A couple of months ago I scheduled an appointment for all three kids to get allergy tests. My sister is severely allergic to all seafood, so before giving them to the kids, I wanted to have them tested.
Our allergist informed me that they couldn’t do the skin test on all three kids at the same time, so I had to break it up into two sessions. Because of time, I had Macks go before the girls. I wasn’t worried about the appointment, although he’s suffered from eczema his entire life, I was assured by so many doctors that it had nothing to do with anything he was eating.
We went in for the skin test and I had the allergist test Macks for everything since we were already there and just in case. While we were waiting for the results, I noticed welts forming on his back. And that’s when the anxiety set in. I had no idea what food each prick represented, so I had to wait for the doctor to come back in. He came back in and told us that Macks tested positive for peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and egg.
He’s never had anything with nuts before because he’s so young and nuts are a choking hazard. We don’t ever have peanut butter in the house, so he’s never had that either. Eggs he’s had several times. It’s in nearly every cooked food he eats. And I was sure he’d had sesame somewhere before. How could he be allergic to all of these things without any prior warning?
We left the doctor’s office with very little answers. He gave us a prescription for an epi-pen and an action plan (which he failed to explain) and had us on our way.
I was a wreck.
I had so many questions and a doctor that wasn’t willing to talk me through them. I immediately called two friends who both have children with severe food allergies (and one who has a super informative allergy website and is developing an app for the allergy community that is going to be a game-changer.) They let me cry and ask as many questions as I wanted to. I felt so helpless. And shocked. Never in a million years would I have thought that Macks would be diagnosed to being allergic to all of these things. Especially without warning.
After coming back down to reality, I got the advice from my sister, who suggested I ask for a blood test to confirm the skin test. I called his allergist the next day who gave me a prescription for the lab tests. Unfortunately those confirmed the findings, but I still had a doctor who wasn’t willing to explain any of the results and what the next steps were.
I found myself in fear of anything that Macks put into his mouth. I was watching his every move and rarely left him out of my sight. It was exhausting and stressful. I tried to do as much research as I could online, but while there has been great strides in the allergy community, there’s still a lot that needs to be done.
Because I was so unhappy with my allergist, I spoke with my sister who suggested that I go into the city to visit hers. We made a day trip to see him and he looked over Macks’ tests and was able to walk me through everything. Rather than leaving me feeling helpless, we came up with a game plan to move forward.
He insisted that I keep feeding Macks whatever he’s already eating because that helps him (if we were to stop, he could build up an allergy to it,) and that we were to schedule an oral challenge for both egg and sesame. He scheduled us for more blood work to test components of the nuts that would give us more answers. If he tests positive for the components then the chances of him having a severe reaction to the nuts, is high.
After two appointments (and one failed attempt,) we finally got blood for the tests. I got the call from our allergist yesterday that he tested positive for all components in tree nuts and peanuts. Before this call, I was almost in denial. While I knew the tests said what they did, I didn’t want to believe them. I still watched what he ate, but I was thinking that these component tests would prove all of the other tests wrong. They didn’t.
I sat in my bed yesterday in tears. I’m scared, anxious, sad, yet thankful that there is so much awareness around food allergies. This is a lifestyle change for us and a journey that Macks will be on for his entire life.
I still have so many questions. How do I teach Macks what we can and can’t eat? How much do I shelter him when I know others will be eating things he can’t? What exactly do I need to look for if he’s having a reaction?
Where do we go from here?
If you have children with food allergies or suffer from them yourself, I’d love any advice, tips, words of encouragement. I’ll take anything at this point.