As many of you know, my 7 year old has food allergies. We discovered his dairy and egg allergies when he was about 10 months old, when he was 18 months old he reacted to bananas, and we discovered his tree nut allergy before he was 3.
My allergy boy has his allergies tested every year. Last year, we did a baked milk challenge. He passed, which was a sign that he was beginning to tolerate dairy – but only at home, in very small amounts, and when it was baked.
This year when we went for his annual testing, his skin test was promising. Following up with a RAST blood test, the results were in the “undetectable” level. Our allergist recommended we book a food challenge.
“If I grow out of my dairy allergy, can we have a party?” my allergy boy had asked me a few weeks before. Of course we could! But secretly, I was not optimistic. I couldn’t even imagine the possibility of him eating dairy.
When we showed up for the food challenge, my allergy boy was so excited. He was nervous too, as to be expected. He was about to ingest something that we’d been telling him his whole life would make him sick.
I was a nervous wreck. I tried really hard to be cool – I hope I was. I don’t think my boy knew how nervous I was. But as I sat there in the chair, while the allergist gave my boy a thorough check up, I was shaking. I mean, literally, (in the true sense of the word) my legs were shaking. I was tense, I was sweating, I wasn’t breathing properly. I kept making myself take deep breaths. I had to keep it together.
The allergist was great. He was very reassuring and he’s fantastic with kids. The man just has a naturally soothing presence. I was impressed with how carefully he checked over my allergy boy: height and weight, blood pressure, oxygen level, breathing, heart rate, gums, tongue, and a full check of his skin (arms, legs, torso – back and front).
The first step was a drop of chocolate milk on his tongue. Then we waited. My heart was in my throat. My allergy boy seemed fine. We waited ten minutes before the allergist checked him all over again, from head to toe. My allergy boy was fine.
Next it was 5ml of chocolate milk. Same thing: wait ten minutes then a full check; all good. Next it was 10ml, same again. Then 20ml, 40ml, and then he finished what would be a full serving of milk. No reaction. Not a single hive, bump or “funny feeling”. We waited an hour before my allergy boy got the final check-up and then came the official word: he passed. He was no longer allergic to dairy. We could add dairy back into his diet. We walked into that office thinking that dairy could kill him; we walked out having been told to add it to his diet for the first time in his life.
I think my allergy boy and I both left the office in disbelief. It just didn’t really hit me. But it did slowly over the next little while.
I used to think that his dairy allergy wasn’t a big deal. We managed, we were used to it. He had never been able to eat dairy – ever. And we just adapted. Suddenly, I realized that it was a big deal. Holy shit, it was a huge deal.
I had a moment in Costco a week or so after the dairy challenge. We were walking through, and for the first time, my allergy boy could try almost all of the samples. It’s funny how the stupid little things get to you, isn’t it? We walked up to our first sample table: pita crackers with tzatziki. My allergy boy asked me if he could try it. I check the ingredients for his other allergens and told him that he could have it. People, I wish I’d been recording his reaction because no description can do it justice. He took one bite, his face lit up and he said, “I LOVE it!”
I think that was when it hit me, at that moment in Costco. OMG, MY KID CAN HAVE COSTCO SAMPLES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS LIFE! My kid can have pizza on pizza days at school! Timbits! Fudge! Lasagna! Macaroni and cheese! Tiny Tom donuts! Cake at birthday parties! ICE CREAM! OMG, the possibilities! I had to look away and distract myself for fear that I’d have a full breakdown right there.
… Oh, look, Christmas stuff. Already. In August. How about that? …
“Can we buy some?” my kids wanted to buy the pita crackers and tzatziki. “Of course!” I said, cool and composed.
We’ve spent the last few weeks indulging in things we don’t normally buy. My allergy boy has been awesome. I thought he’d be afraid to try things but he’s not. He’s so brave I can hardly believe it. He loves milk. Cheese, is so-so. Ice cream is to die for. It’s a whole new world.
We were baking together recently and out of the blue he turned to me and said, “Mummy, I can’t believe I’m not allergic to dairy anymore.”
Me neither, lovey. Me neither.