Eva had an appointment with our allergist last week. It was a follow up to the asthma attack she had last month, which is connected to her allergies. Our allergy doctor is an allergy/asthma specialist so I knew that she’d want to see her. I have to admit that I don’t do as many appointments with her as we probably should, but she’s incredibly busy and we always end up waiting for a very long time before we see her. She’s a wonderful doctor, but when you have small kids…
Anyway, we did see her and she was very careful to walk us through Eva’s asthma and everything it’s going to mean for her. Part of that was hard to hear, because it’s an extra thing that I have to be super vigilant about and one more thing on my radar whenever we leave the house (I’m talking to you, people-who-smoke-in-public-spaces) but it’s reassuring to have the information. We picked up another emergency plan and an extra inhaler since she can’t ever be without one, even if she’s only with a sitter for a half hour, and we finished on a good note since Eva’s lungs were clear.
Then, we talked about the boy…
Throughout Eva’s appointment, Calvin was being a bit of a terror. He is a lot more challenging than his sister was in very weird ways. She was clingy and would cry at the drop of the hat, while Calvin is quiet except for harsh squawking and screeching sounds (think the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park) and he is hell bent on getting into every trash can, power outlet, and high traffic area that he can find. The doctor said the typical nice things about how cute he is (which I’m starting to suspect is what people say to me when they don’t want to say, “Your kid is being kind of awful and you should get him under control”) and then she noted that he has a little eczema and that would be grounds for getting an allergy test going.
It turns out that kids can get allergy tested as early as six months, so before I knew it I was filling out new patient paperwork and calling Kyle to tell him the test was taking place. Eva’s first allergy test was a huge life-changer for us, so it isn’t a surprise that I was feeling a little raw as I checked off the things Calvin needed to be tested for. Allergic to peanuts? Allergic to cats? Dander? Kiwi? Mango? Check, check, check…each checked box turned into a vial and each vial turned into a little scratch on his back.
Cal was a total trooper through this whole thing, even though he kept trying to turn around so he could see what was going on. They did 18 in all, including Eva’s big triggers, my big triggers, and some other common ones like milk, wheat, and soy.
Kyle showed up right after they had finished and he held onto Calvin so he couldn’t reach back and scratch at the marks. (Not that I’m sure he could have anyway…the kid is built like a chubby turtle.) We panicked a little and emoted at each other and then talked about how it would all be fine and we’d just be as vigilant with him as we had with Eva and whatever his allergies were (even if they were new), we’d know that we could work to keep him safe. We were prepared for all 18 to light up like Christmas lights.
Minutes passed and his skin didn’t erupt in the big welts that Eva’s had. No constellations of hives appeared on his cheeks or arms. His breathing was steady and clear. The scratches themselves started to slowly fade away.
I knew, even before the nurse came in and told us. He’s totally allergy free.
You would think I would have been thrilled. The nurse was thrilled. The doctor was thrilled. They wiped him off and told us that we need to start giving him a little bit of peanut butter everyday to ward off future allergies, but other than that he’d need no treatment. He wasn’t even added to the list of official patients. They gave us all of his paperwork so we could take it home.
We walked out to the parking lot, both a little dazed. I said, “It’s a good thing,” and Kyle repeated, “it’s a good thing” and then we just kind of looked at each other because I think we couldn’t put our finger on why there was still a low buzz of panic. Kyle went back to work and I packed the kids up and thought about stopping for peanut butter and realized I couldn’t handle it and drove us home instead.
On the way, Eva said, “So Calvin isn’t allergy to peanut butter?” She was looking out the window, not looking at either me or Calvin, and she didn’t have any expression on her face. I watched her in the mirror for a second because I wanted her to look at me so I could see if she was sad or angry or anything, but she just looked out the window and waited for me to answer.
That was it. That was the low buzz of panic. I think that we had assumed that Calvin would have food allergies because the sheer unfairness of being the only one with allergies isn’t something else that Eva should have to take on. Even though it means Calvin can eat anything and play anywhere and go to school Epi-pen-free, there was a little part of me that was broken-hearted because Calvin isn’t in Eva’s bubble. He’s free and it’s wonderful and it’s like he left her behind.
“No, Calvin doesn’t have a peanut allergy. He’s not allergic to anything.” I braced myself because I thought she’d cry or she’d ask about her own allergies and when she’d grow out of them or something.
She finally looked at me in the mirror and smiled a great big very real smile. “That’s great, Mom!”
It is. It really is.
Quick comparison between first pediatric allergy tests:
Both tests are shown ten minutes in. Calvin at 11 months, on the left, is clear from allergies. The most irritated mark (second down on the far left) is the control they use for the test. Eva at 20 months is showing severe allergies to peanuts, all tree nuts, dogs, cats, and sunflower and a moderate allergy to eggs. She also has welts and hives showing up in other parts of her body from the nut exposure and she has swollen cheeks and a little bit of wheezing.