Our lives completely changed when my son, Bowan was diagnosed with a peanut allergy + other food allergies at 14 months old. We had to learn a new way of living. I had to take Bowan to specialists + office visits + even ER visits. The diagnosis was devastating + literally broke my heart. Like the Japanese saying goes, that broken space in my heart is repaired with a metal filling, because it will absolutely never be the same. Just last week, we expereinced a food allergy Christmas miracle.
I'm going to talk a little bit about medical information here, but clearly, I am absolutely not a doctor or allergist, I'm just a mom that's trying to share about my experience. If you are looking for help with allergies, please make an appointment with a board certified allergist.
Almost two months ago, Bowan had a severe allergic reaction to kiwi. It was an unknown allergy + a very scary experience for the kids + I. I administered Auvi-Q to Bowan at home, with his brothers Breck + Bridger watching. Bowan got another shot of epinephrine at the hospital when his reaction became biphasic + started back up again. Because of this reaction, we needed to do some allergy testing to confirm the kiwi allergy. We went to Children's Hospital downtown Aurora/Denver to see the allergy + EoE specialists. Bowan's blood work, indeed confirmed a kiwi allergy.
Bowan's anaphalyctic reaction to kiwi literally left me with nightmares for weeks. But, it also brought an incredible surprise. All of Bowan's other known food allergies went down. The allergists track IgE numbers of the food proteins that people with allergies react to. The most surprising result of the blood testing was that the peanut IgE dropped. The peanut levels were low enough, that our allergist at Children's wanted to challenge it!
When clinical allergy testing suggests a patient has outgrown an allergy, the safest way to test this is through an Oral Food Challenge. This is done in a hospital setting, at prescribed doses + at set intervals, to watch for even the slightest reaction. If a reaction does occur, the patient will be treated right away. I knew going into this challenge that we had a 50/50 chance of Bowan passing the challenge. But, I decided it was worth a shot because avoiding peanut is seriously so incredibly hard. I honestly don't think I've ever done anything more difficult in my life. And, I've had three natural childbirths. I will always choose childbirth over food allergies, if I only had a choice! Avoiding a food due to a life threatening allergy seriously wears on the soul + takes so much pre-planning, it is absolutely exhausting.
Our food challenge took place last week on the 9th floor of Children's Hospital Colorado. It was the pulmonary floor. Completely equipped at the highest level to treat any respiratory distress caused from an allergic reaction as a result of a failed food challenge. Ironically enough, Bowan + I stayed on this exact floor 2 1/2 years ago when he was hospitalized for 3 days due to respiratory distress with RSV. Bowan's peanut allergy was confirmed via blood work 2 days before that RSV stay. This recent hospital visit really came full circle. Below is a photo of Bowan riding in the ambulance to Children's downtown.
Bowan is such a strong kid. He's been through so much. He's been poked and prodded + had painful allergic reactions. He faced his recent oral food challenge like such a big, strong boy. He was afraid because he knew he was going to eat peanut. Ever since his first exposure to peanut at 14 months, he's spent his entire life avoiding peanut. And, now he was going to eat it. That is a lot to ask of a 3 year old. He did it. And, after all this heartache, he passed. Just days shy of his 4th birthday he at 16.7 peanuts or 5000mg of peanut protein + passed an oral food challenge.
We experienced a true Christmas miracle! Bowan outgrew his peanut allergy. Only 20% of kids with a peanut allergy will outgrow the allergy. Living with food allergies has never been about the food. It's not been about peanut or almond or wheat or any other food that we couldn't have. Not the food. Not at all. It's been the exclusion, the painful reactions. The extreme medical bills. The extra hours working just to make a dent in the medical bills. The lost time at the appointments. The painful blood draws that a little toddler just doesn't understand. We praise Jesus for Bowan's Christmas blessing, but our walk with food allergies is far from over.
Here Bowan is learning how to self administer epinephrine from a nurse.
Just 6 months ago, I flew with Bowan + Bridger out to Utah to See Dr. Jones of Rocky Mountain Allergy to pursue Oral Immunotherapy treatment. I took the trip to get Bowan on the waitlist, because honestly, I just couldn't see how I would handle all of the difficulties of sending a son to Kindergarten with a peanut allergy + multiple life threatening food allergies. I was desperate. He requested blood work + we got all of Bowan's IgE levels then. IgE levels can change over time. But, it was so surprising to see that the levels dropped over the past 6 months. A miraculous surprise.
I sure have learned that people living with food allergies are an underserved community. There is still much work to be done. We need to spread more empathy + we need to fund more research. If you can help anyone in anyway, please do.
Teal Allergy Awareness Earrings by: Allergy Mom Depot
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