Eva did her 3rd skin test today. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t great news.
It’s about 1:30 in the morning here and I’ve been wandering around my house since we got home this evening (yesterday evening?) trying to figure out how to digest this latest test. I didn’t let myself get any hopes up this time, since I was fairly devastated at her 2nd test when I convinced myself that the tests would come back all clear and they didn’t. This time, I just avoided thinking about it and focused on getting the kids together and packing enough snacks for a long clinic visit and having all of our paperwork in order.
We went to a new allergy clinic today. I’ve been growing more and more dissatisfied with the one that Eva originally went to because we always end up being there for hours and hours without any real communication about what we’re waiting for and what’s going on. I get the impression that our original allergist is very busy, but I’m annoyed that I’m even getting that impression because this isn’t the kind of thing where you want to feel like you need to rush because your doctor has a foot out the door. Believe me, I’m very sympathetic to the fact that there are way too many demands on doctors and the workload is incredible, but when I’m depending on someone’s instructions to keep my kid alive, I really need that person to sit down and look me in the eye when they’re talking to me.
The doctor we saw today was great and everyone on the staff was wonderful, so I have very good feelings about continuing with this new clinic. Since it had been about 14 months since Eva’s last skin test, he decided we should go ahead and do another one today. I wasn’t sure if that would happen so I hadn’t really prepared Eva and this ended up being a real problem. Note to allergy parents: three years old is apparently the age where you really need to start explaining exactly what is about to go down.
Eva didn’t fuss at either her first or second allergy test. At the second one I had to hold her on my lap and have her hold my hands so she wouldn’t itch, but she didn’t fight me. Today was completely different. For the first time, she understood that something was about to happen and it was going to be uncomfortable, so she got herself agitated before they even began. This kid, who is usually agreeable and cooperative, had to be held down on the table for the first time, which made the whole thing harder on everyone. Granted, it’s a really awful feeling to get all of those little pokes, but I had hoped she’d just sail through. Not today.
After the physician assistant finished making the scratches for the skin test, I took a photo. It’s a twenty minute test and I wanted to take a photo on the minute for the whole thing, starting with base line zero, so I could get an idea of how fast she reacts to certain allergens.
This is right after the PA finished the scratches:
This is minute 1:
I don’t have a minute 2 photo or any other minute photos because somewhere between minute one and minute two, Eva lost it. She started to thrash around and scream/cry so we had to hang onto her arms to keep her flat on her stomach in order to avoid agitating the marks and throwing off the test. She made so much noise that the nurse came in and looked her over before going out to consult with the doctor. They discussed and checked and discussed (with her crying the whole time) and then they called the test at minute 7 because the reactions were already so bad and she was in a lot of pain.
That was the worst part of it. To keep her from going into full hysterics, I was trying to talk her down by saying things like “It’s not that bad,” and “We’re almost done” and “Do you think fussing is going to make your back feel better? Now stop.” I wanted her to calm down, but I was very aware of the fact that I was belittling what is a legitimately awful experience for her. It’s really easy to forget that she’s only a three year old sometimes and that being three and being held down to a table while someone scratches you with something that makes your back feel like it’s on fire is really a crappy way to spend an afternoon. I couldn’t say that, of course, because it just would have worked her up more, but on the inside I was thinking she had every right to scream her lungs out.
As it was, she calmed down as soon as they rubbed her back with alcohol and slathered her in Benadryl cream. I noticed that she winced a little when I put her dress on, but she didn’t complain about her back at all once the test was done. A trooper, that kid.
When the doctor came in, it was a lot of bad news. Her food allergies are as bad as last year, if not worse. Her allergy to cats is the same and her allergy to dogs is worse. She has seasonal allergies to every plant in the history of the world except for Elm trees, which means nothing to me because I couldn’t pick an Elm out of a tree lineup if my life depended on it.
One of the worst pieces of news was a new allergy. I asked that she be tested for horses this time around because we’ve had some bad interactions and I wasn’t sure if it was the animal or the general environment. The test today confirmed that Eva is allergic to horses. In fact, she’s severely allergic to horses. Horses are on the same level as peanuts and cashews. In theory, just standing near a horse could put her in the hospital. You can see the horse welt in the center of all the rest in this photo, taken ten minutes after they cleaned her up and covered her in Benadryl:
On a realistic level, it’s ridiculous to be fall-to-the-ground upset about this because Eva is rarely around horses as it is. Horses don’t run rampant in school lunchrooms. Jet Blue doesn’t provide complimentary horses on cross-country flights. Our life is fairly horse free. However, she loves them and she does have her own little pony at my aunt’s farm (named Velvet) and she has a little laminated picture of Velvet and she talks about Velvet and I’ve been encouraging all of it because I thought it was a great substitute for the fact that she can’t have a puppy and…you know…dammit.
I’m part of a Facebook group for local moms who have kids with special needs and sometimes I feel like I should leave the group because Eva’s problems are so minor compared to the majority of people participating on the timeline. I see these terrible stories and wonder how any of these parents are keeping it together and I knock on all of the wood ever that Eva’s issues are something we can manage. And we do manage.
But today, I don’t know. I guess I didn’t want to hear it, which explains why I waited 14 months to do her annual test. But we heard. We got the paperwork. We picked up the prescriptions. And then we went home and washed off the last traces of marker and put on fresh pajamas and called it a day.
Sometimes, that’s all you can do.