Food Challenge: Eggs!

Food Allergies, Our Latest Adventures

A few months ago, we experienced our first food challenge. Long story short, it did not go well. We brought a wheat roll into the allergy office and it was separated up into 4 different doses for Olivia to eat. The first round went great, the second round went down with ease, but when we hit the third round of wheat, Olivia refused to swallow. She started to sneeze, cough and rub her eyes. Since her reaction to the wheat involved two different body systems, we knew she was in fact still allergic to wheat and was experiencing anaphylaxis. She was given Benedryl and watched very closly to be sure we stopped the food challenge in time and that no other system had been affected. We left that appointment in tears. We were so confident and sure se had outgrown her wheat allergy – more wishful thinking than anything. And when she had such a poor reaction, it really took the wind out of our sails. 

Putting your baby through a food challenge feels like you are going into the doctors office just to feed them poison. I know that may seem a little drastic but at the end of the day, that is what these foods are to kids like Olivia. Wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts or tree nuts COULD kill her if ingested. So going into the office to purposefully give her the food she is allergic to feels unnatural and cruel. Unfortunatly, food challenges are a necessary evil in the world of food allergies. Skin pricks and blood  tests can only tell you so much – you have to actually eat the food before you know for sure if you are still allergic or not. Scary but necessary. 

A few months have passed and our wounds and broken egos have healed from the wheat challenge and Olivia’s latest blood test showed it was time for the next challenge…EGGS!

We talked to Olivia about her food challenge coming up and that she would be able to try eggs and she was so excited! She woke up this morning like a kid on Christmas. Her eyes opened, she called for Dada and her first words were, “Dada cook eggs!” At least one of us was pumped up – Dan and I were a WRECK! It is so stressful that we found ourselves walking around the house aimlessly trying to get ready and out the door. Olivia wouldn’t leave without her Anna dress, Peppa Pig rain boots and ‘Livey baby’ but as soon as she had the essentials, she was ready to go! This time around, we had a much more realistic approach to the food challenge. We were going to take it step by step. 

First: We got to the office and they do a skin prick test to see how her skin reacts to the food. She did show a small reaction to eggs – a small little hive where she had been pricked. This is the part of food allergies that is such a hard science to follow because that small hive could have been her eczema flaring because ya know, someone just pricked her skin and its irritating, rather than a true reaction to the egg The doctor deemed it small enough to proceed. So on to the next step.

Next: round one. Olivia was amped up to try eggs. Don’t worry; we didn’t forget the DipDip (ketchup)! She ate and loved the first dose and it went down with ease. She immediately asked for more and was disappointed when she had to wait 15 minutes before the next dose of eggs. Nothing a little Peppa Pig couldn’t fix.

Round two: this dose was a little bigger than the first but could still be eaten in one bite, covered in ketchup. Still asking for more…15 minutes on the clock…

Round three: This dose was even bigger than the first two. She had to take two bites with this one and by that second bite she was done with eggs. She tried to spit it out but that food had to go right back in! She kept the eggs in her mouth and swallowed, reluctantly. That excitement over eggs had now dissipated and we were left with a toddler who wanted out! To make matters worse, she developed a hive on her chin – AH! The doctor came in to check the hive and just told us to watch it closely. Thankfully, it wasn’t bad enough that we had to stop the challenge – just some extra anxiety for momma and dada.  15 minutes and counting…

Round four: this last dose of eggs came in and it was a doozy. The cup was almost filled to the top with scrambled eggs and Olivia wanted nothing to do with it; but she did want some of her sweet potatoes that we packed for lunch. My friends, I have never been more proud of myself than I am for what I did next. I hid the scrambled eggs in with a spoonful of sweet potatoes and she ate them without complaint. Now, the eggs had to be COMPLETELY hidden. I mean, if you could see any yellow, she would not take a bite. She would only eat the eggs if they were hidden in sweet potatoes and ketchup – but it didn’t matter how she ate them, just as long as she did. I held my breath the entire dose and didn’t relax until that last bite of egg went into her mouth AND was swallowed.  We did it. Four rounds of a food that is essentially poisonous to Olivia, down the hatch! This time we had to wait 45 minutes…

During this 45 minutes, we played with the Doc. McStuffins doctor kit, watched Pepa Pig and 101 Dalmations on the iPad and even read some books – all while watching every little red mark, scratch or sneeze that came from this tiny little kiddo. After the 45 minutes were up, the doctor came in and gave us the good news – Olivia PASSED THE SCRAMBLED EGG CHALLENGE!

