As I read about the physical and emotional toll that allergies can take, I suddenly understood why Nicholas sometimes had one hot, bright red ear while the other had normal coloring and was cool to the touch. When Nicholas was two and experiencing frequent ear infections, I had asked if the hot, bright red ear were related to his ear infection. The doctor said no but offered no other explanation for the mismatched ears.
A photograph I took during the winter of 1995 shows a severely pale Nicholas with pink circles under his eyes and eczema on his face. His eczema was sometimes so bad that the creases of his elbows became raw and bloody.
In early February 1995, I began a Multiple Food Elimination Diet following Dr. Rapp’s recommendations. I eliminated all common allergens from Nicholas’ diet, including dairy products, eggs, corn, wheat, peas, apples, chocolate, oranges, food colorings, refined sugar, and preservatives.
Four days after beginning the diet, a co-director at Nicholas’ preschool told me that a teacher had come to her office and said, “You’ve got to see Nicholas.” Nicholas was playing calmly. The school’s directors knew that he had begun the Multiple Food Elimination Diet. The teachers did not. The staff at the preschool were struck by how dramatically Nicholas behavior had changed in just a few days on the diet.
Six days after beginning the diet, a friend visited from Germany. Nicholas had a hot dog and Coke® outside the Natural History Museum in Washington, DC where we had taken our friend. Nicholas laid down on the floor of the museum and had to be carried outside.
I began the Multiple Food Elimination Diet all over again. By now, I knew I was on the right track. One by one, I added possible allergens back into Nicholas’ diet, monitoring his reaction to each new food.