Allergies

Jumpy's allergies

“What lovely ingredients for a cake!” I hear you say as you are looking at the photo I chose to illustrate this post. I wish I was writing about baking. Some posts are easier to write than others. Music, reading to children, bread, a fun week, pregnancy: easy peasy! Eczema and allergies: not so much… Jumpy cannot have any of these ingredients. Reflecting on issues that are close to my heart, agonising over them dare I say, is incredibly difficult but once it is all on paper (or in this case online!), lightness prevails and relief, giddiness almost, fills me up. As I am about to start, I cannot wait for the daunting task of writing this post to be over.

A week ago, I decided to stop putting it off. I would write about Jumpy’s allergies. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done. It has been on my mind for months. Every single time I have closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep this week, I have seen the word ‘allergies’ in my mind, heard the word, almost felt it nudging me. It has been haunting me all week, simply because I have been avoiding it.

As I was weaning Jumpy, I wanted to make sure her diet was varied, just like I had done with Crevette and Beanie, but it turned out that it was not such a good idea. Her eczema and highly interrupted sleep started as soon as I started giving her foods other than baby rice and I immediately thought it was odd, as my other two had not had any reaction to food.

With hindsight, I realise maybe I should have researched allergies sooner, been more pro-active. Simply sticking to a very basic diet of carrots and bananas for a couple of months might not have been the ideal solution, but to be fair, when you are in the middle of a crisis, whatever the kind of crisis, you tend not have any perspective on what is happening. All you see is your baby suffering. You feel completely helpless and a tad guilty as well, because your baby is too small to do anything and you are the one supposed to make it all better, yet you are not able to do anything that makes a difference.

Babies cannot describe what they are feeling other than by crying; you cannot pinpoint exactly what part of their body is hurting or what is making things worse. All you can do is keep a food diary and observe physical reactions such as bleeding cheeks, rashes on your baby’s little body, violent vomiting, diarrhoea, swelling or constant crying after eating something. You feel like a lousy, useless mother. At this stage, her dermatologist told me it was unlikely for food to be the cause of her worsening eczema and advised me to go back to a varied diet.

The day we found out for sure she had allergies had started really well. I took my three children to a friend’s house for a party and we all had an amazing time! When food was served, I realised I had forgotten to pack anything for Jumpy. I just gave her a finger sandwich Beanie did not fancy. She loved it! I thought I should remember to write that down later… she had had her first sandwich at only six months old, how cute!

During the whole journey home, she just screamed and screamed and screamed. I thought she was tired, or overstimulated. Hubby and I took the children upstairs for their bath and when I undressed Jumpy, I realised her whole body was covered in hives. She was still screaming at the top of her lungs.

Whilst hubby was giving her a quick bath, I called NHS direct and after explaining her symptoms to a doctor, we were given an appointment in A&E ten minutes later. I hung up and by that time, her little body had swollen so much her fingers looked like fleshy mittens, her ears were like a distorted balloon about to pop and her eyes were barely visible. That is when I started to panic.

I should have called for an ambulance but I was not thinking straight. The three minute drive to the hospital was excruciating. I kept thinking she might die; I might lose my gorgeous baby. I had witnessed an anaphylactic shock before; I knew exactly what it was. I just assumed it would never happen to one of my babies.

She was seen straight away. Her airways were not blocked, which was reassuring. She was given antihistamines and steroids within minutes of our arrival. A few hours later, she was still covered in hives but had ‘deflated’ and was well enough to go home. We still did not know what she was allergic to, but I was told to avoid all ingredients that had been in the sandwich. She was referred to a paediatrician specialising in allergies as well a dietician and blood tests were booked for the following week.

For the whole duration of my latest maternity leave, I had been toying with the idea of starting a blog, but I was undecided. I did not have any free time,  no idea of what writing a blog would be like, was not sure anyone would be interested in reading it and to be honest those reasons alone were enough not to get started.

A few days after Jumpy’s allergic reaction, I looked into starting a blog a lot more seriously. Even though I was busy working from home and a week away from going back to work, I still found the time and energy to start working on what I called “my project”. It was no longer going to be just a hobby; it would be a way to find other mums with similar issues, share recipes, stories and tips. That changed my whole perspective on the blogging thing… Yes, I was going to blog about food I enjoyed eating, crafts and focus on taking pictures that would be pleasing to the eye, but what was driving me was my maternal instinct to protect my baby and any other child who might suffer from eczema or allergies, share Jumpy’s story and build a network so that no other mum would have to feel as alone as I had.

