Jovie's UN-cured Anaphylactic Peanut Allergy

on december 5th, i gave jovie her 3rd dose of peanut butter at home, as was our new sunday schedule. i like doing it then because we're usually home all day and i can watch her carefully for any reactions. which, by now, i really wasn't worried about. until she came upstairs about 15 minutes after eating it with a bright red, clownish rash around her mouth again. it wasn't the rash that worried me, we'd been battling that same irritation around her mouth for a couple weeks now, it seemed to flare up when she used certain toothpastes and had happened to my other kids from new toothpastes when they were younger, too. it was the fact that she said her whole body was itchy.

sunday is housecleaning and animal washing day (we have one low-allergen great dane and 2 ferrets and all hardwood floors, so even my very dog-allergic multiple food allergy guy is hardly bothered by the animals) and she hadn't yet had her shower and was still in her long nightgown, so i wondered if it might be just from the cleaning going on, the dry forced heat or from not showering yet and feeing ashy.

i lifted her gown and checked, everything looked fine. i told her not to be silly and go play. she kept hovering, scratching and rubbing ceaselessly, all over her torso, neck, face, arms and legs. then she began saying her throat tickled and itched. now a red flag went up in my mind. i brought her into the room i was in and stopped what i was doing and looked at her carefully. she was beginning to get red bumps down her forehead and cheeks.

as i watched, they bloomed across her chest, shoulders, thighs, back...everywhere. i still wasn't panicked because they just looked like red flea bites or something... but i started dialing the after-hours allergy office number and grabbed my camera to document it for her allergy dr. i imagined trying to explain a fleeting, brief outbreak of little red bumps after the peanut butter sandwich and wanted to make sure i could show him exactly what was happening.

as i took pictures and put my number into the pager, the bumps swelled and merged and took on a yellowish, pressured looking outline and turned into hives. now i began to panic. i kept taking pictures, waiting for the dr. to call back. by the time he called just a few minutes later, the hives had elongated into welted lashes like she'd been whipped and i was wondering if i needed to run for the benadryl or the epi-pen first.

i kept asking her constantly, "how do you feel?" "how's your throat?" when i answered the phone and it was dr. b himself, i shocked myself by bursting into tears. i just had such a horrible, stifling guilt that i had done this to her. that i had fed her something i knew could kill her for the last 3 years just because she passed a couple of tests with the dr. my first instinct when he said she was over this allergy was to still keep it away from her, but i didn't listen to my instincts and fed it to her and now she might die.

i sobbed my fears into the phone and dr. b. snapped me into action by barking at me to get the benadryl and an epi-pen. i hadn't even showered yet, so i called don after dosing her, to come home and rush her to the ER while i showered and dressed and met them there. by the time they left, her stomach was cramping and she felt like vomiting. affecting more than one system is a sign of anaphylaxis. for her, the next step is the throat tickling gets a lot more intense and then the wheezing and blue lips come after vomiting. the benadryl wasn't touching the spreading welts and hives after 15 minutes, when don got home.

they gave her steroids and antihistamines in the hospital and she looked almost completely normal by the time i got there. she never made it to the vomiting point (the hospital is less than 10 minutes from our house). this is one of those times this natural-minded mama is absolutely in love with modern medical interventions!

dr. b. was just beside himself with concern and confusion on the phone. he kept saying, "it can't be the peanut butter, i'm thinking it must be something else, she was truly not allergic anymore!" and i said, "then i guess we made her allergic again, because it was all she'd eaten in the last couple of hours and the reaction started 5-15 minutes after." (her brothers were downstairs eating with her while i cleaned upstairs and said they noticed her mouth getting red immediately after finishing it).

he called again late that night to check on jovie and ask us to come in in the morning to see him. he told me again it couldn't be a reaction to peanuts as she'd had no reaction in his office. i thought about it and said, "but i thought the first time someone gets exposed to something they are going to be allergic to, they don't react? it's the sensitizing exposure and acts like a freebie, you don't know they're going to be allergic to it until the second time, isn't that right?" and he said, "yes, usually - but she didn't have a reaction until now, after 3 weeks of exposure, it doesn't make sense, i don't think it was the peanut butter. we'll talk about it more tomorrow and try to figure it out."

i thought about this conversation all the way in to his office the next morning on december 6, 2010. i had don print off the pictures of the reaction to take with me. as i was looking through them in the waiting room, it hit me. i was staring at the one of her face when the hives started around her forehead. at that mouth. that clownish rash all the way around her mouth.

i realized in a dismayed rush that the last two times she'd had it had not only been days that she might have used other toothpaste, *they'd been peanut butter days, too - sundays*. i hadn't put it together because the first time i was just so secure and safe because she'd just eaten some in her dr's office the tuesday before that sunday and had no reaction whatsoever and i'd given her the wrong toothpaste myself. and the second time, we were on vacation and i was frazzled and she probably used the wrong toothpaste again...and the tickly throat on the drive home, that was probably part of her reaction and not just the chlorine from the hotel pool, too.

it all clicked and i realized she really may have been over the allergy, but we resensitized her in his office and she had her first reaction the first time after that and i missed it. then she had another, with slight respiratory involvement, and i missed it again. and the third one was a big one.

when i told dr. b what i'd put together, i saw his face fall as he allowed, "then i think it does sound like she is allergic to peanuts again - i just don't know how this happened or why, i can't explain it, this is very rare, this never happens like this." he told us that now her peanut allergy could be much worse much more quickly and that she is almost certainly going to be dealing with it for the rest of her life, she won't get over it again.

i lamented to him that we never should have given her any peanuts, but he insisted firmly that it is absolutely the right thing to do, the recommended treatment to keep her from relapsing into life-threatening peanut allergy. i asked him, "then how come it didn't work? how come none of this stuff ever works like it should with my kids? why are they always the exception? what's wrong with my kids that the rules don't ever apply?" he had no answers.

i told him he should change his protocol for testing life-threatening allergic kids that appeared to have outgrown their allergies. he should do TWO food trials to be completely sure they don't react, if the first exposure is always the sensitizing one that doesn't cause reactions. seems like basic common sense to me.

we would have caught that first reaction to her second dose of peanut butter in his office. if the third dose and this reaction had proved fatal, it could have saved her life. i told him this fervently, like i thought a light would go on in his head and he'd say, "my god! you're right! we should always do two trials to be sure!" instead he said, "but this never happens. if a child goes through all those tests and isn't allergic, they don't become allergic again at the first exposure." so i guess changing a whole medical protocol for a practice for one quirky kid is silly. and i'm back at square one, trying to understand *why* my kid(s!) is/are so quirky and how to find my way in keeping them safe between the dr.s recommendations and my own instincts.

we retest her on january 18, 2011 to confirm the re-allergic status. we have to give her system a few weeks to calm down and reduce chances of a false positive. dr. b promised to handle any arrangements with the school if accommodations need to be made, he says he feels it's his responsibility. he's a great guy, i know this wasn't his fault and i almost feel badly for giving him two patients that confound all his learning and experience.

i asked him the question about not knowing which to trust when it comes to my kids anymore: my instincts or the dr.s. he gave me an interesting answer. he said, "you trust both."

