Is he still allergic? Retesting for Food Allergies
Some allergists recommend retesting for food allergies every two years. Some say you should retest every year. Some, because their allergies are always changing, do it every six months. At this point in his young life we are on the one year plan for my son. He had a reaction when he was two. Followed up by a positive blood test. Then a skin test a year later.
He starts preschool again in a few days and I needed a new allergy action plan for the school so I called and scheduled a new test as well.
Here’s the thing, I know my kid has a nut allergy. His epinephrine shots in my purse are a constant reminder.
I have known since he was two years old. I knew the day that I almost killed him (but not really) with honey nut o’s. I know it every time I need to purchase special snacks for him for preschool. I know when I send him in to that same not peanut free school for lunch, and hold my breath for the hour that I know he’s eating with the other kids.
I KNOW he has a life threatening nut allergy.
Yet when I took him to get retested last week, there was a small (ok big) part of me that was hoping it was all a mistake. That my memory of his allergic reaction to four little peanuts had somehow become exaggerated in my head. That the blood test was wrong. That the subsequent scratch test was a fluke.
As I sat there on the exam table holding my precious 4year old son against my body as he writhed in pain from how much it itched. I saw the reaction take place before my eyes growing bigger, and bigger still. The entire set that was peanuts and tree nuts became just a giant inflamed blob on his back. And I cried. My tears falling on his little head as he struggled to hear the Cars movie playing on the iPad over his own itch induced shrieks.
The medical assistant came in and looked shocked at the size of his reaction. Then a nurse came in to check his breathing. Then finally the doctor. Each one surprised. They do this every day, I thought. This shouldn’t be so shocking? Is it that bad? The tears again.
It hit me like a ton of bricks.
My son has a life threatening allergy to peanuts and tree nuts. There is no doubt.
I walked into that appointment hoping that perhaps he grew out of it. That’s the hope and the dream right? They’ll grow out of it. People say that to me all the time when I tell them he has a nut allergy. “But he can grow out of it right?” Right. In theory. Maybe. Someday.
So I took all those hopes and good wishes into that room last week.
I just want him to be safe. I want him to not have to run across the room at a party and say “Mommy can I eat this?” And have to say “No, Baby I’m sorry.” I want him to be able to eat with his friends. I want to send him on a playdate without the fear that those in charge will fail him. I also hate that I have to put friends in that position. I want him to not think that some foods could kill him. He’s too young to even comprehend what that means. He just knows he’ll get sick. But I know. I know he could die. (And now the tears again.)
So I move ahead with a renewed vigilance to keep my boy safe.
But there’s something else that I can’t quite place. A sadness perhaps. Yes, just a desperate sadness. Life is so fragile. So tenuous. One little thing, the size of a peanut or a pistachio or an almond, could change everything.
I knew it before, but for some reason this time, it sank in. Deep.
When I left the office the doctor said, “Well we won’t have to test him for nuts for a while. Be sure you always have enough epi pens.” Sigh. Now I kinda wish we were on the yearly plan. It might mean that glimmer of hope was still there.
Does anyone you love have a food allergy. How are you feeling about it?