Saturday, 30 May 2009

sifting through accidents.

when you have children, accidents happen, sometimes the CHILDREN are THE accident, something i always refer to as a 'happy surprise'. Quite a lot of woman have those, or at least one in my case.

When you have four children, and one with a few allergies, a accident with one, means your eye is not always on the allergic child. That's when the risk of a allergic reaction rises.

one such accident happened a few years ago, when my children were young, cute , happy, and certainly more rewarding than my current now much older children.
Who are all now driven by hormones, hate , and the bitter gall of the mess the 'old people' ( yes, thats me) have made of the plant.
I dont get any brownie points for mentioning the use of terry cloth nappies for two of them, mainly because i still use them for mopping the kitchen floor. It didnt go down at all well when I waved one of them under his girlfriends nose, explaining that he loved wearing them.
I suppose it did spoil his current image of a more tidy guitar playing Russell Brand.

anyway, my 2 and bit daughter took a few lego bricks with her to the bathroom, and sat , face pink and chubby legs swinging, while playing with them.

I happend to walk past , to see her eyes widen, and wittness the large bulge in her throat as she swallowed.
Of course, being a calm mother i did the first thing that came to my head, ran down stairs ( like a headless chicken) and found the bucket of bricks and held up each one in front of her,( hands shaking) to find out which one she has now lodged in her tummy.
'is it this one darling'?

'no mummy.'

'this one'?


'no?, ermm this one'? ( am panicked, now getting bigger bricks out box)


'its diss one mummy, diss one, is 'ellow, like my t-shirt'.

you,ate. a .lego, because...'?

'is like my t-shirt mummy'

'well,.... of course you did, i totally understand,......

sweetheart dont you think this co-ordination thing is going a step to far'?,

Of course next step was to take my panic to someone else to deal with, someone with a nice crisp clean white coat, and badge, with 'doctor' on.

theres a always slight panic about taking all four kids in a hospital waiting room, and you run through a list of someone you could dump them onto.

But there isnt going to be a long list when you have a child with food alleriges.
Anyone who looks after them needs pre-training beforehand.
you have no idea how long you are going to be, and allergic child will need feeding, and thats difficult, if not impossible, if you are not in our allergy world.

So you drag them into the car, go back inside for allergic sons forgotten meds, while daughter crys for her lego, and the others try and make a dash for freedom as the hosptial emergency room has been visited far too frequently lately.

The hospital car park is another stress point, a space hard to find near the hospital, and you have to pay for the privilage of using it. A brief fumble under the seats and the bottom of your hand bag and you find enough coins to stay for a short while.

of course its raining, and you dont have any coats for the kids, but you get in to the heaving accident and emergency room, dripping wet, and look around at the selection of the great damp , steaming, unwashed, the bleeding and half dead, or half drunk, and its going to be a long wait.

A few hours and you give up all pretence of being a caring devoted mother, having spent have the previous night up with two kids, one had a nightmare , and one who doesnt seem to enjoy sleep. So i am crumpled, worn out in the corner, with the bags under my eyes like two used tea bags.

The older boys are trying to distroy the coffee machine, and I would get up and stop them, but I spent half an hour trying to get any kind of fluid out of it, and then another half hour trying to get my money back. So it deserved some sort of kicking.

we are huddled away from the vending machine filled with rather nasty snacks , and of course that machine is working very well. everyone is eating nut filled chocolates, and other high salt snacks.
Other son has found a hole in the seat of his chair and is pulling out the foam, and the youngest is following another little girl around the room with a dislocated shoulder.
Time passes, am promised that doctor will look at my baby soon.
While we wait , the little girl with the shoulder/arm problem, leans heavily on a chair, there is a loud click, and weary parents scoop her up and go home.

finally the doc arrives, worn out , and grey with tiredness, and is of course, impossibly young , and he has dribbled his last meal down his grey dirty coat.

I try to listen to what the doctor is saying and keep one eye on the four kids running around the bed, and in and out of the garish clown curtains.
which are there I presume, to make the doctors appear more friendly, as the clowns are of the steven king varity, and promise to fill any adult slumber with horror,let alone a small child.

The doctor calmly instructs me one what I should do, which is something I really dont want to hear.
now if i had more energy, i would of told this doctor the real truth, that he could shove his helpful advice were the sun doesnt shine, and ask him what mother of four has the time and energy to sift through her daughters bowel movements for two weeks? what about when she goes twice a day? or if I feed her sweetcorn?
what kind of advice is that?

but the kids are hungry , bored and need a good wash,(hospitals are germy)and i need coffee and chocolate if i am to keep going, so we leave, drive home, and carry on.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

food shopping with allergies , and four children.