Food Allergy Vacation Spot !

this thanksgiving, we decided we wanted to take an affordable staycation somewhere in michigan. it would be the first time we were looking to stay in actual hotel accommodations with our multiple severe food allergy guy, 'lou - who just turned 3 and is test-confirmed as well as food trial-confirmed allergic to: corn, dairy, egg, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, seafood, lentils, beans (white, kidney, navy, lima, pinto) and sesame. and that's with all the false positives from last june's huge reaction ruled out and tested back in !

however, the bright side was we were not going to have to worry about our almost 5 year old daughter as much now. she used to have anaphylactic-reactive allergy to peanuts but had just been pronounced "cured" by her allergist after a skin test, a blood test and a food trial in his office confirmed it.

we gave her her 1st dose of peanut butter at home, on sunday, november 21, 2010. we were planning to do it every sunday, so there'd be no confusion or over-dosing - we weren't taking any chances! i specifically remember her frist peanut butter at home, because i wanted to take a picture of her holding the jar of organic peanut butter to put on facebook with our happy update about her first eating of peanut butter in the house again, but i'd used a new toothpaste on her that day and she had a big red rash all around her mouth and looked like a clown, so i never took the picture.

we decided on great wolf lodge in traverse city, michigan for our weekend-after-thanksgiving trip with our close friends (and neighbors). i don't know if i was more excited or nervous. i had no idea how i was going to feed 'lou and myself away from home for a whole weekend. i decided to contact the chef there on the very small chance he could make some of our allergy food in his kitchen and enable us to eat in a restaurant like normal people for a change.

i was called back by executive chef greg nicolaou and couldn't believe my ears. he was willing to make 3 meals a day for the entire weekend for our needs and to our specifications. which included doing all the shopping for our very hard-to-find (corn-free especially!) items! i was sure the more i told him about our restrictions and the extent you have to go to to avoid corn, that he would back down from his offer. he never did, and in fact went out and bought items he'd found on his own that he thought we might enjoy!! in all my years as a food-allergy parent, i've never ever come across an establishment or person so accommodating and concerned about our needs.

as it worked out, we didn't end up needing (which is my genteel way of saying we couldn't actually afford) to eat every single meal for a family of 7 in the hotel's restaurant - we brough a lot of snack items and i made a big batch of stew to bring along for 'lou and i to eat in the room (with kitchenette), as well. but the meals they *did* prepare for us were phenomenal.

chef tom made our quesadillas and 'lou proclaimed them better than mine! chef greg made our pancakes and seated us in a private dining area and they were the best allergy-friendly pancakes i've ever had! we were charged prices comparable to similar items on the menu and i brought my own ingredients for much of it to save on paying more for those. my leftover ingredients were returned to me, professionally wrapped and carefully saved.

one night i even decided to let my hair down and see if they could make my margarita from scratch. food and beverage manager valerie micham was there every time we came to the restaurant and was completely accommodating and understanding. she made me 2 margaritas and i don't know if they tasted better because i was on vacation or because someone else made them for a change!

i can't recommend great wolf lodge in traverse city highly enough to any of my michigan allergy friends. of course, it's great for anybody, but food allergy families especially know how hard it is to go out to eat and how terrifiying it is to trust someone else to handle and feed your child something that could potentially make them very ill or even kill them.

after speaking with greg several times before we even arrived at great wolf lodge and then seeing how carefully he'd relayed all instructions and concerns to his very capable staff, i knoew i could let my worries go for the weekend and truly relax. this was the 1st and only time i've been able to do so since having this allergy baby and not staying with friends and/or family and it is one of my most cherished family vacation memories already!

the rest of the vacation went off without a hitch, with the exception of two things: on the way there, everyone voted to stop at a denny's to eat. of course i had brought along food for 'lou and i, but i had to call ahead to every place we considered and ask if they'd warm it up for us. some places will, some places won't. they say it's a health hazard to let anyone else bring in their own food. sometimes if you keep it in your own container, they can microwave it, but the food itself can't touch their griddles or pots and pans. denny's was okay with microwaving my glass dish of stew. (we call it sloppy 'lou stew, like sloppy joes).

as he sat at the table, waiting, he began itching and scratching, it got more and more frantic. soon he got red and splotchy and hives began to form down his forehead and cheeks. he was scratching ceaselessly and literally couldn't sit still. i realized it must be his egg allergy. the place was positively sticky w/ them, they were being served all around us.

i should have wiped down every surface near him, but we hadn't eaten out in so long, it just didn't occur to me. plus i hate looking neurotic and really hadn't known him to break out in hives just from touching them, it previously only happened when he ate them and he got exposed through my milk. (he tested allergic long before he ever got to eat them on his own - he's never had them.) we left as quickly as we could and he was completely cleared up in 20 minutes! you can imagine how concerned i was that we were about to be spending a whole weekend of this and how relieved and overjoyed i was to end up having a completely opposite experience.

the second thing was really minor. i was so proud of myself for remembering to bring jovie's peanut butter so she could have it on sunday before we drove home and i wouldn't disrupt her peanut schedule, but i forgot her toothpaste. after using the hotel's brand, she once again had that clownish red rash all around her mouth for the rest of the day.

our only other single complaint about the place would be the time of year we went. we were stuck inside the whole time and mainly let the kids play in the water park. the chlorine was so incredibly strong, it left you with a sore throat, sensitive skin and some of the kids with a dry cough. there were also a lot of sick kids there this time of year and the water area was shut down twice for barfing incidents. the only one of my kids to be bothered with the cough seemed to be jovie, who kept saying her throat tickled on the long drive home, but it cleared up by the time we got back to our own house.

all in all, a fabulous staycation and one we hope to turn into a tradition!

