Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Kiss-tash-yee-yos

Good news, GREAT news, bad news in the Parmenter family. We had Maddie's 3.5 year old allergy testing today. It was one surprising appointment, lemme tell ya. We were testing for peanut and tree nut allergies, and dogs as well. Let me give you a little back story. A little before she was 18 months, we discovered that Maddie was very allergic to cats... And eggs. We went to that appointment to find a source for her asthma. It was the cat, and her allergist followed a hunch and tested for an egg allergy. He was right. We were shocked. Now, as a kid with an anaphylactic egg allergy, she is at a higher statistical risk for serious peanut and tree nut allergies. Her awesome allergist, who we love to pieces, had us keep her away from peanuts and tree nuts completely, with the plan to test between the age of three and four for allergies to them. The research suggests that kids like Maddie (those with serious allergic reactions to eggs and milk) when kept from exposure to peanuts and tree nuts until this age, may not develop an allergy to them. If at this age they test positive for that allergy, they will have that allergy for life. If not, there's basically no chance they'll develop one. So, essentially, we've been holding our breath and watching every crumb that goes into her mouth for two years now. 

Now! Good, GREAT, baaaaaad...

First, the good news: Maddie is NOT allergic to peanuts (yay!!), almonds, walnuts, or pecans. Nor is she allergic to dogs. Hooray!! 

The potential dog allergy was all Maddie could think or talk about today. "Mom? I cannot be allergic to dogs. I love Luna too much. Luna is kind to me and gives me kisses. I cannot be allergic to Luna." I assured her, repeatedly, that whatever happened today she and Luna could still FaceTime. Unsurprisingly, that didn't soothe her worries. At least I tried. 

Hearing your three-year-old repeatedly articulating the fear of losing her beloved best-furry-cousin-friend is heart wrenching. She brought up Luna to every single person at the clinic. The front desk ladies, the nurse, the doctor, the sweet elderly woman who stood next to us in the waiting room... Everyone. I kept explaining, "Luna is her aunt and uncle's puppy. They have a bond." Trying really hard not to lose my composure, and praying that God would let her keep dogs... Her cat allergy diagnosis is still a sore spot in her tender heart. This girl... She loves animals. I'm so glad we didn't lose dogs today. 

Now, the GREAT news: Maddie's egg allergy is already non-reactive to the skin prick test. We knew she'd grow out of it, but this is WAY earlier than any of us (even her doctor!) expected. We're still under strict precautions, because she's had allergic reactions (hives around the mouth and a tummy ache when she had an accidental exposure) as recently as last month, but it makes it less of a panic overall. Hooray!!

Finally, the bad news: we learned today that Maddie has an allergy to cashews and pistachios. The skin reaction was massive (at least in my mom opinion anyway). I did my level, mama-bear best not to cry while I watched it blow up like a balloon. I am really proud that I maintained my calm, that was hard to do. 

Guys, having a skin-prick allergy test is awful when you're three. The poking is awful, it is soooo itchy, and then it just burns there for 15 minutes and nobody will bring you a bandaid, not even when you're asking as politely as you can.  

I'm usually quite stoic when my kids have procedures done. I have kids with unique health struggles, so they've had more procedures than most kids their ages. We're all fairly used to being poked, prodded, and uncomfortable. Today though? Today was a special kind of hard. 

Today I had to hold my tiny little girl, as she sobbed, while the nurse poked her over, and over, and over again. Eight times. It doesn't seem like a lot, but it was an agonizingly large number today. I had to keep her hands from shoving the little plastic pokey-ma-bobber away... Even when that's all I wanted to do myself. I teared up a few times, but tried so hard not to let her see. She was freaked out enough, she didn't need her anchor, me, to lose it. So I haven't lost it... Yet. I have a feeling when I calm down from the day, the tears will finally catch up with me. 

All in all, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Our news today was mainly great news. When it comes to things to be allergic too, cashews and pistachios aren't nearly as common of ingredients as the other tree nuts or peanuts. We didn't have to cut dogs out of her life. She even got bandaids finally, her sweet allergist put them on himself (because he's awesome). He also gave her a sucker, and the nurse brought her two stickers. I think seeing her so sad was hard on all of us. She was so brave. 

Now, we move forward. She gets a brand new set of Epi-Pens, to be kept in her classroom at school and carried along on field trips. She gets another set for home, to be carried by the adult in closest proximity/primary care of her at all times. We assume that any initial exposure to cashews or pistachios would result in a minor reaction... But we don't know. We have to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. We've now had four Epi-Pens expire unused. I'd like to keep that number growing... I hope we never have to use one. We know how, and they'll always be close at hand... But it would be so awesome if we never had to use one. I don't even mind paying for them and having them "go to waste". Totally cool with that! Waste them all, I say. 

So here we are. It's no longer a hypothetical. We know her allergies. Now, we just have to teach her how to pronounce "cashew" and "pistachio." So far, they both sound like "kiss-tash-yee-yohs" and she leads with, "I'm not allergic to dogs and peanuts!" Which is precious. In time, she'll nail it.

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