if only I had known.

When my son was two weeks old, he began to break out in eczema all over his face and ears. I was told that it was just baby acne and that it would resolve on its own. This, of course, was not the case.

The eczema persisted and it began to crack, weep, ooze and bleed. I look back on the photos and it pains me to think how uncomfortable it must have been for him. We put long socks on his hands under his cuffed sleeper to prevent him from scratching and further damaging his skin. I tried dozens of lotions and creams to no avail.

I pressed on, asking the doctors and nurses what to do. Try Glaxalbase and infrequent baths, I was told. I obeyed, wondering what I was doing wrong that it wasn’t helping at all. Many months later, it took a prescription strength hydrocortisone and frequent baths to clear up his skin. If only I had known.

When my son was six weeks old, he had bright red blood in his diaper. You can only imagine how terrifying it is for a nervous first-time parent to discover that during a diaper change. Panicked, I called the doctor immediately. I even saved the diaper.

Online research indicated that bloody stool could be an indicator of milk protein allergy. I was primarily nursing, but he also received a supplement of formula from time to time so that I could sleep (not surprisingly, he slept in 1-2 hour increments and this took its toll on me). I had noticed that he seemed congested after drinking the formula, which further fueled my concerns whether the formula- and milk in my own diet- agreed with him.

The first doctor I saw, filling in for my GP while on leave, was brusque and completely unhelpful – making me feel foolish for saving the diaper by refusing to so much as look at it. He basically blew off my concerns completely. I sought a second opinion at walk-in, and then a third opinion with my own GP.

Repeatedly, I was told that it must be due to an anal fissue from frequent stooling. Repeatedly, I was told that allergies are ‘extremely rare’ and that since he was gaining weight well, it ‘could not’ be an allergy problem. All of this, in spite of his clear atopic tendencies as evidenced by his severe eczema. And so, I listened to the doctors and pushed my concerns aside. If only I had known.

When my son was four months old, he had an anaphylactic reaction after consuming milk-based formula. I was sleeping when I heard the most horrific, distressed sounding cry come from his nursery where he was being given a bottle. I ran in and picked him up in my arms. He turned blue-white and went unresponsive. I was sure he was dying. We called 911. It took 12 of the most painful minutes of my life for EMS to arrive. While we waited, he started to breathe again, shallowly at first, and then normally. He slowly regained his colour and by the time the paramedics arrived, he appeared to have recovered.

A reaction such as his is typical of the severe and extremely dangerous drop in blood pressure that occurs during anaphylaxis. Some anaphylaxis will self-resolve, as his did, but there’s no way to know which will and that is why it is important to administer epinephrine every time. However, I did not know this at the time and the EMTs seemed to think it was a “breath holding” incident due to him being upset even though I explained that I thought it was linked to his formula consumption. For reasons I cannot understand today, I agreed with their recommendation to keep him home and follow up with his doctor in the morning. I am so thankful that his reaction did not progress and that he did not experience a rebound (biphasic) reaction.

His pediatrician seemed to accept the EMTs’ breath holding explanation. I did not. By this point, I was convinced that the formula was a problem even if no one else agreed. We didn’t give it to him again.

When my son was seven months old, he had an allergic reaction to baby food. He began to vomit and his face grew swollen and red. He was screaming and in a great deal of distress. Knowing how long it took the ambulance to arrive last time and factoring in the additional time to get to the hospital, we opted to drive him to the emergency room ourselves. My husband sped down the freeway while I sat in the backseat with the baby, both the baby and I in hysterics while I begged my son to hang on until we could get him help. Again, I thought he was dying.

I rushed him into the ER triage area where he proceeded to vomit on the floor. Although we were seen quickly, the doctor on call acted like it was not a big deal and simply administered Benadryl. In retrospect, the involvement of multiple body systems makes me question whether this was appropriate – a reaction involving two or more body systems calls for epinephrine. Again, I was fortunate that his reaction resolved.