Oh my goodness, I feel exhausted and empty after this introspective writing session. I will have to finish writing about Jumpy’s allergies another day.

mumturnedmom                 The Reading Residence     

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Comments

  1. Oh,my goodness, Mel, no wonder you’re now exhausted. I can only imagine how hard this was to write, and how very scary that dash to the hospital must have been. It’s brave of you to share your story and experiences here, and I hope that it does help others, as you want it to. My kids have both had food intolerances, more so Little Man, but nothing as serious as full allergic reactions as this. Is it a ‘time will tell’ as to whether she could grow out of them? My best friend’s son was allergic to dairy as a baby, but now at 2 & a half years old, he is OK, though it’s been a long journey for them, I know.
    Thanks for sharing this with us, and thanks for linking it to #WotW x

    • Thanks Jocelyn. It was a tricky one to write, but words could not describe how relieved I have been feeling today. Her allergy specialist told me that in a lot of cases, the egg and milk protein allergies tend to go by age six or seven. It is unlikely, however, that she will grow out of the peanut and wheat allergies. She will just have to live with them and adapt her diet. Once you know about it for sure, you can do something about it… Hope your little ones grow out of their intolerances. x Mel

  2. J’ai mal pour ta petite puce. Mon dernier a des pbs de peau mais au point de ta puce. J’espère pour vous que çà va aller et que la suite de sa vie sera plus tranquille. Pas facile de voir ses enfants souffrir. Je t’embrasse bien fort. Bises à la famille.

    • Merci Cindy. Une fois qu’on sait ce qui cause ces problèmes, tout devient plus facile et je dois avouer que son eczéma s’est beaucoup amélioré depuis qu’on a une liste de choses auxquelles elle est allergique. Il y a toujours une longue liste d’aliments qui aggravent ses problèmes de peau, mais il faut bien qu’elle mange cette petite puce. Tant qu’elle ne gonfle pas, j’essaie de ne plus trop m’inquiéter, même si ça veut dire qu’elle a le visage, les jambes et le derrière en feu pendant quelques jours. Il fait de l’eczéma aussi, ton petit homme? Bises Mel

      • Cindy says:

        Oui, il fait aussi de l’eczéma combiné avec des plaques de dartres. Allergies alimentaires: crevettes et tous les fruits urtiquants ( pour l’instant ). La première fois qu’il m’a fait une crise, j’étais complètement paniquée. Je voyais mon p’tit père hurlant de douleur, gonflé et couvert de plaques rouges qui le grattait. Maintenant il prend des anti-histaminique tous les jours depuis 5 ans déjà et j’ai toujours de la cortisone avec moi au cas où il y est une crise. Mais c’est stable aussi et c’est vrai qu’une fois que l’on sait ce qui ne va pas c’est plus simple à gérer. Bises. Cindy

        • Pareil pour la puce avec certains fruits et pour ce qui est des fruits de mer, son allergologue m’a dit de ne pas la laisser s’en approcher! Bon conseil je pense. C’est vrai qu’on se sent mieux quand tout est stable, qu’on sait quoi éviter et qu’on a ce qu’il faut dans son sac! Je panique toujours un peu si je me rends compte que je suis sortie sans son adrenaline et ses anti-histaminiques! Bises Mel

  3. Well done! It brought tears to my eyes but I know by sharing your experience you will be helping others out there. Xxxxxx

    • Having you there with us every step of the way has been the best support anyone could wish for. You are the best at listening, being the voice of reason and finding yummy snacks for Jumpy! xxx Mel

  4. Viv'Maman_Bas says:

    I feel for you and I am heartbroken reading this as until recently, I had no idea Jumpy had allergies, let alone that they were life-threatening. I’m sorry that you have had to go through this. Well done on letting it all out, it is brave and hopefully liberating. And remember, love is everything and your family could not have wished for a better mummy xxx – Lots of love

    • Thanks Vivi, you very nearly made me cry. Best compliment… I have felt so ‘light’ today after posting this! x Mel

