Alternatively titled: I was RIGHT, bitches!!
Every time I write about Tricky's anaphylaxis to cashews I feel like the biggest bloody drama queen and I'm practically incapable of using my go-to coping method to deal with it: making a joke out of it. Because it's not funny. Not at all. Whilst it might have seemed overly dramatized to those of you with no experience with anaphylaxis, everything I wrote here about it was and remains true for allergy parents. The fear, the uncertainty, the endless anxiety. The constant vigilance leaves you weary and feeling like the biggest helicopter parent in the world the minute food is around.
If life occurred in the safe little bubble of your own home then you could avoid allergens quite easily, but we all need to go out. To the shops, day care, school, friends' houses, events, on holiday. The moment you leave your house (or someone visits) the chopper blades start spinning.
Tricky's allergy testing was inconclusive - he presented twice to emergency with 'atypical anaphylaxis' then had a negative skin prick test and positive RAST test. I had four emergency doctors and three immunologists tell me that if he had even minute traces of cashews that it would be life threatening.
The results didn't add up for me. I had a mama gut feeling that my little man was in fact not allergic but perhaps just sensitive to cashews (or something else entirely, like sulphur), and that both episodes had been severe, no warning asthma attacks just like the one he had a week later that required an ambulance. One immunologist agreed with me and said we could go straight to an oral challenge and not wait until he was five.
I figured knowing either way has to be better than this limbo. Two and half years of anxiety when it might all have been a mistake? No thanks. I wasn't at all nervous in the lead up to it, in fact I was quite giddy with excitement so sure was I that everything would be fine. But then when I woke up yesterday morning to the sad news that a 16 year old boy had died
at a Sydney school after a cooking class used nuts in a cookie recipe,
and it filled me with dread. Was I really about to take my kid to the
hospital to possibly induce the same anaphylaxis based on a hunch? I was ready to hand myself in to authorities as the worst mother ever.
We headed to Princess Margaret Hospital and "checked in". It's just like checking in at a hotel except that you get tagged with bright red arm bands and there is sadly no swim up bar. Base line obs were taken and all seemed well so we moved on to a new skin prick test. As I watched, an angry red welt appeared on his arm and I thought it was all over. What the fuck!? Dude, your one previously negative test came back positive before we even started the challenge?! I don't even know how it is possible but the result put him firmly in to the allergic basket. Shit.
After a consult with the registrar and the fellow (jolly good fellow?) it was decided that we'd persevere to the next stage - rubbing a cashew on his gums and see what happened with epi pen at the ready. I didn't breathe for the next fifteen minutes but Tricky did. With ease. So we continued.
Each time he was given more and more cashew nut and observed. He absolutely loved them and would ask "more p'ease" without fail... then the alarm went off to signal his blood pressure was dropping. He was otherwise fine - smiling, playing with the iPad, telling me about all the cars in his game - and he quickly picked back up again. Again the word atypical was thrown around. I kinda like my kid to be typical.
Yet another consult with the big wigs and they gave another dose but watched him much more closely. After his second last dose two welts developed on his chin and he started to cough. If I'd been wearing the heart monitor, it would have been beeping like mad right about then. The doctors came, much more quickly this time, but his lungs sounded good and all his vital signs were fine. Atypical. Sigh.
His final dose was given and he drifted off to sleep safe in my arms for the mandatory two hour wait. While he slept they continued to monitor him. I could tell you now about how when he woke up he started coughing and scratching and everyone freaked out, but really, it's more of the same atypical stuff and this post is already way too long.
The final all clear won't be given until later today because you can have a delayed anaphylaxis reaction, but right now it is looking absolutely bloody brilliant. He has a mild allergy to cashews but it's something he is likely to outgrow with continued exposure. I have a RSI from constant jazz hands and feel like bursting in to tears I'm so happy.
Chicken cashew nut is now back on the menu and I can now actually buy foods without checking the packet to see if they are manufactured on the same lines as tree nuts. Hooray! Last week Kellogg's and Be Natural asked if I'd like to do a giveaway and were very understanding when I replied "Maybe. I'll let you know on Tuesday". To help me celebrate this momentous occasion they have come to the party and given me some awesome prizes to give away that contain NUTS and TRACES OF NUTS! HUZZAH! To top it off they're sending Tricky some too.
To enter click here to go to the Facebook App. If you're not on Facebook, and really, I can't blame you, you can enter below by commenting (just let me know it's an entry).
I've walked the shoes of an anaphylaxis parent for six months. A blink of an eye compared to what other 'ana' parents do. As awful as it was, I'm grateful for the perspective it has given me and particularly thankful for the support of this community and the outreach of certain bloggers (Bianca from Big Words, Grace from With Some Grace), and readers who helped me navigate this path and feel less alone.
For the foreseeable future I'll be dancing in the streets and screaming to anyone who will listen that my kid doesn't have anaphylaxis and that I still can't believe my hunch was right.
Now, who wants some nuts?
This is not a sponsored post