Thursday, August 30, 2012

My favorite reaction

People joke that if they eat too much junk food it goes straight to their hips.  For M, it goes straight to his eyes.
That isn't his eyelid that's swollen, it's the eyeball itself.

Though I hate all his additive reactions, this is one I also secretly appreciate.  People don't always believe me that many processed foods make it hard for M to manage his behavior.  You can see it in their faces: "My kid ate the same thing, and you don't see her bouncing off the walls."  Plus, behavior is so hard to quantify... How do you measure how hard your kid is to handle?  Handsful-of-hair ripped out per hour? 

That jelly-like substance in his eyelid?  That's
his eyeball, swollen beyond all recognition.  I think
it's described as conjunctival chemosis.
But who is going to argue with this?  I wish I knew exactly which food additive gives him this reaction, but we haven't pinpointed it yet.  It's happened several times, most recently when he ate "five spice duck" (Pbet pa-lo) at Yaya's house a few weeks ago.

We drove back to the vendor the next day to ask what was in the soup that might have caused his reaction.  It had MSG, which we already avoid, and a bottled sweet, thick soya sauce- which, depending on the brand, has all kinds of food additives from colors, to preservatives, to flavor enhancers.

I love this reaction because it makes the doubters eat their words.  Yaya is likely to feed him what we pack for him from now on, after seeing his face swell up within minutes of eating the lunch that she figured was "probably good enough".  The downside- I don't know if this extreme swelling is harmful to his eyes, but it seems likely that it is.

At the very least, this reaction gives me something that I can explain easily when we're turning down food with additives, without launching into a huge explanation of our food choices.  He's allergic*.  Want to see what he looks like when he eats it?

*The doctor insisted this was not an allergic reaction despite all symptoms pointing to an allergic reaction to food or medicine, because, "You can't be allergic to food additives."   For the record, he does not agree with our additive-free lifestyle.


  1. Time to find a new doctor! And I don't see why you can't be allergic to additives. You can be allergic to FOOD. You can be allergic to non-food substances, such as latex.

    You can be allergic to petrol products. Nuff said.

    1. Thank you! It's so obvious, right? I know we need to find a new doctor, and I even got a great recommendation from a friend for a doctor who will understand 'people like us'. I just haven't had to energy to go through transferring the boys' medical records and explaining everything to someone else.