  5. You must have been so absolutely terrified, it brought tears to my eyes just reading your experience. My youngest has allergies but nowhere nearly as severe as what you have described. After a few weeks of eliminating different foods I discovered Henry is very allergic to any animal milk, other than mine, and any type of bean or pulse. It was horrible not knowing what was causing him to have agonising tummy ache and diarrhoea that was so acidic his bottom was blistered and weeping with blood. x

    • Jumpy is the same with milk. I was hoping she could have goat or ewe’s cheese, but unfortunately not. You wonder why they call it cow’s milk allergy… Thank goodness I breastfed her. She now likes the formula she gets on prescription. We are slowly introducing beans or pulses as is also potentially allergic to them (same family as peanuts) but apart from aggravated eczema and rashes, she kind of tolerates them. She is probably only intolerant to them, which is fine, really, as long as we give them in small doses. Hopefully Jumpy and Henry will grow out of some of those allergies. x Mel

  6. That must have been so scary for you! I had assumed it would only be nuts or bee stings that would give that kind of reaction. x

    • Not knowing what was going on was the scary part. Once you know this kind of thing could happen and you have an action plan, it becomes more manageable. Mel

  7. Well done you for blogging about this ( an allergy blog seems like a good idea if you mean starting a seperate one) to help others. Hope she grows out of them x

  8. Sounds like you have all been through a really tough time. I hope in time things improve for Jumpy and you. Best wishes Julie x

  9. Goodness Mel, what a journey you have had with Jumpy. You are doing an amazing job, and writing this will be a huge help to others in the same situation. It must have been so emotional to write this post, but I can imagine that it was also cathartic. That rush to the hospital must have been terrifying and I am so sorry you had to experience that x Thank you so much for linking to #ThePrompt (and so sorry it took me a couple of days to catch up and read it)

    • No worries at all, Sara. Thanks for your comment. I really hope writing about it all and trying to develop recipes for my little one will be useful for others. x Mel

  10. What a very brave post, it was very emotional, very real and very engaging. Thank you for sharing x

  11. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been for you. Milin is allergic to eggs and watching his hives come up as soon as they touched his skin for the first time was so scary but nothing like what you have experienced. I love your free from recipes though, so thank you for sharing them with us x

    • It was actually a lot more daunting than her week-long stay in hospital with pneumonia when she was four weeks old… It is the whole immediacy of allergic reactions and the physical changes that make the whole experience so alarming. Thanks about the recipes. I am working on a new one that will be posted soon! x Mel

  12. That must have been really scary, I feel for you. My brother has lots of allergies and I was always really aware growing up of how difficult it was. He wasn’t allowed eggs, milk, fish or nuts which made a lot of things difficult. When he ate something from a supermarket he had been eating for years he had exactly the reaction you describe. They had changed the recipe and he hadn’t realised. Luckily he was fine but it brings it home

    • Oh dear, I would never thing of double-checking the label on something she had been eating for ages… I might do now you said that! I could share recipes with your brother! Mel

  13. The Free From Fairy says:

    Hi there Mel! I am so glad we ‘found’ each other via the bloggersphere! I love your blog…not only does it look beautiful but you write so eloquently. I know how you feel when you say what a relief it is when you write a post like this. We have been through so much with our eldest and it is only when you write it down that you realise how much it has impacted on you. The rest of the time you just get on with it! I cried and cried when I wrote a similar piece recently about the day our daughter was diagnosed with coeliac disease…but it did me good!! I have a few more posts like that that need ‘getting down’!!! And if nobody reads them it doesn’t matter…the process helps!! I am going to share your post on love all blogs… Keep up the fab writing xxx

    • Thanks Vicki, I am so glad you found me! I am on a roll now and I am proof-reading a post about living with the allergies. It feels good! Make sure you follow so we can keep in touch. I have now found you on pretty much any social media platform I could find. x Mel

      • The Free From Fairy says:

        Yup, I think we have found each other around the web!! I have posted the blog under motherhood on love all blogs…wasn’t really sure which category to put it under. Should be live in 30 mins. Would you like to do a guest post for me sometime?

