Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Peanut Free

So far 2013 has been busy, but treating us well. The Monkey Boys are back in school full swing and thriving. We are working on a total overhaul of the office/schoolroom/workout room (yes, it serves all 3 of those purposes - it's a decent sized room) including new furniture. Of course, new furniture means organizing. The room needed it as our previous desk didn't have any drawers (what was I thinking?)!

The second thing taking up the first three weeks of our new year (has it really only been 3 weeks?) has been allergy testing. Baby Monkey and I started out our processes just a few days after the new year. I was given the clear that I do not have an anaphylactic allergy to any of the foods I initially thought I was allergic too (I have never been tested before). Instead, I have a contact allergy to latex (the same type of reaction one might have to poison oak/ivy) and Food Induced-Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES) to shellfish. Basically, this is a localized immune reaction to shellfish in my gut. It leads to some pretty uncomfortable symptoms that can lead to shock. I don't have to worry about small quantities (cross contamination) at least. I'll take it.

Baby Monkey came out with the mostly all clear in the food realm. He tested positive for watermelon, but nothing else. He still needs to undergo a food challenge for peanuts and cashews to confirm those two are truly negative. Yay!

Then we moved on to Big Monkey the next week. Logically I knew that there was very little chance that they would tell me he had outgrown his peanut allergy. Emotionally, there was a small glimmer of hope. While Baby Monkey and I had skin tests done, Big Monkey's history of swelling upon exposure meant skin tests were a no no. So they preformed a RAST blood test. This test measures the amount of IgE antibody that is specific to an allergen, peanuts in our case. Two years ago Big Monkeys RAST test value was 14.7, which is considered a rating of III. This year his level is >100 or a rating of 6. This is the highest rating for the test. I do not have an idea how high over 100 he is, but the major heartbreaker is the amount he has increased over the last two years.

Here is the catch with this test. It does not tell you the severity of the reaction that one would have if exposed to the allergen. Instead, it tells you how likely you are to react if exposed. So in Big Monkey's case, he's pretty much guaranteed to have a reaction of some sort upon exposure to peanuts. It could be something as simple as hives and a little swelling or as severe as life threatening anaphylaxis. I really do not care to find out which (at least not the hard way), so we will continue to follow our strict avoidance of peanut products. This now includes products that say "may contain peanuts" or are "processed on shared equipment with peanuts." In fact, if I can I will even try to avoid products that are produced in the same facility. This makes grocery shopping very exhausting, but luckily, once I find a brand we like, it gets a little easier. Homemade items are now becoming more common in our house and premade/prepackaged foods are pretty much out with a few exceptions. Sometimes it's just easier, and much cheaper, to make it myself.

To add injury to insult, we have discovered that Big Monkey has cold induced hives as well. Overall, this condition is not likely to cause him any harm (just discomfort), but it really complicates matters with the food allergy. When we're out and he breaks out in hives sometimes I can't tell if it's because he's come in contact with something or if it's because his skin got too cold. I am also prepared with benadryl and at least two epi-pens. So I try not to worry, but it's stressful just the same. 

Next up on our allergy to do list - find out which of the peanut proteins Big Monkey is allergic to. This will hopefully help us figure out what type of reaction we'd be facing if he were to ever actually consume any peanut protein. More on how that is done once we have results!

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