During the summer hols, I  often ended up dragging all four kids with me to do the food shop.
It required vast amounts of what I was short of, mainly patience, money, and energy.

A major part of allergy management is reading, and understanding food labels. All information in very tiny print, sometimes ( in the case of toiletries,) in Latin.

we had learned quite early on, what the mysterious label 'may contain' really meant, the hard way.
Mainly due to the projectile 40 min vomiting, which was repeated the next day instantly after trying another plain biscuit, from the same pack.
We tip -toed over the clean patches on our carpets, and cleared the house of all foods with may contain labels.

Here is a typical trip to a large supermarket.

I start with a brief wash, and pat dry of both damp ends of baby, find clean t-shirts for the boys, and sponge the stains of my top, and try to get out of my pjamma bottoms and shabby but comfy flip flops.

While I dabbed the marks ( most forms of bodily fluid) off my shoulders, I would ask the boys go to the bathroom, or go on the potty.
of course this leads to lot of fun for boys, and a shout of 'lets play star wars'! is a terrible sign, which often led me giving up on the t-shirt sponging thing, go and rush upstairs while begging them to 'not cross the streams'!!!

Then of course ,you clear up the pee, find clean ( but crumpled ) t-shirts for the boys to wear.
however, you are now getting a little , ..erm...frazzled, so plop shirts over the nearest heads , and drag them to the front door.
one son now flashes his belly button when he breathes in, and the other has a shirt flapping around his knees. But you have no time to stop and sort all that out, because soon the baby will need feeding again.

You wriggle in to jeans, grab your money and car keys , and put the children that have a tendency to escape in the car FIRST.

once you count the heads of the kids, have made sure that you checked that the front door is shut ( you only do this three times, any more than you have to go to the doc and get drugs for your after pregnancy OCD hormones. They are the same ones that make you want to clean the oven before you give birth.) then you start the car and go!

During the journey you lecture the children on holding in bad gas, and stop 2yr old from trying to throw shoes out of the car window.
By the time you get to the car park, your head is sticking out the window as your eyes are burning and strips of skin are peeling from the back of your throat.

Farting is a constant source of entertainment for any male, of any age. It gets worse as they grow up.

The baby and parent parking space is taken up with sports cars, and slim looking woman without children ( who cant possibly have stretch marks, but you our  not bitter, NOT AT ALL! ) and you find a space.
Not near any other cars , because of the damage your older boys do with the car door slamming.

A reasonably clean double shopping trolley is found, a blanket for baby to feel comfy, and 2 year old sits with his comfort blanket ( lankey), and thumb in his mouth.

Once in the shop, you avert gaze from high heeled shoes, because mummy's do not get to wear them very often, and the pretty bras, because new mums still need to wear grey pregnancy bras, or stern feeding no nonsense bras.
Which have all the sexual allure of a dead fish. In fact the bras are a pretty good contraceptive in the early months.....

Everything has to speed up because you have two hands to push trolley, heavy with two children, and two mobile children that like to run away.

You try and ignore the fact that your 6 yr old has brought his 'sooty' puppet with him, and is skipping ahead, and pausing to 'listen' to what sooty is saying to him, then laughing out loud.
I'ts really best not to dwell on the fact that for the past 6 months your child has been talking almost non stop to his own hand.............

The four year old loves the big supermarket shop, once he met a shop worker , flipping the hidden control programs open under the big freezers.
He tried to climb in a freezer once, I had to shake his trousers and socks free of peas when i got him home.
Buttons , switches, that could be pressed, must be pressed. They call him and beg for a pudgy finger to set them off. In fact the in store phones have been used as well. Often to call 'fireman Sam' a favourite BBC cartoon character.

I whizz through the aisles, allergy problems mean that some sections of the supermarket are not going to be visited , ever, the on store bakery section, the deli section, and the pizza , curry , roasted chicken section.

some sections require a pause for thought, working out what ' nut free , but nuts on site' really means in relation to one small jam tart, when you realise that its all gone far too quiet.
2yr old is calmly chewing through a toothpaste tube packet, and trying to kick me while he sits in the trolley.

Around the corner of an aisle, you see a flash of the boys, and take a chance to ponder over a packet of toilet roll tissue.
hmmmmmmmmm? Aloe vera? has that ever touched allergic son's skin before?
The anti bac spray on the toilet seat last week has still left its mark, and not just on HIS bottom. Bearing in mind that tender area, is aloe vera a allergen for some?

