Nicholas always sleeps with his right arm above his head.
I took Nicholas to the allergist/immunologist yesterday for his annual check up. This is our first check up since we discovered his allergy to pine nuts last year and I have been vacillating between pins and needles and flat denial. The appointment should have happened sometime in April but I wasn’t ready. I had the end of the year projects, presentations, and tests to handle for Mikey, not to mention the end of his baseball season, and I wanted to focus my attention on him. And, yes, I was also scared. Scared of putting Nicholas through the pain of blood work and scared of the results of the blood work.
I may be speaking too soon, but things are looking exceptionally good. We ended up needing to do two different tests. The scratch test on the back that Victoria and Melissa mentioned in the comments yesterday and some blood work. For those who aren’t familiar with the procedure, a nurse uses a pricking device (it looks similar to the finger prick diabetics use to test their glucose) to apply an allergen in the epidermis. In order for things to stay organized, the nurse will first draw a line on your arm or back for each prick (in Nicholas’s case, 55 lines across his entire back). Because Nicholas is allergic to pine nuts, a rare allergy in this country, he also had to have blood drawn because there is no “prick” for pine nuts. Pine nuts, on the other hand, remain pricks in my book. ;)
Mikey remembered having this done last year and helpfully informed the entire room, with Nicholas beside him, that Nicholas would hate this because it really, really hurt. Thanks, Mikey.
In the end it was fine. Uncomfortable, but fine. The worst part for Nicholas was the necessary immobilization by three different sets of adult hands, only one set belonging to someone he knew. No one likes being pressed into a table when they would rather be sitting and playing.
Then came the blood work. Again three different sets of hands held him down. He said, “Ouchie, mama.” They had me holding down his arms and head, but I eventually released his head, as that seemed to be the part that bothered him the most. Once he could move his head and get a better view of the blood going into the vial, he was happy as a clam. Mikey stood with his ears covered and his back to the proceedings.
The scratch test results were more than I hoped. He showed a negative response for every common allergen with the exception of a mild response to dust mites. No wheat, dairy, soy, corn, or nuts. No response to nuts! The mild response he had last year is gone. Now we just have to wait for the results of his pine nut blood work. If that comes back negative, we (1) celebrate and (2) go into the office for a medically supervised challenge. They will take pine nuts, chop them up, and over the course of two hours–with an epi-pen and crash cart near by–feed them to Nicholas is increasing amounts. Gulp.
What does this mean? A few things. First and foremost, there is a good chance Nicholas is one of the 9% of children who outgrow a nut allergy. Fingers crossed on that one. As for why he and Mikey spent the winter so sick? My new philosophy is, “When you hear hoofbeats behind you, don’t expect to see a zebra.”
I had so many people warning me about the life of children with nut allergies that I started to believe everything that happened to Nicholas was related to his allergy. It’s possible that Mikey, who does have several environmental allergies, is prone to getting sick more than most. He brings it home and gives it to Nicholas, who is younger and hasn’t been exposed to as many viruses and bacteria. It’s also possible that we just had a really lousy winter. Nothing more, nothing less.
This means I am not going to do any complicated or strict diets for the boys, which is a good thing because I was really wondering how I was going to pull it off. I am going to make a few key changes, however.
I’m going to reduce the number of convenience foods we eat. The ones we eat are “healthy” in that they don’t have color, artificial ingredients, or preservatives, but they are still convenience food with questionable nutritional value. Cereal is the biggest crutch for me, as are crackers and other bread based foods. I’ve already found a few good sources for meal ideas that I will share soon.
I’m also going to try and reduce our toxic load around here as recommended to me by someone in the comments. For months I have been checking out books from the library on greening up your home and what I have learned is mind boggling. We really do pile up the toxins in our homes. All the books I have read state that the toxins in our home far outweigh the toxins in our food. The implication is that we incorrectly place our focus on our food instead of our living environment. Do any of you who are well versed in this area agree with that statement? What do you do to reduce the toxins in your environment? I have house plants, but that’s about it!
Okay, I think I have gone on long enough. Bless those of you who got this far. Now I am off to pick up dog food and clean this disaster of a house. I’ve done nothing this week but worry about Buddy and Nicholas!