Our son has a peanut allergy. This will come as no surprise to those who have been reading this blog for the last few years as you’ve already seen me write about it a few times. Whenever I mention his allergy to other parents they always ask me how we found out. For both of his sisters we waited until they were two to give them peanut butter and when he came along, the ‘rules’ had changed and we could now offer peanut butter after 12 months. Almost exactly two years ago, when he was 15 months, we gave him his first bite. He was fine and we started including it as part of his diet.
It was about the sixth time he’d had it when our sitter called to say that something was going on. We happened to be on our way home from work and she explained to us that he was rashy, itchy, had watery eyes and was sneezing. We rushed home, gave him Benedryl and took him to emergency. They gave us an epi-pen and some follow-up blood work along with an appointment with an allergist confirmed the peanut allergy.
A little over a year later we met with our allergist again and he continued to react to the skin prick test. They asked us to go for more blood work and at the end of last year we found out his levels had gone down instead of up. Good news! We knew his profile matched that of a child who had the potential to grow out of the allergy (no guarantees) so blood levels going down a little felt like a small victory. At that point, the decision was made to food challenge him and we had that appointment on Friday.
You can imagine my anticipation. With low levels and levels going down, I was pretty excited and very much hoping we’d be moving on from this allergy. Although I was trying not to get my hopes up and trying to be realistic, it was impossible.
They started by rubbing a tiny bit of peanut butter on the inside of his cheek. After 15 minutes they took us back in, had a look at him and we were cleared to move on to the next stage. I was then asked to feed him a tiny bit of peanut butter – maybe the size of a small chocolate chip. He ate it and seemed to like it so we went back out to play. Within five minutes I started noticing the hives on his face. My heart sunk as I asked the nurse to come look and they quickly gave him an antihistamine. The test was over. I wanted to cry. A few minutes later as I sent my husband a text, our son came over to me and he didn’t look right. He was hot and flushed. His eyes were getting red. He was itching. There were more hives. We were quickly moved into a room where I had to get his leg out of his pants and then my baby was given his first shot of epinephrine.
He was visibly upset and had to lie down after the shot. I held him on me and reclined on the couch. I cuddled him close and stroked his head quietly for over an hour as our allergist and the nurses kept coming in to check his blood pressure, his temperature and his overall look. All I could picture in my head was the size of that tiny bit of peanut butter he ate. It was (and still is) one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had knowing that a teeny tiny bite of that stuff could make my beautiful, strong, healthy boy so vulnerable.
Somewhere along the way I convinced myself we were dealing with something mild. Somewhere along the way I got complacent. For anyone out there who sneaks things into their kid’s lunches or who gets frustrated with the food rules at schools, I’d suggest spending a few hours at the allergy challenge clinic. Watch kids like mine be perfectly fine one minute and being rushed into a room the next. It gets real. It gets real really fast.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller