Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back on 2010

The 31st of December, I can't believe it's here already. Or 2011 for that matter! I remember when I was a kid in the early 80's, watching those futuristic type tv shows about what the 2000's would be like. My thought was always, 2000 is SO far away, it'll never get here! And here we are, 11 years in. Crazy!

I try to be a more positive type of person, I really feel that your attitude has a lot to do with the outcome of things. But man, was 2010 pretty rough for us. No, we didn't face unemployment like a lot of people did - we had a steady home over our heads, food to eat, and for most of our family, good health. But I will still look at 2010 as being a very stressful year.

March: Luke's first anaphylactic reaction. I watched a video recently where parents talk about having kids with severe food allergies, and one mom mentioned that the sound of your child struggling to breathe when their airways close during an ana reaction continues to haunt you. Luke never really struggled to breathe, as far as I could tell - but the sight of him losing consciousness twice, his lips turning blue and his skin losing all color, him covered from his chin to his toes in angry red hives, and his head flopping around from being lethargic (among his other reactions) still continues to haunt me. I can still see him laying on the hospital bed in the ER, staring at me and crying, his eyes begging me to help him. I can still hear the nurses whispering to each other about how low his blood pressure and oxygen levels were. It's as if it just happened, and I imagine it will be something to haunt me for a very long time. A week later we learned that Luke had pneumonia (2nd time since November 2009), and we eventually learned it was probably related to him aspirating during his food reaction.

From that point on we began our journey as a food allergy family. The stress of testing for his allergies, trying to find the right doctor, worrying about what he was eating or what others were eating around him. Always being worried that I would forget the Epi-Pens, and that be the day that we needed them.

April Came home on Easter, after being gone all weekend, to find that the faucet in our downstairs bathroom had burst off, and our basement was completely flooded.

May: Trip to the beach! The only real worry I had was that we ate out pretty much every night (my Thermos Foogo Leak-Proof Stainless Steel Food Jar, Blue, 10-Ounce came in handy bringing Luke's food to the restaurant with us).

June: Second ana reaction, after eating a burger with mayo (he reacted to the egg in the mayo). We were driving out of town and didn't realize it was a reaction, and didn't give him an epi. I later learned we should have, and I deal with the guilt of failing him that night.

July: I had to edit to add this-I guess with so much going on, something was bound to be left out! In July Luke had an endoscopy to test for EE. It came back negative thankfully, but the scope itself wasn't much fun.

August Luke caught a cold, and it quickly turned to pneumonia. Luke also saw his orthopedist for a follow up, and we were sent home with corrective shoes for him. The positional clubfeet he was born with was being stubborn about going away completely, and he needed the shoes until November.

The last week of August Luke got sick again, and again it turned to pneumonia. This time it was bad though, really bad - his pediatrician had use go to another hospital north of us after seeing his xrays, because they are known for their children's ER. Thankfully my friend is an ER nurse there, and offered to come with me. We spent several hours there, going through blood work, an hour long nebulizer treatment, etc.

I left there with an appointment for Luke to see a pulmonologist. Probably the best thing that had happened to us medically. We saw the pulmo about a week later, and they diagnosed him with asthma, and put him on a twice a day inhaler. That pulmo appointment led us to switching to an allergist in the same office. Again, best decision.

September Trip to South Carolina, sans my husband, for my grandpa's 80th birthday. My only minor panic attack happened when a bowl of nuts was put on the buffet table at the party - thankfully I had food for Luke. We spent the rest of the week at the same beach as earlier in the summer, the boys had a blast.

Then Cody started school - and I cried =) Just for a few minutes, in the parking lot when we left him. I was so proud of him. He didn't get upset at all, he was so excited to be there. But it made me a little sad that my baby was so big already.

In late September Luke had pneumonia again. By his 3rd round of pneumonia I had gotten good at being able to look at him, and listen, and know. I know more about pneumonia and the symptoms of it than I would like to! His doctor sent us straight to the same ER. Oh, and of course this time my husband was out of town. I was not a happy camper. They treated him and released us. Pretty much a repeat of the last experience.

His allergist, who is also an immunologist, started testing him for immune deficiencies. The initial results came back very low - I was given information about lifelong deficiencies, treatments for it, etc. It was extremely overwhelming.

November Luke caught a cold (we all did), and had a fever, but no pneumonia! It was very exciting, as it meant his body was working at fighting it off. We also had a successful trip to the orthopedist, as we learned that his feet were perfect, and unless I noticed anything funny, we were done! We also met with our county's early intervention in November, about Luke's lack of speech, and she decided that he was definitely eligible for further evaluation.

December We have all been sick again, and once again, no pneumonia. We also got the results back from his latest immunology testing, and the numbers were right where they should be. Excellent news! His immunologist considers his immune case to be closed, whoohoo!

