Friday, May 23, 2008

the good, the bad, and the food allergies

We finally had Sawyer's appointment with an allergist this week. Boy, was it a doozy.
Ryan ended up meeting us at the office since it was just (figuratively speaking) down the road from his office. I was so glad he did. First, for the skin prick tests... Sawyer was miserable and it really took both of us to keep him restrained and distracted. And then to continue into the city to find the Children's Hospital for the big blood draw (and the waiting. Did I mention the waiting?). I dropped Savannah off at the Swinigan's for the morning at 9am to get to Sawyer's appointment on time... I didn't get back to pick her up until after 2 o'clock!!

Anyway, after my poor little boy was pricked up at the office and then his backside turned into pretty much one big itchy welt, here are the results of his reactions:
He seems to have mostly outgrown his milk/soy/wheat allergies. We're looking for more details to come from his blood work, but apparently that's not what aggravates his eczema anymore, as when he was in infant.
Turns out he is fairly allergic to dustmites (all four types they test for) and also... cat hair. -Which I find odd because we only just got those cats 7 months ago and have noticed no difference whatsoever in either his skin or a nose/eye reaction as opposed to the 2 years before that. Hmm.
But. Apparently they are discovering a huge dustmite allergy/eczema link these days. And he tested pretty high for that allergy. So while day to day, his eczema is not a huge issue; it rarely gets out of control and really doesn't bother him at all these days (it more looks bad than itches him), if we make a few changes around here (deep cleaning his room, sealing up his pillows and mattress, reducing stuffed animals, hot water washing his bedding/clothes often) it just might clear up completely.
We're going back to the allergist in three months to check up on those levels... and she said if we work hard on the dustmite front and don't see a change, we might talk about the cat thing. Which like I said, I honestly don't know if the cats would make much of a difference because we've seen absolutely no change from when we got them. We'll see.

The real biggie, which was the reason we took him in in the first place... the nuts.
The tests confirmed Sawyer is allergic to peanuts. Very highly allergic, actually, according to the skin test reaction. The dr said she was actually surprised we hadn't observed a bigger reaction before.
Those of you who've been around us lately know that we've suspected this allergy. Last spring, right before we left Michigan we were at a school picnic and on the way home Sawyer's eyes got puffy and red and he was sneezing and rubbing and itching and coughing and miserable. Ryan took him into the dr, they dosed him with some antihistimine, he calmed right down and they said it was definitely an allergic reaction, but no one had any idea as to what. The dr said it was probably something in the air at the park we were at. I didn't think so, as he'd never had any problem with hayfever or grasses before... and never did again. I figured there must have been something we didn't know about in something he ate at the picnic.
Then last fall, I absentmindedly gave Sawyer a peanut butter granola bar on our way out the door one morning and he had the exact same reaction. Once again, Benadryl calmed him right down. Since then, we've avoided obvious nuts and peanut butter stuff. I haven't been concerned with ingredients, or ingredient contamination, but just steered clear of the obvious and warned everyone else of no peanuts out of caution.
Well, I finally got a referral from our pediatrician to an allergy specialist for him this spring. The first appointment we made was actually for this coming September... that's how long the wait was and how far they were scheduling out!! Luckily because he's not a current patient or on any kind of regular steroid or antihistimine, he could be seen at any time and we were on the fast track waiting list to be called if they had a cancellation. We got a good break and got right in this past week!!

Which was a good thing, because it turns out I need to be much more vigilant on the peanut front. The dr gave us a stern lecture on nut allergies and that even though up until this point Saywer has had relatively mild reactions, it seems with peanut allergies reactions get progressively worse with each exposure and just because he was fine last time, doesn't mean he'd be fine the next time. And as with most nut allergies, it's probably a lifelong issue... rarely outgrown like some other food allergies.
So now we're making a few changes around here, surveying our pantry and watching ingredient lists, etc. And we're now equipped with a couple of Epi-pens that we have to keep with him at all times and all that good stuff. Kinda scary if I think about it too hard. You know, a life threatening anaphylaxis allergy and all that.

But at least we found out before it was an unforeseen, unknowing scary. And as long as the people around us know to be looking out for Sawyer and what he's eating, and with the direction of schools, churches, camps and other centers going more and more nut-free these days, with severe food allergies seeming to be becoming more and more common, at least I know it's not an impossible obstacle course.


Kelli McGill said...

epi pens scare me to death! i hope i never have to use one.

one of my friends was about to board a plane to head to china to adopt a little boy. as she was walking out the door, she was showing her parents how to use her daughter's epi pen & accidentally injected herself! not a good be careful.

