This is such an exciting post for me to write! I posted a little bit about this on Facebook, but haven’t felt up to blogging about it until today (you know…being huge pregnant and all, I’m kind of tired).
About a month ago, we had a blood allergy test done on Em. My last post about the Magical Cream actually left off with that…we were waiting to have the test done. That was a whole crazy experience that involved having to go twice because they couldn’t find a vein to stick the first time. We finally got answers though.
They tested her for all the top allergens, plus tomatoes because we suspected she had an allergy to those. Well. She reacted to everything. EVERYTHING. It’s kind of humorous because I’ve always joked that she’s allergic to everything. Little did I know, she actually was! Egg yolk, egg whites, wheat, corn, peanut, soy, and tomato…all positive. And this was in addition to the dairy, cinnamon, and cumin that we already knew about. Sheesh. She had “class I” reactions to everything except for soy, that was a “class II”.
I read so many mixed reviews on what to do with that information. From cut out everything to cut out nothing because it could just be a false positive. The middle ground advice was to just cut out soy since she reacted highest to that. With the way Em’s skin has been though (FOR TWO YEARS), I decided to take it to the extreme. I just kept thinking…she has been itching for her entire life…like seriously…she probably doesn’t even know what it feels like to just be normal. She was constantly ripping and tearing at her skin, and man…that broke my heart. So we decided to be extreme and remove all of that stuff from her diet.
Honestly, I was not thrilled about it and I was very skeptical that it would even work. I kept thinking that we were going to do this major dietary overhaul for her, and nothing would come of it (hi, I’m Negative Nancy). I even went into a mild state of depression over it because I felt so overwhelmed. I kept trucking along that first week though, and realized it wasn’t so hard after all. Soy, gluten, corn, and eggs are in just about everything, so we’ve mainly just stuck to fruits, veggies, and protein for her. That hasn’t been a huge deal because she’s always been into those things anyways. The biggest issue was finding snacky items she could munch on while at playdates and around others. Thank god there seem to be a lot of allergy-friendly food brands out there, so I was able to find a few things that she could have! I’ve also gotten my bake on a few times to make her some special little treats.
I’ve had a few people ask if our whole family has gone on this diet with her, and the answer is sometimes. We’re still doing breakfast and lunch the same way we’ve always done them – everyone has whatever they want. Generally, fruit and yogurt for breakfast for the kids. Lunch is usually protein, cheese, veggies, fruit. Em can have yogurt, sheep and goat cheese just fine, by the way. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that before. There are snacks throughout the day, of course. Em has hers and Harp has his. Sometimes he eats hers, but she can’t have his (for the most part). Dinner is sometimes a 100% allergen-free meal for all of us, and other times I’ll make something like spaghetti for the whole family, and just serve hers with gluten free pasta and no tomato sauce.
I’m doing it this way for two reasons: #1) The new Em diet is way is expensive. No…like really. I spent $100 on one week’s worth of food for JUST EM. Holy cow. And more importantly #2) I’m doing it this way because she will be in school next year, and if these allergies stick around, she needs to go ahead and settle into being around other people who can eat normally without whining about it or trying to steal their food. Does that make me mean? Maybe. But this may be her life for a while. We have no way of knowing if she’ll outgrow this or not, so I’d rather her be prepared for being different when around other people.
So far, she has adjusted amazingly well! The first week was the hardest. She cried at church when she couldn’t have animal crackers like all the other kids :( Since then, I’ve been better about planning ahead. If we go anywhere that will have food, I try to know in advance what that food will be and take her something similar that she can have. We’ve since successfully gone out to eat, gone on picnics, attended playdates, and we even attended a birthday party with YUMMY cake without her shedding a tear over not being able to have what the others were having. Even tonight, I offered to make mac & cheese for dinner and she told me “I don’t like that. I’m allergic.” I’m just super impressed by her. She is such a strong and resilient little jewel.
So now is the truly exciting part. We’re a month out from all the dietary changes and we’ve seen major improvement! Her skin looks almost completely normal. Hallelujah!
This is her skin at it’s worst. This is when we were just treating her occasionally with steroids. She had patches like this all over – behind both legs, in the folds of both arms, behind her ears, torso, etc. It was horrible. This is right before we started using the magical cream from my last post, which helped tremendously! We started applying that 2-3 times a day, and saw a huge difference in her skin. However, she was still having flare ups because the underlying issue hadn’t been resolved yet.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures of her skin when we started the dietary changes – I told you…I was overwhelmed. The first picture I took was on July 13th, and I took it because I was discouraged with her progress:
Duh. It’s still better than the first picture. And this was also without the help of cream or steroids (I decided to take her completely off of any outside help just to see if the diet was truly helping). However, I was discouraged because with all the extreme changes, I honestly expected all flare ups to stop immediately. That is NOT what happened though, and looking back it was kind of unrealistic for me to expect that. I think her body needed time to heal and get rid of all the stuff that she had been exposed to for months on end. It should also be noted that we discovered the she is also allergic to avocado on this week, so it could’ve been a flare up to that as well.
Here’s when I really started to get excited. July 26th:
Again, no medicine or cream. This is just her skin being her skin. And this is an absolute miracle because we’ve been fighting her rashes for TWO years. She’s never looked like this without the help of some type of medicine or cream. Unbelievable!
#BOOM. Can y’all believe this? Because I can’t. Again…this is no medicine or cream. This is just her skin healing naturally after having all of the allergens removed! I am amazed and over the moon excited! This is the first time in two years that we’ve had nearly clear skin without the help of anything! I suspect that maybe in another month or so her skin will be completely normal – here’s to hoping! <3
So that’s the update for now. I have similar pictures of her arms and upper torso as well. It’s all healing and looks amazing! Praise be to God!