This post is a couple of weeks overdue, but I’ve really had to gear myself up to write it. Spoiler alert: this was not a good day for me. It was a deeply disappointing day.
The thing is, I should have known. Eva has a chance of growing out of her allergies, but that chance is slimmer each time she has a reaction and with the severity of her reactions we can really only hope that she eventually has manageable allergies. Hives. Puffy tongue. Basically anything besides the anaphylaxis. So even if I was going to be hopeful, I should have been hopeful for that.
It’s just been such a crazy year and I am tired. And my tired self doesn’t want to see Eva go back to the hospital. I don’t want her to have to carry her bumblebee lunch bag with the Benadryl and the Epi pens in it wherever she goes. I don’t want to find out that we didn’t get invited to a birthday party because the mom wasn’t up to allergy-proofing. I don’t want to feel like we can’t ask anyone to babysit because it’s all so much trouble. Mostly I just don’t want to be so worried about her whenever we leave the house. It’s exhausting.
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The whole Morgan family headed to the doctor’s office for this allergy test since I was so overwhelmed last time when I took Eva alone for the first pediatric allergy test. My kids have become pretty accustomed to waiting rooms and Eva was anxious about what this visit would mean (shots?) but she was in a pretty good mood. I think she might have picked up on some of my anxiety, but I was trying to stay calm. Kyle was also anxious, but he masked it by taking ridiculous selfies.
They called us back to the exam room pretty quickly, but then we waited there for about a half hour. This is tough with a toddler and tougher with a toddler and a baby. Luckily, everyone held it together and Eva still didn’t really know what we were doing there or whose doctor’s appointment it was so she wasn’t nervous. When the doctor finally came in and asked her to remove her shirt, she got a little teary but pulled it together when she was allowed to sit on Kyle’s lap on the examination table. The allergy specialist examined her skin, asked questions about what had happened over the last year, and then made a list of the things that she was checking Eva for. There was nothing new this time – just repeat tests to see if any allergies had gotten better.
The physician’s assistant came in and made pen marks on Eva’s back. She then scratched allergens into each mark and set the timer for fifteen minutes. It’s really hard to watch someone scratch your kid over and over again, but Eva was a champ and didn’t cry. Kyle did have to hold her arms because she reached around after the first one and tried to scratch at it, but she didn’t fight him. In all fairness, I’m sure the testing itches like crazy. I’m itchy right now just thinking about it.
After the scratches came the waiting. This was the key part of the test and I admit that I jumped up and started to pace around, my eyes glued to those marks. If it was possible to stop an allergic reaction just by concentrating on it, her skin would have been totally clear. As it was, she started with some redness and I told myself it was just normal reactions to being scratched. Then little welts came up and I told myself that it was natural that there would still be a slight reaction. And then the welts got bigger and bigger…and stopped growing. I paced and stared and paced and stared, but her welts held steady at a noticeably smaller size than they were last year. I didn’t say anything to Kyle, but on the inside I started doing backflips to celebrate the fact that her allergies were less severe when compared to the first test.
The physician assistant came in and wrote numbers down before wiping Eva’s back off and covering her in Benadryl cream. I didn’t ask her about the results since I knew the doctor would be coming in, but I did lightly remark that I thought maybe her skin was better. In my head, I was imagining going to school and telling her teachers that they wouldn’t have to keep Epi pens and special snacks for Eva anymore. Then maybe we’d have a party. A peanut themed party. I’d buy a piñata and fill it with peanut butter cups and mini Snickers.
The doctor came in and immediately told us that Eva’s allergies were still severe, with the exception of eggs and possibly sunflower oil. I was confused, still hung up on my peanut party daydreams, and I told her that I thought Eva’s skin looked better this time. Then she told me that Eva’s reactions were so severe last time that they had only used one tenth the concentration of each allergen this time so she didn’t go into anaphylaxis. So, her reactions should have been one tenth of what they were last year. Instead, most were larger than a tenth. Some were a sixth. Some were half. Some were just as big as they were the first time around.
It wasn’t all bad news. Some nuts showed less of a reaction than others and her sunflower allergy seems to be a lot less than it was. The doctor also clarified that Eva’s ER-visit allergic to cats but dogs should just cause hives and swelling (bad, but better). Then we got new Epi pens, including a prescription for the fancy one that talks to you and is basically panic-proof. Kyle walked out of the office feeling good about the visit. I left crushed.
I’m my own victim. I got my hopes up and told myself over and over again that it was going to be ok because I just didn’t want to consider the idea that she could still be so allergic. I think I felt like we were owed a better result by the universe because we put our time in and kept her safe and now we were going to get a break from it all because the universe owes that kid a peanut piñata.
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It’s been a couple of weeks and I’m feeling much less depressed about the whole thing. It stinks, but we’ve gotten pretty good at keeping Eva safe and I redid the Epi trainings with her preschool after the second test. Our Epi pens are renewed and ready, our house is nut-free, and next October we’re taking both kids in to get tested. Hopefully, the news will be better. This year, I’m thankful that her results weren’t worse and reminding myself that today my kids are healthy. Today they’re doing great. I’ll worry about tomorrow tomorrow.