It was an ordinary evening in July 2000 when I first knew something wasn’t quite right with Benjamin, my then 4-month-old son. I had just fed him mashed potatoes made with milk – one of his first solid foods.
Moments later, his face and body erupted into angry hives, indicating an allergic reaction. A bath and a dose of infant Benadryl cleared up the problem quickly, but it would prove to be the beginning of a very wild ride.
At age 2, Benjamin was diagnosed allergic to 35 different foods, including most proteins. To this day, he can’t ingest many legumes, peanuts, tree nuts, poultry, beef, pork, eggs and dairy. He has twice experienced anaphylactic shock, where his throat shuts down, causing shallow breathing. More often, trace amounts of allergic foods induce violent vomiting.
Once Benjamin was on a controlled diet, he stabilized for two years and we were hopeful he would outgrow most of his sensitivities. But at age 4, he developed a constant cough. I could tell something wasn’t right again. Our pediatric GI doctor confirmed my worst fears: Benjamin had Celiac Disease.
Celiac Disease is a lifelong, digestive disorder affecting children and adults. When people with Celiac eat foods containing gluten, the protein in wheat, oats and rye, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and prevents food from being properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten can cause problems for a Celiac sufferer.
Benjamin will have Celiac Disease for life and as a consequence, he’s changed our lives. We’re for the better as a result and dealing with the condition made it easier to deal with another troubling diagnosis, the one we received with our third child. I will share that story in my next post.
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