September is National Food Allergy Month:
Hello-I am for the first time going to share our story with patients. It is hard to admit when things are going wrong with your kids because as a parent, you think it is usually something you are doing wrong. In our case, it was not something we were doing. It was something we were eating. I also want to disclose that English grammar and spelling are not my strong points. So please, all you teachers out there, DO NOT GRADE MY PAPER :))
Our first son, Dawson, was born in October 2001. As a healthy baby who was breastfed, everything seemed perfect until he reached 8 months old. At 8 months, I stopped breastfeeding because our pediatrician strongly suggested I get our son on milk. The doctor advised our son was gaining too much weight with breastfeeding. I, admittedly, was ready to stop because it was very demanding and limited the freedom of running to the store etc. Very selfish looking back, I know.
Dawson immediately started projectile vomiting with every feeding of milk. The pediatrician suggested this was normal because Dawson's system was trying to get use to the change. Seemed reasonable as new parents. So we continued. The vomiting did seem to get better after a few months, but something else was happening. Dawson began getting upper respiratory infections, bad diaper rashes, and diarrhea. Our pediatrician began ordering at home breathing treatments, which did help, but when stopped, the symptoms would return. All of Dawson's symptoms seemed to be getting worse with every passing week. He was also not sleeping well, very cranky and getting reoccurring ear infections. (Dawson now has some hearing loss due to so much fluid drainage to his ears over the years). Fevers started to occur every two weeks causing us to miss a lot of work and running to the doctor for chest x-rays to rule out pneumonia. It wasn't until a family member suggested it may be milk that we even considered the idea. Dr. Meek had a brother who could not tolerate dairy. So we decided to experiment on our own. Not knowing what else to give our child because we had both grown up knowing every child must have milk for strong bones and protein (my grandparents were dairy farmers), we researched some options and chose to try soy. (Soy now is not recommended as a supplement to milk for children which later we changed to rice or almond milk). Within a day, we had a different child. Even family could see Dawson was happier, more active and seemed to feel better. After two weeks of improvement, we took Dawson to see his pediatrician excited to share our discovery. However, our excitement was not shared with the doctor. He strongly told us we were wrong in doing this and told us to get our son back on regular milk immediately. We shook our heads yes, but deep down there was no way we were going to do this. It was sad that we had to resort to lying to our sons doctor in order to keep him healthy.
Years passed and we as a family started getting used to the idea that we needed to stay away from cheese, dairy, ice-cream and any other product with milk as an ingredient. We were not perfect and resorted to not monitoring it very closely due to laziness. Dawson during preschool to 4th grade would experience emotional outbreaks, disturbed sleep, rage, paranoia, nightmares, sleep walking, and crying from leg pain which would be so terrible he would scoot on his rear to get around. Dawson would also check the doors several times during the night and made sure the alarm was set. They only way to get him to sleep was to let him sleep in our bed. Dawson was starting to struggle at school, falling asleep, being very disrespectful to teachers and us. I hate to admit this, but we hated picking up our son from school because the car ride was always a fight, homework was a fight, and the teachers were stopping us weekly to talk to us about Dawson's behavior at school. The stress of not knowing what was happening to our once sweet loving son was almost unbearable. That was until September 2011.
What changed September 2011? Well, in order to explain, I have to share that in 2008, Dr. Meek and I had our second son, Ben. Because of Dawson, I breastfed Ben longer, and kept him away from dairy just in case. However, once starting Ben on solid foods, he started experiencing his own problems. Fevers every few weeks, which ended in runny noses, mucus, and blisters on his hands and feet. Ben also had problems burping up food in the evening which looked to be what he had eaten at lunch. Ben would vomit and get diarrhea. It was not until the summer of 2011 when Ben was visiting his pediatrician for the reflux that we decided to tackle the underlying problem which may be going on because the pediatrician wanted to put Ben on reflux medication at 2 years old and possibly do a scope. As a mom, I just had this feeling there was more than we could see going on. Because of our experience with Dawson, I immediately thought about food being the source of our problem.
Dr. Baca had joined our office that year and he was discussing the food allergy testing with us, so we decided all of us should have it done. Once we received our family's results, we knew there were many things we needed to change in our diets, but knew the task would not be easy.
Dr. Meek's results: Very high allergy to dairy, eggs, gluten, garlic, yeast and wheat. (This finaly explained why he suffered over a decade of reflux and digestion issues. His symptoms of these are gone since changing our diet)
Dawson's reults: Very high allergy to dairy, eggs, gluten and wheat.
Ben's results: Very high allergy to dairy, eggs, gluten, wheat and cane sugar.
Tara's results: No allergies
As you can see, our family would now have to learn to eat very differently than we had in the past. I will admit, it was and is not easy. After a year, it is still a daily struggle because of school parties, birthday parties, holidays, sleep overs, grandparents and other events. It is a struggle to teach our kids the choices they make with the food they chose effect their health. Dawson is starting to notice how he feels when sticking to his diet closely and when he chooses to eat pizza or cake. (Gary and I are too :)) Ben understands what he cannot have, but is still only 3 years old, almost 4, and does not understand certain foods contain things he cannot eat. Since changing our diet, Dawson is very different, happier, easy to talk to and both kids have not been sick since changing what they eat.
By going through this experience, Dr. Meek and I started wondering how many of our patients are personally going through unexplained health issues and/or our patient's children. That is why our office made the choice to add the food allergy testing as an option for our patients. We understand it is an expensive test at $300 (Most of the charge is for lab testing which are not done in our office), but if done at other medical offices, it can cost $2,000-$3,000 if not more to the patient. That is if you can get your doctor to do the test. We found that our doctors tried to send patients to their family doctors to have the test done so insurance would cover the procedure, but the doctors would not order the test because there were no signs they needed it in their eyes. (Many of those patients took our test which resulted to them having some high food allergies.)
If you are interest in finding out more about the allergy testing, please do not hesitate to speak to our doctors. Many of our patients are finding out it was worth the cost because they have more energy, are less sick and many have even lost weight.
Thank you for taking the time to read our story. Please share with others. Your health is important to our doctors and staff. If there are ever any questions you have, you may also contact me.
My favorite Cookbook: