When the sky cleared after a day or two of good heavy rain, Mason, age 4, asked his mom Kristal to go outside to play. And out they went. He noticed a puddle and started rolling his truck in the water. Eventually, he was rolling around in the mud.
“He went from touching the water to completely covered in mud,” remembers Kristal. “We were out there for a few hours, and he was having the time of his life.” When it was time to clean up to go inside, “he thought being hosed off was completely hilarious,” she recalled.
It was during this fun afternoon that Kristal snapped the picture below that was selected as one of the winners of the More Than Food Allergies photo contest during Food Allergy Awareness Week in May.
She submitted the picture with the caption “Food allergies and FPIES are tough, but he is tougher! We don't let our food issues get in the way of great fun.”
Mason has food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome (FPIES), as well as food and environmental allergies.
“One day, I noticed his diapers had blood and mucus in it. We knew that was a problem and took him to the pediatrician,” shared Kristal. “They told us to go to the allergist. He said he had food allergies. As we went on, he said he fully believed he has FPIES too.”
Mason was diagnosed with FPIES around age 1. “It took several months of him (and us) suffering before he was diagnosed,” shared Kristal.
His food allergies and FPIES play off of each other. Mason is allergic to milk and rice. He also has intolerances to oats, eggs and soy.
“He still has stomach issues even being off those things, so it is possible that he has more that. We just don’t know,” shared Kristal. “There is not a day that he doesn’t have bad stomach issues for the restroom. It shows every day. He tells us a lot that his tummy hurts. He has to go take care of his business, and it’s not pretty.”
Mason knows he can’t have certain foods because it hurts his stomach. That doesn’t stop him from generally being a happy boy. He loves playing with cars and trucks, as well as fishing and anything to do with water. He enjoys playing T-ball, doing gymnastics and even taking a ninja warrior class.
“He is a very brave boy when it comes to gutsy kind of things,” Kristal shared. “He has very little fear.”
What is hard for Mason is going out and about, particularly to celebrations that involve food.
“It is hard going to birthday parties,” shared Kristal.
During one party, she vividly remembers all the kids eating pizza. Mason sat with them, turned over his plate and pointed his thumbs down.
“I bring his stuff, but there he is eating raisins and hummus, and everyone else is eating party food,” recounted Kristal.
She always packs food when they go out. To find foods Mason can eat, she shops at multiple grocery stores. She is also helping him learn to advocate for himself.
“You learn to roll with it and figure out what works best for your child and your family as a whole to deal with things,” she commented.
Mason’s grandparents are also a huge help with managing his dietary restrictions. They always keep safe foods at their house for when he comes over to visit. In fact, Kristal’s dad loves to cook and find new things for Mason to eat.
Kristal recommends that other parents of children with FPIES “find a really good pediatrician, allergist and gastroenterologist that you can really trust and are willing to work together. I am fortunate to have a team of doctors that will listen to each other and check in with me to see what the other one has said about things. That is a big help.”