What’s that smell? Episode 1

What’s that smell? Episode 1

29th August 2018 2 By Allergendad

Allergies suck! They do. They’re a pain in the a**e for an adult even when you supposedly have all the cognitive function to be able to plan around them/communicate the reactions/read the allergen menus/take calculated risks etc… but for a 6 month old baby, and the parents that slowly realise they’re poisoning their bundle of vulnerability, they’re truly awful.

I wanted to share some of the process of finding out that Piglet has allergies. Share some of the surprises and quirks of what we found out in that first year (and beyond!). There’s quite a lot to it so I’ll break it out into sections. I’ll try not to be too graphic, but there are some unpleasant bits that need to be included. Also, I’m no medical expert. I’m not even particularly knowledgeable about the specific allergies that we’ve dealt with. I have no intention of stating official guidance or clarifying medical contradictions or anything else of the sort. I only intend to tell you about our experiences and what we’ve found out and done to make the situation work (as well as it can) for us.

The scientist in me struggles with some of what I’m about to tell you. The mathematician wants it to be more black and white. But it’s not. I still to this day struggle to put my finger on exactly what comes under the umbrella of ‘our allergies’ and what doesn’t. I don’t want to perpetuate any false wisdom about what is and isn’t related to our allergies. But I do want people to know that it’s been tough and often there has been little else to go on other than our gut feel (pun very much intended!!).

I believe I was allergic to cow’s milk as a child. I believe I am allergic to cow’s milk now. I also didn’t exclude cow’s milk from my diet for about 17 years in the middle of that. I believe Piglet is allergic to cow’s milk and soya and also, for reasons I cannot understand, certain other alternative milks (oat and coconut). The reactions are similar, but not identical, usually take many hours to take effect and can last for days and even weeks. Spotting that Piglet was having allergic reactions took much longer than I wish  and diagnosing what was causing it was difficult, frustrating and distressing.

And now for the science bit…

I believe that what both Piglet and I suffer from is called CMA (Cow’s Milk Allergy). I commonly get told that “oh, you have a lactose intolerance” when I explain that it causes digestive issues. But they are not the same. One is an inability to breakdown the sugar (lactose) in cow’s milk and the other is a histamine allergic reaction to the protein in cow’s milk.

And now for the properly sciency bit – I had to look this up…

I believe that what Piglet and I have is a non-IgE-mediated cow’s milk allergy. This is less severe than an IgE-mediated-allergy (which in extreme cases can cause anaphylaxis) and takes longer to show symptoms. This is often why people assume it’s an intolerance but it’s just a different type of allergy where the antibodies are not IgE ones. I know less about the details of the Soya (and other) allergies but it’s common for babies with one allergy to display reactions to other common allergens. We’ve been told Piglet may grow out of it by 5-years old. I, however, am 33.

Through the rest of the posts in this series I will, as lightheartedly as I can manage, take you through the challenges of realising that I and Piglet were having these reactions, explain how we identified the allergens and discuss what we are starting to do now to try and re-introduce some of these foods.

Brilliant! I made it all the way through the first post without using the word “poo”. Oh, shit! Oh…

episode 2 ->