As I’ve mentioned before, not only are we battling Type 1 diabetes in our house, but also a food allergy. #1 son is allergic to milk (all milk by-products as well). Aren’t we the fun people to invite for dinner?
We have done a pretty good job of helping #1 son avoid exposure to milk over the last 16 years. We recognized early in his life that he and milk just didn’t get along! At three months, he was in misery after ingesting regular baby formula (he had been on breast milk only up to that time and did seem to have a lot of stomach discomfort even on breast milk–probably because he was being exposed to dairy through me). Switched him to soy formula supplementing breast milk until he was 6 months old at which time he refused to nurse any more. By 9 months, it was time to introduce yogurt–immediately, he had a reaction that included hives and vomiting. Conventional wisdom at the time was that children under 3 could not have allergies, so we were told to try dairy every couple of months or so. And….yep….every test had the same result. In fact he was so sensitive to dairy that if we ate pizza and kissed him, he would get hives in the spot where he had been kissed.
The first two years were rough as we learned through trial and error that many foods you wouldn’t expect to have milk in them actually do. For example, chicken nuggets and hot dogs have been known to include whey (a milk by-product). But by the age of 3, #1 son was able, without prompting, to refuse food people offered unless he checked with me first. And apart from one incident, age 4, when he was accidentally given milk instead of soy milk requring the use of the epi-pen, he has been milk-free for 12 years. Until last Sunday.
We picked up subs from Firehouse Subs, a chain we have frequented before with great success. #1 son always gets a turkey, bacon, mayo sub PLAIN. The same sub he orders at any sub shop.
We brought the subs home and noticed that KC’s sub, ham and cheese only also ordered PLAIN, was not ham and cheese only but loaded with lettuce etc. I was also worried that her BG was joining up after drinking her diet Dr. Pepper from the fancy multi-drink machine, which made me fear that it wasn’t sugar-free at all. So we took her drink away, pulled the lettuce etc. off her sandwich and settled down. #1 son checked his sandwich to make sure there was no cheese on it. And that was that….
1 hour later he came downstairs and at first glance I knew something was wrong. His face was beat red and his eyelids were getting puffy. I went in search of our epi-pens and realized I was wasting valuable time. Gave him benadryl and sent hubby and son off to the ER. They were there in 10 minutes. According to the ER docs, it was a mild to moderate reaction. They did not give him a shot of epi, but instead IV steroids and antihistamines.
In talking to #1 son later, we discovered that he thought the sandwich tasted different, but couldn’t put his finger on it. We believe the worker put peppercorn ranch dressing on the sandwich instead of mayo. #1 son wouldn’t recognize the taste as he had never had ranch dressing before so it just tasted like bad may. KC, who has had ranch dressing, confirmed that her sandwich had ranch dressing on it. #1 son also told me that his first symptoms were 1. that he felt very tired , 2. he started having a hard time breathing so he got down on the floor, and then 3. felt his face and knew something was wrong.
This experience reminded us that we must be vigilant when we eat out. And to keep the Epi-pen where we can find it (and yes, I did find it but glad they headed straight to the ER and giving the Benadryl was the right thing to do)
So here we are 4 days later. #1 son is going on a school trip that will take him out of town for 2 1/2 days….6 meals…..in restaurants. I am sending him with a cooler filled with drinks, turky, almond milk, and mayo packets. His suitcase is stuffed with snack foods, microwave meals, rolls, etc. I know that he is worried and I fear him not eating during the day because he is too afraid, so we’ve discussed that he should pack himself sandwiches.
Sending him off is scary…but I know he will be extra-cautious because of this past experience.
So a reminder to all: Food allergies are serious business….people who say they have food allergies are not doing so because they are picky eaters.
This post is dedicated to the memory of Cameron Groezinger-Fitzpatrick , a young man who died from a peanut allergy a little over a week ago.