Not too many years ago (I mean, it can't be too many, my kid's only five), we had to eliminate a whole pile of food from my son's life thanks to (confirmed) food allergies. Strawberries, tomatoes, dairy, soy, eggs, white fishes (all of them!), shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts... I'm not sure if there were more, but you get the idea. A lot. It sounds horrible, and you might wonder how we fed him, but you know what? There's a lot of food out there, and he did just fine. In fact, he was 26lbs by six months of age. Ha.
We used to see his allergist every six months. Young kids' immune systems change and develop so rapidly that allergies can come and go, so she kept a close eye on him. First, he could tolerate soy, then eggs when baked, or dairy in yogurt only. Even his white fish allergy, which our allergist was certain would stay for life, disappeared. But when those things all went away, he was confirmed allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. It was like a punch to the gut. How come everything else had gone away, but these things popped up? No fair.
Now, the thing with my son is that he was never fed nuts or peanuts because he was considered a high risk kid, given all his other confirmed allergies. But one day when he was around three years old, he was given a chocolate containing peanut butter by a family member. I'll never forget the terror in my daughter's eyes as she told me how that chocolate must be peanut butter, because she licked his fingers clean, and smelled him, and oh mommy, will he die? My heart in my throat, I cleaned his face and watched. No reaction. No hive, nothing. He had had a skin prick test that confirmed an allergy (with a fairly large hive, I might add) but here he was not reacting.
The allergist re-tested and his skin prick test was still positive. He had blood work, and it came back negative but because his skin reaction was still fairly large, we were told to continue avoiding peanuts and tree nuts.
That was two years ago now, and my son is used to wearing an emergency epinephrine auto-injector to school. He's just five years-old, but he tells people about his allergies, and explains why he cannot eat at certain places or share certain snacks. It's a big burden for a small kid to have to recognize that one mistakenly eaten candy could mean the end of his life. But this is our reality.
Last year, my son's environmental allergies were confirmed. This year he is officially asthmatic. I'm so done with all this junk. I wouldn't wish allergies on anyone. So at our most recent visit, I went in hopeful but understanding this is just our way of life now.
Here's Mason's back being prepped to test him for a tree nut panel (it's a bunch of nut proteins), and peanut allergy:
And here's the result:
Do you know what this means? Do you have any idea how this one little test could change my son's entire life?
This test shows that Mason's not reacting to the tree nut panel anymore. This means he can be referred to SickKids for the oral food challenge.
This also means that his reaction to peanuts, while still being positive, is fairly small. And given his history (the suspected ingestion without reaction), he could also be a good candidate for the oral challenge.
I nearly cried happy tears. Ok, I did cry them. And I might be crying them again now. But I don't want to get my hopes up too much. Our next step is another blood test where they'll test each protein in peanuts as well as almonds (because he tested positive to those in the past, but has had almond milk without issue). If his blood tests are negative, we will be referred for the oral challenges.
I can't imagine the possibilities, I really can't. The last five years of my life have aged me twenty with stress and worry.
Cross your fingers for us, will you?