Just before the girls turned 2, Cassie had a pretty impressive (though not in a good way) contact reaction to a peanut that she had reached off of the counter. Thankfully, she didn't eat it, as she had instant hives all over her face where she had rubbed the peanut around.
We had her tested at the allergist shortly after, and it was confirmed, she was definitely allergic to peanuts. As far as we knew, she had never been exposed to tree nuts, and even though the test came up negative, we still avoided all tree nuts as well (why take the chance?).
At the time, Maggie wasn't tested; as far as we knew, she hadn't been exposed, and the doctor didn't think testing her would be reliable. Wait until before they go to school he said.
So, we have been practicing avoidence with both girls. No peanuts or tree nuts for either (and now Nate) Wait for the retest.
Well, they turn 5 this month, and kindergarten starts in the fall. So, I scheduled a test for each of the girls. We were keeping our fingers crossed that Cassie would be one of the very lucky few who outgrow peanut allergies, and that Maggie wouldn't be allergic at all. We will test Nate when he is 5.
They were tested with skin testing. A small amount of serum from the (potential) allergen placed on their backs, along with a control histamine spot. Then wait 15 minutes to see what happens.
Good news and bad news.
The good news is that Maggie does not appear to be allergic to either peanuts or tree nuts! Yay!
The bad news is that Cassie is still allergic to peanuts. She is also most definitely allergic to cashews, and it is a strong possibility that she is allergic to other tree nuts as well. Boo!
Her control spot was pretty big, and the peanut spot got really big and raised, very quickly. The cashew spot was big, too. They told me that the other tree nut spots weren't big enough to count, but I am pretty certain that if we test them next year, they will be. So, no peanuts still, and no tree nuts either. (Even though it was just cashew that was positive, the risk for cross contamination just isn't worth it.)
We have a slip to have a blood test done, a RAST test. That will give us a bit more insight for Cassie's levels, and to determine that Maggie isn't allergic. If you want to know more about RAST testing, HERE is its wiki page.
Basically, though, they will draw blood and test antibodies with allergens to get a level of allergic-ness. It is just for a baseline, there isn't really anyway to determine how severe a reaction could be, until the reaction is happening.
Maggie testing negative doesn't really change things for us. We are still maintaining a peanut and tree nut free home for Cassie. It just means that I don't need to worry as much. We also still need to read every label of every thing we buy, every time, because sometimes manufacturers change things.
Our comfort zone isn't rigid strict, compared to others. But right now it works for us. I still wipe down tables and chairs at restaraunts, and wipe down shopping carts. Depending on the manufacturer, and what I know of their labelling and cleaning practices, I allow some things that have been processed in the same facility as peanuts/treenuts. Occasionally, I will allow things made on same equipment as.
Usually, baked goods that have that warning are a no go. And, we are trying to teach the girls, that they can not take food from other people, unless Lino or I say it is safe to do so. We need to read labels, etc. Not that other people can't read, but unless you live it every day, sometimes things can be missed.
Just yesterday, even, my dad said that when he was shopping, he spotted a brownie treat he thought the kids would like. He read the label, and it had wording on it that he thought wouldn't be good (he couldn't remember exactly, but generally, brownies baked by others, not safe) Yay, that he remembered and read the label. He is usually really good at remembering and checking.
Then, he handed me a frozen treat box to look at. He wanted to know if the kids would like it. As I started to read the label, he said, 'Oh, I just assumed that because it said Hershey's it is safe'. Yes, Hershey's is sometimes safe for us, but this was made by a different company using Hershey's chocolate, who knows what else was in it. (It turns out that it was safe, and very yummy)
Every label, every time.
And, at Thanksgiving the past few years, my sister has made treats for everyone that are covered in hazelnuts. She makes a seperate nut free version for the kids, but it still freaks me out. My inlaws used to keep a bowl of mixed nuts out, and seemed rersistant to even moving it. Scary!! It took a while before they started moving it before we would get there, but the past handful of times we have gone there, I haven't seen it out. Yay!
I pray that Cassie never has an anaphylactic reaction. That would mean a shot of epinephrin and benedryl and a trip to the ER, and a whole lot of prayers.
We just have to stay vigilant, reading labels and advocating for her. I will admit, that part of my anxiety about the girls starting school, is that I lose the ability to completely control their environment, with regards to the peanut/tree nut allergy. I will have to rely on other people 'getting it'; understanding the real importance of keeping Cassie safe. Understanding the very real danger and that the next reaction she has could be the one that sends her to the hospital.