Finally, it was undeniable that my baby had food allergies. His pediatrician sent him for allergy bloodwork and tested him in a ‘scattershot’ manner for milk, egg, fish wheat and soy– even though he had consumed wheat with no problems and had never tried soy. Testing in such a manner can (and did) lead to the unnecessary avoidance of foods due to a high incidence of false positives. If only I had known.

The only negative result was fish. I was devastated. Not having an allergist’s interpretation of his test results, I cut wheat out of his diet and we avoided soy. I slowly continued to introduce more foods into his diet with mixed results. His uncontrolled, severe eczema made it difficult to tell whether he was experiencing a skin reaction because his skin was perpetually flaring, red and angry. Plus, the behavior of a fussy baby who doesn’t like a food can be difficult to distinguish from a baby experiencing a milder allergic reaction.

His pediatrician continued to be rather nonchalant about his issues and seemed to think she was capable of handling them. I disagreed, and felt he needed to be under the care of a specialist. I obtained an allergist referral from my GP.

Due to his young age and the severity of his reactions, we were able to obtain an appointment within a relatively short time. I was overcome with relief. I thought surely, we would finally get some answers. We would be able to understand what was going on with him. If only I had known.






fuck you, food allergies.

fuck you for:

– stealing the innocence of my son’s childhood

– two doses of epi-pen junior by age 2.5

– making my son sit separately so that he can eat his own, different food at daycare

– doubling my grocery bill

– destroying any peace of mind I ever hoped to have again



In light of my recent over-over-indulgence during the holidays, I think I’m going to go on a mild detox for the next month or so. And by detox, I don’t mean anything like the Master Cleanse or that sort of thing. No hype, no gimmicks, nothing sketchy.

More like…

  • A serving of vegetables or fruit at every meal
  • No wheat; I know, I know, this one is trendy. But I suspect that it gives me issues & the only way to know is to eliminate it for awhile.
  • No booze. Yes, this means no wine.
  • Vitamins every day: multi, fish oil, cal/mag/d before bed.
  • Lots of water.
  • No artificial sweeteners. This one will be tough, because I enjoy a Sprite Zero most days. Somehow, I swear I feel better overall when I abstain.
  • No junk food. Yuck.
  • No added sugars. Sugar makes me feel really gross and it becomes this self-perpetuating cycle.
  • Lots of green tea (this one is easy, I love it)
  • Limit coffee to 1x/day (sob!)
  • I’m not sure whether this will seem overly restrictive to others, but it’s basically how I eat the vast majority of the time, just tightened up a bit here and there. I know I’ll feel a thousand times better for this after even just one week.


    I don’t think I have the brain power to write a full-on post, but a few random things:

    1. Never underestimate the power of a good blow-out; works wonders for the self-esteem. If I may brag, I’m having a great hair day. This would be even more brag-worthy had it not taken me nearly an hour of wrestling with the blowdryer and round brush last night. Consequently, I have felt pretty darn hot all day with my nice swingy hair. Even in spite of schlepping around the house in my Lululemon Groove pants, a ribbed racerback Artizia tank and no makeup. Must remember this in the future when I am tempted to be lazy and skip the blowdry.

    2. I enjoy being domestic. I love picking up items like fresh garlic at the store, then coming home to whip up a good meal from scratch. It is surprisingly empowering. The same goes for scratch baking, which seems to be a sadly dying art (though less so in the blogosphere!).

    3. Being  old and (almost) married is lovely. Even if that does mean enduring things like 7-day old scruff because he is lazy about shaving. I still get to wake up next to him every day– scruff and all. That’s something  I longed for back in the days of long distance!

    4. Wine is good. More wine is not always better. Especially the next day.

    5. Despite the previous reference to scratch baking, two-bite brownies are totally addictive and cannot be kept in my house.

    it’s tough being a kitten

    it’s tough originally uploaded by vanityandsanity.

