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.

    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.

    Long time, no blog

    I hadn’t planned on going totally MIA over the holidays, but things were a bit chaotic and there wasn’t much time to get online!

    Brief re-cap…

    Wednesday: Left work early so I could hit the gym and go home to pack. Arrived at MIL’s (well, future MIL) house just after dinnertime. M and his brother had friends over, so socialized with them, played some drinking games (note: not advisable with red wine… just sayin’) and I had a fairly early night while M went out to the bar around midnight for a couple of hours.

    Thursday: Celebrated Christmas a day early with M’s family and then had turkey dinner. Completely overate, felt like a blob.  Furthered the blob cause by eating some kind of custard pie prepared by SIL that was tasty, but not at all necessary. If it’s not apparent by now, I fell- or maybe leapt- off of the healthy eating wagon over the holidays.

    Friday: Headed to my parents’ place which is about 3 hours away. We brought kitty with us in his softsided carrier and he was a trooper, save for the last 15 minutes or so when he started mewling. He’s an experienced roadtripper at only 6 months of age (actually, I think he turned 6 months on boxing day; the shelter said his birthday was June 26th!). Went for Chinese food with some extended family. The food was delicious but a bit greasy since we had ginger beef, chicken chow mein etc. Also had sizzling tomato beef over rice, baby broccoli, wonton soup, some kind of pea greens(?) and a great French white wine. [As you can tell, this re-cap involves a lot of wine].

    Saturday: Had a lazy day in at my parents’. I did squeeze in a weights workout which was a triumph. Watched Extract which was so-so, not as funny as I had hoped. For some reason, was exhausted and crashed around 3pm for a 2-hour nap. I never nap – so strange! My parents made paella with crab and clams which may have been the highlight of 2009. It was amazing. I really should have taken a picture since it’s astonishing that only 4 people polished off the quantity of food that we had. Then we broke into the bottle of Taylor Fladgate 10-year Port that my mom received from M’s family. Also delish. I love port. We then watched Beyond a Reasonable Doubt which was pretty cheesy; the plot itself wasn’t bad, but I can’t say the same for the acting (sorry, Amber Tamblyn!)

    Sunday: Another lazy day at my parents’. I love just being able to hang out and watch movies all day – it’s something we rarely have the opportunity to do. Watched State of Play which I really enjoyed. Oh and we met my best friend and her boyfriend  for a quick drink to exchange presents. This also involved a beerlini (raspberry ale + bellini slush + fresh raspberries) and some loaded nachos since at this point I figured, hell, it’s a lost cause. My mom made a big organic roast and roasted root vegetables for dinner. and we also had a delicious French red wine. Wish I had the names of all the different wines that we tried but they were all new to me since my parents received them as a gift (I suppose they still have the empty bottles for recycling). It was unusual that we had so much French wine; usually we stick to a few tried & true inexpensive (some might say cheap – tomato, tomahto) wines, primarily Australian and Canadian.

    Monday: Packed up kitty and all of our gifts, then headed back home. M unpacked all of our stuff while I went to the gym and the grocery store. Being in another city, I miss my parents a lot but it did feel good to be home! I am a major creature of habit and I get a bit discombobulated when I am away from home and out of my regular routine. The grocery store had fresh perch at a decent price, which piqued my interest. Fish/seafood that hasn’t been previously frozen is hard to come by here and is often very expensive. Turns out, the perch was delicious. I pan-fried it with some butter, dill, salt and pepper and had it with asparagus and brown rice. Even the non-fish-eating fiance said it smelled so good that he willingly tried it (if you knew him, you’d know how big of a deal that is) and even- gasp- liked it.

    Overall, a great Christmas! My parents swear that they will be in Hawaii or somewhere else warm next year for Christmas. I don’t know if we would join them since we might take our honeymoon in early December (finances and other factors depending).

    Oh and I did get totally spoiled, as did M. I’m an only child, he only has one brother and thus far, there are no children in either family (which is actually a shame, I think Christmas is more fun and magical with kids around!). This leaves only us for the parents to spoil – and they did. Mostly, I got tons of gift certificates which I know some might say defeats the purpose of giving but I don’t care! Money is a bit tight with trying to save for the wedding so the gift of shopping  is the perfect gift indeed.

    Now I am back at work for a three-day workweek which is a nice way to ease back in. Also trying to make preparations for our New Year’s Eve bash. Trying to figure out crowd-pleasing appetizers that are both man-friendly (mostly for M’s sake) while still impressive… These bacon cheddar stuffed mushrooms are a strong contender, but I am still going to peruse the web while at work (shh) for additional ideas.