A couple of old grannies walk by complaining loudly , you catch a drift of the comments, 'broken bread sticks' 'abandoned children' 'sword fights' seem to hit a memory, so all shopping is halted, and race to bread section.

once boys retrieved, and bread kicked under the shelf, you drag them off quickly. Hissing madly in anger.............bribery is your only option now.

Somehow you get all shopping paid for, ( all fruit bruised and ruined ,but you are running out of time, baby is crying) get the mobile boys back in car.
Strapped up , and shut up with a chocolate bar,
and allergic son with something safe to chew on.

pause to
scrape the toothpaste off the babies legs, arms, and clothes, and sit in car to feed her.
Then drive home. and shopping does get into kitchen, but by now you need to cook a meal, do some washing, and sink in to the evening routine.

by 11 pm , all tins are put in to the cupboards, but there is a small pile of food that you cant use. hidden small print missed, and now declared  unsafe................and that happens all the time, every flipping week.

Now, these days, all children are at school, and my only problem is reading the labels. my eyes seem to be giving out on me.
But my real theory is that my arms are just getting shorter, that's why the shape of the top of your arms changes so much!

bones shrink and your arms resemble the glorious shape and texture of a raw pork sausage.
our only choice is to buy expensive glasses to distract the attention from our arms.

well, that's what I do.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Rational Jenn: Food Allergy Awareness Week

Rational Jenn: Food Allergy Awareness Week

first appointment at allergy clinic.

After the egg reaction, i was more careful about his food, removing all egg, and avoiding nuts.
I also kept to the same limited food he was happy with, and was too scared to try anything new.
Breastfeeding came to an end at 15 months, resulting in longer sleep pattern, and being soothed by other means.
His sleep development ,did seem to match a younger child. Which made sense , a infant in pain is not going to learn to drop of to sleep by himself, or sleep in normal periods of time. so he was about 2 1/2 when he slept a whole night , which was about 4-5 nights a week.
Of course , once the breastfeeding stopped, his skin improved , down to three to four daily moisturizing ezcema routines, rather than 8-or more.
The big downside was the loss of protection, and his health suffered. He caught eveything going from his brothers, chest infections,ear infections, skin infections, you name it , he got it.

The ezcema wrap nurse rang up out of the blue to say that she had forgotten all about william, and had lost his paperwork. But by then I could see improvement, and that it was allergy related, and felt it was more under control.

He was 18 months old when his first allergy clinic appointment day dawned.
I was just creeping out of the nasty sicky stage of being pregnant (hmmm, well, that was linked to the stopping breastfeeding, and williams longer sleep pattern as well!! and a bottle of red wine, but i mustnt drift in to that in detail...) and had made arrangement for the older boys to be taken to nursery and school.

The clinic was heaving with families, little kids with raw ezcema running around, and others sitting with red arms with hives from skin prick tests.
william was weighed, measured, and then we went in to see the big doc, and his students.
He asked about william's early history, his reactions etc, then asked about our history and our other children.
We started listing our family itchy status on both sides of the family.
i didnt mention that even my mother's dog has ezcema, and sneezed a bit, but that was the only member of my family i must of missed out.

i hadnt thought of it before, but suddenly it did seem odd, i thought it normal to spend saturday night test patching new moisterizers with granny, uncle and mummy in the kitchen. My mum always used me as test person before her, as she considered her skin to be worse than mine.

I still have a the clear memory of my mum when she used a upper lip bleach for her dark hairs.............her top lip walked in front of her for two weeks!!
my mum also has a nickal/gold allergy , and had to go to hospital after her wedding to have her band removed. The nasty looks she got when she had me, just because she couldnt wear her wedding ring. That was the 1960's for you!

anyway am waffling, so must get back to point, which is that the doc seemed REALLY, (oh, good grief dont you two breed look,no, ooops too late! she preggers again!) shocked that the older boys didnt have anything much in the way of allergic disease. a hint of ezcema , very mild hayfever , which disappeard at 5 , which is normal.

The skin prick tests went without a hitch, the blood taken was more of an ordeal.
However , the SPTs were fasinating for us and william. Like the game bingo, we could have shouted 'full house'............he was instantly uncomfortable as the small prick went in to the peanut drop. The blister rising.