Now what does that mean? Well, because her skin still reacted to the egg i.e the scratch test reaction and the small hive on her chin, we should still avoid raw egg. So, we will still avoid Mayo (vegan Mayo is way better anyway!) and some frostings that contain raw egg. This means no over easy eggs or raw cookie dough for Olivia. BUT we can scramble up eggs for breakfast, make pancakes and cupcakes without having to substitute flaxseed or applesauce and she can go to her favorite bakery and order whatever she wants – not just from the egg free section!! For the next two weeks, I have to give Olivia 1 egg a day and watch her like a hawk…I know right? I have an exciting 2 weeks ahead…but once she does that for 2 weeks, we are in the clear and can just give her eggs as she wants them. She has officially outgrown egg and we couldn’t be more excited. So my friends, just keep challenging! Challenge the impossible every day – you never know what you may outgrow!

First Dentist Appointment with Food Allergies

Food Allergies, Our Latest Adventures

Everyone’s worst nightmare…a trip to the dentist!! At Olivia’s last pediatrician appointment we were told that it was time to take her to the dentist and my heart stopped. Not because they would be checking out her teeth but because they would have to put things in her mouth – things that could potentially contain her allergens! We have to be so meticulous about ingredients in everything that even comes close to her. We know every possible name for dairy, wheat, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts, but I had never had to worry about ingredients in a medicine or at a doctors’ office. Through the years, there have been a few stories where children were given a fluoride or toothpaste that contained their allergen and they had to go into pure survival mode – EPI included. I went home and started doing research. 

Cue Google Search –> Food Allergies and the Dentist

I wrote down all of my questions, all of the names that could possibly mean the same as any of her allergens (ie Casein is another form of Dairy!) and had a plan of attack. 

The morning of the dentist appointment, I told Olivia we were going to the Dentist so the doctor could check out her teeth and she couldn’t have been more excited. She pointed to her teeth all morning and kept yelling “momma, teeth!” It’s so funny how all the fear and anxiety I had been holding on to for this appointment can just melt away with one smile from that little girl. I took a page out of her book and we walked into the Dental office with all the confidence and courage I could muster. 

We filled out our new patient paperwork and waited to be walked in. My stomach was in knots! When we were called back, the dental hygienist told me to avoid the dentist chair and sit Olivia on the bench next to the computer. She said most kids get really freaked out by the big, scary chair and they tend to shut down. She had obviously never met Olivia! She climbed right up onto the big girl dentist chair, with a smile so big it could be seen from the moon. 

“Momma, look, chair” she would say followed by “Momma, teeth!”

While Olivia played in the chair, I pulled the hygienist over and asked her to see an ingredient list of anything they would be using on Olivia for this appointment. I needed to be 100% sure nothing contained her allergens. Unfortunately, the office didn’t have a printed list of the ingredients in their products, which threw me for a loop. My research had shown that they had to have the product ingredients available and the fact that they didn’t have them made me so nervous. Instead, they gave me samples of the Floride and cleaner to have it tested at the allergist to be sure it was safe. I settled for this solution but it did leave me underwhelmed.

Thankfully, the first appointment at this office simply consisted of a short medical history interview, a discussion about what types of foods and drinks are consumed and a quite look into the mouth! Olivia was a rock star and got her teeth checked out an the all clear from the dentist! When they were done checking her teeth, she kept signing more so they would keep going – she is the only kid that LOVES the dentist. I was relieved nothing was put in her mouth today – but to be honest, without knowing the product ingredients – nothing was going in her mouth regardless. 

She picked out a stuffed animal prize and we took a trip to Dee’s One Smart Cookie for an allergy safe cake pop. 

For any allergy parents that might be nervous for their child’s first dentist appointment – there’s nothing to worry about! The first appointment was very straight forward – interview and quick check with no products. Remember, if you can’t see ingredients or don’t have that reassurance that the product is safe, don’t let them use it. Just Keep Advocating!! And tell them why you aren’t able to proceed with your appointment and hopefully they will get you what you need to feel comfortable. 

“It’s Not My Problem”

Favorite Patching Activities, Food Allergies, Our Latest Adventures

“It’s not my problem”.

