My son was born stuffy. We never realized anything was wrong until we spent a few weeks at my parent’s home due to no water at our home because of a drought. He could breathe with no issues until we arrived back home. A few days later I decided to make an appointment with our doctor to discuss allergy testing. That same day Samuel was licked by our dog and got localized hives. I figured if we could figure out what he was allergic to, other than our dog, we could avoid those allergens. My doctor explained how difficult it was to get accurate testing results on a baby (Sam was just 10 months), but agreed based on how well she knew me as a mother.

Sam was tested for a number of different things, and again the allergist explained that just because we might not see any reactions to skin testing didn’t mean that Sam wasn’t allergic. Babies just don’t test well was what I was told. Within just minutes of beginning the skin tests it was clear that we wouldn’t have issues with IF Sam didn’t react. He had bumps all over his little back.

We left with a list of foods to avoid as well as our dog. Now I’ve had food allergies all my life, and they were simply an annoyance to me….never anything more. I simply thought the same thing for Sam. We’ll avoid these foods when his seasonal allergies are bad…..but they shouldn’t bother him much any other time (although I WAS going to avoid all the foods I had been told). I looked at the list……it was long. How could we avoid ALL of them? Dairy, Egg, Soy, Tomatoes, Fish, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Sesame, Dogs, and Cats? It was going to be tough. I was still nursing Sam, and I decided I would avoid most of those things as well (I had already eliminated dairy since he was so gassy as a newborn- and never did eat any type of nuts since I was scared for an allergy to begin).

Sam was high risk for the flu that year. He had RSV when he was 3 1/2 weeks old. I was told that because of that he really needed a flu shot. Now both my doctor and allergist sat and talked about the risks of flu verses the risk of the flu shot (the flu shot is made with egg culture). They decided to test the flu shot……..it came back as a mild positive. Thank goodness my allergist kept asking questions before deciding the risk was worth it. I had NEVER fed Samuel solid food. Maybe it was laziness, maybe it was instinct…..but it had never happened. The allergist asked if he had ever had egg. My answer was of course, NO. He decided before we gave him the shot, we should do a food challenge and see how he did with a small bit of egg. The next day I came with scrambled egg in one hand and Samuel in the other. We had talked about the risks and then gave him a tiny, tiny, tiny amount of egg. I would guess that it was LESS than 1/16 of a teaspoon. Sam didn’t want any of it. Now after giving him a bit I’m thinking in my mind that we are wasting everyone’s time. Food allergies are really a minor “thing”. Everyone is going to think that I’m crazy for limiting my son’s diet of SOOOO many foods.

A minute passes and Sam is very fussy. Another minute passes and he has a few small hives on his face. I’m new to the hive thing……not really sure what it means, but did take note and tell the nurse. Another minute passes and he starts vomiting. Again I’m thinking “this isn’t good”, but not REALLY getting it. Another minute and Sam just isn’t acting right. I call the nurse who GRABS the doctor and they rush into action. A shot of epinephrine. Benadryl® by shot. And hours in his office. We are sent home with an EpiPen® Jr., steroids, Benadryl® , and clear instructions on what to do and watch for.

I sat at home and after my little boy was in bed (in MY bed) I just lost it. I had NO idea that a person could have a severe or life threatening allergy to a “NORMAL” food. I thought it was just peanuts. I certainly never thought it could be my child. His two sisters never did have any allergies. Our lives changed that day. Sadly, I’ve been lax at times, and although Sam has had many, many, many reactions, I’ve never given him his EpiPen®. Benadryl® has always been enough. It wasn’t until I almost lost my life due to an anaphylactic reaction to something unknown (actually 3 of them- the last being the worst) that I realized how foolish I’ve been. Samuel should have been given his EpiPen® at LEAST 3 times that I could clearly remember. It’s been the Grace of God that has kept him alive through my ignorance.

It has really hit home the last few weeks as Samuel started Kindergarten. I’ve spent time with the school nurse, the teachers, the principle, the allergist, the cook, and anyone else who would listen to me about Samuel’s allergies. As we worked on his health care plan and did EpiPen® Jr. Education at the school did I realize how blessed we’ve been these last five years. It caused a new fear to rise up in me as I have to give over some of control to those at the school. I have to trust they will take care of him (we are really lucky to have a small school with very concerned and helpful staff). New policies for ALL students have been put in place due to Sam and his allergies. New education is being done to help everyone realize how life threatening an allergy can be.

So….here is to the next five years as Sam continues down this road (and hopefully outgrows most or ALL of his allergies)!!!

Tricia Anderson
Beulah, CO