The problem with getting to the hosptial, I reflected later, was the effort was in getting there, and not thinking beyond that. Every parent hopes for a magic wand from a doctor to make baby better. It doesnt work that way for many things, allergies included. What we seemed to get from that first visit was a confirmation of the allergies we suspected. A few more, and a unhelpful leaflet, and the comment to never use the hoover in the house , while william was in it.
I had no idea what sort of place was suitable to put william in while i was vacumming,which part of the house was dustmite free.? But safe to put a dustmite allergic 18 month old boy? I did look in the cupboard under the stairs, but that may have been suitable for Harry Potter, but not for william with his dustmite allergy....

our list at that time,
was, a selection of common tree nuts, almond, hazlenut, brazil, peanut, dustmite, tree pollen,raw egg, cooked egg, dog,cat.

I cried in the car on the way home , it seemed like a huge list.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

the light bulb moment FOOD

I wasnt happy giving william a strong daily anti -histmine, it did seem to have side effects.
He spent a great deal of time on the sofa, thumb in mouth, in a sleep daze. His calorie intake did drop off.

He wasnt fond of food, in fact from the begining he often refused food, and so very tiny tastes were all I could get in him. I did start at 5 1/2 months,but he wasnt ready, so left it for a while and then tried again.

As he got older, his skin did react to the food he touched ( and then refused), like tomato. which being a acidic food, ( which does tend to 'shoot through' for some ) is a common cause of skin irritation in the young. I had seen this a few times with other children, so at first wasnt too concerned. But it did give me pause for thought, when the bright red skin with hives would take a long time to disappear.

By the way , I cant handle a raw tomato myself, or a raw potato, it would give a burning feeling in my hands. So i peel a potato under running water, and use a plastic bag to pick up tomatos or handle raw meats.

About this time he started to behave in a odd way while sitting in his high chair. He would SNIFF the food first, and then decide to refuse it outright, or try a little. He refused marmite ( which when he touched it, caused the hives and red thing), refused to eat anything with beans etc, or yorkshire pudding or cake.

This sniffing and turning his face away was quite common for him, I often thought he was a bit of a gorilla while he did this, as most apes sniff food before eating. Sometimes i would think back to his lovely newborn hairy ears.....................not so much baby as monkey.............a cute monkey though.

Hives seem to be part of the early years of multiple allergic children, I did at one time suspect that his ezcema was linked to cat and dog allergy. We visited my MIL who at that stage had a cat and dog.
once when he slept in his car seat on the floor, the dog walked by, and one single hair drifted slowly down on to his bare arm. A large hive lifted it up underneath almost immediately.
He also used to hive up on walks in the pushchair, or in the car on one side of his body/face if the vents were pointing at him.
once the hives went down, ezcema replaced it.
during the spring he did have a slight wheeze , and was given a inhaler and spacer for a while.

he went bright red when we went clothes shopping, pushing him through the shop floor, and the redness would only go once we got home. then he would be pretty pale, and worn out looking. we used to joke that he was a typical male who was bored with clothes shopping. how wrong could we be?

one day, my hubby gave the kids their breakfast, while took the oldest son to school.
when i returned , william wasnt looking so good. his face , neck , arms were bright red, his hands and arms had hives. He had been crying , but had stopped and sat exhausted with shiny eyes.

He had been given his first meal of toast and smooth peanut butter, he hadnt eaten it, just touched it and started to scream loudly in a panic.

So, we gave him some more of his anti histmime and took him to the GP.
who examined him, looked in mouth and throat, and said because he hadnt had any breathing problems, this allergy was mild.

As william was slow at weaning , he still needed lots of breastfeeding, and there were foods we hadnt even yet tried to give him. After all its in the rules to only add certain food types after 12 months.

SO , when i gave him egg, I didnt think of it as being a high risk food, just a high calorie food which might build him up a little.
He was 13 months old, and i popped him in the high chair with a bowl and spoon, put one mouthful of scrambled egg in to his mouth. Then turned away to deal with the needs of the other two boys. From behind me there was a brief pause, and then a huge below of pain.

william had gone bright red , and was screaming, he was frantically rubbing his face, and neck. hives appearing in front of my eyes. He suddenly violently vomited, and as i tried to clear the mess, when his bowels emptied and ran on the floor.
hives spread from contact with bodily fluids, so I picked him up, gave him a huge dose of anti histmine. Then stripped him, washed him and wrapped him in a big towel.
He was pale, the hives had gone, his eyes glazed with shock.
I didnt think of calling for help, i had heard of peanuts being a killer, but not anything else. I knew nothing of anaphylaxis, what it was, and when to get help.
And so it seemed did any one else, including all the doctors and nurses i had met, when trying to get help for william.
To this day, i am really aware that we could have lost william that day. since that day we have been in that situation again, and rushed him to hosptial. Even recently as he is now 13 yrs old.