Jovie's "Cured" Anaphylactic Peanut Allergy

jovie had her 1st anaphylactic reaction after eating a peanut butter & jelly sandwich at 11 months old. when i looked back on it, this happened in november '06 and i had been eating reese's peanut butter cups from the halloween stockpile daily for a couple weeks. i had also noticed from halloween to her reaction in november, that she began to have episodes of vomiting in her sleep, after nursing to sleep. the scary part was she'd vomit everything in her stomach and not wake up - i'd find her sleeping in it still when i came in to check on her before i joined her in bed or at naptime once. i'd called the pediatrician about it and we were going to set up an appointment to discuss reflux. it didn't make a lot of sense to me, because she'd already completely grown out of that baby spit up stage and i wouldn't have said she could have reflux or GERD at this age.

then the fateful bite of a brother's sandwich (she'd had peanut butter several times already) and within 20 minutes her face was swelling, she was crying and coughing and wheezing and her lips were beginning to tinge blue at the corners. i'd also just given her a dose of antibiotics for strep and wasn't sure what was causing the reaction, but an urgent call to the ped and some benadryl while i kept an epi pen right in my hand all the way to the hospital took care of it.

testing confirmed severe anaphylactic peanut allergy and we went peanut free. (i laugh now at what a hardship i thought that was!) over the next 3 yrs, she had 2 accidental exposures. one in the grocery store when she rode in a shopping cart shaped like a truck and rubbed her face and eyes while in there. her eyes swelled 1st and we caught it quickly enough that benadryl stopped it before it got worse. the next one happened in a movie theatre, when they either used peanut oil on the popcorn (we asked, they said it was soy but i wondered if they were mistaken) or she touched peanut butter residue on a chair.

she started having the reaction while we drove home in the dark and she was sleeping in the car. it seemed to progress differently in her sleep, because it took longer to progress and our 1st sign was that she vomited up the entire contents of her stomach about an hr after leaving the movies. then she began to cough and wheeze in her sleep, her lips swelled, hives appeared up her neck and face, her lips started to tinge blue and we had to use the epi-pen. that was about 2 yrs ago.

which brings us to current times, last october, 2010. she turns 5 at christmas and my mind has been worrying about when she starts school. our school is pretty allergy aware, but only the classrooms are nut free. nuts are permitted in the lunchroom. if someone has a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and touches something like the faucets in the bathroom or the door handle after lunch... and then jovie comes along and touches them and then rubs her face and it gets into a mucous membrane, that's it, she can have an anaphylactic reaction. her allergist felt we should wait until before she starts school to retest her peanut allergy levels as even the pinprick skin test is exposing her to peanut enough to potentially sensitize her further and make it worse.

so i called and made an appointment to have her retested for school, so i'd know exactly what accommodations i might need to make - or ask the school to make - for her. honestly, i'd read that extended nursing can help with severe food allergies like this and had heard specific anecdotal stories from other parts of the world about children her age overcoming allergies like hers completely (ie, pecan allergy in africa) when the mother cut it out of her own diet completely as well and continued nursing long-term. since there are no studies available on women who nurse this long in the U.S., my daughter's allergist couldn't offer me hope that it would help, but he also said, it certainly couldn't hurt. so i was definitely harboring a secret irrational hope that i had helped "cure" her by nursing this long. he told me something like 95% of all children this allergic remain so for life, but you know what they say about hope. it springs eternal.

so, on november 2, 2010, we took her to our local hospital for a RAST (blood) test. this way it wouldn't expose her directly to peanut protein. it came back completely negative for peanut allergy. i was ecstatic. her dr. cautioned us that it could be wrong, could have been mishandled somehow...he said he was shocked to see that result and wanted to follow it up with a skin scratch test, which he feels is more accurate. i agreed and made cupcakes to celebrate what i just knew was going to be confirmation that breastmilk's magical, living properties had rewired and healed her immune system to respond normally again. the skin test on november 9, 2010 was also negative and the dr. was speechless. she did come up moderately allergic to cashews on this test, but i hardly cared, i was so excited about the negative peanut results. i passed out homemade organic corn, egg, dairy, soy, gluten, peanut, tree nut, bean free cupcakes to all the staff in celebration. jovie declared, "this is the luckiest day of my life."

while we sat in the office, awaiting dr. b's final instructions, don asked me what this meant as far as how we proceeded with peanuts for jovie now. i didn't know, but i said i guessed we'd still not feed them to her directly (why tempt fate, right? and if she was that allergic once, it seemed to make common sense that she'd be at more risk to become so again... (and hadn't i read somewhere like FAAN once that some deaths happened because people thought they were cured of a serious allergen like nuts of seafood/shellfish and were eating that item regularly with no epi-pen on hand and suffered life-threatening reactions? still not sure if i actually read this or just imagined i did...) at any rate, i said, "i bet he comes in and tells us we just don't have to worry that she will die at school from accidental exposure, we don't have to make the school go peanut free in the lunchroom now, she doesn't have to carry an epi-pen anymore and we don't have to live in terror that she can be killed by a random smear of food! but i bet it's not like she can eat it again or anything and i don't know if he'll say we should bring it back into the house for the other kids, we'll have to ask him."

dr. b. still just couldn't believe the results. when we asked him about jovie and peanuts now, he held up his hands and said he didn't want to assume she was truly over her allergy until she did a food trial with peanut butter in his office. he said this was extremely unusual and almost unheard of, for a child her age, at her severity, to overcome it so quickly. we agreed to the food challenge and set the appointment for november 16, 2010. she stayed there for over 2 hours and had no reaction whatsoever to first the smear of peanut butter on her lips and then from a spoon.

we were ecstatic, dr. b. shook his head in disbelief even as he gave us the final verdict, grinning all the time. imagine our surprise when he told us what we had to do now was give her peanut butter every week, to keep her body used to it, recognizing it and staying 'immune" to it! i asked if he was sure this was what we needed to do and expressed how scary it felt to give it to her like that, but he assured me this is the protocol for anyone who's overcome a serious peanut allergy. so, away we went to embark on our life with a "cured" life-threatening peanut allergy child!

Hexane Free Guide for Vegetarians by Cornucopia

View online guide – Does your brand contain Hexane? →

Cornacopia's Egg Scorecard... Rates Organic Eggs

Organic Egg Report and Scorecard

September 22nd, 2010

The Cornucopia Institute’s report, Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture, will empower consumers and wholesale buyers who want to invest their food dollars to protect hard-working family farmers that are in danger of being forced off the land by a landslide of eggs from factory farms.

The accompanying organic egg scorecard rates companies that market name-brand and private-label organic “shell” eggs based on 22 criteria that are important to organic consumers. The scorecard showcases ethical family farms, and their brands, and exposes factory farm producers and brands in grocery store coolers that threaten to take over organic livestock agriculture.

