of all this is: we still don't get any definitive answers, even with the time and money investment in these kind of tests.

Through elimination of stressing foods, supplementation (probiotics, enzymes, oils and some other GI support supplements) and some food rotation, we were able to completely eliminate Max's GI sensitivities AND his eczema...for a while. But in the last month or so, it seems that there are some little rough/dry patches behind his knees (not scaly or red, but rough), which may indicate that there is another food that he has developed a sensitivity to. We had been told this sometimes happens. When a child's system is so compromised, they basically can begin to react to any food they eat regularly.

Our little guy already has a health team...naturopathic docs, chinese medicine practitioner, nutritionist, primary care doc and a chiropractor. We have been doing what we can to boost his system, reduce systemic inflammation and support his GI function. However, there has to be more we can do, because at this point we face the possibility of losing YET more foods, when we are already so limited in his ability to process...AND we now have the reality that he's had an anaphylactic reaction. THIS means that we have to at least get a baseline blood test for the highest markers, to know if there is anything else that may cause a life-threatening reaction.

THIS is why we went to a BioSet practitioner for him yesterday. She states with certainty that his system is overwhelmed because of his level of toxicity...I've heard this before, but have SUCH a hard time with this concept. His body has only been on this planet for a short time! Well, she explained that he has everything *I* have. Hmmmmm...well, it wasn't until 4 months into our search for an answer that we discovered that some of my symptoms could be related to an autoimmune issue. That's when we started to realize that his little body could have been bombarded the whole time I was pregnant and nursing...but I was attributing it more to an antibody issue, as opposed to a toxicity issue. This made me think a little more. My nutritionist told me a month ago that I likely had a heavy metal issue...if all of his cells were created in an environment with heavy metals, that could certainly have an effect on a developing system. I don't head is going to explode sooner or later. I don't know what to do.

I wish I could turn my brain off sometimes...this would be why I've been working at night so much's a great escape, so I can think about something other than the fear. The fear, the grief, the frustration.

I'm terribly afraid of something happening to our sweet little guy, that's the biggest piece. Smothering fear for a mother that something will happen to him, and I can't save him. It's beyond words. I remember waking up from a dream some time ago, where my daughter fell in a lake, and I couldn't get her...I'm realizing now that I have that feeling every day. It's all I can do to function some days.

Then comes the grief...the grief of life as we knew it...slipping with a food he's sensitive to at a pot luck or a restaurant meant a bad diaper or his eczema would flare a little. NOW the risk is the possiblity of a medical emergency. It's not worth it. I can bring his own food, which we've done for a year, but we would always give him *something* off our plates. We can't share with him anymore for his safety...and he's 2...he knows when he's being left out. It's not fair, and I hate the feeling of not including him, so we are choosing to eat out other times.

THEN comes the frustration...knowing that some of the foods we ate before had been manufactured in a facility that processes nuts makes me want to vomit. We were playing with fire, and didn't know it. Did you know that with each subsequent anaphylactic reaction, it can get worse? I've seen my son's face swell, turn tomato red and almost stop breathing...I had to shove a needle in his thigh while both of us cried, Gary driving like a maniac the two miles to the hospital, and my daughter had to witness it, too. I'll tell you one thing. I won't ever again shun a parent for overreacting...

I am now...that parent.

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