Kelli McGill said...

epi pens scare me to death! i hope i never have to use one.

one of my friends was about to board a plane to head to china to adopt a little boy. as she was walking out the door, she was showing her parents how to use her daughter's epi pen & accidentally injected herself! not a good be careful.

jessica said...

Wow, Heather. That is shocking. Ethan has just had the worst "cold" for a couple weeks. I finally took him in, the doctor said allergies. She put him on zyrtec and the next day he was fine. Miraculous. Now Gertie has got pink, watery eyes, sneezing, coughing (and an ear infection). The doctor just prescribed Zyrtec for her as well. We'll see if it helps.

I have no idea what all my kids seem to be allergic to, and it may not even be the same thing. Who knows. Their symptoms each seem to vary a little.

Now that I think of it, I've been itching like crazy lately. I've never had exczema that I know of, but now I do. I have been chalking it up to the hot tub and the cold dry winter. It drives me crazy.

Back to Sawyer, though, at least now you have some answers, and I think that always feels good. The mystery is gone.

Boy, would I be in trouble if my kids were allergic to dust mites!

Mom said...

Well,that's a lot of info.Good and bad is right.UGHHH Dust mites !!!Poor Sawyer. Peanut butter has always been a favorite of mine(and my Dad's of course)since I can remember.And poor Savannah.She loves her P.and J. sandwiches.Laurie Girard would be a good one to help with any questions and concerns you might have.(Nicoles' allergies)You will definately have to be reading ALL food labels.Let's hope and pray his allergies decrease with time/age.XOXOXOXOXOXO

kimca01 said...

Yikes, that's scary! If it helps, I had a peanut allergy and dust mite allergy that I outgrew so it can happen, it's more rare with a nut allergy. Alot of people outgrow the dust mite one though, it seems. I had all those tests as a kid, went for weekly allergy shots, had the epi pen and all that.

I must have known you were going to post this - check out the post on my regular (not baby) blog about the safety temporary tattoos! Might be something worth getting for certain situations, they have "I'm allergic to nuts" ones.

Nicole said...

Poor Sawyer! Its good that you've got the diagnosis now, and know to be more aware of the peanuts. It does seem like a lot of places are being more aware of food allergies (esp nuts) and hopefully you won't find his allergy too inconveniencing (if thats a way to put it LOL!) and hopefully everyone can stay aware of it and watch out for what he's eating.

Don't they make a "peanut free" peanutbutter? Well, its obviously not peanut butter, but similar?

jenny said...

oh - poor sawyer! my sister has some bad allergies that my parents keep an epi pen for - thank god they've never had to use it. the scariest thing is making sure everyone else knows about his allergy so nothing happens when he is away from you.

Anonymous said...

i definitely think more and more places are going nut-free... here in MN they even have some peanut-free nights at the twins games for those that are too allergic to even be in the same vicinity as peanuts.

i knew someone once that had an allergy to peppermint i think it was... a VERY bad allergy... christmas was a horrible time for her. if she was in a classroom and someone had one candy cane, she'd have a reaction.

thank god for epi-pens though, as a trained EMT i think they are awesome. it's scary, yes, but should also be comforting knowing that you will be able to do something if you ever need to.

Anonymous said...

The next time you fly you may want to make the airlines aware of his allergies to peanuts. Laurie has made them aware of it and they do not serve nuts on that flight. Nicole's worst reaction was when Mark had peanut butter on his toast and kissed her and she immediately had a problem. Grandma Girard

Heather S. said...

Glad you have some answers!! Let me know what snacks he likes that are okay to eat so I can have stuff on hand when he comes over.

Debbie said...

Well, I hate to say it, but food allergies run on our side of the family -- my Mom had them, as did Ryan, Holly and me. But the ones we had, we mostly grew out of. Poor Sawyer! But he can hang out with Grandpa Andy -- he HATES peanut butter! Fortunately, there is much more to life than peanuts.
The one good thing in all of this: because it is a high allergen in this country, restaurants and schools are all very aware of the potential danger of it and are very cautious. We will definitely be praying for all of you (as well as those around Sawyer) that you will always stay on guard for your sweet little boy!
Mom/Grandma Debbie

jessica said...

i can't believe i'm just getting around to reading this. anyhow, i'm SO sorry that sawyer has such a bad allergy to those dang nuts. arrrrgh. why are these allergies so prevalent nowdays??? i am NOT looking forward to our appt next week after reading your post. that sounds like it was terrible for him? poor baby. keep us updated...

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