Tag Archives: peanut allergy

Re-Sensitized

Ever since getting the all-clear from the allergest, Mikey has been a cautious peanut eater. By this I mean that once every few months, he will agree to eat something that’s been near a peanut.

Yesterday, he sat with Cody on the couch and asked to share his snack–peanut butter pretzels. These, Mikey quickly realized, are delicious. He started scarfing down the peanut butter pretzels, maybe eating a cup? Maybe a cup and a half of them.

And almost immediately, he broke out in a bright red rash all around his mouth and complained of itching. We gave him Benadryl, and he pretty much talked about itching until bedtime 2 hours later.

A call to the on-call allergist fellow (how awesome is it that we live in a place that has pediatric allergists on call??) revealed that apparently, kids can get re-sensitized to peanuts even after passing a scratch test. Even after getting bloodwork that showed no allergy to peanuts.

The current thinking is that kids need tiny, frequent exposure to peanuts (she said something like one peanut a week) to maintain…I can’t remember her word. Immunity doesn’t feel right, but I’m in a dither.

Anyway, we ran in for an emergency epi pen prescription and I’m back on red alert. I’m to maintain “strict avoidance” until we can get in with Dr. G. This means school is a minefield again. We have nothing in place anymore!

Our cupboards are filled with peanuts. I freaking subscribed to peanut butter on Amazon. Most days, the only food Alex will agree to eat is peanut butter sandwich. I’m not ready to go back to scrutinizing labels, keeping an epi injector on me at all times, harping on school to get kids to wash hands after lunch and before touching communal materials.

And, of course, Mikey has gotten used to eating school lunch, which I can never guarantee is peanut-free. So I’m anticipating meltdowns over packed lunch. Which, of course! I have to PACK.

Lesson learned: There’s always another shoe and it’s always going to drop.

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Peanut Challenge

We had our long-awaited appointment with the allergist at Children’s Hospital last week. I spent a long time preparing Mikey for what to expect–needles. Of course, he felt anxious about the appointment. He even told me he actually didn’t really want to eat peanuts. Just kidding! He swore up and down he would never, ever touch a peanut, even if Phinneus put another one in his lunch box.

So, with sad faces, we went to the appointment. Right away I loved Dr. G, who immediately began referring to Mikey as “Obed” just as instructed. It turns out Dr. G’s college roommate went to Botswana for the Peace Corps or something and had sent Dr. G a nice basket from that country. Obed and Dr. G had a very nice conversation about meerkats and sub-equatorial climates.

At the end of all this, we got a scratch test, which turned out NEGATIVE! So, Dr. G ordered some bloodwork.

Now, bloodwork. Oy! The phlebotomist got the needle in his cooperative arm, and then he immediately jerked it away from her and that was the end of that peaceful endeavor. He probably screamed for 30 solid minutes, his eyes wide with fright. He was cold, clammy sweating, like a rabid beast.

For the first while, I tried a gentle approach. We let him “poke” me with a capped needle. We let him poke himself with a capped needle. The phlebotomist gave him all the toys and marketing crap in the room, plus a pack of fruit snacks from her own lunch box. Then, we had to get a little mean and I climbed on top of him to hold him down while she stuck the needle in.

The anticipation of the thing was so awful for Mikey, but he really didn’t seem to even notice when the needle was in his arm. He kept thrashing until he observed that his blood was very red, which made him stop to comment on red as his favorite color. Then came all the questions about why blood is red.

All the while, he was spurting blood all over the place. Evidently because he was so worked up, he became a gusher.

So all of that was very stressful, and Dr. G told us it would take about a week to get the results–which would be Christmas Day.

Cody was beside himself to get a call two days ago from Dr. G personally. Mikey’s bloodwork was clear! We were approved for a home peanut challenge. Not even in the office with nurses and epi pens at the ready!

With excited hearts, we rushed to Trader Joe’s to buy all the peanuts. Peanut butter cups. Peanut butter pretzels, peanut butter cookies, and peanut trail mix. I opened the box of peanut butter crackers–the very same type of crackers Mikey got exposed to last summer with no reaction, spurring the long-awaited appointment with Dr. G–right in the parking lot and we all stood around watching as Mikey slowly ate the cracker.

Nothing! He observed that he became very thirsty and that peanut butter is hard to swallow. But no reaction. No hives, no redness, no swelling, no itching!

And we haven’t looked back. My boy is allergy free, and we bought peanut butter and have been eating it like people do. What a gift this was for our family. Mikey is among the 20% of children who outgrow peanut allergies. As Cody predicted years ago, Mikey “beat this thing.”

So if you’ll excuse us, our family will be spending the holiday gorging on peanut butter everything. Thai food! We’re going to eat Thai food!

Lunch Dangers

My Mikey has a peanut allergy. I mentioned this before. There’s a severity scale for anaphylactic allergies, and Mikey is a low-medium right now. We haven’t done a peanut test yet (our pediatrician wants to wait until he is 7), so we don’t know if he’s gotten better or worse since being tested at 14 months old.

We know that peanut allergies involve a cumulative response, which means that each exposure he will have a more severe reaction. He’s had 2 exposures since the one that tipped us off to his allergy, although we reacted SUPER quickly to the most recent exposure and I’m not sure if it counts.

I carry 2 epinephrine injectors with me everywhere I go–I find peanut shells on the playground at school and grubby kids eating peanut butter put their hands on all the toys in all the universe. And of course they do! My kids touch stuff with food on their hands and Alex regurgitates nuts and other foods everywhere he goes. But, really, I live in a constant, simmering fear of peanut exposure for Mikey.

So please understand my blood-freezing fear when I opened Mikey’s lunch bag yesterday to discover another child’s lunch container inside…holding a peanut butter sandwich. A PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH. In my son’s lunch bag.

I almost vomited, I was so upset.

Two phone calls to Mikey’s teacher resulted in an underwhelming response. I learned that the cafeteria is “chaotic.” Well, yes. Exactly. Hence the life-threatening sandwich in my child’s lunch bag.

After not sleeping a bit, I called the principal first thing in the morning. She was horrified. She gasped when I told her. I felt immediately validated. I learned that students with food allergies are supposed to have 504 plans in place. Mikey does not have this. At the beginning of the school year we filled out paperwork, which is kept in the nurse’s office, with instructions for how to respond to a peanut exposure.

This is all well and good, but the school nurse is only on site 2-3 days per week.

I now have zero confidence that any other adults in the school understand my 4-year-old’s peanut allergy or what to do if he should, say, reach into the container in his lunch bag and take a lick.

I’m very glad we have a meeting with school on Monday to iron out the plan–since Mikey has an IEP, we’ll be adding the allergy information to that. We’ll talk about things like where Mikey will sit at lunch, who can join him, and under what conditions. We’ll talk about plans for letting substitute teachers know about Mikey’s allergy, and the plan will include language about staff members being educated on how to use the epi injector, as well as where it will be kept.

I ordered an additional injector pack to be kept in the main school building (Mikey’s injector lives in his classroom, where his teacher knows how to use it–I know because I showed her myself).

I feel like I’m able to see this situation with some perspective–I understand our governor has crippled public education and the school has zero dollars. I know this, because I help buy soap for the bathrooms at school. So I know there’s no money to get additional staff in to help monitor lunch.

But I also know my son could have died if I’d tossed his lunch bag into the back seat and told him to help himself, as I often do on the drive home from school. He could have died. So, somewhere in the budget that doesn’t work, the school must find a way to keep my Mikey alive. We’ll hammer out some action plans on Monday.