I have no images to accompany this post, but if you can picture cheese, then cheesy vomit, blue lips, hives, panic, an ambulance and a hospital cot, that pretty much sums up the scene.
Actually, that makes it sound worse than it was – we’re really lucky that Magoo (now 11 months) is completely fine…one shot of adrenaline later.
Our brush with anaphylaxis happened a couple of Sundays ago, and if every cloud has a silver lining, ours would be that we finally have an appointment at the Royal Children’s Hospital Anaphylaxis Clinic (in a fortnight’s time) so we can work out what the hell is going on. Also, I now have an EpiPen Jnr in my handbag at all times. [See Anna Phylaxis, you scary bitch (Part 2) for our diagnosis].
Up until this point, despite having consulted both my GP and a child health nurse about Magoo’s suspected dairy allergy, I was told that we couldn’t get any testing done until she is twelve months old. Apparently, testing young babies isn’t effective, and according to my health nurse, they can’t tell whether the reaction is caused by an allergy, or whether it’s the result of an immature digestive system.
So we were advised to keep giving Magoo small amounts of dairy.
Cow’s milk was a no-no. One teaspoon of that caused an almost instantaneous response, with hives and projectile vomiting.
Once was enough for that!
Formula caused the same response (Aptamil and Bellamy’s). I’m still breast-feeding.
We tried natural, Greek-style yoghurt (on my GP’s advice), which was fine for a few weeks, and then the same thing happened. Then goat’s milk yoghurt, which caused hives. Be gone yoghurt! (I later learned that allergens tend to build up in your system and may not cause a reaction until the food has been consumed several times).
Then we tried some cheddar cheese. Then a bit more cheddar cheese. At last, something she could eat and enjoy! Cheese sandwiches ahoy! I envisaged Magoo and I in a few years’ time, tucking into big platters of Brie and crackers. Bliss! We happily ate cheddar for about six weeks (mind you, most of it ended up being flung on the floor along with Magoo’s other food. See my post Keeping up with the Joneses for more on that).
And then, one day, the reaction. Only this time, it was worse.
We had the usual vomiting (all over Super Defacto), and then the hives, but this time Magoo went pale and floppy, her eyes started rolling back in her head a little and her lips turned a scary shade of blue-grey.
Luckily, the ambulance arrived in five minutes flat and the ambos and hospital staff were amazing.
We are now completely off dairy (and any other foods I’m afraid she might react to: egg, nuts, etc.) until we can get tested.
I’m pretty pissed off that it had to come to this before we could get anything done about it. Maybe I should have been more insistent with the doctor about getting tests. Maybe I should have just stayed away from dairy altogether, even though I was worried that Magoo would be missing out on an important food group.
I’m also surprised by the whole thing. I used to suspect that food allergies in children were just another bourgeois construction, on a par with wheat grass shots.
“Oh, Clarissa can only have soy fromage frais!”
I imagined that allergic children were sickly and pale all the time, like that boy in The Secret Garden who lives in the wheelchair.
Super Defacto and I can eat anything and I made sure I ate everything (all the safe stuff, anyway) during my pregnancy. And I doubt the Hygiene Hypothesis (which proposes that there are more cases of allergic children because the world is a cleaner place) applies to our house.
In the meantime, while we wait for our tests, I’ve watched this very useful video on allergic disease (thanks Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia).
And I’ve said to Anna and Phil Axis to pack their shitty, vomity bags and leave us the hell alone!