Last week, Gene had his fourth food allergy appointment. We go once a year for skin prick testing to see if his allergies have become less severe or if he’s entirely outgrown any of them. Through the years, we have learned not to get our hopes up for results such as these. We have accepted his allergies and no longer expect news of them lessening or disappearing at these visits. We are not hopeless, just realistic.
The harsh truth is, we typically get results that his allergies have become more severe over the past year. When you hear these results enough times, you learn to change your prayers. I no longer pray for his allergies to go away, but rather that we are able to successfully manage them for another year until our next visit.
Since Gene was just a few months old, we have known he’s allergic to peanuts, egg whites, and wheat. This information was discovered first through a blood test with our pediatrician and then through a skin prick test with our allergist. Even though Gene was only tested for peanuts (which are legumes, not nuts), the allergist has always stressed that we should keep him away from both peanuts and tree nuts because of the possibility of cross-contact during manufacturing and processing. Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts (black and english). Since Gene is getting older, we wanted definitive answers on tree nut allergies. Along with our regular peanut, egg, and wheat testing, we requested that the doctor test for the major tree nuts. With no reluctance at all, he agreed that it would be beneficial.
However, even though it was beneficial, it was brutal. Testing all eight tree nuts meant those eight pricks, plus the three that we do every year (peanuts, egg whites, and wheat), and the histamine and saline pricks. That’s 13 pricks! I’m not sure if it was the fact that there were so many pricks or if Gene is simply old enough now to recognize what was happening, but it was rough. He winced and cried out with every prick. That wasn’t even the hardest part. My husband and I then had to keep him from scratching for 15 whole minutes while the allergens ran their course. We tried every trick in the book: asking Gene questions about school, talking about what flavor lollipop he was going to choose afterwards, and yes, Paw Patrol on my phone. We reminded him over and over again how brave and strong he was and that it would all be over soon. The combination of all of our antics barely did the trick, but we made it through the lengthy countdown.
As you can see from the photos, Gene is still highly, severely, off-the-charts, allergic to peanuts (#71), egg whites (#44), and wheat (#43). No change there.
All in all, the testing was worth it because we got the BIG NEWS that Gene is not (currently) allergic to any tree nuts! Now, before you get too excited, let me remind you that Gene did not grow out of tree nut allergies. He was never allergic to them in the first place. We simply stayed away from them as a precaution. Now that we know he’s not allergic, we have been given the green light to slowly and cautiously introduce the whole variety of tree nuts to him. Because of choking hazards, our allergist suggested to still stay away from the actual nuts themselves, but experiment with nut products instead. The thought of making things with almond flour, almond butter, and almond milk makes me truly giddy. Truly! Don’t get me started on the excitement of Nutella!
Even with all of the excitement, I haven’t rushed out to the store to buy any of these products. I’m not in that big of a hurry to experiment, because there will always be risks when it comes to Gene and food. I will be a “Nervous Nelly” and will watch him like a hawk, but we’ll (eventually) venture on nonetheless. Stay tuned to hear how it goes!
“May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.”