Friday, February 28, 2014

Tree Nuts

Harrison had allergy testing done today. I went in thinking we might get an answer to his reflux issues and came out feeling like I got punched in the stomach. His pediatrician thought a milk or wheat allergy could be causing all of his vomiting so he referred us to an allergist for testing. I wasn't really expecting results since he has never had any allergy issues or reactions to foods or medicine.

While we were waiting for the nurses to come in to do the test, Harrison entertained me with a variety of songs he made up and performed. He is too funny. He is always asking me to record him so he can watch it and before I hit record he says, are you ready to rock this video?!  This particular song is all about sugar and donuts. Because why wouldn't you want to write and sing a song about sugar and donuts? Clearly you can see he's quite passionate.

I was nervous about how the testing was going to go. I had it done about 10 years ago and I remember that it was not very comfortable. But Harrison's wasn't bad at all. Instead of poking with individual needles like mine, his was in series of 10 vials at a time so it only took about a minute to do all 60. Instead of poking it was just little scratches. He did great and didn't even fuss while they were doing it. He broke down and cried a little after the nurses left and said that it was really hurting bad, but I think it was more about the fact that he was itching and couldn't scratch. He had to sit there without moving for 20 minutes and once he got into a game on the kindle he was fine. I was expecting it to go much worse than it did so I was relieved.

And then the doctor came in to go over the results. They weren't at all what I was expecting or prepared for.

He had 5 reactions out of 60 substances.

1 of them was red kidney beans.

And 4 of them were tree nuts. Cashews, pecans, pistashios, and walnuts.

Not good news.

I didn't really process it right away because I had zero concerns about nut allergies. He eats peanuts and peanut butter almost every day and so I never even thought to worry about other types of nuts. But when the doctor started talking about how he was prescribing an epi pen and that he would need to have it with him at all times, it started to get real pretty fast.

We left and I forced it to the back of my brain for a while. I treated him to a fancy lunch date at The Cheesecake Factory before we went to pick up Harper. And I say fancy because this conversation actually took place:

Me: It's good manners to put your napkin in your lap.
Harrison: But this isn't a napkin. Napkins are paper towels!

When your kid doesn't know that linen napkins exist...then dining at anything other than fast food is fancy indeed.

his version of heaven

my handsome date

We went to the grocery store and then to the pharmacy to get his prescriptions for the epi pens and also for prevacid. 2 medications which totaled $370...another punch in the stomach. We came home, I fixed dinner, we ate, hung out, and then did the whole bedtime routine. And then I sat down to read the information about what all of this means for us.

And then I cried a bunch.

Here are a few facts that I wish I could unread:

*1 in 100 children (1%) have peanut allergies and 1 in 500 children (0.2%) have tree nut allergies. Sensitization to tree nuts may increase with increasing age and exposure. In general children who have a nut allergy should avoid all nut types and not just the ones to which they have reacted.

*At least 90 percent of children diagnosed with tree nut allergies will have them for life.

*Peanuts are legumes, and are biologically unrelated to tree nuts. However, there is a high level of allergic cross-reactivity between peanuts and tree nuts, meaning that people with tree nut allergies are at increased risk of developing peanut allergies.

*Peanut allergies are popularly considered the most severe allergies, and it's true that both peanut and shellfish allergies cause far more cases of anaphylaxis than tree nut allergies. But both of those allergies are much more common. The fact is that there is strong evidence that severe reactions are far more likely to occur in people with tree nut allergies --- especially cashew allergies --- than with peanut allergies. For this reason, it's essential that anyone with a tree nut allergy learn the symptoms of anaphylactic shock of and carry injectible epinephrine (Epi-Pen) at all times.

*The most significant symptom of tree nut allergies is anaphylaxis, a systemic reaction that can cause shock, severe breathing difficulties, cardiac arrhythmia, and death.


I have so many jumbled thoughts spinning around in my head.

I'm worried and sad and scared. This is something that he'll have to deal with his whole life. This is something that his mama will be worried about her whole life. This really, really sucks.

I feel like instead of answers to one issue we now have another giant issue to deal with as well. We follow up with the allergist again in 1 month and he also referred us to a pediatric GI. In the first 10 minutes we were talking with him Harrison ran to the trash can 6 times to spit up vomit. He thinks he's going to need an endoscopy to see what's going on since the reflux is severe. I feel so bad for my baby. First a colonoscopy last year and now all of this.

I have the total wrong personality to deal with this type of thing. I already struggle with anxiety and fear and control issues. I'm a jump-to-the-worst-case-scenario type of person no matter how hard I try to banish those kinds of thoughts from my mind. And now I have the knowledge that my kid could die if he eats something completely common...and I'm supposed to let him out of my sight??????

 He has been just fine for the last 4 years. He's never had any bad reactions before. I need to calm my mama bear self down.

I'm thankful that Rick & I just took a CPR & first aid class this month. We learned all about epi pens and how and when to administer them. 

How do you ensure he has his epi pen on him at all times? He's 4. I guess I'll have to stick it in a little backpack to take with him when I drop him off anywhere? Can I trust people to know when and how to give it to him? Seriously, how am I going to let him out of my sight???

Should I trust this test? How do you prove it's accuracy one way or the other? It's definitely too risky to experiment on my own. From what I've read online there are hospitals that will do food challenges where they monitor the ingestion carefully. So maybe we should do that??

People deal with nut allergies all the time. It's doable. It might not be easy or fun but it's doable.  

How could I not know that he's never had these nuts? Before the test the doctor went through a list asking me which foods he's eaten before and I had to guess on a bunch of them. Including nuts. Isn't it a mom thing to keep track of this type of stuff? I worry about so many other things but this wasn't even on my radar.

Until today I have always hated how picky he is. Now I am incredibly thankful. We actually got into an argument 2 months ago over the fact that he refused to eat a pecan. My grandpa sent us a huge bag of them from his yard and I did everything short of force feeding him to get him to try them. And I can remember being annoyed when he would only pick out the peanuts and almonds out of a mixed nut container because he "didn't like" the other nuts. Thank you, Jesus, for your protection.

God is in control. GOD. The same God that loves my baby more than I could even dream of loving my baby, which is pretty much an infinite amount already. And He loves him more than that. God is in control. I need to imprint this on my brain somehow.

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