So far we have been very, very lucky.

After this we pushed to get further help, and was reffered to a local pead, a woman who explained that william's symtoms were one the moderate side, and that avoidance of the food was the only way forward until he grew out of it.

I asked about epi -pens (having been doing some re-search) and she put me off the idea , saying it was dangerous for him to have one at such a low weight.
She explained that there was a risk of brain hemorrhages if a child is under a certain weight, but of course , there is a risk of brain damage from anaphylaxis as well.
He was 15 months old and still was no were near the 25 lbs to have the junior dose epi pen.
But, strangely she did give me a faded photo copy of instuctions on how to use one. To keep once he had met the magic 25 lbs.

It was after this time I rang AllergyUK to ask for help, and they explained that on the basis of his suspected peanut allergy it was our legal right to push for a referral to a pead immunologist.
Allergyuk also got one of their allergy nurses to write a letter to me, which really helped. I cant stress how important this letter was, and how grateful I am to this day.

My Gp worked hard to find someone to help, in fact , it took her two weeks to find a name for us. So that explains how rare these allergy docs are in the uk!

the waiting list for first appointment was 8 months to a year. When william got to the hospital , the waiting list below us was for 8- 18 months. Recently that has changed to for london area alone to 10 weeks, which is good. But when you bear in mind there are no clinics in ireland, scotland, wales, there isnt a lot of help to get for many, many allergic people.

natural is not always good, sometimes natual can be a horror story.

William hit the magic age of 12 months and was suddenly old enough to be given a daily dose of piriton, ( a first generation antihistamine). This was given to help him sleep, and improve his skin.

Every day we dosed up this little man, and kept up with the eczema routine. Mild moisturizers for soap, oils for the bath, and then thick heavy creams once he was out of the luke warm water.

Once, I used a good quality olive oil as a moisturizer, being still in that odd mindset of 'natural' was good. How wrong could a mummy be?

I applied the oil to one leg, thinking I could compare and see if it had done any good. I didnt need to , could tell from 10 feet away which leg had the oil. It was a nice bright red but William didnt seem to be bothered . So, while one part of my brain was shrieking 'WOW, HES GOT ONE RED LEG............WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?..............should i even him up and do the other?, will it fade? what does this mean'?
So not in a little shock, I decided to be cool and calm, and not scare the baby, and why not make it educational?

So i gently traced a finger over his leg, and sounded out his name, and watched his face , to see if he was concentrating. He looked quite interested, his eyes widening I was just congratulating myself, until i looked down.
Its not every day you see a collection of wheals like that, and william is a pretty long name.
thankfully after shower, and re-doing a ezcema treatment, his leg recovered.
So, no , natural oils are not for his skin. More importantly, small tiny test patches first!

William wasnt able to have shampoo on his head until he was 12 months plus, and even then only a tiny amount of perfume free baby shampoo. I was happily surprised to discover that he had curly hair!

Some of Will's ezcema creams didnt agree with my eczema , one cream used to 'burn' my hands and make them really red and sore. But it worked for him, so I carried on using it.

Ezcema is a very individual thing, a treatment that works for one , doesnt mean that it works for other . Which is a major bummer really.

I developed ezcema myself, apparently, a few days after I was born.
ezcema treatment has changed a great deal from when I was young. I never had (certainly dont remember ) any form of moisturizers, only a small brown glass pot.
Which contained a nasty looking grey sludge, which didnt smell very nice. It was a mix of pretty strong steriod onitment.
Which I thickly slapped on every night, before sliding into my nylon sheets , while wearing my nylon, spark inducing nightdress. Who needed a night light in the '70's?

I needed to put a lot of cream on the back of my legs, and can remember the skin infections at school and the pain of it all. The standing in the playground and having the cold wind blow on the skin , on my dry, cracking legs, and coming in to the warm dry classroom with bleeding skin.
I sat on a cotton pillowcase which rested on the plastic chair. the plastic used to irritate my skin, because is was a bit sweaty!
once the skin go weepy and infected, i used to get stuck on to that pillowcase, and had to rip it of to leave the chair.
I know that I am very lucky that I didnt have nay eczema on my face, as I have met some people who have very thin eyelids from this treatment.
I do have damaged thin skin on my hands from years of eczema. I still get it , a nice christmas bout, which is the stress, and when i use bubble bath ( which I love, plus the whole glass of wine, a vampire book, and chocolate.............makes bathtime pure bliss), I still get a bit behind my knees and inner elbows every so often. Oh, and I cant wear metal watches, so a little bit of nickel allergy there as well.