Some of the factory farm operators literally raise millions of birds (both conventional and organic) with as many as 85,000 “organic” hens in single buildings.

With this Web-based rating tool, you can see which brands of eggs found in your region are produced using the best organic farming practices and ethics. Based on more than a year’s research into the organic egg business, the scorecard rates almost 70 different name-brand eggs and additional private-label products.

Both the report and scorecard highlight the good news in the organic egg industry by showcasing the true heroes, including national and local producers that are supplying ethically-produced organic eggs and are worthy of consumer support.

Organic Egg Brand Scorecard
Full report
Executive Summary
Photo Gallery: Industrial-Scale Egg Production—Masquerading As Organic?
Photo Gallery: Small and Medium Scale Egg Production with Permanent Housing
Photo Gallery: The True Heroes in Organic Egg Production
Proxy Letter: Please Make Your Voice Heard!

TED Next Generation : Tricia B's 11 yr. old son Birke B. on GMOs and our food system

There is not such thing as cheap food.....

by Mark Hyman, MD

I was in a grocery store yesterday. While I was squeezing avocados to pick just the right ones for my family's dinner salad, I overheard a conversation from a couple that had also picked up and avocado.

"Oh, these avocados look good, let's get some."

Then looking up at the price, they said, "Two for five dollars!" Dejected, they put the live avocado back and walked away from the vegetable aisle toward the aisles full of dead, boxed, canned, packaged goods where they can buy thousands of calories of poor-quality, nutrient-poor, factory-made, processed foods filled with sugar, fat, and salt for the same five dollars. This is the scenario millions of Americans struggling to feed their families face every day.

The odd paradox is that food insecurity--not knowing where the next meal is coming from or not having enough money to adequately feed your family--leads to obesity, diabetes and chronic disease. Examining this paradox may help us advocate for policies that make producing fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole other foods cheaper, while rethinking the almost $300 billion in government subsides that support the production of cheap, processed food derived from corn and soy.

At the same time, a Food Revolution, along the lines of that advocated by Jamie Oliver, a radical chef, can help Americans take back their table and their health from a food industry that has driven us to eat more than 50 percent of our meals out of the home compared to less than 2 percent 100 years ago. And most of those meals eaten at home are produced in plants, not grown on plants, are from a food chemist's lab, not a farmer's field. Cooking and eating whole fresh foods at home, can be cheaper, more fun, and simpler than most people think.

So I would ask you to consider: Have you ever made poor food choices because of cost? What is the REAL cost of this cheap food--the cost in dollars, on our health, on our environment, and even on the fraying fabric of our social and family systems?

This is what you need to remember:

1. The true cost of unhealthy food isn't just the price tag--in fact, the real costs are hidden.
2. Eating healthy doesn't have to cost more.

Sure, it seems cheaper to eat a burger, fries, and a soda from McDonald's than to eat a meal of whole foods, but there are healthier options. Let me review why the true costs of eating unhealthy food are hidden, and give you some suggestions that will help you save money and suffering by eating well for less. Poverty or financial limitations do not preclude eating well, creating health and avoiding disease.

Let's start by looking at how our economy and public policy are geared toward the production of cheap, unhealthy food.

Government Policy Supports the Production of Unhealthy Food

Unhealthy food is cheaper because our government's policies support its production. We're spending nearly $30 billion a year to subsidize corn and soy production. Where do those foods go? Into our food supply as high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated soybean oil (trans fats), that are the foundation of almost all fast food and processed foods that are "manufactured" by the food industry.

Since the 1970s--when our agricultural policies where changed to support corn and soy farmers--we're consuming, on average, an extra 500 calories (mostly in the form of cheap, artificial high-fructose corn syrup) per person.

Corn and soy are also used to feed cattle for the production of meat and dairy. In fact, 70 percent of the wheat, corn and soy farmed in this country is used to feed animals used for our food. The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people--more than the entire human population on Earth!

So, when our government helps pay for these foods--well, of course they're cheaper! That explains the low price tag. But what about the OTHER costs to you?

The Hidden Costs of Eating Poorly

We all know that bad foods are bad for your health. It turns out they are also bad for the national pocketbook. For example, one expert has estimated that healthcare costs related to obesity are $118 billion per year. That's nearly 12 percent of total healthcare expenditures--and more than twice that caused by smoking! Seventy-two percent of Americans are overweight and over one third are medically obese. One in three children born today will be diabetic in their lifetime and the life expectancy of our population is declining for the first time in human history.

A report from the Worldwatch Institute called Overfed and Underfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition documented the real costs of obesity related to poor diet--and this does NOT include the other effects of poor diet such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, autoimmune diseases, and osteoporosis. Here were some of the conclusions of that report:

• Obese people account for a disproportionate share of health-related absences from work.
• Obesity accounts for 7 percent of lost productivity due to sick leave and disability.
• 7 percent of all of North Carolina's healthcare expenditures are related to obesity.
• Obese people visit their physicians 40 percent more than normal weight people.
• Obese people are 2.5 times more likely to require drugs prescribed for cardiovascular and circulation disorders.
• Liposuction is the number-one form of cosmetic surgery in the US, with 400,000 operations a year.
• Over 100,000 people a year have gastric bypass surgery.

According to a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine (i), we're spending about $20,000 per person for each extra year of life gained from medical interventions like drugs and surgery ... as if that's something to be proud of!

That doesn't even take into account the $282 billion in costs resulting from medical interventions that go wrong--hospital infections, medical errors, deaths from drug reactions, bedsores, or unnecessary surgeries.

And what if that $20,000 per year was given to each person during his or her lifetime to support better nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management? My guess is that we would save trillions of dollars in health care expenditures on chronic disease!

As these numbers prove, the costs of eating fast, junk, and processed foods are often deferred until later. And that's the key point: When you go to McDonald's for a cheap burger and fries, you might immediately compare that lower price to whole organic foods which are more expensive in the short term. But the total cost isn't reflected in how much you pay for your meal in the immediate moment, it's the cumulative cost of what those decisions cost you over a lifetime.

For example, when you eat unhealthy foods like these, the costs of medical visits, co-pays, prescription medications, and other health services skyrocket. There are other non-economic costs of eating poorly as well. You reduce your ability to enjoy life in the moment due to increased fatigue, low-grade health complaints, obesity, depression, and more.

The biggest advantage of eating well now is not just preventing disease and costs later, but simply enjoying each day to its fullest. You can make that happen. Eating well doesn't have to cost more.

