I think intuition is perhaps a mother’s greatest gift. It’s not something you can learn or something someone can teach you. It’s something within you. Something you are gifted.
As a first-time mother, when Buddy was born, I relied on books, both my mother and my mother-in-law’s advice, and information I found on-line to help me answer questions. But sometimes, there are questions and even symptoms that no one can answer.
When Buddy was just four months old, he developed a terrible case of diarrhea. He would go through a pack of diapers in a matter of two days. I remember sending 12 diapers with him to my in-law’s house one morning, and having to leave work and go buy some more because he had gone through all of them. Obviously worried, I took him to the doctor where they said nothing was wrong with him and that some kids do that, and to try some rice cereal. It eventually went away, but flared back up when he was about 6 months old. This cycle continued until he was started solids.
When he started solids, things got better for a little while. But when he started eating table foods, other, weird symptoms started.
Buddy always had dry skin. Always. From the day he was born, he had dry skin, which was unusual because he was a couple weeks early, versus late. But since I had eczema, I chalked it up to him inheriting some of my less than desirable traits. Eczema also explained the weird rashes he would get from time to time.
In addition to the dry skin, Buddy developed dry, red cheeks. Now when I say red, I mean RED. He often looked like he had Fifth’s Disease. In addition to the dry, red cheeks, he also started throwing up at random times and then would be perfectly fine afterward. It was the oddest thing. And frustrating. Daycare would call and tell me he had thrown up and I would get him home and he’d be fine. And because of the rules at daycare, he’d need to stay home one additional day.
While all this was going on, I continued to question his doctor because it just didn’t seem right. But the doctor continued to assure me that he was perfectly healthy and there was nothing to be concerned about. And I continued to ignore my intuition.
When Buddy was 2.5 years old, my husband gave him a tiny piece of a pistachio. Within a half an hour of eating that pistachio, Buddy was throwing up and making weird noises. The noises sounded like growling and it freaked me the hell out. After he threw up 6 times, I took him to the ER, where they did an x-ray to make sure part of the pistachio wasn’t stuck in the back of his throat. It wasn’t. The ER doc, even though I pointed out that he had developed white spots on his tongue, told me that it was likely just a coincidence and that he had picked up the flu.
I left the ER with more questions than answers, and my intuition was screaming at me that something was wrong.
Not long after that, I insisted that Buddy see an allergist and we made an appointment without a referral. They first did the skin prick test on him and immediately, tree nuts showed a positive reaction. Because of that one positive reaction, we were sent for a RAST (blood) test, and were also given an Epi-Pen and went through a crash course on how and when to use the Epi-Pen.
The results of the RAST test were mind blowing. In fact, our follow up with the allergist was scheduled for a month out, but within days of having the test done, the allergist called us and said we needed to come in right away.
According to the RAST test, Buddy tested positive for (* indicates which food items we currently avoid based on positive reactions we have observed):
Milk*, Milk Proteins, Wheat, Rye, Oat, Rice, Sesame Seed*, Pea*, Peanut*, Soybean, White bean, Tomato, Orange*, Potato, Tuna, Walnut*, Cashew*, Egg white*, Egg yolk*, Barley, Corn, Buckwheat, Hazelnut*, Brazil Nut*, Almond*, Coconut*, Garlic, Chicken meat, Avocado.
The day that we received the news of all of his allergies, I was devastated. Devastated not only for him and what he couldn’t have, but devastated that I had failed him. I was supposed to protect him and to be his advocate, and I had failed him. I ignored my intuition even though it was screaming loudly at me. I will never make that mistake again. Never.
In fact, in the past month, when Buster developed petechiae (red blood spots under the skin) and a doctor told me it was nothing to worry about and that it was probably dry skin, I chose not to listen. I brought it up again at an appointment this week with Buster’s neurologist and he thinks it’s worth getting him checked out. We’ll be requesting a blood test at Buster’s 3 year check up next month. Could we all be overreacting? Absolutely. But the risk of overreacting pales in comparison to the risk of doing nothing when you should have done something.