It seems like the last couple of weeks have been all about poking holes in my family. Between Green Card blood tests for myself, Damyan and Evie, vaccinations for Henry, Evie and Milo (yes, I’m talking about a stinky Labrador, but he’s family too, dammit), and probably yet more visa-enforced jabs this week , it’s starting to feel like we’re just a sad little gang of pin cushions!
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, today was no exception.
I wrote on Friday about Henry’s recent reaction to peanuts, and today we had our appointment at the Northwest Asthma and Allergy Center to confirm the diagnosis. We had a rocky start, I must admit – being left alone for 40 minutes in a tiny consulting room, with an infallibly curious 15 month old and unlocked drawers filled with medical supplies, does not make for a chilled start to the day. I think I grew at least a dozen new grey hairs, right then and there.
But then, in walked Dr. Suave. Tall, dark and handsome, with an unerringly confident manner – even Henry was momentarily distracted from posting spirometers into the trash can. Dr. S. took Henry’s history, gave him a high five, then talked at length about his love of the UK, the Beatles, and his very romantic honeymoon in Bournemouth. Of all places.
Dr. Suave went on to say that Henry’s reaction was “pretty conclusive”, but that we’d run the skin test anyway, and include several tree nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews) as well, just in case.
So, in walked the nurse, with a tray full of tiny little fluid-filled pipettes. She marked Henry’s back, and explained that we would be testing for 5 different allergens. There would also be a prick for saline and for histamine, as controls. The saline shouldn’t react at all, and the histamine would turn into an angry looking mosquito bite. She told me that each poke feels just like being scratched with a cocktail stick. Some children barely notice, and some absolutely hate it.
Let’s just say, Henry was not a fan.
The number 23, huh? Didn’t they make a movie about this?
We were left alone for 15 minutes, after which time any reaction should be obvious, apparently. Henry was a wee star, playing with cars, eating Goldfish crackers, and wrapping himself up in table paper. Meanwhile, his back remained resolutely unreactive.
Yay!!!! Or so you might think. In many ways, this is really brilliant news. It looks like he might not be allergic to peanut, after all. Wow, that certainly makes life easier, for all of us! But, on the other hand, what on earth made him so sick?? This doesn’t give us any answers, doesn’t let me know whether I still need to keep my little monster away from nuts “just in case”, and, most importantly, doesn’t mean that we no longer have to carry an Epi-pen.
Dr. Suave is equally perplexed. And so, unbelievably, it’s time for yet another poke for poor Henry. Hey ho, hey ho, it’s off to Children’s Hospital we go. Again.
Apparently the next step is to have a blood test. Although less reliable than the skin test, it “tests slightly differently”, so sometimes the results can be different. And if that is negative, then it’s time for the Oral Challenge – basically, feeding Henry peanut butter, in gradually increasing amounts, and seeing what happens. In a highly controlled environment, of course. There’s only so much I can take!
A frustrating day, all round, really. Whilst it’s wonderful news that Henry probably isn’t allergic to peanuts, it’s incredibly vexing to come away feeling like we still have no answers. On the plus side, however, it seems that my super smart son has found his vocation already:
It is in his blood, after all.