Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Diary of an At-Home-Food-Challenge

Note: There are two to three actual "days" between each day recorded as I decided to start out giving him something every two to three days.

Day 1 - After soliciting advice from other parents I settled on starting our challenge with Kellogg's Nutri-Grain Bars which contain non-fat dry milk. I broke off a piece and asked him to have a bite. Much drama and face making. He finally puts it in his mouth the whole time making yuck faces. I only get one bite in him. He says "Watch me closely Mom. In case I get sick." Yeah, like I didn't want to just sit and stare at him with the Epi in my hand. After a while I asked if he was itchy. Yes, he said. I little spot on my knee here and on the back of my hand....
"Are you itchy in your mouth, throat or lips?" "No." No hives or vomiting followed. I breathe a sigh of relief.

Day 2 - I try a Nutri-Grain bar again. I can't get more than one bite in him. No reactions.

Day 3 - I decided to switch tactics in order to get him to eat more. I make Bisquick biscuits using 2% cow's milk. He eats the entire biscuit and asks for another. I laugh and tell him we will need to build up to 2 biscuits. No outward reactions.

Day 4 - I do biscuits again. They seem to have already lost their appeal. He only eats half of one. No reaction.

In between Day 4 and 5 the weather heats up, the pollen starts to fly and Max spends most of the weekend outdoors. The windows are wide open and everything in the house is coated in a fine green dust. Saturday I notice Max's face looks puffy.

Day 5 - Already tired of making biscuits I buy some plain Goldfish Crackers. Max looks terrified at the thought of eating Goldfish Crackers. Have I really instilled this much fear in him. I explain I can't always make biscuits. These aren't the cheese kind they just have milk baked in them. He eats two, thinks about eating a third but doesn't. His face looks horrible.

By Monday (yesterday) morning his face is so puffy his eyes are becoming slits. His cheeks are red and rough. I call the allergist. Though it is probably pollen related she asked that we postpone the challenge as we cannot tell right now what he is reacting to. So there ends the food challenge and thus began the frantic me, closing up the house yesterday, turning on the air, vacuuming, dusting, mopping, and changing bed clothes. I'm exhausted.

I gave him Claritin and Nasonex last night. He already looks better.


Maleah said...

Poor kid. I am sure that it is just the pollen. It is terrible where I live. I hated questioning 'was it something that I ate' everytime my daughter had anything wrong with her while I was breastfeeding, so I know how you feel.

Allergy Mom said...

I just made a "cheesecake" with Tofutti and Ener-G egg replacer, and when I offered it to my 5 y.o. son, he promptly said "It has cheese. I can't eat it."

It took a lot of work and consistency to get him to respond like that and it helps keep him safe. It's a scary window, though, into how indoctrination works. I wonder sometimes what else I've taught him without meaning to. Libby

Marketing Mama said...

Sounds like it started well! You'll get to try again soon. Thanks for sharing how it went.

Speedbump Kitchen said...

Can't wait to hear the post-pollen update!

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

so hard to walk the line between healthy fear and just plain fear...I hate food challenges for just that reason.

I've got to admit that I'm surprised that your allergist suggested doing a food challenge at home. Given that the reaction he's had is probably pollen, but might not be - might be from the dairy - given that possibility, does the allergist want you to continue with the challenge at home?

I wonder if your allergist knows something, has a line on some research or who knows what - certainly, this isn't standard at our clinic in Boston, but they're not always on the cutting edge there. So, I'm curious!

purplemommy said...


I'm surprised by the at home challenge to but I know others who see THE Dr. Wood at John Hopkins and he has had them do at home challenges as well. I think if they feel the allergy isn't life theatening and it isn't peanut/tree nut you are challenging they feel it is relatively safe? I also think for some kids being in a comfortable place like home makes it easier.

However, I do feel like there is a departure of sorts from what allergest were telling us 5-6 years ago.

Miryam (mama o' the matrices) said...

oh, fascinating.

Not going to argue - or second-guess Dr. Wood! So there really must be some information/element of the allergist's analysis that isn't enunciated here.

And if I had an allergist like Dr. Wood, or trained by him, or Dr. Sampson, etc, then yes: I'd certainly assume that they could do a sophisticated evaluation, and make this call.

And you know, I'm kind of happy to see different advice than we got 5, 6 years ago. It's all confusing and changing now, but it beats the hell out of the old absolute bans, and wait it out, trigger-happy on the Epis.

Not that what we do now is so different, but I'm doing it with one eye on the science, while it changes gears to prevention and tolerizing. Can't wait!

Alen Kcatic said...

The first course of action is to educate themselves on labeling practices. Knowing where to look in a label for allergen information is a good first step.
Because the primary treatment for food allergies is simply avoiding the allergen, one of the biggest challenges for the food allergy sufferer is detecting hidden allergens that are present in many processed foods.