As soon as I hit ‘publish’ on yesterday’s post about having a nice relaxing day, the world shifted slightly on its axis and it was decided we weren’t going to have a relaxing day after all. I got a phone call to ask if I could take my eldest son into hospital that morning for his consumption test for his peanut allergy.
So much for taking it easy and not nagging, so much for spending quality time with all of my children. Having ascertained that my mum could have the other two, we rushed off to buy peanuts for him to consume before heading for the hospital.
My son has a peanut allergy, although we didn’t realise until earlier this year, when he was nearly 10. I guess if you’re a fussy kid, you don’t try food, and allergies don’t show themselves. I blame myself, I ate peanut butter all through pregnancy and breastfeeding. But no-one told me not to. I have eczema and people with allergies shouldn’t eat peanuts when pregnant or breastfeeding.
He first had a reaction in April, but we didn’t know what it was to. Because I didn’t know he’d eaten peanuts. I’d gone for a rare day out with my daughter, leaving my husband to take my younger son to a party at the locl dry ski slope, with my eldest in tow. Apparently my eldest had been messing around, rolling round the ski slope with the birthday boy’s brother. When I got home he looked weird. His face was swollen, his eyes were like cats’ eyes and set too far back into his face. His nose was disappearing. Frankly, he looked like Voldemort.
I was quite freaked out by this, but no-one else seemed bothered. They didn’t think he looked wrong and they weren’t concerned to know what had caused it. I gave him Piriton before bed and a couple of times the next day, but it took two days to get back to normal. I assumed it must have been some sort of hay fever (although he’d never had it before) or maybe some mould off the ski slope he’d been rolling on.
A month later we were at the kids’ award do at the rugby club. When we arrived he asked for me to get him peanuts. I didn’t remember him ever having peanuts before. I asked if he liked them and if he’d had them before and he said he did and he had. He took his peanuts and ran off with his friends.
A few minutes later, he was back – swollen, cats’ eyes, disappearing nose. Voldemort face. My friend and I sat him down and talked him through everything he’d done at the rugby club and the ski slope. Were there two things the same that hadn’t happened anywhere else? I was still quite focused on grass and hay fever. But then he mentioned that he’d eaten peanuts at the ski slope! I started to panic slightly – I’d heard the peanut allergy scare stories.
He’d got a spot on his chest – he hadn’t that last time. We jumped in the car and drove home for the Piriton. By the time we arrived there was a spot on his neck too. I gave him the Piriton, put the bottle in my bag and we went back to the rugby club.
Diagnosis has been a slow process. The GP referred us to the hospital and we had a six week wait until we got an appointment. At the hospital he had blood tests – for peanuts and other nuts, then another six week wait for the results. The results were a shock – because they showed he DIDN’T have an allergy. But something had caused that reaction and peanuts were the only common denominator. So he needed a consumption test.
Although not life-threatening, the reaction was fairly bad. The other two kids I know of with peanut allergies only get a slight rash. Their allergy was picked up much younger and they have lived a very careful nut-free life ever since. Not my boy!
So to yesterday’s phone call. We’d been waiting a while for the consumption test. It had been over two months and we hadn’t had a letter. I was actually going to phone up this week, because I thought they’d forgotten us. The allergy doesn’t worry me every day, but it’s there at the back of my mind and I need to know how bad or not bad it is and what he should and shouldn’t avoid.
We arrived at children’s oupatients. We were in the wrong place – we needed to be further along the corridor, in the children’s ward. He had a bed with his name above and a wristband. OK, this was more serious than I was expecting. They ran through the procedure and I started calculating. What I’d imagined would take an hour, maybe an hour and a half, was looking closer to four or five hours. And my dominant thought – what about our lunch?!
They started off by doing his observations – blood pressure, temperature (strangely ridiculously low at 35.8), weight, blood oxygen, pulse etc etc. The testing was a six stage process – starting off with very small amounts of peanuts and working up. At each stage, they would carry out his observations again and check for a reaction, before moving on to the next stage if he didn’t react. He would then stay on the ward for a further two hours at the end for observation.
First stage – very small amount of crushed peanut mixed in water and rubbed on the skin by his mouth. He didn’t react – I didn’t expect him to. Second stage – very small amount of crushed peanut mixed in water on a teaspoon for him to swallow. I still didn’t expect a reaction.
As soon as he’d swallowed it, he started panicking and saying his throat felt funny. In typical unsympathetic fashion, I thought he was just over-reacting because he was worried about it. But then I realised his nose was starting to swell. I felt sick and my legs turned to jelly. I couldn’t believe he was reacting so quickly and to such a small amount – it was probably less than a peanut.
The nurse and paediatrician came over and gave him 10ml of Piriton. They agreed he was having a reaction, so they’d got their results and didn’t need to test further. So we sat on the ward for another two hours – him mainly watching DVDs and me mainly reading. And we had our lunch.
I still don’t really know what the next stage is. He’s got an allergy, the blood test was wrong. The doctor said he shouldn’t eat peanuts (obviously!) or anything containing peanuts and we should keep Piriton with us at home and at school.
They are referring us back to clinic where presumably they can give us more advice. My main fear is for when he’s a bit older and he’s out with friends – is he going to have a bottle with Piriton with him at all times?! And should we ban peanut butter (a staple for food for my husband and I) from the house?!
I suspect this is just the first chapter in a rather long story.