It all started one fateful night last June. We were having a Harry Potter party at a friend’s apartment. The older kids had all finished the first book and we were watching the movie together. We had snacks and popcorn. It was great. Then Declan, who was only 10 months old, reached for a cup of milk that Brady left on a table and spilled it all over himself. Within seconds hives appeared everywhere the milk had touched. Not just where his shirt was soaked, but each and every spot that a drip had splashed.
We stripped him down and wiped his skin with a wet cloth. After about 15 minutes most of the welts had disappeared, but he itched at his skin for a good half hour or more. The next day I called the pediatrician. Now, I love my ped, I really do, but I wasn’t thrilled with his response to this particular problem. I spoke to him on the phone and he seemed not to believe me.
“Was the milk hot?” he asked.
“No. It was a cold cup of milk.”
“Was there anything in it?”
“No. It was plain, organic, 2% milk.”
“And he didn’t drink it?”
“No, not a drop.”
“And there were hives?”
“Yes, everywhere it touched.”
So that was fun. He told me not to give him any dairy until he saw him for his one year checkup in 2 months. In those 2 months I found out that my neighbor’s son had had the same response to dairy and that he had outgrown the allergy and that made me feel better. At the one-year appointment the pediatrician referred us to an allergist and we saw her a few weeks later.
The allergist told us that this allergy is usually outgrown and usually in the first 2 years. That’s good. She told us it was most likely not dangerous, but she gave us a script and a how-to on the EpiPen and told us to carry one with us all the time. We were to give him baked goods with milk in them and then try cooked cheese and see how that went. She told us to come back in 6 months and hopefully he wouldn’t have a response anymore.
So we did the baked goods and it was good. We did the pizza and that was good. We eventually did grilled cheese and that was good. We did mac and cheese and that was not so good. He rubbed the cheese on his face and into his eye. He face was covered in hives and his eye swelled shut. Mac and cheese was off the table. He’s stolen sips of Brady’s milk (although we try to be vigilant about him leaving it out) he was ok with that too, as long as it didn’t get on his skin.
Today we went back to the allergist. We talked about what he’s been eating and did a skin test. Within minutes the tiny dot of milk that was scratched onto his skin became a big, red welt. When she looked at it, she said to stay where we are, keep with the pizza, keep with the grilled cheese, don’t let dairy get on his skin. We need add soy milk to his diet so he’s getting enough protein and calcium. With the controversy over soy lately this does not thrill me, but he needs something and having his face swell up on a daily basis is not an option. Ugh.
If he has to have an allergy, this one is not a bad one to have. He will most likely outgrow it. He will most likely NOT go into anaphylactic shock if he eats dairy. Hopefully, when he starts preschool in a year this will be a memory. But this is also a tough one. People tend not to believe me. When I say he has a dairy allergy the response I most often get is, “Oh you mean he’s lactose intolerant?” No, I do not mean that. I mean that if he touches your kid’s yogurt he’s going to be swollen and itchy. No one watches what dairy products are out and about the way they do nuts. Pirate’s Booty is all over the place and it gives him hives every time, even on his fingers. So I have to watch him like a hawk when there’s food. I have to wipe the frosting off of all of his cupcakes. At least he can eat Goldfish crackers, those are nearly impossible to avoid.
I’ve also learned to be way more tolerant of other kids’ allergies. It was hard to be nut free for preschool and camp, but it makes things easier for those kids who can’t be around it. It sucks to be the kid at the party who can’t have the cake because no one knows if it’s nut-free. At least there’s a good chance Declan won’t have this forever, other allergies are lifelong.
When they scratched his skin today I was hopeful for a moment that he would have no reaction and disappointed when I saw the welt forming. No parent wants their child to have anything wrong with them. Aside from keeping him away from dairy, I also worry about Declan getting enough calcium and protein and fat. Brady has never been a milk drinker, but he ate yogurt and cheese everyday so I didn’t worry. Declan is a small guy to begin with so I don’t like worrying about his nutrition.
Six more months of cooked cheese and back for more testing. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. At least D and I had a little adventure today. We took the crosstown bus and headed home through Central Park. We stopped on a rock to share some berries before the rain hit and had a pretty nice morning, itchy arm aside.