We also met with the early intervention evaluation team this month, and they determined him to be 25% delayed in expressive speech (he's at a 13-14 month range), and 25% delayed in fine motor skills (at 18 months). We should be starting therapy (speech 2x a month, and physical every other month) in January.

So here we are now, on the last day of the year. We have managed to finish with two areas of specialty - orthopedist and immunologist. Hopefully over the next couple of years I'll be able to say that we're also done with the allergist and pulmonologist.

I pray that 2011 will bring us a much healthier year. I pray that my little guy never has to experience pneumonia again. I pray that my bigger little guy will continue to flourish as well has he always has. And I pray that the Redskins will be less embarrassing in the 2011 season =)

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Tee for the Little Man

I've been more crafty over the last 2 days, than I have been the entire time between Halloween and now! But I've been really enjoying it, staying home with my boys and getting some fun craftiness done.

Today at Michael's I found a nifty little cookie cutter set - literally little, they're miniature Christmas themed cutters. It was a cube of about 6 cutters, for $.49, score! What caught my attention was the mitten cutter, it was just too cute.

When the boys went down for their naps, I looked over the cutters, and decided that the mitten one would make a cute tshirt for the little man. I found a plain navy blue long sleeve teeshirt, and some Christmas-y colored scraps.

I traced the mitten onto paper, then used that as a template for the fabric. Ironed the mitten fabric onto some Heat n Bond, and then ironed onto the shirt (which is when I realized they were both right hand mittens, oops!). It was cute, but the mittens kind of looked like Christmas-y goldfish with lumps on them. Some matching Merry Christmas ribbon (also found at Michael's, 60% off) did the trick =)

Little man is sleeping, so his bear was nice enough to model the shirt for me...

Linking up to....

Whatever Goes Wednesday

Monday, December 20, 2010

Silhouette Stocking Holders

A couple months ago I decided that I wanted to try and make a silhouette of my boys. Cody was easy, as he's old enough to follow directions. Luke, not so much. Thankfully my husband eventually got home and helped me out - but instead of going for the serious look, Luke thought standing at the wall staring at dad was hilarious, so his profile is one of him laughing =)

I turned the pictures into black and white on my computer, and then darkened them more to make the details easier to see. I printed the pictures, and placed them on black cardstock, then used an xacto knife to trace around the outline.

Once that was done, I spread Matte Mod Podge on a standard size white tile (can be purchased at Lowe's for anywhere for around $.20 per tile), and placed the silhouettes on top. Covered them with another thin layer of Mod Podge, and allowed it to dry, keeping an eye out for any bubbling in the paper.

From there I used my hot glue gun to glue the tiles to photo stocking holders that I found at Joann for $7 each (70% off sale, they were moving Christmas stuff for Valentines, a week before Christmas!).

Once they dried, I had this!

Luke's came out a little crooked, and him laughing makes it look like he's getting ready to eat someone, so I'll probably re-do his next year when he's old enough to understand the stand against the wall for a mug shot thing =)


Shrimp = Success! And Christmas Planning {possible previous reaction?}

We finally got around to having Luke try shrimp. I wanted the conditions to be right - my husband HAD to be home. There was no way I was going to give Luke the last of the top 8 most common food allergens without my husband being around. And I really wanted to do it when we were with other people, just in case a trip to the ER was necessary, so there would be someone to watch Cody. Kind of sad that you have to plan so much for a kid to try a new food, huh? So last night we had dinner at my parents' house, and my mom steamed a few shrimp. Luke has become really picky, mostly with baked goods and sweets though, and I was afraid he wouldn't eat it. So I chopped a shrimp up, and put it on the plate with the other food he was eating. He gobbled it up, with no issues whatsoever! This is a huge relief, especially since our family is around shellfish a lot.

Christmas Eve we will spend at my mom's sister's house, something we do every year. Last year we didn't know about Luke's allergies. He was almost 14 months old, and was a month past his first experience with pneumonia. That night, Luke vomited a lot towards the end of the evening. It was really hot in their house, from the wood stove burning, and we attributed the vomiting to that, thinking he was just overheated. Looking back now though, the vomiting is very similar to what we now know of as a sign of a food reaction. We weren't super careful about what he ate that night, so I honestly have no idea what all he did eat. There were various cookies and candies within his reach, and the food was catered. It's a beautiful chaos every year at Christmas Eve with the family, so anyone could have given him anything without me knowing. I do feel strongly that it was probably his first adverse food reaction.

This year, my aunt won't be putting any kind of nut products out. Not only for the risk of him eating one, but for the cross contamination risk. Someone eating nuts, then using their hand to touch food that would otherwise be safe for Luke is pretty scary. I've also asked her to keep any cookies or candies that don't contain nuts out of his reach - again, cross contamination risks, plus his egg allergy.

I'm a little nervous, mostly just because it's scary taking your food allergic kid to anyone else's house where food that you have very little control over is going to be served. But I know that my family will do what it takes to be careful, and I know that as long as I'm diligent, everything will be fine.