We were at our final stop light before getting to daycare on a typical weekday. The light was red and we were stopped, waiting for our turn to get on with our journey. Typical small town morning. There was probably a song from Moana playing through my phone into the radio…then I heard it…a sound that can make anyone turn on a dime and put everything into slow motion…Arlo was gagging, coughing and puking. It wasn’t just a bit of vomit, it was projectile liquid, spewing everywhere. Only missing the rest of the car because the seat in front of him acted as a shield as the liquid just kept coming. Eventually he was literally choking on it and I was panicking because I was behind the wheel, as the light finally turned green, trying to just get up the road to the daycare where I could stop the car and help him. I had no towels, tissues and of course, no wipes, because they didn’t get back into the diaper bag that morning. I was able to one-handed toss his blanket onto him, which helped catch the chunks (ew).
We finally got up to the daycare and I jumped out of the car after throwing it into park violently. He wasn’t gagging anymore, but he was crying and startled. I opened the back seat to the carnage that was dinner from the night before. I ran in and got almost an entire roll’s worth of paper towels from our daycare provider, a towel and some plastic bags. I cleaned up what I could, but Arlo and the car seat were soaked and covered in bits of meat and corn…and that’s when the pieces started coming together.
Why am I going into such graphic detail? Because the life of food allergies is often graphic and these details are what allowed me to piece things together. As I cleaned everything up I was mumbling to myself, “why does it always have to be chunks of corn! They get stuck everywhere?” It was later that I realized the last time this happened (Arlo has episodes of motion sickness in the car) we were also scraping corn out of my backseat on a 6-hour road trip and actually just went to the nearest Target and bought an entirely new car seat. That Chipotle lunch had covered my car in record time.
Back to this day though, I cleaned what I could, calmed Arlo down, packed everything back up and headed back home, since it’s not recommended to leave a vomiting child at daycare, even though I was certain it was motion sickness. He slept for a bit when we got home, while I disassembled the car seat to wash it (pain-in-the-ass), and in that process I thought to myself again, “why is it always corn?!” And then I started to pieces of the pattern that has been Arlo’s infancy and toddlerhood. His food allergies have always been digestive in nature, causing severe upset and horrendous diapers. Don’t you love this blog post!
I started thinking about simple things he eats, like corn chips or the occasional gummy bears, that are often followed by a day or two of awful diapers, which we usually write off to this sensitive stomach in general, like when he eats too many tomatoes or oranges. But this was different, because we now had multiple occasions of vomiting after meals containing corn. Lark has always vomited during episodes of anaphylaxis, so it’s no surprise that I felt a rush of panic come over me.
We had hoped he was on the up-and-up when it came to his allergies, mainly because he’s yet to exhibit any signs of anaphylaxis and can even tolerate some soy nowadays (we haven’t tested dairy with him yet). But life would throw us another curveball with the latest development. And it turns out corn is in SO MANY THINGS! I mean, I’m fully aware of how bad things like corn syrup can be for people, but it’s literally in everything, hiding in words like:
- Baking powder
- Caramel color (can be made from corn syrup)
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Cornmeal, cornstarch (may also be called food starch), corn syrup
- Dextrin, Dextrose, Fructose
- Maltodextrins, Sorbitol, Mannitol
In addition to corn and maize…
Awesome. Another allergen that’s not required to be called out on labels, due to it not being considered a top allergen. I’ve read up on it a lot already and it’s argued often as to whether or not to even consider it an “allergy,” as opposed to an “intolerance,” since an intolerance to corn is recognized in some health circles, acting similarly to gluten intolerance, which isn’t a true allergy either (unless you have celiac disease, but that’s another story). Corn is a grain and doesn’t contain similar proteins as other top allergens, classifying it differently and behaving differently in individual cases. I’ve been wanting to get back to a more grain-free diet as is, so I guess this is my push.
And then I thought back to when he was strictly on Similac’s Alimentum formula because he couldn’t tolerate much else and it still was never perfect for him. I remembered a specific thread on a message board where a mother said that the liquid was better for some kids, due to corn being omitted from the ingredients in the liquid. I didn’t think much of it then, because corn was never on our radar, but looking back now and knowing that corn is a main ingredient in the powdered formula, I tend to wonder if that’s why the formula was still a problem for him ( I switched him to homemade formula and corrected all of it anyway, but was on Alimentum for about 3 months).
Enjoying what was probably his last time eating Target popcorn…
So here we are. I will have to learn to navigate in a world full of corn ingredients. He seems to be less severe with things that have corn IN them, as opposed to actual corn. I’m trying to pull it out of his diet in the obvious places, but I’m learning that it’s in some not-so-obvious places, like gummy bears, which have been a go-to treat for my dairy-allergic kids who can’t have chocolate, nuts and so many other things that are in baked goods, etc…and I’ll have to find some new recipes for things that are staples, but we will figure it out…like we always do…I’m still thankful we’ve not had life-threatening reactions with him, but it’s still not enjoyable to have to deal with, granted doing without certain corn ingredients is better for his health overall…
My sweet Arlo, the corn-on-the-cob lover…mama will try her best to keep the stomach aches at bay…