Here are a few ezcema tips I have picked up while trying to contol william's skin..............

1) 100% cotton clothing.

2)store all creams and potions in a clean , dust free place.

3 ) wash hands before and after application.

4) use a spoon to remove a blob of cream from pot ( or pump bottle is good)before patting in to damp skin.

5) really , just PAT, not rub, slap, slide etc

6) apply in direction of hair growth , to try and stop increaseing the itch , scratch cycle.

7)cool bath, not to hot. and sometimes not given very often, depending on what works best.

8) dont warm clothes on radiatiors , and keep as cool as possible. remember hot = itch. Now i did go a little obsessive, and in the winter waved his pj's out the window to cool them before sliding on his bod. Which might have given the neighbours some pause for thought..............

9)read the labels, on all treatments, a lot of ezcema treatment have nut oils or peach nut oils, etc, and thats not good for those that might develop food/nut allergies. Be careful , natural in the world of food allergies, is not always good. it could be horrific.
and BTW check your own personal bubble baths, soaps etc, I once brought a milk and almond bubble bath. It fell down and dripped slowly down the side of the tub, while william was sitting in it. One half of his body hived up completely, and glowed red. Not a fun time, at all. Bit of a panic really, sort of looked like that film, the alien one, with steven,....close encounters! and the fella goes red on one side of his face and neck, well, william was like that on one side.

10) some of the creams rot elastic in clothes. esp if washing instuctions only call for a 40 degree wash. To get rid of grease , place clothes in cold water with salt over night, then wash as normal next day.


12) People with ezcema have skin that cant hold water, so they need to drink more and stop dehydration.

hope this is all helpful stuff for you dear reader, and please, try not to scratch while reading this post.

Friday, 8 May 2009

the sleep clinic..............

The GP asking me to keep a sleep diary resulted in attending a 'sleep clinic', which is for all those mums who are at their wits end with high need babies.

We were on the waiting list for wet wraps,but decided to give this a go, as I thought we had nothing to lose.

The sweet health visitors gathered the group of gray faced , worn out mothers.
Who were dressed in the uniform of the completely knackered. The combination of lank hair with jeans, and t-shirts with old faded stains , and wet dribble patches on our shoulders.

We all flopped tiredly on to a selection of worn out danerously creaky chairs, and plopped our babies in the middle of the floor. They were, after all, wide awake.........

The babies sat next to a box of grubby plastic baby toys, and began to slowly slobber and chew them.

I suspect that similar tired thouths drifted in our heads in that pokey room , one being,
'oh god, it's finally come to this' and
then 'are the bags under my eyes as bad as hers'?

then the feeble, 'oh, that baby is sucking that toy CLEAN, but that mummy isnt bothered............should i get my wipes out'?

thankfully before any of us could take any firm action the leaders started their spiel.........and we discreetly put dummies in our babies mouths, or simply moved them further away from the toys, or like my son, left them to chew on another's socks, ( in my weary defense, it looked clean, and saved the owner the bother of doing it themselves.)

The health visitors grand plan turned out to be the standard controlled sleep method, were you leave an infant to cry for a short time, reassure them, leave them and so on.....
Until you are a puddle of weeping hormones sitting on the landing, while your infant screams bloody murder.

So, what can I say in my defense? I think that the fact that I was so sleep deprived , and worn out, and couldn't think properly made me give in and try this, a The vision of sleeping, really sleeping was always there in my head. Maybe, just maybe, I could have a three solid hour period of complete bliss.

I totally regret doing this, and will do until the end of my days.

As i mentioned in another post, William had ezcema, and when that skin heats up, as with crying, it becomes itchy, red and inflamed.

He cried, and then as the itch and stress of crying grew , he tore at his face and ears.
We were both sobbing as i removed the blooded cot sheet from his face with wet cotton wool.

However he did show a slight increase in the day time nap, and had perhaps on a good day , two 20 mins nap time.
He was crawling at the time, so perhaps the exercise helped him ( the skin on his legs got worse at this time).

The next visit to the clinic to report on our results turned out to be quite useful in the end. For some reason the Health visitors left the room, a sudden phone call meant a quick corridor meeting.

