Towards the end of last year Caitlyn started complaining about her tummy hurting. At the time she was constantly saying something hurt (arm, leg, foot, head, tummy) so I didn’t pay much attention. In January it was becoming pretty consistant so I decided to take her in to the pediatrician to make sure there wasn’t something seriously wrong. She has dealt with reflux on and off since she was an infant so I was thinking maybe that was rearing its ugly head again. The pediatrician agreed that the symptoms (upset tummy, reflux, diarrhea and accidents because she couldn't get to the bathroom fast enough, and a rash on her bottom) seemed like they could be reflux again so she gave us 6 weeks of Prevacid samples and said we’d see if that helped. It seemed to help a little bit but didn’t totally cure what was happening.
At her Kindergarten physical she decided to do some blood testing to see if we could get to the bottom of the issue. She told me she was testing for gluten allergy (Grandma Barb and Aunt Shanna both have Celiac disease) and for a stomach virus that can pose these symptoms. We didn’t discuss dairy allergy at the time but she ran that one as well. A week later the nurse called to say that she had a dairy allergy and possibly a gluten allergy. They wanted us to eliminate dairy right away but wanted us to see a GI doctor at Children’s before doing anything about the gluten. Thankfully she does not have the gluten allergy to deal with.
Eliminating dairy from a diet is HARD! There is dairy in everything. And even when we are being super careful and reading labels we still miss it sometimes. Caitlyn has been such a trooper though and is very aware of her allergy and will constantly question if she can have what is being offered. She feels so much better and the times that we have missed something she has immediate symptoms that are no fun. We’ve gotten pretty good at finding alternatives to some of her favorite things. We substitute with soy milk after trying almond milk which I prefer. We haven’t found a yogurt or cheese substitute that she likes yet but she seems ok with that most of the time. We go out for frozen yogurt instead of ice cream and they usually have 2 options for her to choose from. She wasn’t a big chocolate fan and preferred gummy type candies so that wasn’t so hard on her. We have bread options that are dairy free but she actually prefers tortilla’s for sandwich’s instead of bread anyway.
The biggest challenge has been cake/frosting and desserts. Almost all have some sort of dairy and I can find substitutes but they aren’t as good as the original. This is a problem at friends birthday parties especially. I’ve had a few friends who have been awesome and ordered special pizza (usually thin crust) with no cheese so she could have what everyone else was having and dairy free cupcakes in addition to the regular birthday cake. I’m so thankful for friends and family who care enough about Caitlyn to make these changes and take on the extra work and expense. And when we’re at a friend’s party who I don’t know the parents we just bring a sandwich and special treat (usually a couple of oreo’s) for her to eat while everyone else has pizza and cake. And surprisingly she’s usually ok with this.
She truly is a blessing and I hate that she has to go through this. Our prayer is that she does outgrow the allergy. They say if they are going to outgrow a food allergy it usually happens by the age of 10, so we have a few more years for this to occur. We had a slip up Memorial Day Weekend and ever since then she’s been reverting back to old symptoms on and off. We have a follow up visit with a new GI Dr. in July (I wasn’t impressed with our appointment in April and decided to switch). Hoping that it’s not another allergy and just something that we’ve missed in excluding from her diet. More to come on this. I just want to document as much as possible as we go along this journey.
Adventureland post coming soon...we had a blast!!!