  14. Hi Mel just wanted to say how much I can relate to your story as my six-year-old son is also allergic to milk, wheat, eggs and nuts. We were also told in the early days that it was highly unlikely that his horrendous eczema was linked to his food! It can be very stressful looking after a child with severe allergies and it’s always good to realise that you’re not alone.

    • Hi Samantha, I cannot believe how similar our little ones’ stories are. How did you find my blog? I have just seen you were on Google+ and added you to my circles a minute ago. Are you on Facebook or Twitter? Let me know if you blog, I would definitely follow you! x Mel

      • Hi Mel I found your blog via a Facebook post by Free From Fairy. I don’t blog but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time. I also have a daughter with coeliac disease so I’ve got quite a lot to blog about! You can find me on Twitter @freefrommum and who knows, maybe one day I’ll get around to starting up my own blog!

        • Samantha, I am really glad you found your way to me (now following you on Twitter). If you decide to get started with a blog, give me a shout and I will subscribe to your newsletters. x Mel

  15. Mel I really don’t know where to start, first I guess I can stop crying! What it must have taken you to write that I can’t begin to think. I have the same post to write about Buba’s allergies but every time I have started it, I fall to pieces and it gets me all worked up again, so I have put it aside until the day I am ready to fully talk about it. But Buba had extreme eczema and is deadly allergic to ALL NUTS and Eggs. He went into antiphlantic shock after eating peanut and almost died. Worse day of my life. It has taken years to learn what foods have what ingredients in it and hours and hours of standing and reading at the grocery store. Just a trace could kill him so I have to be careful what I make and what I buy. I feel your pain, I feel your stress about what to give Jumpy and how you felt on the hospital ride all too well! I am so sorry you and anyone else ever has to experience it. It’s awful, it aged me about 10 years in one minute. I am still unaware if Missy Moo has any but I will be parking at A&E every time I try something new, even though I have epi pen on Buba at all times I just never want to have to use it! Your so brave, thank you so much for sharing your story. I am glad I am not alone it is hard especially when we go out and to parties. He can’t have any of it. Hope Jumpy aren’t as severe and can grow out of some of them. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. Sending one big virtual hug to you now!!! #sharewithme

    • Oh hun, poor Buba! It was a tough one to write, but I promise you I feel liberated now… Have a go at yours when you are ready. Jumpy has never had nuts, but it is potentially what would be her most life-threatening allergy, along with wheat (looking at her blood test results). Make sure you follow my blog as I am making most of her snacks from scratch adapting recipes. I will be posting more and more ‘free from’ recipes. I have a really delicious one coming up soon. xxx Mel

      • I will, thank you so much. I think it will be awhile, just semi talking about the day he almost died gets me all upset again. Took six weeks to leave the house for fear someone might touch him that ate nuts or eggs. I have had to make everything from scratch with no spices or anything for a long time. Getting used to it now. Always up for new recipes though. I will be sharing my eggless cupcakes soon.

        • You are right, cross-contamination can happen so quickly, but he is getting bigger now and he will soon learn what he can and cannot have. If you tell everyone around you about his allergies, people tend to be really considerate and careful. I emailed Jumpy’s ‘Anaphylaxis Action Plan’ to all our friends and family the day after the paediatrician gave it to me and felt a hundred times better after that! Looking forward to your cupcake recipe! x Mel

  16. Wow mel, this is crazy and scary, that day when she was swelling must have been terrifying. I totally understand where you are coming from as maternal instincts want you to protect your child but it must be so hard when you have no idea what is wrong or what is causing the problem. Wonderful post but no wonder you are exhausted from writing it! xx #sharewithme

  17. That sounds awful. Poor little thing. xxx

    • It was terrifying to start with but it is getting better and better and making yummy treats especially for her is quite an exciting challenge. Her brother and sister also love the ‘free from’ snacks and food I make, which is great, really. x Mel

  18. Oh my word you poor poor thing, to have to go through all that must have just been so terrifying. Poor little Jumpy I was welling up reading this. I hope that writing this has had a cleansing effect for you….its obviously something that has been getting to you for a while, so hopefully getting it out there is a relief.
    I bet you create loads and loads of yumminess for little Jumpy to eat and now you are aware of her allergies you can control it too!
    Thank you for sharing this post it was a great read xx