One mother, braver than the rest of us,finally admitted out loud that it didnt work for her, which was something we all had been trying to avoid saying.
In our polite way, we didnt want to admit we had failed again in not getting our beloved babies asleep.

Once that mother had admitted her failure, we could all confess, and then, that mother dipped her hand in her nappy changing bag, and brought out a little bottle. This, she said, grinning, worked, and we could buy this without prescription.

Then the health visitors came back in and the bottle was swiftly tucked away. Medication having been previosuly explained as 'not very often used, as we didnt want to go to the extreme of drugging our infants did we'?

I never totally understood the idea of giving the mother the sleeping drugs, rather than the infants, ( apart from tiny livers cracking under the strain, and the image of a baby with a belt, spoon and dirty syringe.....), I didnt like the idea of being asleep, and sleeping though my baby's cries of pain.

Because , even in those early days, I recognized that William's screams were not of a naturally non sleepy infant, he was in pain. I put it all down to his skin being the problem, and perhaps indigestion. It felt wrong to ignore that baby, and to leave them alone , crying in a cot in another room.

The sleep clinic carried on for half an hour, and i darted, almost skipped my way to the chemist. I think i even had a grin on my face!

This cold remedy worked, and once, (once, I recorded it in his baby book) at 9 months old he slept for first time for 5 solid hours!!

The longest period of sleep I had had since he was born.


the three signs are,

ECZEMA before the age of three months, ( esp in a breast fed infant)


POOR SLEEP PATTERN ( inability to sleep for solid periods of time)

People often say that you worry aobut your child from the moment the placenta is delivered, but that doesnt mean that your worries are totally groundless. I am a great believer in a good old fashioned instinct.

I knew that something was odd abut William, and the health visitor thought so too, we just didnt know how different he was going to be.
By day 10 aftrer birth , HV noted his dry skin, and a strange 'blister' on his gum, which disappeared later that day.

By day 15, I waved him under the gaze of our GP and came home with a huge carrier bag that must have wiped out the pharmacy of eczema potions and lotions.
I was filled with instructions on when and how to use them. and added the eczema rountine in to my busy life , as a mother with three under 5's.

He also had a bit of cradle cap, and i made the mistake of using some cradle cap cream on this head, and watched as it begun to swell. He didnt find it very entertaining..................

I also discovered that a well know brand of very gentle , sensitive nappy cream made the skin on his bottom go red, hard and leather like, it also caused him to scream in pain.

As the early weeks, and then months went by, he was a real colicky infant, much like my others, only he didnt gain much weight. A slow weight gain, which dropped off quickly when he was poorly.
I felt a great deal of pressure to stop breastfeeding, comments like, 'your milk must be of poor quality, like skimmed, low fat milk' did crop up from time to time.

I dismissed them as being rather silly, he was taking in a good amount of milk, and all other signs , wet nappies etc, indicated a well fed baby.

He did , however look like a tired baby, ( i didnt look so good either) one who didnt seem able to sleep for a solid period of time, forever moving and twitching, he woke up frequently.

It was this lack of sleep that was the most difficult thing, and who can function well on little sleep?

When I mention the lack of sleep, I dont just mean the normal lack of sleep you get with infants, a vast mumber of infants do sleep for 4-5 hours solid in a 24 hour period. This wasnt true of our Will, he slept roughtly two separate hours a night, and 20 min cat nap during the day.

This is of course one of the reasons he didnt gain weight easily, as sleep is linked to growth for infants.

I kept a sleep diary, something my health visitor and GP asked for, I dont think they quite believed how bad it was at first.
I noted the first 8 times I got up, any less than that was a good night, more than that was a no sleep at all night for me. So I didnt count it , I didnt have the energy anyway.

Once the GP saw this, I dont think she understood why I thought that getting to only 8 wakeful periods of times was a good night. But for me, it meant that I was at least dressed for bed, and did lie down and close my eyes for a cat nap. The best period of sleep for William was when I sat upright in a chair, breastfeeding him, and then rocking him..................which sounds completely bonkers, but, his skin went mad if I took him in to my own bed.

During this time a housewife learns the art of doing the housework in different ways, perfecting the sweeping movement of the feet, to push things under the sofa. A quick spray in the air of furniture polish creates the illusion of a house recetnly dusted.

But, eventurally, I didnt care about any of that.......................................

Thursday, 7 May 2009

the club no one wants to join.