It's true that there are very few, if any, subsidies for the production of produce or healthier alternative foods. And the same government agency that supports the production of the ingredients for junk food provides less than $300 million for education on healthy nutrition.

But change is in the air. Dean Ornish, MD, has shown that a program to teach people to eat better, exercise, and learn stress reduction can prevent heart disease and reduce the need for heart bypass or other treatments. Insurance companies are starting to take notice as some cover the costs for that program. Paying $5,000 for such a program now, Medicare has finally recognized, is better than paying $50,000 later for a cardiac bypass operation.

A number of us advocated last year that a "health council" be established to coordinate and develop national polices that create and support health for Americans. This was part of the health reform bill and the National Council on Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health was created by executive order of the President in June. Drs. Dean Ornish, Memhet Oz, Michael Roizen and I, among others, have been nominated to be on a twenty-five member advisory council that helps guide the council. The council is made up of all the cabinet secretaries in charge of departments that in some way affect our health--agriculture, health, transportation, environment, trade, labor, and more--and will be chaired by the Surgeon General. This provides a way to influence national policies to support and create health--including our food and agriculture polices--for the first time.

The idea that you can save money by eating well is further supported by studies like the one published by the American Dietetic Association (ii) that shows eating well to lose weight is actually cheaper--or at the worst, no more expensive--than eating poorly! The authors of the study concluded that "adopting a lower-energy, nutrient-dense diet did not increase dietary costs over time. Consequently, cost should not be a barrier in the adoption of a healthful diet."

That's powerful evidence that eating well is not just good for your body, it's good for your wallet, too! Here are some ideas to get you started.

Four Tips to Start Eating Healthy for Less Today

1. Listen to Gandhi. Yes, Gandhi! He said that we should never mistake what is habitual for what is natural. Case in point: Some Chinese are very poor and yet they eat extremely well--small amounts of animal protein, with an abundance of vegetables.

2. Be willing to learn. We have to learn new ways of shopping and eating, new ways of ordering our priorities around our health and nutrition that supports our well-being, even if it is hard at the beginning.

3. Do your research. There are ways to find cheaper sources of produce, whole grains, beans, nuts, and lean animal protein. You just need to seek them out. It doesn't all have to be organic. Simply switching from processed foods to whole foods is a HUGE step in the right direction.

4. Make an effort. Eating healthy does take more planning. It may require you to find new places to hunt and gather for your family. You might have to reorder your priorities regarding where you spend your money and your time so that you can make healthier eating choices.

Remember, eating healthy foods without spending a lot is possible--and you can do it.

Now I'd like to hear from you...

What do you think about the long-term costs of eating poorly?

Do you agree or disagree that eating poorly in the short-term has dramatic long-term consequences on your health care costs?

What other costs of eating poorly have you seen or experienced?

Are you also worried about the exploding costs of health care, whether insurance, medical, Medicare or other costs?

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD


(i) Cutler D.M., Rosen A.B., and S. Vijan. 2006. The value of medical spending in the United States, 1960-2000. N Engl J Med. 355(9): 920-7.

(ii)Raynor, H.A., Kilanowski, C.K., Esterli, I., et al. 2002. A cost-analysis of adopting a healthful diet in a family-based treatment program. J Am Diet Assoc.102(5): 645-650, 655-656.

Mark Hyman, M.D. is a practicing physician, founder of The UltraWellness Center, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in the field of Functional Medicine. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to his newsletter.

From the Huffinton Post article

Still eating canned foods????

Which Canned Goods Contain the Most BPA?

The surprising list.

Read also: Plastic liners leach BPA into our food. So why have manufacturers and regulators failed to act?

CONSUMERS UNION recommends ingesting no more than .0011 micrograms of BPA daily per pound of body weight. But it found at least 20 times the limit for a typical adult in a single serving of several canned foods it tested.

Progresso Vegetable Soup 22.0 115
Del Monte Blue Lake Fresh Cut Green Beans 14.9 77
Campbell's Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup 10.2 53
Annie's Home Grown Organic Cheesy Ravioli 7.70 39
Hormel Chili with Beans 6.10 31
Green Giant Whole Kernel Sweet Corn 3.80 19
Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli in Tomato Meat Sauce 2.50 12
Nestle Juicy Juice All Natural 100% Juice Apple 2.3 11
Libby's Corned Beef 1.8 8
Vital Choice Tuna 1.15 5
Similac Advance Infant Formula (concentrated, liquid) 0.85 3
Slim Fast High Protein (extra creamy chocolate, liquid) 0.78 3
Bush's Best Original Baked Beans 0.6 2
Swanson White Premium Chunk Chicken Breast 0.47 1
Starkist Chunk Light Tuna in Water 0.2 Less than Limit
Valley Fresh White Chicken in Water Organic 0.19 Less than Limit
Eden Baked Beans with Sorghum & Mustard Organic 0.15 Less than Limit
Hunt's Tomato Sauce 0.04 Less than Limit

If you haven't gotten rid of all your teflon pans....

Study links cholesterol and nonstick coating chemical

Advertisement | ad info
By Julie Steenhuysen
updated 9/6/2010 4:10:12 PM ET

CHICAGO — Chemicals used to make non-stick coatings on cookware and to waterproof fabrics may raise levels of cholesterol in children, U.S. researchers said on Monday.

Children in a study with the highest levels of these compounds in their blood had measurably higher levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL -- the so-called "bad" cholesterol -- compared with children with lower readings.

The findings do not prove exposure to these chemicals, called perfluoroalkyl acids, caused the higher readings, but they show a link and suggest the need for more study, Stephanie Frisbee of West Virginia University and colleagues wrote in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The researchers studied perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA and perfluorooctanesulfonate or PFOS. They make their way into people through drinking water, dust, food packaging, breast milk, cord blood, microwave popcorn, air and occupational exposure, according to the researchers.

Studies in animals suggest perfluoroalkyl acid can affect the liver, which could result in changes in cholesterol levels.

Frisbee and colleagues examined cholesterol levels in blood samples taken from more than 12,000 children in the mid-Ohio River Valley who had PFOA in their drinking water.

Children and teens in the study had more PFOA in their bodies than the national average, and a PFOS concentration about the same as the national average.

Children and teens with the highest PFOA concentration had total cholesterol levels that were 4.6 points higher and LDL levels that were 3.8 points higher than those with the lowest PFOA levels.

The team said the findings suggest an association between the compounds and higher cholesterol, but it would take more studies to prove chemical exposure was the cause.

Bernard Weiss of the University of Rochester in New York, an expert on toxins who was not involved in the research, said perfluoroalkyl acids are a known neurotoxin.