    • Thanks for your lovely comment. You are right, I felt so relieved after writing this post… so relieved actually that I wrote another post about managing the allergies. x Mel

  19. This is a great post. My little boy has coeliac disease and milk protein allergy – it is hard and exhausting at times x

  20. Thanks Mel for sharing your heartfelt story, it brought tears to my eyes, a lump in my throat and very painful memory when I first discovered my daughter’s nut allergy. At that time, I’ve never heard of anaphylaxis or understood what it meant, I knew something was wrong as I was rushing with my baby to A&E watching her swelling, chocking, changing colour, the rest of it, it is the most horrific experience. You are very brave to write about it and I know it is very hard because I never managed to write about it and my daughter is now a teenager. Inspired by you, I feel I must start a blog and write about it because believe it or not, in this day and age, there are a lot of people out there who are very ignorant about allergies and cannot understand the struggle parents of children with allergies go through every day, and believe me, it does not get easier with age. So may God give you and every parent the strength to cope.

    • Thank you so much for your message, May. It means so much to me to connect with mums who have had to adapt and find ways for their children to feel ‘normal’ despite the allergies, risks of cross-contamination and general lack of understanding of how potentially dangerous those allergies can be (well, they are life-threatening!). I knew nothing at all about allergies before Jumpy’s trip to A&E and not knowing what to do or what the next steps were was terrifying to start with. It all feels less daunting now as she has a great paediatrician, a few prescribed foods and I am starting to understand how to adapt recipes (what a disaster it was to start with!). x Mel

  21. May Smart says:

    I agree with you it’s all very difficult to start with and the support is not enough, then you gradually learn. I am not sure what it’s like now when a parent is first told about their child’s allergies, but in my case I did not get any support what so ever from any medical staff and we were left to discover things for ourselves. It wasn’t till my daughter started nursery at the age of 3 when the nursery leader put me in touch with an allergy specialist nurse who taught us about the epi-pens, the prescriptions, etc. while we got nothing from hospitals or doctors.
    This lack of support from the medical profession makes you feel really angry. I am not surprised about the general lack of understanding that people have about allergies and how dangerous can be, if the medical profession does not give it that much of care. Something drastic need to be done in educating professionals and all people alike.
    Even when you manage to cope and learn how to make life a bit more ‘normal’ for your family and the allergic child, it is always a struggle. I worry about my teenage daughter now more than ever because she is at a vulnerable age where she wants to fit it with the rest of her friends, be ‘normal’ when going out and eat ‘normal’ food like them. She fully understood her allergies from a very early age and educated her friends, but now it is not easy to accept and live with it. We just have to be supportive and creative all the time.
    As for us mum of ‘special’ children, because our children are ‘special’ we need to put our hands together and raise more and more awareness so that our children will not feel they are different.

    • Hi May, For us it was slightly different. As she had that trip to A&E when she was only six months old, her allergies were taken rather seriously and even though we had to wait three months to see a specialist; it did take three months only between hospitalisation and adrenalin auto-injector. I was still completely out of my depth as a parent as I felt ‘under qualified’ to care for my own baby. I still have not really had any real advice on diet, which is why I try to make my own recipes and share them on this blog. I am sure I am not the only one facing these issues (you certainly are). I am still unsure about what can really be prescribed for her. So far, all she gets is the milk and the breakfast ‘mush’ (will have to find something else as she does not take it anymore and it used to be her main source of calories and vitamins). I managed to make ‘free from’ chocolate truffles for her today… loving those baby steps! x Mel

Trackbacks

  1. […] Jumpy (1 year 5 months) is allergic to wheat, we started by making our ‘free from’ play dough (recipe here) on Sunday. We doubled the recipe […]

  2. […] came back from the hospital with Jumpy who has had skin prick tests for the first time. After her trip to A&E ten months ago, she had blood tests to assess what allergies or sensitisations she might have. She […]

  3. […] since we found out Jumpy had allergies, it has been a challenge to find recipes that turn out tasting nice, and even more difficult […]

  4. […] first found Mel when she wrote eloquently about little Jumpy’s first allergic reaction.  It happened to coincide with me writing about the day our daughter was diagnosed with coeliac […]

Thanks for taking the time to write a little message. Comments always make me smile! x Mel

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