My son is not that a rare child these days, the rate of childhood allergy is rising, and every school has a selection of asthma inhalers, anti-histamine, ezcema moisturizers, and auto-injectors.
it's called the "allergy epidemic" a club that no one wants to join.

Every day is an allergy day, and our only real choice is complete avoidance, to an extreme level.
we keep our children safe, and struggle to keep life as normal as possible, while remembering to keep our mobile phones charged and emergency meds with us at all times. Not forgetting, a safe to eat snack, ( crushed, more often than not) in the bottom of our bags.

The NHS still hasnt caught up with our needs , depite sterling work carried out by the allergy charities , and that leaves us, in many areas of the UK , to struggle on alone with the extreme stress we live every day.
I am of the opinion that sometimes its helpful to laugh about things , rather than cry , and have been known to do both at times!
After all, my son is an equal mixture of the best and worst of both of us, we are of course an 'itchy and scratchy' family , to part of our son's life was our own childhood norm.

This blogg is part of my need to note down the long learning curve we have travelled , while adjusting to the needs of william. A child who has multiple food and environmental allergies.
i hope you enjoy my posts, and do feel free to leave posts.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

a little about me, my kids, and allergies.

I have the joy of four children and one hubby.
Currently the house is full of hormones, as i have three teens and a 10 yr old.
three boys and a girl.
I have a tall 17 yr old, a even taller 15 yr old, a 13yr old ( still in the stage of being forced to use soap) and a 10 yr old girl. ( who has been co-ordinating her clothes since she was 3 yrs old, right down to underwear and hairslides)

one child has food and environmental allergies.

I will be posting quite a bit on my allergic son's story, his grim first years, and adding some tips on the way.
I did try to write a book on our allergy adventures, but quite frankly, I dont have the cash to publish it myself, and worry that the money just wont come back....................but i still enjoy tapping away, and writing.

I am going to talk about some parental adventures, and ponder the basic questions women ask about themselves, like,
why am i the only one to put a new roll of toilet tissue on the holder?
when did I grow two extra boobs in the top front ? ...............and how did those back boobs get there?
or Q food shopping.............not suitable for those who are in the depths of PMT?

I do hope that others will e-mail any topics for me to ponder, and post here..................


10 points to = a allergy family.

Dear the points below, if any two points describe your family, then, and only then , are you welcome to follow my happy little postings!


1) your hands sting when you dust around the house, sometimes going a nice shade of red...........

2) your son ( the one with the barrel load of allergies) climbs a tree at the park. Nothing wrong with that, however he comes back down covered in hives.

3) At the park, your hubby tries to shout up at son , who is climbing the tree, to get him to come down. But he finds this difficult, as he is wheeezing and eyes are streaming from hay fever/tree pollen.

4)one bright sunny morning, you watch your children moving oddly down the street on way to school. You realise , while watching them bunny hop, that you are doing the same. For a brief moment, you wonder if you have all caught some nasty disease......................but no, ..........................
you have commited the nightmare of using biological washing powder on your underwear..........

5) one day you accidently poke yourself in the eye, after turning off a dusty bedside lamp...............................finding that sleep is somewhat disturbed, you sit up and put the light on......................hubby takes one look at you , backs off the bed and runs to get the antihistmine. Hollywood pays a fortune to the make up people to get an eye to look as hideous , as swollen, (and slightly weeping ) as yours................dust allergy is soooo much cheaper. Someone should tell them.

6) as a couple you should never have breed, the warning signs were there, you just ignored them.
for instance, attempting to have a romantic session of open air passion, is just not going to work. No one enjoys bouncing up and down on your partner, only to find he/she is going blue. And, anyway, all that grass was stinging the ezcema on the back of your legs like crazy.................

7) sex indoors is the best way, and after a wonderful bout of heavy , sweaty passion, you dont pause for a cuddle, or kiss. No, for you both turn away from each other, and fumble for your inhalers at your respective bedside tables.
for you, the romantic phrase 'you take your breath away' has real meaning.

8) you apply your son's ezcema creams to his skin, his skin looks better, however your hands are red, burning and stinging...................

9) the phone rings, and your first thought after listening ( to the heavy breathing ) is to start shouting at the dirty caller , then calm down and instuct your mother to take her inhaler before calling you.

10) at a family party, your brother runs up to you and unbuttons the top of his jeans, shouting 'hey, take a look at this'!! , gratefully, you realise he is just showing you his tummy. Then you flinch , and look away from the horrible raw, red , weeping area around his tummy and start explaining nickal allergy.................