"They interfere with brain development, which leaves its mark on later behavioral functions such as cognitive performance," he said in a statement.

The potential health effects of chemicals, such as the plastics chemical bisphenol A used in baby bottles and other products, is becoming a growing concern among U.S., Canadian and European health officials.

Recent studies have shown subtle effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals and U.S. health officials in January launched a broader investigation of environmental health risks to children.

post steroid & dietician update

it has been nearly a month since 'lou finished the 7 day course of corn-free steroids (prednisolone) and antihistamine (cyproheptadine) on july 29, 2010. i am amazed and extremely gratified to update that this entire 3 weeks, he's been off both medications and remained almost totally clear and baseline-ish!

i am left assuming that either:
a. the steroids and antihistamine did their magic and reset his immune system, which was just in over-reaction mode from fighting off all the viruses we'd had in the house when this all started
b. he truly had become allergic to the beans and lentils that were such a staple in our diet and eliminating them as i've done has cleared up the reactions.

if it's a., maybe most (or all?) of those new positives on the RAST test are false...
if it's b., maybe all but the beans and lentils are false...

either way, we still aren't having any luck getting in to the specialist at u of m any earlier than late september, so i am wondering if i should call our local allergist back and see if he thinks we should do the more accurate skin test and recheck those new allergies. wouldn't it be wonderful if they truly weren't a problem? especially if we could have lentils back, which i'm not going to try feeding him until we retest, as they scored pretty high as an allergen for him.

any way it turns out, we are overjoyed to have our happy, healthy little hobgoblin back. he laughs and plays all day again, he rides his big brothers' impossibly oversized scooters around the neighborhood like an imp of satan himself - causing concerned and amazed neighbors to gawk and gasp.

as for the dietician appointment i was so hopeful and excited about, it ended up being somewhat of a draw.

she was a very warm, concerned and professional woman who took an amazing amount of time with us, but it became obvious right away that she hadn't dealt with anyone with corn allergy as severe as 'lou's. many of her initial suggestions (back to neocate) were simply not possible or have already been tried (or both!) for 'lou, so we spent a lot of time backtracking and explaining why that already hasn't worked for us.

she suspects that 'lou has EE and suggested we do the biopsies to find out for sure... but as long as we're already doing the recommended treatment for EE (allergen elimination diet, steroids as needed), i don't see the point in subjecting him (or us!) to an invasive and painful medical procedure. not to mention trying to find out if there was corn in the IV's and anaesthesia he'd be getting and how to get some without it!

like most of the doctors we've worked with, she also simply wasn't aware of what terms really denote corn in a product. she wanted us to give him (store-bought) 100% juice. i told her it all contains corn. she was very surprised to learn that citric acid, ascorbic acid and vitamin c itself are all from corn. she said to me, "you're teaching me about this issue, you should write a book."

she was *very* helpful about other things i didn't know, however. she gave me a form you can use to write off the expense of a specialized diet like ours on your tax forms. she also wrote me a wonderful letter to submit to our insurance company, asking them to reimburse us for the cost of this consultation and explaining why she felt it was a necessary medical consultation for 'lou. she also assured me she'd be more than happy to offer me future phone consults when i had specific questions or needs about his diet.

she looked over his test results and agreed that we should cut out the beans and lentils first and foremost. she didn't think it would be healthy to raise a child on meats, fruits and veggies alone for very long, so she recommended we keep trying rice and hope it was a false positive. she didn't love the saturated fats in coconut oil and milk, but i'm not as worried about them while he's still underweight. she also pointed out that his dog allergy result was the highest of all and twice what hers is , and she can't be around them at all.

this renewed my fears about having to get rid of our beloved great dane and i dreaded 'lou finishing the medications and continuing to break out and lose weight. i planned to go visit a dogless friend out of town if this were the case, while maintaining the identical diet. if he cleared up there, i'd know for sure this was from the dog - although the pattern we've been dealing with since june is a typical food allergy pattern.

he did continue to have small breakthrough bumps while on the meds, so i was sure we would return to full-blown misery status when the regimen of meds was completed.

however, he's doing beautifully off all the meds and we haven't changed a thing about his exposure to the dog (which is unrestricted). we did visit a friend last week with a siberian husky and by the time we left his house, 'lou's legs and forearms were bright red and he was scratching incessantly. it looked like a sunburn, not actual bumps or sores like he typically has.

i showered him when we got home and went to bed. the next morning it was 100% cleared up. so i feel reassured and confident that he *is* very allergic to dogs in general, but not our breed so much (great dane). maybe there's truth to the theory that allergic pet owners can build up an immunity to their own pet due to the constant exposure or maybe there's truth to the theory that short hair breeds are less allergenic and retain less dander in their coat.

either way, once again i've got something to be extremely grateful about! i continue to keep socks on him constantly to protect his very vulnerable ankles from things like grass and dog hair. i continue to slather him in raw, organic shea butter if he looks irritated, red or itchy anywhere. i continue with the cod liver oil and medical grade, allergen-free probiotics to support his gut health and essential fatty acids. i continue to line his nose with aquaphor as a barrier to allergens via the mucous membranes - but beyond that, he is currently living like a normal little boy on a very restricted diet and i am determined to spend my time not taking this for granted!

i'm also entertaining the thought of taking the encouragement and advice i seem to get almost daily now and starting to write about my thoughts and experiences on trying to parent a severe multiple allergy child naturally in an unnatural world. whether or not it will turn into a book remains to be seen, but i love the brainstorming and new questions i'm coming up with during the process and it's helping me to formulate my own ideas about why this might be happening along the way.

