Every year, Penny (my severe food-allergic child), has to visit her allergist to discuss her allergies and have a blood test. Then, we wait for the results that determine if her allergies are getting better (in the path of outgrowing them) or if they are getting worse. When we get close to this date, I try not to get my hopes up, because as it has happened in the past, I get hopeful and then I find out that her allergies got more severe.
This year, I walked into the allergist’s office with little to no hope. We talked about Penny’s most recent reaction when we traveled this summer, discussed what can be done in the future before traveling and established a new emergency plan. Then, the doctor started talking about this year’s blood test and how he thought that Penny’s dairy allergy, which was not too high last year, could have gotten better and depending on the test result we might be able to do an oral food challenge. If the doctor is so hopeful, why shouldn’t I be? I’m not going to lie: I walked out of his office with this feeling that her dairy allergy was outgrown. I was so happy! I kept thinking that I was going to be able to expand her diet and it was going to be easier now.
Well, we went to the lab, got her blood drawn and the waiting game began. A week later I got a call from her allergist… We talked about another reaction that Penny had experienced without any direct exposure to an allergen and then he told me that he had called me to talk about the test results. My expectations were high… and then I heard the following words: “Unfortunately, Penny’s results show that her allergies didn’t get any better”. Her dairy allergy went higher and the peanut allergy is very high now. BUMMER!
I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach, I was so disheartened… I immediately called my husband to give him the news. He was sad as well. We had, again, gotten our hopes up only to receive bad news. The truth is that even though you know that Food Allergies can go either way, you always want the best for your children. I have to accept our reality: Penny might never outgrow her Food Allergies. It is my job to teach her how to live in a world that’s not allergy-free and where not everybody is allergy-friendly. However, it is something that, with the right education and advocacy, can be achieved.
This is going to be a big year for Penny: she might go to preschool for the first time. What can I say? It scares me like nothing has ever scared me before. But, it is what it is. Of course, I will meet up with the school staff to talk about her allergies and establish an emergency care plan, and hopefully she will be comfortable in an environment where her allergies will be respected and she will be accommodated. After all, food allergies are a part of her life and she has to learn to live with them.