The Results Are In… (on food allergies)

Today we after repeatedly having to reschedule the appointments for various reasons, we finally ┬áhad Eli’s skin test done with the allergist.

Many months ago without thinking I gave Eli a piece of my granola bar, forgetting that it contained peanuts which I want to withhold until he is 5 years old. He developed a few hives on his neck within about 10 minutes of eating it. Ugh…! I figured I’d keep an eye on that, but since I didn’t plan to be giving him peanuts any time soon it would be a long while before it would be an issue.

Fast forward to December. We brought home some Vietnamese takeout and I had forgotten to specify no peanuts when placing the order by phone. I made sure none of the peanuts made it’s way onto Eli’s plate, but he did have some rice noodles that had touched peanuts. (Not my smartest moment, but there you have it.) Twenty minutes after eating I notice a hive on his shoulder. Oh boy… here we go.

As soon as we were back in town after the holidays I told the pediatrician who gave us a prescription for the Epi-pen and a referral to have the skin test done.

I’ve been so nervous, waiting (and dreading) the appointment and the resulting verdict. In the meantime I did some reading on food allergies, which didn’t do much to give me any peace of mind, but did begin educating me on the topic. I’ve demonstrated the use of the Epi-pen to anyone working in the church nursery. You know, heaven forbid, just in case… I’d wake up in the middle of the night acutely aware of the bag of peanut M&M’s, the jar of snacking peanuts, and the peanut butter lurking in the house like an evil presence just waiting for some moment of faltering vigilance to pounce upon my son.

So today was the day…

The Mantoux skin test consists of an intraderm...

and glory of glories, there is NO peanut allergy!!

I can’t describe the level of relief I feel.

The doctor couldn’t tell us why he broke out in hives. He did say how to deal with it if it happens again, and when it would warrant a re-visit to his office.

Interestingly, there was also no dairy allergy. It seems his rashes and gastrointestinal discomfort at minute exposures to cow’s milk are actually a food sensitivity. It is still something we will need to keep out of Eli’s diet, so nothing will change in practice, but we don’t have to worry that his reaction will ever be life-threatening!

(On a side note, there aren’t even any seasonal allergies. He has Vasomotor Rhinitis which has nothing to do with allergies at all. For at least a year now I thought I’d totally given Eli the short end of the sticks in the genetic department as far as allergies are concerned. So glad he doesn’t take after good ol’ mom in this aspect. We’ll always have the tea!)

While the reading on food allergies I’ve done over the past month or so was responsible for some intensified anxiety on my part, it also made me aware of the fear, isolation and stress families that are dealing with food allergies live with on a daily basis. I have the utmost respect for those parents. I am so thankful not to rank among them!

I learned that now that I know that what Eli has is not a milk allergy I need to label it correctly when speaking with others. It’s tempting to use the word allergy. People understand it and I don’t have to do a lot of explaining. I’ve called it an allergy for a long time now, believing that that was what it was, so there’s the issue of not seeming like I’m inconsistent. I don’t want people thinking “Oh, it’s not an allergy, so it doesn’t really matter if I give him this piece of candy, or goldfish cracker. He really wants it and it won’t really hurt him.” (No, he won’t end up in the hospital but he will have a rash for about 2 weeks and be fussy and unable to sleep for a couple of days due to gastrointestinal upset.) But if I label this to others as an allergy, and people learn that his reaction isn’t all that bad, they might treat the next person’s allergy less seriously too, and for that person it could be life threatening.

I will never complain or question if an organization(school or otherwise) Eli is involved with in the future has strict rules regarding not bringing certain food items. What a small thing to ask if it means another family will be able to let their allergic child participate in community without fear of dying on a daily basis! And if these mothers ever seem strident or pushy… well, shouldn’t they? Who wouldn’t if there were such a real and serious threat to the well-being and even the life of their child? Nobody should be mocked or ostracized for protecting their child.

And with that I will step off my soap box. And I’ll keep thanking God for the wonderful news I received today. Because but for the grace of God there go I.

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