Mom of four talking about food allergies and her new book

happy update

i am so pleased to update that tonight is the 3rd night that 'lou has been 90% improved and cleared up. (the above pics are him the 2nd night on antihistamines, having trouble falling asleep, naked because his clothes irritated him too much, swollen red eyes, rashy knees, ankles, wrists and buttocks and him 2 nights ago, about 4 days on the antihistamines, face cleared up beautifully, eyes no longer swollen, sleeping deeply and restfully - and in pajamas!) after about 2 days on the totally corn-free, liquid periactin, the itching stopped almost completely, he's sleeping through the night again and he's happy. he's playing and singing and dancing and back to his old self. i feel like i'm getting my little guy back!
(ha, i just looked over this again and realized they're also before and after pictures of his very 1st ever haircut!)

he does still have a couple pimple-like bumps on his ankles and he did continue to get rashy-like marks under his armpits and on his buttocks - which are not typical reaction patterns for him - but they were not swollen, red or itchy, they just appeared as subdued spots, almost under the skin. i am hoping this is a sign the antihistamine is truly doing its job and stopping the itching and swelling from new allergic reactions.

i'm still waiting for the corn-free steroid (and beginning to wonder if we will still need it!) to be located by the compounding pharmacy. their usual supplier overseas seems to be slow in responding to the unusual request, so they may look into finding a new one if they don't hear back soon. the situation is no longer so urgent now that 'lou is clearing up so well, but this is definitely an option i'd like to know all about for any future serious reactions like this.

we will be seeing the dietician at children's hospital on the 28th of july (today is the 20th) and i was already planning ahead and thinking how frustrating it was going to be to bombard her with our issues only to be told she'd have to research dietary options and concerns for someone as restricted as 'lou - and then make another appointment for us to come back and discuss it. it's not easy for us to get to appointments like these with 5 kids, no babysitter and hubby's crazy work schedule.

as if she read my mind, the dietician called me to ask what his specific allergies were so she could be better prepared for our meeting, as the receptionist had left her a note regarding our appointment that 'lou had many restrictions. we ended up talking for about 45 minutes and i have to say that something i was almost dreading and really going through the motions for my dr.s has turned into something i'm very excited about!

the last dietician we saw was very uninformed about the benefits of breastfeeding a toddler and had no idea how to factor or quantify it into his daily caloric total, so she simply discounted it completely! this was very distressing for me, because there is research-based evidence showing that women who breastfeed for 18 months or longer have fatter milk than women who breastfeed for a shorter duration. there is research-based evidence showing that women who breastfeed more than one child at a time also have fatter milk. if i have been breastfeeding for 10 years without interruption now, how fat must my milk be? if i was breastfeeding 3 children until he was 6 months old and have been breastfeeding 2 since then and he's almost 3 now, how fat must be the milk he gets? if he nurses 8-12 times a day when he's reactive, how much fat and calories must he be getting from my milk? i think the amount and benefits of human milk in his diet is very significant and was very upset to hear it had to be assigned a value of zero because she didn't know how to give it even the most basic value, mathematically or nutritionally.

she also had no idea what foods really contained corn and which didn't, or what all the terms for corn were. it was a very frustrating experience, to say the least. she was very up to date on gluten-free diets and celiac disease, but corn... not so much.

ever since, i've been doing it myself. we've tested 'lou for anemia and vitamin deficiencies, as well as hormonal and metabolic irregularities and it's all been normal, but i've never known exactly how much of specific minerals and vitamins he should be getting, nor which foods to get them from! i've just been winging it and trying to guesstimate which veggies might be best for which main vitamins and minerals. this new dietician mentioned that his rashes and skin issues could be a symptom of a deficiency in something like thiamine - something i'd be totally clueless about! wouldn't it be wonderful if this was all just something as easily fixed as blending some more strawberries or green leafies into his smoothies every day?

whatever we end up finding out, i can't believe how eager i am to have found someone who sounds truly interested and concerned and ready to tackle the problem and brainstorm with me. i didn't even realize how much i feel like i'm on my own in dealing with this until she sat on the phone with me, coming up with ideas and suggestions and really listening to me describe his diet and symptoms over his whole 2 3/4 years so far and asking for this blog address so she can study our menu.

i really get the sense that these dr.s, pharmacists and dieticians intuit that this is an issue they need to learn all they can about. the more we all discuss it, the more it sounds like they agree that corn is not what it used to be and is affecting people in ways it never did before. i think we are all forging very valuable new resources together and i'm so glad to have found such awesome professionals to help me take care of my little guy!

i will update on the dietician appointment and am hoping our journey can help give anyone else dealing with the same thing some ideas.

thank yous

i heard back from morton pharmaceuticals - they make atarax, an antihistamine that has only the following corn-derived ingredients:
alcohol, .5%
citric acid
propylene glycol

it also contains 'liquid sugar', which i suspected must be corn. they have assured me that it is *not* a source of corn, but comes from cane and beet sugars only. that makes atarax the second antihistamine with the least corn, after the adult tablet form of 'periactin', which only has 1: microcrystaline cellulose.

i also found out that physician's compounding pharmacy in bloomfield hills, (michigan) is an absolutely fabulous resource and ally when you have special needs for medications. karen has put up without about 100 phone calls from me and listened patiently to my litany of additive restrictions & concerns. she has searched diligently and today came up with a source outside of our country for totally corn-free periactin and is still tracking down the orapred. they are able to ship the medications right to me and include forms to request our insurance to reimburse us for the cost.

as usual, mary kay at beverly hills pediatrics is always there when i need her and is getting a packet together of all the tests - immune system function & genetic - that we've had done on 'lou as well as a current graph of his growth to bring to the new specialist.

dr. bahrainwalla at royal oak allergy and asthma center also has my gratitude and esteem - especially for opening his mind and listening to 'lou & i, even when it didn't make sense or match his own tests and training. dr.s like that are very hard to find!

i feel very lucky to keep finding such caring and supportive professionals to work with 'lou's concerns - mary kay (and justin!) are the main reasons i stayed with beverly hills pediatrics when dr. cheryl left and dr. bryzik is managing to fill those big shoes, tho i'm sure we're not anybody's choice of a 1st patient! and physician's compounding pharmacy has a grateful and loyal new customer who will be referring any other allergy parents with similar concerns their way!

test results

I've always been so pleased that the allergy testing has jibed with what i've seen my son reacting to. even if i can't give him the dr.s' medications and i only seem to take him in for confirmation of my own instincts, it's all ended up dovetailing into one cohesive puzzle that i have been able to figure out with the guidance of the testing all of his life. the OCD in me has been satisfied with this. and every single allergy forum and every single allergy parent i've met have all told me this is not usually the case.

almost all of them have found the tests to be highly inaccurate and virtually useless. they've diagnosed and observed many allergies themselves the tests don't pick up and noticed no problems with exposure to things the test said were top allergens. hearing this always made my OCD teeth itch and i've never failed to thank my lucky stars we were not in that category.

well, bring on the membership bumper sticker, because we've now officially joined the club. these new test results are making things as clear as mud for me suddenly. before this latest outbreak, i was able to read my child and guesstimate with a very good amount of accuracy what he was reacting to, and then the tests would almost always support me.

now i can't read him at all, none of his reactions are making sense and the test results on top of it are like getting the japanese instructions to a toy i ordered from france.

here they are, this is everything the RAST test says he is now allergic to, including his old allergies - which have all gone up in severity with the exception of corn, which has gone down a couple of percentage points. (because of the complete removal of it from our diet or just an inaccurate reading? your guess is as good as mine!)

