I thought it was almost over. I thought our days of mystery symptoms and elimination diets were a thing of the past. I thought in a few years we’d give our son some oats, he’d pass with flying colors, bada bing bada boom, happily ever after, blah blah blah. I even wrote a final Allergy Way post that basically said “we’re done with food allergies, it’s been real, see ya later alligator”.
We. Were. So. Close. Until this happened…
This rash on my 2-year-old son Winston’s face that appeared out of thin air.
It all started at the beginning of May, just about the time the snow melted here in Northern Michigan (yes, I meant May) and we needed to bust out the sunscreen. Certainly this red, flaky, super irritated rash on Winn’s adorable little cheeks was just from that. As I too have a sensitivity to sunscreen, I switched to the kind I have to use and hoped for the best.
Not only did the rash not get any better, it just flat out got worse. This was followed by a bout of diarrhea. When I say bout, I actually mean 7 weeks worth of diarrhea. A few times he even said “my belly hurts” aloud after eating. Our little guy is so tough, he will have blood gushing out of his foot, smile at you and say, “look, I got owie!” So if he says his belly hurts, you better believe it.
We initially tried to treat the rash with a steroid lotion. It would get slightly better, then come right back. I just knew in my heart that it was something he was eating. So here we were again, tracking daily foods in a little notebook, counting diarrhea episodes and looking for any consistences whatsoever. I found nothing. We even removed dairy for a week, just to see. Again, nothing.
If you recall from my previous posts, as an infant Winn tested positive for allergies to oats, bananas, soy and cocoa bean. He was then retested in August of 2019 for oats, bananas and soy at the University of Michigan Food Allergy Clinic and all were miraculously negative. As of May, we had not given him any oats (waiting until age 5), so I knew that wasn’t the culprit. Because of our other son Carter’s EoE allergy to soy, we are basically a soy-free home, so I knew that wasn’t the culprit. And Winn just really doesn’t eat bananas, so that couldn’t be it either. We did, however, start potty-training using ridiculous amounts of chocolate out of desperation. Perhaps he hadn’t outgrown this allergy yet after all.
Off to the allergist we go… again. This time in the middle of a pandemic though, so our experience was just a little different than normal. We masked up and packed a bag of clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and hands-free snacks like applesauce squeezes and suckers. Then I spent about an hour in a small room shouting “don’t touch that” and “let’s do your hands again” at my child over and over… I digress.
I walked through everything with our allergist; pretty straight-forward this time.
“Well he got this rash on his cheeks 7 weeks ago and has had diarrhea pretty much every day since. I’m assuming because of the rash that it’s allergy so I wanted to start with you. But celiac and lactose intolerance also run in my family, so those are my plan B.”
“Can you tell me what he typically eats every day?”
“Every morning he usually has either an Eggo waffle, toast or cereal with milk. Snacks are usually crackers or chips of some kind. He’s kind of obsessed with Eggo waffles so sometimes he’ll eat them frozen right out of the freezer in the middle of the day. I know, it’s weird. Then for lunch he has PBJ, chicken nuggets or pizza. Usually lots of fruit for lunch… apples, grapes, strawberries, pears. Then for dinner it’s more meats and vegetables, pastas and rice. Oh and lots of chocolate; we’ve been potty training with MMs and Hershey bars.”
“And when does he typically have the diarrhea?”
“Well come to think of it, he often has it after breakfast. Today he had a waffle and didn’t even finish it before he ran out of the room to go. Sometimes it’s later in the day though, when he hasn’t eaten anything immediately before. I haven’t been able to identify an exact food really, but my gut is telling me dairy or maybe wheat. That’s what he eats the most of.”
“Let’s definitely do a skin test for dairy, wheat and cocoa bean. I’m also suspicious of corn and eggs. Those would be in the waffles, cereal, even crackers and chicken nuggets. I don’t think anything else is necessary for now. If it’s all negative, then I’ll order up a celiac test. Sometimes people get a rash with celiac disease as well.”
Twenty minutes later and we had an answer.
That, my friends, is a positive reaction to eggs (#5).
What in the world??? Eggs???
Yep. Eggs. Quite possibly the only allergen this family has never had to eliminate before in the last 7 years. I guess we were due.
But why now?
Because of the 4 As… ANYONE can become ALLERGIC to ANYTHING at ANY TIME.
Of course, the first thing I did when we got home was raid the pantry to read 100 labels because I knew, of course, the first thing Winn would say when he walked in the door would be “can I have a snaaaack?” But to my surprise, most of the foods he eats regularly are naturally egg-free. We were in luck! Only a few baked goods, some canned soup, muffins, pancake mix and those dang Eggo waffles would need to be removed. Even his chicken nuggets were good to go.
So what am I doing right now while I write this? I’m drinking a glass of wine at 10:30 at night, making my son a batch of egg-free waffles in the barely functioning waffle iron we were gifted 10 years ago at our wedding. Why? Because I’m (still) an allergy mom and this is the allergy way we do things.
Stay tuned as we embrace this new egg-free adventure! Fingers crossed!
Click here to read more of Winston’s food allergy journey.