Our Peanut-free Journey

Life with a peanut allergic son.

Holy Huge Wheal — May 25, 2011

Holy Huge Wheal

After 14 months we finally made it back to the allergist. Every time we go I get my hopes up for a good outcome. The last three times we’ve been there his wheal size has gone down. I expected it to be the same today and was hoping for the smallest size yet.

Um, yeah. That didn’t happen. Not even remotely close. His wheal size doubled to 25mm. Yes, 25 mm! That’s huge! At 16 mm they consider that a person will have a reaction 100% of the time to peanut protein. Yeah, he way surpassed that. I’m disappointed, I’m angry, I’m just plain deflated. I never expected this. I don’t know why I never did, I just didn’t.

I asked, again, about desensitization. Our allergist is not sold on it. She doesn’t feel that they have figured out a good way of doing it yet. The steps to even be considered for the trials include a skin test, blood test, and, horrifyingly, an oral challenge to prove you are allergic. I think desensitization is a great gift for the kids it works on. The problem is knowing who it will and will not work on. You just don’t know.

The good news? Peanut allergies are so publicized that more and more people are aware of it and do things they can to prevent kids from getting exposed. Restaurants are using less and less peanut-containing products. Schools are realizing that it isn’t going anywhere and more students are entering school with these allergies. All of this makes life a little easier for kids and families with peanut allergies. For that I am thankful.

Some day I would like to see a remedy for peanut allergy. Until then, we will continue doing what we can to eliminate exposure.

1st Grade done. Wheal results for this year. — July 23, 2010

1st Grade done. Wheal results for this year.

Since I last posted, five months ago!, Alex has finished first grade. Other than the few bumps I previously mentioned it was an uneventful year. Thank goodness.

He also had an allergist appointment during that time. His wheal has gotten smaller (now 12mm) but he is still very allergic to peanuts. I know that every peanut allergy is serious in that we never know when the reaction will be anaphylaxis but Alex’s wheal and spread results indicate that he is 100% guaranteed to have a reaction if exposed to peanut protein. The only unknown is what that reaction will be.

Alex was only diagnosed with a peanut allergy because he ended up with a rash and a very swollen eye when he was 20-months-old. I had given him peanut butter crackers that morning. The third time he was exposed to peanuts. I believe the other two times gave him a small rash as well but nothing else was out of the ordinary.

For the first three years I just got his RAST test done every year. He varied between level 2 and level 3 with the blood test. Then before he started school I felt that he needed to see an actual allergist. His kindergarten year he saw the allergist in December and his wheal was 16mm. He was also diagnosed with cat and dog allergies (which we already knew), a spring tree and some kind of fall weed. I believe there were 23 pricks in all. Thankfully he was not allergic to any other food product including tree nuts.

I have to explain to people sometimes that peanuts are not actually nuts at all. They are legumes like peas etc. The look on their face is usually pretty funny.

So, that’s that. We have 37 days left in our summer vacation. Around day 25 or so I will be meeting with the new teachers and discussing protocol for this coming year. Fingers crossed it goes well!

The Allergist — December 31, 2008

The Allergist

Sounds like a book. Lol.

Our first allergist appointment went well. I was told things I already knew and we also found out some things we were 99% sure we knew and I found out something that made me feel very, I can’t find the right word, I’ll go with deflated.

First, the peanut allergy. When the nurse at the allergist’s office asked if he had any allergies, I said he was allergic to peanuts. She grimaced and said, “oh that’s a big one”, thank you I’m very aware of that. I know I sound snide but I’m well aware of how bad a peanut allergy is. Anyway, the doctor came in and asked about his past reactions and what prompted us to see her today. I told her that we had never seen an allergist and I just wanted to get her opinions on some things. She was very nice and we talked a lot about Alex’s history.

Second, other allergies. Although he was never formally diagnosed with cat, dog, seasonal allergies, we were pretty sure he had them. He can’t go to anyone’s house with a cat or dog without having an allergic reaction and come March, he is one miserable little man. So, you probably know how we find this stuff out. Skin test it is. Alex had 23 tests done on his back. The worst part of this whole thing was not having him touch his back for 15 minutes. He kept saying it itched. It was a loooooong 15 minutes.

Other allergies include cat, dog, grass pollen and lambs quarter. The latter is apparently a fall weed. Who knew. What the allergist found interesting is that he tested negative for tree pollen. So we aren’t sure what is causing his spring allergies. She said it could be a tree they don’t test for. Interesting.

Now for the biggie. The one that has left me deflated. Prior to this appointment, from what I have read, Alex had about a 50-75% chance of reacting to peanuts based on his RAST. However, today his wheal was 15mm and left me with the grave knowledge that he has a 95% chance of reacting to a peanut ingestion. It would be 100% but the allergist said that with a RAST as low as his it puts him in a very grey area.

She did say that she would not say he will never outgrow this. She has some patients where she tells the family point blank that there is no chance they will outgrow it based on wheal size and RAST. Again, Alex is in that grey area based on his own RAST, wheal and past reaction history. She told me it’s not futile to hold onto hope. So that’s what I’m doing. Hoping, praying, wishing.