dairy also now appears on the test, whereas before he was having iGe-typical reactions to it since birth -& has been eliminated completely since 7 wks postpartum- but it never registered on allergy tests and now shows up as a severe allergy to every type of dairy they can test for. (this seems like something it got right to me for sure).


white beans
navy beans
coconut (!!!)
rice (!!!)

we're still waiting to hear on lentils & kidney beans & they don't have a test for black beans. he was allergic to tuna, but isn't anymore - the one and only improvement. (or was it a false positive all along since he nor i have had tuna since before i even conceived him?) he's also now allergic to lamb, but i've never had it in my life and neither has he, so how did he get exposed or sensitized to it?

i've been alternatively freaking out and completely dismissing these results since i got them on monday (today is wednesday) and have finally decided to put them on the back burner and watch and see what i think the usual way we do things: by letting my child show me what he needs.

knowing i was getting these results on monday and deciding chances were very slim he'd be allergic to it, i let elijah off the rice-only diet a little early and gave him some of our beef stroganoff for dinner. (grass fed beef). the next morning he was broken out again, this time on his face, forearms and up his thighs. he also didn't sleep sunday night and was up scratching and whining past 3 am.

when i called for the test results monday morning, i was sure i'd hear beef was now a no-no for him. maybe chicken, too. meanwhile, the little scavenger sneaked the rest of a brother's bowl of the stroganoff again. the rash continued to progress, along with his discomfort. the pics above are from tuesday, where he couldn't stop scratching long enough for me to snap a quick picture. the rash on his face is very fine and doesn't show up well in that lighting, but it's there. (he's wearing size 6-12 month clothes here, at 33 months old).

this was completely disheartening after the vast improvement we'd gotten on the rice-only diet for 4 days. he was almost totally cleared up except for these new pimple-like bumps i can't get off his ankles and tops of his feet ( a new reaction for us completely - he normally progresses to bumps that open into sores after a prolonged rash from corn or dairy -his worst allergies- but he's never had just these bumps sitting in the middle of clear skin like this.

they didn't go away even on the rice-only diet. then i found out he's supposed to be allergic to rice now. but not beef! on the one hand, i simply can't belived that he could be allergic to rice and have improved so much on a rice-only diet, but on the other hand i wonder if that could account for this new reaction of the bumps on the feet.

and on yet another hand (yes, i have 3 hands - i also have eyes in the back of my head -i'm a mother, don't you?), i wonder if he really could be allergic to beef, but the tests aren't showing it. if he's only had rice and beef stroganoff for 5 days straight (and fruit smoothies, which he's never had a problem with - on tests or in person), that is causing this new rash on his face and limbs - which is the precursor to FTT symptoms for us, cessation of sleep and inability to stop scratching constantly.

i took him back in to the allergist yesterday, realizing that we could be standing on the edge of plummeting back to complete misery and panic with a baby who was declining in health, happiness and growth. (on the allergist's scale, he's lost a pound during the last 3 weeks if this prolonged breakout).

the dr. agreed with me that the test results are mystifying. he says the very worst allergen showing up is dog and he'd recommend rehoming the dog. which really took me by surprise because we've been quarantined home more than ever this summer since these new reactions have flared and the baby is constantly tumbling and rolling and trying to ride on the dog (it's a great dane - 140 lbs at 16 months and 37" tall at the shoulders) and i've seen no signs whatsoever of a related reaction. never an itchy eye, never a sneeze, no rashes immediately or a few hours after a romp, nothing. i don't know what kind of dog they use for the allergy testing, but i doubt it's the very minimal dander-producing and shortest- hair- possible great dane! this is one result i discount completely. i wouldn't have seen such drastic improvement by changing his diet if the dog is to blame.

but the dr. and i both agreed it's time for some intervention. we're hoping some corn-free steroids will reset and calm his immune system, so he's calling the compounding pharmacy to ask them to import some corn-free prednisolone from wherever they can, as soon as they can. he also agrees that many of these results may be false because elijah is so flared up and reactive right now. he said it would be more accurate to wait until everything has calmed down and we've reattained baseline and then do a skin test to confirm these results.

in the meantime, i'm using a topical steroid cream and trying the periactin tablets again (microcrystaline cellulose being the sole corn-derived ingredient, and a very small component of the pill overall -we are hoping if given alone, it won't be a problem) and returning to our normally restricted diet with added caution toward beans and lentils for now.

meanwhile our allergist also said that his hands are really tied with this corn allergy limiting his ability to offer medications to help clear 'lou up, so he is referring us to a specialist in pediatric allergy & immunity at university of michigan. this specialist reportedly does study groups and papers on severe cases like 'lou regularly and may have a special interest and base of knowledge for us. our dr. did a phone consultation with him and we're hoping to get in sooner than his next september opening.

he also recommends we see a dietician specializing in multiple food allergies at children's hospital in detroit. the last one we saw out of beaumont really didn't know about the extent of corn in the average diet and i taught her more than she taught me.

i also find that they don't have the ability, training or education to calculate or factor in the vital contribution of breastmilk in the older toddler or young child's diet and this is very frustrating for me. i will have to take in some educational facts and materials so i'm better prepared this time. and i have a feeling i'll find my way to optimally feeding him before i even get in to see her, but i always hope i might be led to a new food source i never considered and like to be sure i know exactly how much protein/calcium, etc... a child this age & size really needs.

plus, i admit it, sometime i just like to go in and make them squirm and sweat trying to work out how to possibly feed a kid like this. makes me appreciate my own ingenuity that much more. :-P

overall, i'm feeling greatly heartened and cautiously optimistic. even though he is referring us onward and upward, i feel like our allergist and i are on the same page. i wish i knew what is going on inside my little man that he suddenly had this huge reaction and setback (all those viruses for 3 wks in a row scrambled his immune system?), but i might never get to know that.

in the meantime, our allergist has all the same concerns as me. his skin can heal down the road, none of his reactions are anaphylactic, but if we don't clear up these prolonged ones (going on 8 wks now), he stops growing and begins to lose weight and have the quality of life of a starving, flea-ridden alley kitten.

i feel better having a plan and thinking there might be an expert out there that's dealt with this before. sometimes this skinny scrap of gristle i've fought so hard to nourish for almost 3 yrs now feels so insubstantial and slight, that when he begins losing weight, i go right to panic mode. at just over 21 lbs with so many allergies, i have this irrational fear that it wouldn't take long for him to just completely melt away!