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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.

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67 Comments

  1. thereadingresidence
    09/03/2014 / 11:36 am

    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

    • Mel
      Author
      09/03/2014 / 9:31 pm

      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. Cindy
    09/03/2014 / 11:41 am

    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.

    • Mel
      Author
      09/03/2014 / 9:25 pm

      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
        09/03/2014 / 9:46 pm

        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

        • Mel
          Author
          09/03/2014 / 9:52 pm

          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. 09/03/2014 / 11:58 am

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

    • Mel
      Author
      09/03/2014 / 9:21 pm

      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
    09/03/2014 / 1:14 pm

    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

    • Mel
      Author
      09/03/2014 / 9:19 pm

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

  5. Alexandra Mercer (Broody Me)
    09/03/2014 / 3:01 pm

    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

    • Mel
      Author
      09/03/2014 / 9:17 pm

      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. 10/03/2014 / 9:39 am

    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

    • Mel
      Author
      11/03/2014 / 9:23 pm

      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. 10/03/2014 / 10:31 am

    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

    • Mel
      Author
      11/03/2014 / 9:19 pm

      Thanks Vicki. Time will tell… Mel

  8. Julie
    10/03/2014 / 6:01 pm

    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

    • Mel
      Author
      10/03/2014 / 8:53 pm

      Thanks Julie. Once you know about it, you can do something about it! x Mel

  9. Sara (@mumturnedmom)
    10/03/2014 / 8:04 pm

    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)

    • Mel
      Author
      10/03/2014 / 8:47 pm

      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. Tracey @ MummyShire
    11/03/2014 / 10:02 pm

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

    • Mel
      Author
      11/03/2014 / 10:12 pm

      Thanks Tracey. x

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