This egg allergy thing is egg-strordinarily confusing

Allergy. No allergy. Act like there’s an allergy. There IS an allergy.

As with all baby health issues, there are no clear answers with regards to Little Birdie’s (LB) egg allergy. We went to see the peadiatrician this week for LB’s (slightly late) six-month check up. He asked about any concerns and I mentioned LB’s allergic reaction to egg. He said she definitely would have an allergy and that all the time and effort having the patch testing done with the allergist was wasted, because patch tests don’t work on babies so young.

 Forgive me for being a little frustrated. It’s not easy to get a baby, especially one who struggles with sleeping, to a medical appointment. LB was an absolute gem on the day I took her to the allergist but it was still very stressful for both of us, as the visit pushed her well past her nap time; not to mention all the little pricks she had to have up her arm, nor the $350 dollar bill at the end. The whole time I was there, I felt like I wasn’t getting any answers and I was being fleeced. It turns out, my gut feeling was right.

I don’t blame my GP, who was trying to find out if we needed an Epi-pen by referring us to the allergist. However, I am a little frustrated with the allergist for accepting our appointment. Surely they would know that Evelyn was too young for the test to be valid. I’m sure though, that the fee we paid made it worth it.

Time and again, it becomes plain what a sitting duck you can be as a new parent. I don’t regret getting the allergy test done; it’s better to be safe than sorry. I possibly would feel worse if I hadn’t gone, because I would wonder if I had done enough to keep LB safe. However, people are aware of the extra lengths that you will go to for your child and the extra money that you will spend to do it. Some of them exploit that.

The pediatrician has advised us not to give LB egg until she is two years old and then to try it again cautiously. Luckily, most children grow out of an egg allergy. I hope LB is one of those kids. We also have to try her on the other allergens soon, to see how she reacts. I’ll be giving her some peanut butter and some white fish this week and I’m not looking forward to it. Luckily, we’ve already given her wheat, soy and dairy and she has been fine. I’ve also heard strawberries can be an issue, so I’ll try her on those soon too. It’s certainly a nerve-wracking business being a Mum! Let’s hope I don’t have to post about another ambulance visit in the coming week.

I will include a link to some information on egg allergy from the Sydney Children’s Hospital for anyone who is interested:

So what is it then?

It seems we have a mystery on our hands. Recently, we took Little Birdie (LB) on her first holiday to the beach. We were having a lovely time, but it was a little bit cold for the first couple of days, even though it is Spring here. So, we hadn’t had a chance to take LB for her first swim in the pool yet. On our second last day, however, an opportunity presented itself.

I was very excited. As always, I was conscious of preserving LB’s routine so that she could have her naps but the week had been going unexpectedly well in that respect. I made a plan to take her for a swim straight after breakfast, so that she wasn’t exposed to too much sun. I was also a little concerned about LB getting enough protein, so decided to give her some scrambled egg for breakfast. Her daddy made a lovely egg, while I put some sunscreen on LB. Her Daddy then fed LB the egg, but she wasn’t too impressed. She had eaten scrambled egg once before and had consumed most of it but this time she wasn’t having a bar of it. I made her a second breakfast of cereal, yoghurt and banana instead and she was much happier. I then put her on the play mat while I got dressed nearby.

It was then that things took a turn for the worst. I was distracted by my joy at having dropped a dress size, allowing me to don a swimsuit I hadn’t worn since my mid twenties. I pranced out to show my husband when I noticed LB was making a quiet little mewing noise on her play mat. I thought she must be over-tired and felt disappointed that our swim plans were about to go awry. However, it was worse than that. I picked her up to comfort her and noticed her face was swollen and blotchy. I carried her into the main bedroom, calling for my husband. I pulled off LB’s little suit to find she was bright red and covered in rash and hives from the shoulders up. By this time, the swelling on her face was getting worse. My husband came in, took one look at LB and told me to call the ambulance.

It took twenty minutes for the ambulance to arrive but luckily for us, LB kept breathing the whole time. By the time the ambulance arrived, LB’s reaction had started to calm, although she still looked dreadful. She was very good-natured about the whole thing, sitting up on my lap looking so tiny and vulnerable in just her nappy and singlet. We made a game of having her vital signs checked, and she seemed very amused by the whole thing. The ambulance officers suggested that we put a cool compress on her and the reaction begin to abate. We didn’t need to give her any medication in the end and we decided not to take her to hospital. Instead, I rang our local doctor back home after the ambulance left and they advised us to get some antihistamine.

My husband and I felt very fragile for the rest of the day. We didn’t want to let LB out of our sight! It was terrifying to put her down for a nap, because I couldn’t keep an eye on her while she was in her bed without waking her. I’ve since been told that we probably should have taken her to hospital for observation, but the medical staff we worked with at the time didn’t suggest that we do so. Apparently, there is a risk of a delayed reaction a few hours later. Luckily, it all work out for the best and we finished our holiday and headed home the next day.

It is now almost three weeks later and we have been to see an allergist. This is where the mystery kicks in. LB had a patch test for all the common allergens that affect babies her age and didn’t react to any of them! The allergist said we may have gotten a false negative or she may already have grown out of the allergy. It is also possible that she reacted to something else in the holiday unit. However, for now, we have been advised to live as though she has an egg allergy and we’ll try her on egg again when she’s older under more controlled conditions.

We’ve had so much grief lately, with the death of a dear friend’s husband and my uncle being diagnosed with terminal cancer, that this incident made us very aware of the fleeting nature of life and how vulnerable LB is. All parents have to deal with medical emergencies from time to time but that doesn’t make it any easier. The whole incident was a stark reminder that life is precious and we should treasure every day we have together as a family. It also goes to show how, in such a short time, you realize that you can’t imagine life with this little person who has become the centre of your world.

I will include a link to some information on egg allergy from the Sydney Children’s Hospital for anyone who is interested: