Getting Ready for Spring: The Challenge of Environmental Allergies in Addition to CSID

After over a year of requesting a referral to an allergist to re-test Parker for both food and environmental allergies, he was finally seen by a new allergist at the beginning of February. I had really hoped the test would conclude that at least some of his allergies had subsided. After all, his eczema issues have been cleared up for nearly a year.

The poor guy was so brave as he lie on his belly squirming in response to the skin test. I felt awful for him, but grateful to have a clear picture of his current status, even in the absence of eczema. After the test, the doctor reviewed the results from Parker’s blood test back in June of 2013. I was shocked to learn that the environmental allergies included oak and other tree pollen in addition to learning that his shrimp allergy could be potentially severe.

After a silent prayer of thanks that he had not been exposed to shrimp in recent years, I asked for more details. Apparently the blood test had revealed a significant difference (x100) in antibodies for shrimp–so much that she did not feel comfortable re-testing on the skin along with the other allergens. The doctor then highly recommended Parker have an epi-pin until we could re-test the shrimp in isolation.

Thus the trial and journey of seeking insurance approval, filling out school forms, etc. began. I won’t go into the details here, but I will share that so far, Parker has not been “approved.”

As we prepare for spring and his unavoidable exposure to environmental allergens (dust mites, oak tree pollen, grass pollen), we are taking a pro-active approach. Daily showers after school, protective lotions, a regimen of daily antihistamine, and going back to 100% cotton clothing to allow his skin to breath.

Due to a significant loss in income prior to the holidays, we had to move into a smaller home that has carpet in the bedrooms. This is adding a new challenge of reducing dust-mite exposure as well.

I hope to report the results of our efforts soon. As much as I strive to report success, I have to face that this journey is more often a trial-and-error process. I look forward to your comments and learning how you handle multiple health issues in addition to dietary restrictions.

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What My Son’s Eczema Has Taught Me About Parenting a Child with Unique Needs

(NOTE: This is a duplicate blog post originally published on http://www.SacramentoParent.com in October 2013. I am sharing it here to reach a broader audience.)

My nine-year old has faced many health challenges in his life, including failure-to-thrive as an infant, seizures through age 4, and food intolerance. However, more recently he has acquired chronic and severe eczema. The last flare-up lasted over six-months due to unknown environmental and food allergies.

My husband and I often ask ourselves why Parker–with the heart and attitude of an angel–must suffer so much. He just wants to be a normal kid and do the things normal kids do.

When his rash began to spread up his neck and onto his face, he also had to endure stares from his classmates and constant comments from strangers such as “Ooo…bad sunburn!” or “What’d he get into?” I even caught a grocery bagger coming up behind us to “sanitize the aisle” after a shopping trip where he was particularly irritated and scratching non-stop as we stood in line.

Thankfully, I was able to pinpoint a few major triggers and after a lot of research, discovered the perfect and individualized combination of natural and prescription remedies to help him heal both inside and out.

After making the difficult and challenging choice to homeschool him for the remainder of the school year, we began finally seeing his condition improve. Today, I am happy to announce my 9-year-old looks great and is back to his old goofy self. He sings and dances in the bathroom as I apply all his creams and ointments post-shower. He can’t wait to be Hawkeye for Halloween and told me earlier this week, “Mom, I do NOT want to be that house that doesn’t give out candy just because I can’t have any!” As soon as he is up for a break from his schoolwork, he is running around the house practicing shooting his arrows.

So what I have learned from all of this?

1. Maybe it’s obvious, but children are resilient. No matter how awful he felt or looked, Parker would still tag along with me on errands, and even to work when needed. Sure, there was a point where he watched a lot of T.V. and didn’t do much. But as soon as his energy returned he was up and ready to face the world. A day doesn’t pass without several hugs and smiles. He knows intuitively I have done all I have in my power to help him get better.

2. People will stare but we don’t have to care. Parker seemed completely oblivious to the looks he got when we were out in public. He didn’t try to “hide” himself and on his good days, actually drew attention singing along to the radio, or making sure I understood exactly which sports car he liked in the parking lot.

3. There is only so much we can do as parents; the rest we have to let go. There is a part of me that wants Parker to get better for good. I am tired of micro-managing every piece of food that touches his mouth and being concerned about his exposure to dust or hair or chemicals in the air. But stressing about all of it just puts everyone in a bad mood. I have my arsenal of remedies at hand, and have resolved to take action as soon as I see a problem arise–instead of going crazy trying to prevent a flare-up in the first place.

4. Normal is a state of mind. What is “normal” anyway? Normal isn’t always a good thing, or even a great thing. As parents of children with unique needs, our normal may look different, but it is still normal to us. So what if we can’t participate in gorging all the Halloween candy next week. At this point, Parker is too excited about trading in his candy for tickets to see Thor to care!

Paleo, Eczema and CSID Update

This past month has been overwhelming to say the least. A move, an ill grandparent, continued management of Parker’s symptoms and still working 40 hours per week is not easy!

But I have a few minutes before I am off to my day job to update everyone.

Parker is doing really well at the moment. As you can see, he is ready to take on on new neighborhood tonight–and perfectly fine with our deal that he exchanges all candy for tickets to see the movie Thor in November.

After finally getting in to see an allergist, a serious group prayer intervention (for God is in all of this no matter how I look at it), and completing our move into a healthier home, Parker appears to be on the mend.

One thing I have learned in all this, is I absolutely do not have all the answers and hope that nothing I have posted to this blog indicates as such. I am and have always simply shared what I learn, what works (or doesn’t) work for us, and what I feel could help others in understanding CSID.

This journey with CSID and associated health issues is a CONSTANT LEARNING PROCESS!

Each of us must approach our needs or that of our child’s on an individual basis. New research pops up every day… and honestly I am not in the position to be keeping the world apprised of it at this moment. For example (and if I had time I would site sources)—more research is coming out to discourage the excessive use of fructose in any form aside from its natural form in fruit. But even large amounts of fruit or honey could potentially cause problems for sensitive individuals. I posted a link a while back regarding a finding that I believed at the time was more related to the consumption of highly processed foods.

So please, please take what works for you and do—DO—more research to find what is best for you situation.

Right now, I have my hands full in caring for my son and attempting to complete my many other responsibilities. There are many other blogs and books out there written by experts and professionals that focus on dietary and digestive health for a living. I am not one of those people! In the time since I started this blog, there is much more information available. In a sense, I no longer feel obligated to share everything since much of it is becoming common knowledge. Some of my assumptions and interpretations from a few years ago have come to pass as truth. Others, not so much. For example, I have learned that dairy is probably best to be avoided in all forms. Every member of my family has experienced feeling better by not having milk, cheese, etc. When I have allowed dairy back in the house after we all went without for a while–boy did we all notice a difference!

Again–this is our personal experience I only share to offer a possibility and to encourage whoever reads this to look into the issue for themselves.

Anyway my time is up. I will continue to be available my email to answer specific questions. Please allow a week or so for me to respond. In the meantime, take care and I hope to continue to offer hope if nothing else, to those that come across our public journey of learning how to manage CSID through various means.