Yesterday, John had to go for an esophagram, a series of x-rays taken of the esophagus while drinking a barium mixture. Although no parent likes to see their child go through medical testing, it was quite anxiety-inducing because John has many food and chemical allergies and the drink contained one of his allergens, corn. Thankfully, corn has never given him a severe reaction, which we understand can change at any time, however, it does cause him gastrointestinal distress and behavioral changes.
Corn is tricky because it’s not what people initially think of, corn on the cob or corn kernels. Corn is in almost everything. Until I started researching it to make sure we were feeding him a corn-free diet, I didn’t realize how many things were derived from corn. Iodized salt uses corn as a binding agent, citric acid, used as a preservative in food, is usually grown on corn, and even vitamins such as vitamin E is derived from corn. It is not a top eight allergen, so it does not need to be labeled and since there are so many things derived from corn, we had to become expert label readers, often walking around the grocery store googling ingredients.
Up until now, we have never intentionally given John corn, but when my husband sent me a picture from the hospital of the listed ingredients, we had to make a decision. Do we have him do the test and suffer for a day or two, or do we skip the test and hope they can still diagnose the problems he’s having? We opted to have him do the test. Soon after John got home from the test, I could tell he wasn’t himself. He was sitting in the corner, staring off, not interacting with me or his sister. Then he seemed to just snap out of it and I thought we had gotten through the worst of it. Later on in the day, I realized his stomach was bothering him and his poor little butt became raw as the corn products were passing through his system.
Dealing with food allergies is difficult in so many ways. If you do not have a child with food allergies or you do not have them yourself, it is hard to grasp how life-changing they are. When we started this journey with him at two months old, it never occurred to us that it would change every aspect of his and our life. The food he eats, the medicine he takes, the arts and crafts he plays with. There is never a time you can let your guard down. Products we once thought were safe, become unsafe because the company changed the recipe or product lines it is manufactured on. There is no cure and may never be, so all we can do is adapt, and teach John to adapt. Eventually, we will send him out into the world alone, without us supervising everything he eats and touches, and I just hope we have done a good enough job educating him on how to handle each situation that arises. Until that time, we will continue to do our research, google ingredients, and teach John how to be safe.
For those that are new to a corn allergy, I’ve provided a few links below for some of John’s favorite foods.* Please note, everyone’s sensitivity is different and should be trialed individually.
*I am an Amazon Associate and may receive program fees for qualifying purchases.