Welcome to the Joy of Allergies! You may think I’m off my rocker with a name like that. But, I’m here to tell you, living with allergies doesn’t have to be an unhappy battle with illness. In fact, discovering allergies, specifically food allergies in my case, has been a blessing in disguise in our family.
As a kid, I don’t remember hearing too much about allergies. I am pretty sure I was affected by the typical seasonal crud, but nothing food-wise really bothered me. Or did it? When most people think of allergies, they think of hives, feeling itchy, congestion and nasal symptoms, and in extreme cases anaphylaxis. Well, food never caused any of those for me. However, I did have headaches a lot as a kid, and constant tummy troubles, as well as patches of itchy skin. As an adult I have discovered I am allergic to wheat and dairy. Since removing those from my diet, I am symptom-free! Every now and then, often by mistake, I consume one or both of these and can immediately feel the effects.
When my oldest daughter, Grace, was one, I fed her peanut butter in an attempt to get some much-needed protein in her diet. Instantly she broke out in welts, was itching like crazy, and was swelling up every place the peanut butter had touched. She even rubbed her eyes, which caused her eyeballs to swell. I did not know this was possible, but my poor girl’s eyes were literally bulging out of her head. It was crazy! She has since had some reactions when she has been in the same room as peanuts, or even if someone has just had it on their breath. We carry an epipen and avoid peanuts like the plague. In the past year I suspected there must be something else in her diet that was causing her trouble. She complained of tummy aches, frequently got bumps on her shoulders, was often itchy, and had some strange behavioral issues. We had some further testing done and discovered in addition to the peanuts, she is also allergic to wheat, dairy, soy, and eggs. Upon removing them from her diet we have seen a dramatic difference.
On to my youngest, who was the driving force to getting us all tested in the first place (and I should mention, whose middle name is Joy). Emma was six months old (and within a week or so of starting solid foods) when she developed a persistent dry cough that wouldn't go away. She was eventually diagnosed with asthma, and when put on a couple of steroid inhalers, finally stopped coughing. Then she started getting ear infections….one after the other. She eventually had tubes put in, and we were hopeful that would be the end of the misery. Only it wasn’t. Much to our surprise, Emma continued to wake up all night pulling at her ears, itching at her hands (which along with her cheeks and legs were covered in eczema), and grabbing at her nose. I took her in for an allergy test, which confirmed she too was allergic to many things including wheat, dairy, eggs, and banana (of all things!). The very day we eliminated these foods from her diet, her personality seemed to shift from a grumpy, tired baby to one that had a little more life and great big smile. But the biggest blessing (at least to Mommy and Daddy) was that she slept through the night, and even woke up singing the next morning. Now that she has been on an allergy-free diet for almost six months, Emma no longer uses an inhaler on a daily basis, has not needed antibiotics, does not use any sort of cream nor does she have any sign of eczema, and doesn’t require the use of antihistamines. She is also a great sleeper so long as she doesn’t have any teeth cutting through!
Yes, I would say that discovering allergies in our family has been a huge blessing. I was overwhelmed at first, I’ll be honest! One of my favorite hobbies is baking. How on earth does a person bake without wheat, dairy, and eggs? Well, it is possible, and can actually be quite tasty. And I’m here to say that baking is still one of my favorite hobbies, so it is true that it can still be fun! My hope is that this blog will help others discover some yummy allergy-friendly recipes, get some guidance on allergy topics, and also help me keep myself organized and log my own experience as I walk this journey with my family.