Sunday, August 11, 2013

There Was a 20% Chance

Something crazy and unbelievable has happened to my daughter. Life changing, once again.

The Pumpkin is no longer allergic to peanuts!!!!

She is about to start at public school (in first grade, because she stayed at the Montessori school for kindergarten), and Londo and I were starting to create the plan for her peanut allergy at school. We wanted to talk with her allergist about the plan, and look into the amazing new epinephrine auto-injectors (Auvi-Q). I also remembered that she was supposed to get re-tested when she was six. So I made the allergist appointment, figuring we'd take care of it all in one visit.

We discussed all our concerns and developed a plan. Then my brave daughter had a skin test done for her peanut allergy. It went way better than the first skin test. Not only is she older and able to handle requests for stillness and not to scratch, it was also on her arm and only had the two controls and the peanut allergen. We distracted her with iPhone games and YouTube. Every now and then, Londo and I would exchange a cautious look.

And when the nurse came in and confirmed that the only reaction was the control for an allergic reaction, I was filled with hope-tinged disbelief, as was Londo. The Pumpkin didn't fully understand the possible implications, and we knew that there were more tests before we would know for sure so we didn't explain in great detail. The doctor came in and laid out the next steps: a blood test, and if that was negative she'd do a peanut challenge in the doctor's office (actually eating little bits of peanut butter over the course of a few hours while being monitored by the nurse).

Although Londo had a work meeting he couldn't miss, I thought I'd strike while the iron was hot and the girl was being brave. I had the order for her blood work in my hand, and the next building over had a lab that took walk-ins. So we walked in.

My daughter has had this allergy since she was 2. We have drilled it into her head how careful she needs to be around food. She has been reminded and coached to not touch things in gas stations, at barbecues, in schools. She has become great about managing her allergy, which has primarily been avoidance management. The Pumpkin has a peanut allergy, and that has been a part of her identity for as long as she can remember.

Now, her identity was about to shift into one that might not have a peanut allergy. She needs to warm up to change, to take time for transitions. Londo and I had explained to her that she may not be allergic to peanuts anymore. At her uncertainty and even protests, we assured her that she would never have to eat a peanut if she didn't want (with the exception of the peanut challenge, but we'd explain that later). But we needed to know if she wasn't allergic, because that would change where she could go (for example, Five Guys) and what she could eat (any type of candy!).

By the time I was walking her into the next building, it was starting to sink in. But there was the fact that she would have to have blood drawn to find out. A needle. Do I even need to say that she hates needles? That she gets filled with anxiety at the thought of the doctor in case she needs a vaccine shot?

But I was honest with her. There would be a needle. She protested, "That's okay, Mommy. I'm okay with my peanut allergy!" But I explained that we HAD to know. It was important. She ended up bravely sitting in my lap and not even flinching (after I and then the technician explained that if she moved it would hurt more AND have to be done again). I was super proud of her! She deserved every lollipop and sticker she got that day!

The next week, we got the call that the blood work was negative. We made the appointment for the peanut challenge for that Friday. It was long (5 hours total!), and it was difficult since the Pumpkin REALLY didn't like the peanut butter, so it was hard for her to choke down, especially as the doses got larger. But in the end, she had a total of 2 tablespoons of peanut butter with NO reaction to it AT ALL. And that was that!

So our lives are changing again. It's an adjustment, but a happy one. Life would have been fine if she was allergic her whole life. We'd have managed, and she would still have had a great time at birthday parties (where I brought her own homemade cupcakes) and at Halloween (where she says "Trick or treat; no peanuts please" and we trade out her unsafe candy for safe ones we pre-buy) and at school (where she'd have sat at the nut-free table). But now, life will just be a lot easier.

I cannot adequately explain the relief that Londo and I feel, though. The peanut allergy was a constant, CONSTANT worry. It was always there, hanging over us, heavy on our shoulders. A constant fear for her safety in a world filled with peanuts. And now... it's gone. Well, mostly. I still immediately think, "I better check where the food is from and/or the label." And then I remind myself, I don't actually need to worry about it! WHAT? It's crazy! And unexpected. And such a relief!

After the peanut challenge, we took her to Chick-fil-a for lunch and then to Cold Stone Creamery for ice cream. As the Pumpkin pointed out, I didn't even have to wipe down her chair and spot at the table! When we went to the beach last week, we ate at Five Guys and we had ice cream from a stand and we had Boardwalk Fries cooked in peanut oil! And when driving to lunch and I asked her where we could eat, she said, "Anywhere we want!"

The Beginnings of a Ski Buddy

After lunch, my daughter and I went back up the "magic carpets" to the top of the bunny slopes. She wanted to keep skiing! With me...