    Looks like hard work, huh? Eat, sleep, snuggle, eat, sleep, eat. What a life.
    I apologize for including so many kitten pictures; trying to up the visual interest here and it’s all I’ve got. My procrastination problem clearly extends to photography. As you can probably tell, we don’t really take a ton of pictures unless it’s a special occasion or we’re bored. I planned to over Christmas, but between the food and the booze, well, I got a little distracted… I’ll try to remedy this soon.
    As an aside, when we were thinking of getting a pet, I was actually worried I wouldn’t bond with a cat. I was afraid I wouldn’t like him! Growing up, we’d always had dogs and I considered myself a steadfast dog person.  I did not “get” cats. However, we didn’t have the time to be fair to a dog so that wasn’t an option. And I really, really wanted a pet. M’s always had cats so he finally sold me on the idea and we went to the shelter to go look. Once I saw him (being tossed around by overzealous- though well-intended- little girls, actually! poor thing!) I was a goner. Now he pokes me in the eye with his paw at 3am and chews on my hair. ’tis true love.
    It’s a bit formualic but I found an old, old year-end poll in Livejournal dating back to 2004. I thought it would make a suitable in-depth year-end wrap-up.

    2336 minutes ’til the New Year

    2009 was an interesting year. I have to admit, I will be a little relieved to see it end. That’s not to say it was all bad – we got engaged, adopted our kitten and sold our house. However, there was a lot of stress and negativity as well. Lots of ups and downs.

    2010 will be great. Really, how can it not be? We will move into our new house and get married! Will also continue work on M’s company, getting ready for him to go out on his own. Granted, I still have to figure out what I am doing in terms of my own career path… but I’m working on that. Sort of.

    My biggest goal for the next year is to be happier & more positive. I’m a bit cynical by nature, not to mention neurotic. Combine those two and basically you’re left with someone who’s afraid to be happy because they are convinced they will swiftly be proven wrong. Objectively, I know this is no way to live– what a waste of time and energy to feel that way. Particularly with everything going on right now – I should be enjoying the wedding planning process, rather than stressing about work, money and other silly details.

    Speaking of the wedding: I am a huge wedding slacker. I really need to get on with booking a ceremony venue. Oops. Just one minor detail: we can’t find one! M had his heart set on an outdoor ceremony and it’s strangely difficult to find an outdoor venue that can accomodate 200-220 guests.

    Plan B is an indoor ceremony with candlelight, flower petals, etc. It would be at 4 or 5pm (photos beforehand) and we could play up the romantic, evening feel. I think it could be quite elegant. However, I am sad that M might not get the one thing he really cared about. Er, that sounds bad; of course he cares about the wedding… but other details like flowers aren’t exactly his cup of tea. Or his mug of beer, rather.

    I mentioned before that we’re working with a planner; from what I’ve gathered in my discussions with her, I suspect she’s used to the stereotypical Bridezilla. i.e.: very detail-oriented, knows exactly what she wants, pro-active planner… basically, the opposite of me. I don’t think she knows what to make of me. 

    It has occurred to me that I have become one of those girls that I used to hate. When M and I were still dating, I used to hear them complain about wedding planning. I used to think ‘Are you kidding me? You’re marrying the man you love. How bad can it be? Suck it up‘. And now, I have to say, I’m eating my words just a little bit

    Don’t get me wrong: I am excited to marry M (so much so that I wish the wedding were sooner than September!). I know the wedding will be wonderful. I just wish someone could crawl into my head, take all of the ideas out, and translate them into my wedding. Then I’ll show up at the designated date, time and location. Is that so much to ask?

    your blonde is showing

    Got home by a reasonable hour due to lack of traffic (thanks, vacationing commuters!). Struck by sudden headache, I went to feed mewling kitty and noticed that I was on his last can of food. Called M, who was going to pick some up earlier, and proceeded to leave voicemail as follows:

    “Hey, just wondering if you grabbed any kitten food or if you were going to do that on your way home, since we’re running — oh, I just saw the bag of kitten food that you bought. Um, right on the island in front of me… ”

    Ever looked at something and still managed to look right past it? Story of my life.