January 16, 2009

Food Allergies

My husband, Eric, has several severe food allergies. His mother, Valerie, also has several severe food allergies.
Eric is allergic to all dairy, peanuts, eggs, & wheat. The dairy & peanuts will cause him to go into anaphylactic shock, and need immediate medical attention.
The eggs will cause Eric to become very lethargic, his brain muddled, his reactions slow. He has said that after he has eaten eggs, he just wants to sleep for the next couple of days.
His wheat allergy presents itself mildly. It produces phlegm, and he coughs a couple of times after a meal. But the coughing spell is short-lived and then he's back to normal. He jokingly says that he refuses to acknowledge his wheat allergy because he already has so many.
Most of Eric's food allergies were discovered when he was very young, although the egg allergy wasn't diagnosed until his later childhood.
I keep meaning to purchase an epi-pen to keep in the car, just in case Eric eats something he's allergic to. I think, although he is always very careful, that an epi-pen would be a wise thing to have handy.
We have had a couple close calls, like when we were eating at Jimmy John's (a sub sandwich restaurant), and Eric asked for "no cheese", but they put cheese on it anyway. Eric didn't realize there was cheese until he started feeling some mild effects of anaphylactic shock.
We sat, holding hands, until it passed and he was well again. He got a new sandwich made and a refund on the old one, which was professional of Jimmy John's, but it still scared us to death! (Or should I say, I was scared to death!)
So, even though we're both very careful to know the exact ingredients in food (especially when we eat out), mistakes do sometimes happen.
Just a couple weeks ago, Eric ate some homemade gingersnap cookies that our good friends from church baked. They weren't sure if there was butter or milk in the cookies, so Eric ate a small bite and waited for a few minutes. He felt no reaction, so he ate half of a cookie, and still nothing. So he ate a whole cookie and still felt fine.
Well, he ended up eating about 10 cookies, and only as we were leaving did he feel slightly nauseous. The feeling passed within a few minutes, so he thought nothing of it.
Only later did the baker of the cookies call Eric & tell him that the cookies were loaded with butter! So apparently dairy, when baked into something, must not be as potent as normal dairy products. These are the hard lessons we've learned about Eric's food allergies.
Food allergies are becoming more & more prevalent in children, perhaps because technology enables premature babies to survive, when they may have died in earlier times.
I wanted to tell Eric's story and encourage anyone who thinks they may have food allergies to get tested.

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