Last week I was getting my hair done when the hair stylist said something profound. She said, “Wow, he’s depended on you his whole life to keep him safe. That’s going to be a big adjustment now that he won’t have to worry about peanuts.
I had never actually thought about it, but she was entirely correct. Even if my husband or mom, neighbor or teacher read a label, my son always asked if his mommy had read it and made sure it was ok. He double checked with me before eating anything new I brought into the house. He won’t touch a thing at a restaurant without asking me if I have made sure it was safe first. I’ve been his lifeline.
Currently, he is eating six peanuts, twice a day. We have 4 more appointments to updose before his final challenge. He still cannot eat a peanut butter cookie, but he is allowed to eat a chocolate chip cookie made in the same facility as a peanut butter cookie. He can eat a cookie that “may contain traces of peanut.” His body won’t even notice such a trace amount, whereas a year ago, it would have potentially meant another shot of epinephrine. So much has changed for him already, yet, he still asks if I read the label…and I have.
Old habits are going to disappear slowly, more slowly than they were implemented, with certainty. I have about a month to figure out how I am going to feed him peanut products above his daily dose without hyperventilating. I’ll get there, though, we all will.
I hear a lot of talk about how OIT is not for kids that are super allergic. Untrue. My son is Class 6 to peanuts, the highest it goes. His anaphylaxis was to cross contamination. He has always been contact reactive. Others say that it’s too stressful and puts kids in a dangerous situation they wouldn’t be in if they just used strict avoidance. Yes, OIT is stressful, but I KNOW I just gave him his allergen and I’m watching and there is a doctor a quick phone call away. If we are avoiding and think we ate something is safe that isn’t, I will waste precious minutes determining what is happening before acting. That is the case for the roughly dozen people who have died of food allergies since October. They were all avoiding their allergen with diligence, which isn’t always enough. Not one patient has died from OIT. Day by day, my stress has disappeared. I have watched my son’s body overcome what it used to hate. I’m watching him blossom without the feeling of impending doom hanging over his head.
It’s true that OIT is not for everyone, but day after day I see plain false information out there. Allergists who don’t offer this treatment tell patients that there is no safe way other than avoidance or that this treatment only works for those with a mild allergy. Please read our story. Know that we didn’t make this decision lightly and safety was always our number one priority. There is nothing in this world that would make me put my child’s life in jeopardy and that is exactly why we chose this treatment for him. Waiting years for experimental treatments to possibly be released, all while my son is hiding in his shell just trying to stay alive was simply not an option when we had the opportunity right in front of us to change it all today.
As I have said in every post, I will never regret this decision. No matter how many ridiculous viruses we picked up here in Utah, how cold we got, how hard it was to be away from my husband and friends…no regrets.