Good News

Ever since Penny switched allergists our whole experience has been different. Obviously, different doctor, different experience. Yes, but it has changed our perspective from what seemed like a situation into a journey. A journey which has been beneficial not only for Penny but for the whole family. We have all grown with more understanding, empathy, precaution, and a completely different point of view about food allergies.

Reading through the blog, the experiences we’ve been through as a family and how I have reacted to Penny’s diagnosis and allergic reactions, I’ve felt a shift in perspective. My initial reaction to Penny’s diagnosis was negative, one of complete fear and isolation. As I state in Our Story: “Penny’s diagnosis changed our world. At first, it was overwhelming because we had no idea what having food allergies really meant and we didn’t know how to handle them. What can she eat now? Dairy, peanuts and tree nuts seemed to be ingredients found in almost every food that we eat. Reading labels became everything […]” Not to say that I do not experience fear every time we go to the doctor’s office for a food challenge, or get anxious every time we have a test coming up, but now we see Food Allergies in a new, refreshing way. I know that we can be resilient, but I also have to acknowledge that Penny’s doctor has been a key component of this new attitude towards Food Allergies. He’s been very good with educating us more on the subject and giving us reassurance about safety.

A few weeks ago, it was time for allergy testing. Oooh! What an exciting and scary time! You know, it is either good news- she’s outgrowing her allergies or not so good news- her allergies are the same or worse. We got to the doctor’s office, and after having been examined for her asthma and everything else (height, weight, changes in health, etc), it was “test time”. She was tested for the current allergies and a few more that we were worried about because of family allergy history. This time it was great news. It seems like she has outgrown most of the nut allergies and she is no longer allergic to dog or cat dander. Also, the dairy allergy has improved. Hooray for Oral Immunotherapy! Unbelievable: Her multiple allergies have been reduced to only 2 foods: peanuts and dairy!

I have to say that it is a pretty neat feeling. Knowing that your child is safe around foods that were previously like poison to her. It has also been very exciting for Penny. She has been letting everyone know that she possibly might not be allergic to nuts! So, what’s next you might ask? A cashew challenge. The doctor wants to introduce tree nuts in the office, just to be safe.  Like I said, I always get nervous when it comes to food challenges, but I trust my daughter’s allergist. Penny? She’s very excited about the challenge- she’s even counting the days.

Sometimes these curveballs that life throws at you end up being such a gem. You learn, you grow, and you find peace within yourself. There’s nothing harder than swimming against the current. After accepting the reality of being a Food-Allergic Family, I can acknowledge that whole experience has been an incredible, enriching and learning one.  

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Here we go again… Yearly Food Allergy Testing

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.