Several weeks ago, it was time for my son’s one-year allergy follow-up. As the appointment date approached, I had a variety of emotions. First, I was completely dreading the experience on his behalf, knowing he’d have to have his skin pricked a dozen times again this year.
But I was also so, so hopeful.
I was fairly confident that soy would no longer be an issue for us since last year’s test placed it so low on the scale. And I was pretty darn hopeful that dairy would be back on the table too — it hadn’t been as severe as nuts or eggs last year. Plus, I guess I’m just really, really ready to have some cheese in my life again.
My son — just six weeks shy of his second birthday — took everything in stride. He cried at the initial skin prick and then turned his attention to Monsters Inc. on the iPad. (I heart you, Pixar.) This distraction helped us pass the time and kept his mind off the itchiness that he must surely have been feeling. I held him tightly and used my phone to monitor the test's progress as the 15 minutes passed.
There was no mistaking that a few hives were appearing. And growing.
Still, I had hope. Because a few of those spots just looked like minor irritations. Cheese and ice cream, here we come!
The nurse came in and noted the results, and the allergist returned to go over them with us.
The shockingly good news was that soy and peanuts and almonds registered no allergy.
The bad news was he remained off-the-charts allergic to eggs — and the dairy allergy, too, was now just as severe.
I couldn’t believe it. How could that be? It was the opposite of what I had expected.
Perhaps an error in our testing a year ago was one explanation.
But let’s focus on the positive: Peanuts, nuts, soy.
The next step was a blood test to confirm the skin test. A week later, my boy had his blood work, and a few days after that, the allergist called to let us know that the blood test revealed no allergies to soy, peanuts or a number of tree nuts. Because we’ve had no history of reactions, the allergist said we had a choice: We could introduce these foods on our own, or if we weren’t comfortable doing so, we could schedule a challenge test in the allergist’s office. We elected to begin introducing these foods on our own.
I'm not gonna lie; It’s been nerve wracking. Let’s not do it on a weekend in case we need to go to the doctor. And not the night before I have a big meeting. Oh, and let’s not introduce a new food late at night because I don’t want to go to the ER so late. Actually, I don’t want to go to the ER at all. Come to think of it, do we really want to introduce these foods?
He has since had a little soy exposure as well as almond milk. I also recently made some cashew milk ice cream. And he's had a few peanut butter-filled pretzels (and appears to love them as much as Daddy).
For the most part, things seem OK. At the very least, no serious life-threatening allergic reactions. If you're an allergy parent, you know this is BIG. If you're not, let me just tell you: THIS IS HUGE!
But with the good comes the bad: Dairy and eggs are still off the table for at least another year; but I guess the good news, the allergist tells me, is that most kids (something like 80 percent) outgrow these allergies by the time they’re 5. The nut and peanut allergies aren’t as likely to be outgrown — and can be quite severe. He may have dodged a bullet there.
So, ultimately, while the results aren't what I expected or hoped for, the truth is they're really good. They're progress. And while, yes, it's hard to avoid eggs and dairy, this is probably the best possible news for my son's long-term health. I'll take it.