Seeking Transparency through the Complexities of a Corn Allergy.

The Reason

September, 2011.  The second day of First Grade.  This is when it all began.

Sick.  The second day of school.  Sneezing.  Sneezing. Sneezing.  And I mean SNEEZING!!

If there were a sign illuminating the entrance to what would become a very confusing, frustrating, disheartening two years of weaving our way through what we call the Corn Maze, it would have read Sneeze This Way! One day my daughter (then age 7) was healthy and happy;  the next, as though we literally crossed into new territory, SICK! And it all started with crazy sneezing fits like I’ve never witnessed.  This child of mine sneezed and sneezed and sneezed some more. One slight cough or clearing of the throat would lead to sneezing fits of upwards to 30-40 consecutive sneezes. Continuous. Day and night.  Awake or asleep.  Home or school.  Inside or out.  This lasted for a good couple of months.

As the sneezing began to subside, coughing began to take its place.  I virtually  watched her symptoms morph from one to the next.  No true healthy breaks in two years.  Always an ebb and flow of one symptom to another.  This coughing spell is best described as continuous.  It wasn’t terribly concerning, other than it was always present.

I genuinely started to become concerned when true physical dysfunction began to take over.  Sharp, shooting, electric jolts into her legs, knees and hips.  The coughing and sneezing had begun to ease, with the onset and intensity of nerve pain and electricity.

At this point, we had tried the traditional western medicine approach, acupuncture, homeopathy, and myofascial release.  The traditional approach left us with zyrtec and cough suppressant.  The acupuncture, homeopathy and myofascial release all helped in their own regard;  to ease her symptoms a bit and offer some clarity around them.  I was able to see some patterns develop where I couldn’t before.  Discussing this mystery from a root cause perspective was invaluable, as opposed to simply treating the symptoms.  As I began to treat her whole-being, and tie the ever-morphing symptoms together, I knew we were in some extremely foreign territory.  What I had known to be a very healthy kid, was suddenly changed, and at this early stage in the Corn Maze, it was frightfully out of my control.

Come spring time the pure exhaustion was in high gear.  Missed days of school was common.  Extra curricular anything was out of the question.  Her stamina was very low.  Around 7 months of negotiating chronic sneezing, coughing, fatigue, electrical jolts and physical joint pain.  I was more than puzzled and concerned.  This was going nowhere good.

My daughter ended First Grade covered in hives and a newly developed tic.

Ok! Time out!!  Let’s hit the pause button here!!!  Anybody know what WT!* means??

At this point, it dawned on me it HAD to be something she was ingesting.  Although she showed insignificant intestinal dysfunction, intuition led me to exploring food allergies.  I was able to trace back two revealing hive outbreaks after a visit to a local, summer ice cream stand.

(I guess now is a good time to mention, my daughter spends time with both her dad and I, in two different houses.  This piece of the puzzle made it that much more difficult to untangle this mystery.)

Towards the end of the summer, I called a highly respected naturopath colleague of mine, Doctor Peter Knight.  He provided EXACTLY what we needed at this point!  We had discussed the past several months in depth.  I had explained my suspicions of food being an issue.  He agreed and suggested we start with an elimination diet which we began immediately.

Silly me, wishful thinking, at this point, I thought it was dairy.  Because of the hive outbreak, seemingly related to the ice cream stand visits, I was breathing easier for the first time in almost a year, thinking my daughter had an allergy to dairy.

WRONG!

Towards the end of her very simple (meaning restricted) elimination diet we were at the grocery store.  I remember clear as day, this infamous trip to Hannaford.  I had noticed how there was such an increase to her energy that day.  A little skip to her step!  She was FINALLY feeling better.  She had asked to get a few corn nuts from the bulk bins section.  Seemed ok to me.  Naively, I am thinking we need to avoid dairy.  I was admittedly a little brazen in my attitude of  ‘cool, I so got this dairy thing’.  Lightly thinking Ahhh, for this nightmare to end, all we have to do is cut out dairy.

WRONG!!

Corn nuts, bulk section.  Not even 5 minutes later!!!!  Right before my eyes, my newly returned, skip-to-her-step, 7 year old was dragging through the grocery store.  Deep, dark, purply shiner circles under her eyes.  It was like watching a scene in slow motion.  It was like the entire store stopped and over the loud speaker I heard, “IT’S THE CORN!”

Nooooooooooooooooo!!!!

During the inception of wrapping my mind around the probability of a food allergy, I had learned enough to know that Corn is the sucker punch thrown from  a ruthless bully!  It comes at you from every blind spot imaginable.  Even taken head on, Corn has become a disguised, deceptive, unmarked ingredient that is very difficult to avoid without high levels of diligence and awareness.

This story, our reality, is the REASON for this website.  I hope to share with you some of what we have learned.  Developed to help add to the exposure and understanding that is slowly being created around corn as an allergen.  For those who are sensitive or allergic, it is serious stuff!  I can’t imagine where we would be if Autumn was still eating a corny diet.  I am so grateful for what we have discovered.  I see it as a gift.  As I continue to share more about our journey and the harsh truth of how corn lurks in our food, perhaps you’ll see why.

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