Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I am grateful for wonderful news today . . .

(I feel like I need to knock on wood or turn around 3 times before I write this. I feel like a 10 year old worried about a jinx. But here goes . . . )

Henry no longer has food allergies!!

We can hardly believe it. This result was quite unexpected, but so exciting! Henry has had to deal with his allergies since he was 8 months old. And we've all managed. Fortunately, his allergies have never been life threatening (at least not to our knowledge), but Henry has always had to deal with them . . . carrying an epi-pen, extra doctor appointments, asking about food ingredients everywhere, informing daycare, school, friends . . . . So even the possibility of leaving all that behind is a big deal.

Although his dairy allergy disappeared a few years ago, Henry still had a reaction to eggs and shellfish. And he had to go through the check-up process in order to get an epi-pen prescription each year for school/daycare and home.

Although I didn't think anything would change this year, we did have an inkling that Henry's allergen levels were improving. At his annual check-up with his regular doctor in July, Henry had blood drawn for a RAST test (the standard allergy blood test). I ended up calling his allergist Dr. Helm a few days later, just to ask if the doctor could read his levels, get back to me over the phone, and forward along an epi-pen prescription. That would save us 3 hours for the drive and appointment. But surprisingly, the nurse called us and said the RAST test was negative. No sign of any allergies.

Negative?? I was shocked.

After we got that result, of course we'd go in for the next step, which was the skin test (pricking the skin with the known allergen and waiting for a reaction) to confirm the blood test result. This was NOT Henry's favorite test, but with the good blood test result, we needed to see what was really happening.

When I told Henry about the skin test appointment, he was so excited about the possibility of not having allergies, that he didn't protest the skin test at all. A few days later, I even heard him telling one of his little friends "I might not have allergies anymore." Of course, I was so hopeful for a good result, but I started to worry that I had made a mistake in telling Henry. More than likely, he would still react to the skin test. Now I was setting him up to be disappointed. Bad mama!! So, I immediately started back pedaling with Henry ("you'll probably still have allergies. This just means it is getting better. Maybe next year will be even better.")

I swear, the difference between holding out for hope and holding off disappointment is a very fine line . . .

I guess I really wasn't holding my breath either. We've had 5+ years of allergies. And, Henry always had the strongest reaction to egg. Why would that change now, even with a good RAST test?

So today was the big day. (But not really, right?) We headed up to Maple Grove and Henry was uncharacteristically calm about the whole thing. He didn't make an issue about going to the doctor or having the test done at all. And, of course, that made me worry all the more that he would be very disappointed. So like any good mother (??), I countered by really laying on the "don't get your hopes up" line.

We arrive. Height and weight. Four skin pricks on Henry's back (and one brave kid!). Then we waited. Fifteen loooonngg minutes.

I actually found myself pacing back and forth. Henry was anxious too. He knew where the histamine prick was located on his back (as the control), and he kept saying, "Mom, only the one that is supposed to be itchy is itchy." Clearly, "hope" had won out for both of us!

I watched the clock and watched Henry's back. Nothing there. No reaction. Could it be possible?

Sure enough, after 15 minutes, still no reaction. The nurse came in, took a look and said casually "oh, negative." Like it was no big deal. He probably sees this all the time. But, I couldn't believe it. "Negative, really negative??" The nurse confirmed. No allergies. Dr. Helm came in a few minutes later and confirmed. No allergies.

I was thrilled. And seeing Henry's reaction nearly brought me to tears. He just grinned from ear to ear. He didn't say a word. He didn't need to say anything. He may have actually been too excited to speak. But that mile-wide grin said it all! (that is of course, until we got to the car and he couldn't wait to call Papa and Tonya and Grandma Anne to share the good news!) It really was a big moment for us. For Henry . . . .

Although we could have celebrated with a lobster omelet, Henry instead chose a 10 piece McNugget on the way home. His allergen levels may have changed, but his appetite has not . . . at least not yet!

I guess there was no need to hedge for disappointment after all!

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