Poor sweet M. She’s just been our unlucky little girl from the beginning, from the positive pregnancy test happening the day before my friend died, to being induced because my liver was trying to kill her, to the weeks of casting and years of bracing for clubbed feet. We thought we had finally caught a break when we were two months into solid food and there were no signs of allergies.
And then one rainy day, she threw up in the Safeway parking lot. And the floor of the car. And her car seat. And the kitchen floor. And her bedroom floor. Thirty minutes later — just as I had arranged for someone to look after C so I could take M to emerg, she stopped. And she smiled. And she babbled.
While I didn’t rush her to the hospital in the end, we did see her paediatrician as soon as possible, and she tentatively diagnosed M with FPIES – food protein induce enterocolitis syndrome — a rare form of allergy that occurs in the digestive system. It’s symptoms include projectile vomiting for 30+ minutes, approximately 2+ hours after eating, and can lead to dehydration and shock in as many as 1 of 5 kids with this type of allergy. Because of the delay and the fact there are no current tests to diagnose it, many kids are misdiagnosed or given improper treatments when they do go to the hospital.
While we’re no strangers to egg allergies, since C spent half a year unable to ingest them (though she had the typical IgE reactions), it’s different this time around. There is no EpiPen to pack into the diaper bag, because epinephrine can’t stop or slow the reaction. Once it starts, you have to ride it out, and treat the dehydration / shock is it appears.
It’s stressful. It’s stressful because she developed this allergy after having eggs many times before. It’s stressful because when she reacted again a few weeks later, we had to feed her each ingredient separately to see which made her sick (this time chicken). It’s stressful because I turn my back for a second, and she’s got something in her mouth and I never know what. I (figuratively) hold my breath for two hours after every meal, even if it’s something she’s eaten earlier in the day without issue.
But M, that sweet little girl? It doesn’t phase her. It doesn’t stop her. She smiles — albeit it weakly — through the whole thing. My little one might not have all the luck, but she is, if nothing else, resilient.