Today…today was a
good great day. We finished our fifth and final oral food challenge for 2016, and we finished with a success. These past few weeks have been exhausting, draining, nerve-wracking, and exciting, all at the same time. But, overall they have been wonderful! We have such a clearer picture of Noah’s allergies, we’ve opened so many new food options for him, and I truly feel so much more at peace with this journey. That was the whole reason for switching allergists several months back, and it has proven to be the right decision, time and time again.
The past three Wednesday’s we’ve gone to the allergist’s office at 7:30am, ready to tackle a new food. We’ve done shrimp, sesame, and cashew (gasp!), and Noah has amazingly passed them all, with flying colors! God is good! Each test has been nerve-wracking in their own way, but they have all been successes, and that’s what counts. These were all foods he had never been exposed to, so they were completely unknowns. Shrimp and sesame caused his back to explode in welts during our initial skin test, which totally freaked me out. But, his blood work came back at a level our allergist was comfortable challenging, and that’s what I had to remind myself. It again proves the point that the skin test and blood work individually don’t tell you the whole picture. If we only went based on the skin test, we never would have done the oral food challenge. But by combining the results, we now have a boy who is able to eat and enjoy shrimp and sesame to his heart’s content.
The shrimp challenge was different than any others we’ve done. It was only 4 doses, versus our usual 8. And the doses were HUGE. Our amazing nurse brought the first dose in, and David and I both laughed. Most first doses are seriously a crumb, but this was basically a whole shrimp. There was no way Noah was going to eat this, right?? Wrong. That kid was a champ. Granted, by the second dose we were smothering it in ketchup… he eventually took all 4 doses; the equivalent of 5 whole shrimp. We all were flabbergasted! Coming from the pickiest kid ever, this was an enormous win.
Sesame was the challenge I was most nervous for I think (granted, they all give me a bit of an anxiety attack). The “Top 8” (milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, and soy) account for 90% of food allergic reactions, but experts are considering sesame to be the ninth most common allergen, and some people are pushing for it to be explicitly called out on food labeling. We shall see. But, this challenge totally freaked me out, mainly because of how severe the skin reaction was a couple of months back. The welt for sesame was actually almost worse than that of peanut, which is saying something! But, again my kid was a freaking champ! We started out with pure tahini (ground sesame seeds) on his lips, and then inside his cheek. No issues. From there they mixed whole sesame seeds with applesauce, and the kid downed it. “More applesauce, please” was said after every dose, and sure enough, 15 minutes later another dose arrived until all 8 were achieved. Another passing grade!
And then today we challenged cashew! TERRIFYING. Cashew is a nut (technically a seed, but I digress). Need I say more?? It was scary. After seeing Noah react to peanut butter after the tiniest dose, the thought of giving him a nut was seriously sickening. But, his blood work was actually “untraceable” for cashew, which helped give me some peace. The nurses were great to grind the cashews up super fine to feed it with applesauce, and Noah did SO great, again. Phew!! Now, we won’t be going out and buying all the cashews we can find to feed Noah, because most manufacturers of nuts will share equipment, meaning there is a high risk of cross contamination. Several people asked “what’s the point in challenging it then??” Well, one of my biggest reasons is simply to be knowledgeable. I want to know exactly what to expect. And, we talked to our nurse and she told us where they get their cashews for testing, free from cross contamination! Score!
Three awesome weeks of challenges have seriously changed our lives. It may seem ridiculous to most, but it’s been amazing. Tonight, I was able to fix shrimp scampi and I was almost in tears at dinner. Noah LOVED it. Our kid seriously eats the same thing, every day, and it’s really depessing. So, to be able to change it up and add something new, is an emotional experience. We found safe crackers that have sesame this week, and again Noah lovesss them! Only an allergy parent can fully appreciate what it’s like to find new snacks, new foods, etc. that are safe. It’s truly rewarding and you feel like you’ve won the lottery! So, I will gladly take stressful weeks of tests to have this outcome.
So what’s the next step for us? We are free from the allergist’s office until November, which seems like forever since we’ve been living there lately! And then we will start the process over again: skin test, blood test, and (hopefully!) more food challenges. We passed 4 out of 5 food challenges this round (we failed egg a few weeks back), which is huge! But, we still have a longg way to go: peanuts, all tree nuts, milk, wheat, eggs are all off the table for the next year. We will continue to adapt to an allergy-free lifestyle, and we will succeed! I am soo proud of my sweet boy and how well he handled everything – he is so strong, and just plain amazing. Thanks for following along this journey with us!