That’s what a mom I encountered just like week said to me. Here’s what happened…

Last week, my husband and I headed out to the park for a picnic. We packed Olivia sweet potatoes, Daiya vegan cheese and AppleGate deli ham. She ran around the grass at full speed for a solid 30 minutes, only stopping at the picnic blanket for a quick bite and sip of water. She gave the trees more hugs than I could keep track of and chased Dan to the lake and back until she needed a cookie break (Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip – her fav!). After she finished lunch, we headed over to the playscape so she could play on the swing and slide with her patch on. The playscape with the patch on is one of our go to actives. All of the different pieces of equipment keep her distracted and she’s gotten so comfortable playing on them, shes a pro at going down each and every slide. The park was packed with tons of families enjoying this glimpse of fall weather. Olivia was having the best time when all of a sudden a new family entered the playscape.

The family ran onto the train playscape activity with two dripping soft serve ice cream cones. And when I say dripping, I mean the ice cream was leaving a path behind the kids as they walked around. To make matters worse, the kids dropped their cones on the playscape and rather than cleaning them up and putting them in the garbage, their mom kicked them to the side and left them there.

Unfortunately, the ice cream being all over the playscape meant it was time for us to leave. We are already very cautious at the park – using wipes as necessary and wiping down surfaces when we need to. But seeing the actual food that could *kill* Olivia all over the equipment that is meant for all kids to play on, meant it was time to head out. So we abruptly packed Olivia up, ignoring her requests for one more time on the ‘side’ and walked to the car.

As you all probably know by now, I am one momma bear when it comes to my baby and food allergies. I couldn’t leave. I couldn’t let this go! Not because anyone was in trouble – but because maybe that parent just didn’t know! Maybe that mom didn’t realize the repercussions her child smearing the ice cream everywhere, had on other people. So I strapped Olivia into her car seat to hang out with her daddy and headed back to the playscape to talk with the parents of those kids. I was SO nervous – I don’t do confrontation but to be honest, not one ounce of me believed this type of conversation could escalate. I assumed this mom just didn’t know – before I had a child with food allergies, I didn’t realize the full magnitude or realize how serious food allergies were. My mission is to spread awareness and I figured, lets start with this momma! Boy was I wrong…

I walked up to the mom:

“Hi, did your kids bring those ice creams onto the playscape?”

“Yes…”

“Oh Okay! (I said with a smile) I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind just grabbing the cones and throwing them in the garbage. My daughter has life threatening food allergies, and foods like ice cream that contain dairy are very dangerous for her and for many other children that use the playscape.”

“The birds will get it” — Imagine saying the word WHAT — that’s what my face looked like.

“Oh yeah, well we unforturtuantly had to leave the playscape because the ice cream went all over the train and walkways.”

“That’s not my problem and it’s not my kids problem”

To which I responded, cuz now my heart is PUMPING – “If my daughter were to touch that ice cream and it got anywhere near her face, it would kill her. She could die. 1 in 13 kids have life threatening food allergies – not just my daughter” – I’ve been doing a lot of reading!

“Listen, if you’re daughter can’t safely play at the park then you should just keep her home. Carry her around the playscape, I don’t care. What, does she walk on her hands or something? It’s not my problem that she has so many issues. It’s JUST food.” – she yelled this at me in front of a dozen other parents that were at the park that day. Everyone stared at us in awe.

At this point, I just smiled at her, turned and walked away. When I went to talk to this mom, my only goal was to hopefully get her to clean up the ice cream and explain to her why. Unfortunately, she did not take it that way. Rather than saying something like, “oh my goodness, I didn’t realize, I will make sure we don’t eat on the playscape in the future” or something as simple as “absolutely, no problem!” she got very defensive and mean. Sadly, this sort of reaction centered around food allergies is something I’ve read all to much about.

Under her breath, as she walked away, the mom said back, “ill put the ice cream into the garbage” to which I replied “that’s all I ask”. Did this encounter go as I hoped? No. But at the end of the day, the mom decided to do the right thing and just pick up after her kids. I’m proud of myself for standing up for my daughter and others like her – in this case, it paid off.

Food allergies are an invisible disability to so many. Olivia looks like such a typical kid that a stranger would never know that coming into contact with certain foods could kill her. A dime sized amount of that protein in her mouth, takes seconds to take action. A child with a disability on the outside like needing a wheelchair or another special accommodation would never be questioned but someone with food allergies is often seen as picky or intolerant. Food allergies, wheel chairs, glasses, or any other accommodation don’t hold these kids back – it’s our job to make the world a more inclusive place for all.

So no, it might not be your problem. It might not be your kids problem. But let’s change that! Let’s change our reactions from “that’s not my problem” to “lets find a solution”. The inclusion of others is our responsibility!

The next night, I met with the Parks and Rec department in my town to discuss a change at our park. Visit the blog in a couple days to check out the latest addition to the playground!