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Food Allergy Week Celebration. Maybe. Possibly. Sort Of.

Posted Apr 26 2010 8:30am

It seems like everything has a "week". Food Allergy Week is May 9-15, and it's always in the back of my mind. Never more so than this year.

When Gabriel was a baby, he had RSV several times. He also had these odd groups of random hives. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason - he'd just break out in hives. The doctor told me to give him Bendadryl. We went to a party when he was about 15 months old and he crawled around on the floor, and when I picked him up he was happy enough, but his entire body was one big welt.

Food allergy testing was ordered, and we skin tested him for many, many things. The screaming and furious clawing at his back and arms gave it away - the kid had multiple positive reactions. We followed with a blood draw and ultimately dropped peanut, all tree nuts and coconut from his diet. He was very mildly allergic to peanuts but a class 5 to coconut and pecans, brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, macadamias - pretty much every nut there is.We practiced strict avoidance, carried epi pens everywhere, educated anyone that he was around, read labels, called food maunfacturers, bought him a medic alert bracelet, read books - and went on with our lives.

He visits the allergist every 6 months. We LOVE her. When you visit her, you'd better bring a long book and a lot of patience, for she's extremely thorough with her patients - but she's worth it. He's asthmatic, has eczema and all of that goes hand in hand.

So, now he's 10 and we retested. We skin tested and, oddly enough, things that we expected to pop positive didn't, and those that we formerly almost non existent blew up. This is his back - B 1 was the peanut. A 1 was cashews. B 2 was hazelnut, and D 1 was coconut and D 2 was almonds.

Skin test
So, hmmm. What happened to coconut and almond? Why did peanut blow up so much?

We followed with a blood draw. He was uber nervous. The Children's Hospital Phlebotomy department rocks, though - she was totally amazing with him. From the time we walked into the room until the completion - 4 minutes.

Blood test

We got the results back. His peanut level is very high, much higher than before. But coconut, Brazil nut and almond did not exist. So, the allergist called on Friday and went over all the results with me, and gave us the green light to challenge both coconut AND almond, on different days, with the following stipulations:

  • be able to watch him for 4 hours
  • make sure the former allergen was the only one challenged - don't mix
  • have epi and benadryl nearby
  • Maybe get a candy - make it fun for him

So we didn't do it on Saturday - I didn't want to mess up the prom if anything happened. He's a worrier, though, and he talked about it over and over. I looked all weekend for a coconut candy that wasn't cross contaminated with nuts, but everything had a nut warning. So Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., I scooped him out a little chocolate ice cream and topped it with a pretty heavy sprinkling of coconut. He sat in front of it and stared at it until the ice cream was a puddle of goo. Finally, he screwed up his courage and ate a bite.

"What will an allergic reaction feel like? How will I know? What will I do? What will you do? Will the ambulance come again, like when I was a baby?"

We went over all of it again and I tried to make it seem like it was no big deal. I encouraged him to eat another bite and I did some dishes. I reminded him to try again and I straightened a cabinet. I scooped up a bit for him and made him eat it and then packed up food for the family dinner. It took him about 20 minutes to eat the ice cream, and then I meticulously scrutinized his back and chest, face and arms and hands. Nothing.

I checked again at the 30 minute mark. Nothing. One hour, two hours, three hours. One teeny tiny mark that may or may not have been a hive blossomed on his shoulder at the one hour mark but disappeared shortly after.

Are we in the clear?

We don't know. We have to try again. But, if we can add coconut back into his diet, I can't even tell you how amazing that might be. Coconut oil is in EVERYTHING. 

Keep your fingers crossed. We test Almond this weekend. He's not the only one nervous.

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