Thursday, March 17, 2005

Cheese.

Our venture into food-allergy-free land turned out to be short lived after all.

After my success with the Havarti, a few days ago I decided to try yogurt. We had just come back from the grocery store and everyone was starving and tired and cranky. I had about a gazillion grocery bags to unload, plus two lunches to make. So I quickly fixed a plate for Isaac with his leftover banana from breakfast, some cherry tomatos, and what else? Oh, here, let's try a yogurt. I watched him carefully for the first few bites (he loved it!) but no rash developed. Great, since Vivian had commenced wailing and slamming her hands onto the high chair impatiently. By the time I finished feeding Vivian, Isaac had eaten almost the whole yogurt and was working on the tomatoes. Guess what?

The rash appeared. And with a vengeance, this time. Not only the little red spots around his mouth, but all over his face, not to mention a few hives. I took the yogurt away and after a half hour or so, the rash calmed down. He was constipated for a day, then had a few disgusting diapers and that was the end of it.

Hmm, I thought. Well, maybe there's something really "dairy" about yogurt. And he'll just be able to eat cheese, and milk, and butter. I can live without yogurt.

Right.

For the next few days, I kept offering him cheese, which he refused. This I found strange, since he had enjoyed the Havarti. But "Nooooo, Mama, no cheese! Isaac no like cheese. Isaac can't have it." I did give him buttered toast, no problem. A bagel with a very small bit of cream cheese, okay. Today, I put the tiniest piece of cheese on his lunch plate. When he asked for some of his sister's squash (he loves babyfood, I kid you not) I told him to finish his cheese first. He picked it up, stuck it in his mouth for 1 second, then put it back on his plate. "No!" 5 minutes later he had the rash again, all over his face, with hives, and this time also on his arms.

This is 1 second's worth of dairy, for the love of pete! Apparantly the exposure to yogurt has made the allergy worse. I don't understand! I wonder--why did he refuse the cheese? Does it burn or something when he is eating it? If so, why doesn't the yogurt? Why doesn't he react to butter on toast?

I am much more upset about this than I should be. Thing is, even though everyone keeps telling me--"oh, a dairy allergy is very common, don't worry, he'll grow out of it. It's no big deal"-- I have this terrible feeling that he won't grow out of it. Because, yes, dairy allergies are very common in children. But Isaac's reaction is not common. Most kids with the dairy allergy get stomach-aches, bad diarhea, that kind of thing. And many of them can eat cheese and yogurt, just not milk. For some, it's the lactose. This is not what Isaac has. Isaac gets a rash if he eats anything with dairy. Until he was about 18 months old, there was only one brand of bread I could buy him, because he would react to the smallest bit of whey or casein in the ingredients. Even if a product was made on the same machines as something with dairy, but contained no dairy, he would react. Fortunately, he did outgrow that hypersensitivity, but still. I don't want to be making him special meals for the rest of his life. And I don't want him to never be able to have ice cream at birthday parties, to have the kids pick on him when he brings his tofu in for lunch, or to spend his life avoiding Mexican restuarants.

Also, even though, generally speaking, his reaction is very mild (usually the rash doesn't bother him at all, I doubt he even knows he gets it), I still hate it, since everyone tells me that the less exposure he gets, the more likely he will outgrow the allergy. Every time he gets a rash, I feel this sense of failure, like our chances for an allergy-free life are just disipating before my eyes. Plus, he's starting pre-school in a few weeks, and now I have to deal with making sure they don't feed him dairy, bringing him special food, and so on.

AND, Vivian is a complete ball of excema. Even though I refused to start solid foods until she was almost 7 months old, even though she had nothing to eat except breastmilk for those 7 months, even though when I did start solids I started very slowly--still she has excema. People tell me, oh babies get excema all the time, it's probably not a food allergy. But then why didn't she have excema before we started solids? So far, I have been unable to determine what she is reacting to. It keeps getting worse, instead of better, and now she has a big patch over one eyelid. Can't be comfortable for her.

Peace out from allergy-land.

2 comments:

Carson said...

I'm going through the same thing with my son & wheat. Every time he has a piece of bread, he gets a rash on his back.

Wheat and dairy, guess we shouldn't get the kids together for grilled cheese sandwiches.

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