A few months ago, we rushed Tricky to the hospital when he was struggling to breath and scratching at his body. They told us Tricks had an anaphylaxis reaction to something, more than likely cashew nuts (we'd just had chicken cashew nut).
He's been seeing the allergists at the hospital and has undergone a shed load of tests. OK so it's not really a shed load, it's only a few. But when you're using your full body weight to pin your screaming toddler down while someone pokes twelve needles in to him you tend to think all that effort was surely for more than a handful of bloody tests.
The results of these tests just aren't adding up and I have a theory. I've gone all CSI or Lorenzo's Oil or whatever and I'm hunting down this bastard that put my kid in hospital.
His skin prick test came back negative and it was declared a false negative. So a RAST test was ordered.
His RAST test ( radioallergosorbent test - big words!) came back with a high number for cashews (meaning anaphylaxis) and Allergist A told us to avoid not only the nut but traces of it and incidental contact. It meant having to ask my mothers group not to bring any "may contain" products in case any residue transferred from their children's hands to a toy, to Tricky to his mouth. Until he was old enough to know not to put anything in his mouth, or even touch his mouth without first washing his hands, this was how it was going to be. I was rather pissed off with the world, thinking he could end up in hospital just from learning how to share.
Then yesterday we got a very low RAST score. One that made Allergist B battle to try and not use the words "What the fuck?!".There are antibodies in his blood that react to cashew... but in theory, not enough for it to land him in hospital.
My brain has been going one million miles per hour since hearing this and has come up with an idea.
I'm wondering if maybe, just maybe, Tricky doesn't have a food allergy.
Writing those words makes my heart race and brings tears to my eyes. Because I could be right. And because I could be really wrong. I don't care that I could look like a dickhead, all I care about is my boy.
I think his first reaction, his "atypical anaphylaxis", might have been a serious asthma attack. He was given adrenaline in the emergency room - adrenaline reduces bronchial spasms and was the go-to treatment for asthma before Ventolin came on the scene. We went home after twelve hours and for the rest of the week he had a raspy cough and a minimal wheeze that we were told was to be expected after his throat swelling. We were back within the week with his first proper "asthma admission".
I think his second reaction, which was quite mild and was put down to a suspected trace exposure, was an asthma attack, too. It was just over a week after he'd had a major asthma attack - so major it required an ambulance.
I think both attacks could have been brought on by something in the food, not necessarily cashews (a preservative? a colour?). I always need Ventolin after having anything with sulphur, including wine - which is why when I'm laughing after a few drinks I often end up having a coughing fit. I'm not allergic to it, I'm sensitive to it. I'm totally a sensitive gal, you see?
I want to believe this so much. SO MUCH. Part of me thinks I'm stupid and clutching at straws. Could two lots of emergency doctors have got it wrong? Could two allergists have gotten it wrong? They were going by what I said - that he'd eaten and then a short time later, couldn't breathe, was itchy and puffy. It looks like anaphylaxis... but what if it's not?
I don't want to spend the next two to three years before the standard food challenge test freaking out over every single thing he puts in his mouth if I don't have to. Allergist B agrees and Tricky will be admitted to hospital soon for a challenge where they'll feed him small amounts of cashews and watch him, with adrenaline and oxygen at the ready. Then we'll know for sure.
We've only walked this allergy path for a few months now and it might seem melodramatic but it's been really hard. Trying to marry the two worlds of the laid back "he'll be right" mama and becoming a helicopter parent the minute that food is around has been tough. I don't know how to be that person and I feel like I'm failing miserably.
I know it's much more likely that it's me that has it wrong than an emergency room full of doctors and allergy specialists... but I can hope. And as they say, hope is the only thing more powerful than fear.