Search For a Cure: The Fall I Gave Up on Food Allergies

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This is the first post in a short series chronicling our search for treatment for food and environmental allergies and asthma.

The fall of 2013 was rough on us allergy-wise. Fall is my son’s peak season for environmental allergies and he was his regular sneezy, sniffly mess. We had started allergy shots for a long-term help in the area of his environmental allergies, but it was too soon to see a real benefit from the shots. He was on a wide variety of meds for both allergies and a daily controller for asthma.

Then in the span of about eight weeks – September through late November – he started reacting regularly and mysteriously to foods we had already deemed as “safe.” And as always, they seemed to happen at dinner, closest to bedtime so that keeping him awake to monitor him was the only real option.

These reactions happened before our protocol was updated to use the EpiPen® as first line of defense, so we freely administered Benadryl, naively thinking that perhaps this was all we needed to do to keep our son safe. As the reactions became more frequent (a couple of times a week) and sometimes seemingly stronger than previous reactions, I found myself at my wits’ end.

Because they often happened before bedtime and we administered Benadryl, Zachary would be ready for bed quickly. I would lay with him and pray my hardest for God to keep his angels near my boy, watching over him when I eventually would fall asleep and couldn’t keep my eyes glued to him.

Search For a Food Allergy Cure

During his last reaction in November 2013, I remember lying next to Zachary, rubbing his back, listening to him breathe with tears running down my face. I felt helpless and afraid. I prayed my normal prayer for protection, and then I felt a nudge to stop praying for protection and instead pray for healing.

At this point, healing or a cure for his food allergies wasn’t even an option. All skin and blood tests, along with previous reaction history made clear that these were not allergies he would outgrow. But in that moment, I also knew that living a life full of avoiding allergens that are clearly in foods along with those that are cleverly hidden was not a viable long-term option for us. Not for us. Not for our son. Not for the entire length of his life.

I set out to do as much research as I could. Surely there had to be some kind of options out there. As I dug through all of the information I was finding, I found a new level of education out there about the current labeling laws in the U.S. I also learned that there really are some promising options in trial and private practice around the nation.

Earlier that year, we had been this|close to joining the Viaskin® Peanut Patch trial at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. One week before our first appointment, where Zachary would have to undergo an oral food challenge to see exactly how much peanut he could tolerate, I received a call that the trial had filled for kids his age.

I was deflated about that loss, but after our experience with increased allergic activity in the fall, I became more determined to find a way for his quality of life to be increased.

Next up: Looking for Treatments


Tiffany Self

Tiffany Self is a wife, mom to "Z", and a lover of words. In an ironic twist, she is an English class dropout who now writes for a living. Tiffany is a freelancer in the Chicago suburbs by way of Seattle and Southern Oregon. She writes about her journey of parenting a child with multiple severe food allergies, asthma, and environmental allergies. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.

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