When a rash isn’t just a rash

Call me naïve, but I don’t think there’s a parent in the world who wants less than the best for their children. No mother actively seeks out their child’s pain, heartache, or loss. It’s impossible.

Given that parental second-nature, you can imagine how difficult it’s been navigating through my sweet Russell’s health problems. The worst part is—we don’t know what the problems even are, so how can we possibly treat them?

For those who know us well, you already know he was a colicky nightmare baby who suffered from acid reflux that was only lessened by the religious administration of costly medicine. When he started gaining weight and acting (his goofy version of) normal, I thought we were out of the woods.

Then came the first of three scares in a two-week span of time. At the encouragement of his doctor, we gave him whole milk (despite a suspected milk allergy in his infancy) when he turned a year old. The kid ingested, at most, three drops of milk before gagging, falling backward, and coughing hysterically. His skin turned red with a rash immediately after the coughing stopped.

Two days later: scare number two, and the worst of them all. After he ate only a tablespoon of eggs, I noticed Russell’s face was starting to break out. Sure enough, the eggs had been made with milk, and my boy launched into an anaphylactic reaction. He was coughing, gagging, crying, wheezing, turning red. He vomited, his whole body turned the bright pink, his eyes swelled shut.

We were given an EpiPen and told to avoid dairy.

About two weeks later: I get a dreaded call from day care. “We think Russell is having an allergic reaction.” Quickly, I ask if they gave him dairy. I run through, as a pointless reminder, everything that has dairy: milk, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, ranch dressing, butter, ice cream…

“No,” they stop me. “Just a breakfast bar.”

They list the ingredients of the bar. No milk. Eggs, though. Yet, he’s had this bar before.

I figured it couldn’t be too bad if there was no dairy involved. I get there to find his face covered in hives.

Urgent care, steroid prescription, and a long nap later, Russell was fine.

The mystery continues as we wait to get him into the allergist. Unfortunately, they can’t get him in until October. I’m hoping by some stretch of the imagination an allergist will stumble upon this post (hey, social media has made stranger connections happen!) and get us in sooner. Or have some kind of miracle answer.

In the meantime, I carry epinephrine and nervousness with me everywhere we go. The joys of parenthood… 🙂

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