Our journey begins when Garrett was a baby, just six weeks old. He had severe eczema all over his body but the worst was his head, arms, and legs. I knew something wasn't right with the red blotches and the blisters that kept appearing. We took him to the local doctor and they put him on Benadryl and different creams to help. After about four months, new effects were appearing. More blotches appeared when he ate on his hands, on his face, and down his tummy. I recall making spaghetti one night and while he was eating it, he ended up with red welts on his cheeks, on his hands and where the spaghetti fell on his stomach. I thought to myself, "This is crazy!" We then decided to take him to the specialist and try to see what was going on. Our first thought was he's allergic to tomatoes, OK, no biggy, but let's be sure.
Now the real story begins:
An appointment was made for allergy testing and the skin prick test. This was really had to watch, mind you, on an 18-month old who also has a bleeding disorder. They tested him for various allergens plus the eight common ones (wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, milk, shellfish, fish, and soy) besides tomatoes. To our surprise, he tested positive to wheat, eggs and peanuts. WOW is all we thought! It wasn't the tomatoes or the acid from the tomatoes burning his skin.
Next step was the oral challenges. We made a return appointment to do the food oral challenge: he failed both the wheat and the eggs. At first, with the wheat, it didn't even show for an hour then all the hives appeared. Now with the eggs, he didn't even have to eat them. The nurse walked in and said this goes in three steps: rub on arm, rub around the mouth, then eat. Well needless to say, by the time she wiped it on his arm, he was getting hives from it. With all this information, we now knew we needed to go all wheat and egg free. We decided not to test for peanuts at that time because we needed to read labels anyway and just wanted to let it be until he started school.
August of 2009 he had tubes put in his ears and had a reaction to the medication the doctor gave him to put him out. Oh! I am NOT doing that again! Major reaction to the medication, come to find out the medication has an egg base and no one was aware of it. While recouping from the tubes, he was lying on the couch and scratched his arm causing it to bleed. When I went to turn his head, he instantly had a reaction! His nose got as red and huge like a marble and my finger prints were welts on his face after touching him. Prior to this time, it hadn't occurred to me not to touch him after eating ice cream, especially with peanuts in it. Off to the emergency room we went. We are now avoiding peanuts totally. That was a very positive test to the peanut allergen. Just imagine how hard it is, knowing that you almost killed your child after touching him just to help him!
Since January 2010, he has gone into anaphylactic shock three times and has been close to dying each time. Just think, so simple a thing as touching something can cause a reaction. It was the worst feeling in March, carrying an almost lifeless child into the ER as he was unconscious and barely breathing. Is he going to wake up? Will we ever see him smile at us again? He ended up having a severe allergic reaction to something. We had to use EPI for the first time. They told us next time we can't transfer him to the hospital if he is going to react like this, we have to call 911. Well, eight weeks later we were back in the ER! He was at church and had another reaction. This time we have no clue what the reaction was to, but he did end up having an ambulance ride. Each reaction has gotten more severe.
As we did not know what he had gotten into at the church, we have had to start looking at more types of allergens that he may be reacting to. currently he is being tested for yet another allergen: soy. This makes four known allergens he is allergic to.
After a phone call from my mother saying, "I think you need to check on this place, honey, to see if something like this will help Garrett". I looking into it. It is a company that trains dogs to detect the smell of the allergen that a child is reacting to. The company is Angel Service Dogs. I was like Wow! I didn't realize a dog could do this!
After contacting them we decided we needed to fund raise to get this service dog for Garrett. These dogs, with the training, travel, etc. cost over $22,000. Yes, I agree! That is a lot of money! But ask yourself this; is it worth your child's life?
Currently, he isn't allowed to leave the house without his "bodyguards"; mom, dad, older brother (Jake) or older sister (Taryn) and a couple of friends that know what to look for if he is having a reaction. Garrett can't go to school doe to there is too many things that need to be done to keep him safe. No parks, no out to eat, no pool, all the things a "normal" four- almost five-year old loves to do! For most things, he is now to the point where he says, "This is NOT fair!!" Getting this service dog will open new worlds for Garrett and all of his family. They will be able to do "family" things without fear looking over them. He needs to be able to be a kid! The fact that we are not able to give him freedom is very sad!