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How we got here

We were very excited when Jupiter was born in May 2013 in Colorado.  At around 2 months, we noticed that his cradle cap was very difficult to treat.  He also started to develop red, angry rashes at various places on his body.  His pediatrician advised us that he had developed eczema.  It was pretty normal for Colorado babies–with such a dry environment–the skin was difficult to control and most babies would grow out of it by age 2.  The usual treatments were not effective and his skin only got worse when he entered a school environment at age 3 months.

Around this time, I wondered if my family history of eczema had anything to do with his skin.  Many member’s of my dad’s family suffer/suffered from eczema.  Another pediatrician introduced us to a lotion that helped temporarily and we have been trying new regimens since then, with varying success (more on this later).

In 2013/2014, early introduction of food allergens wasn’t kosher quite yet.  Our pediatrician was in favor of it, and she recommended that we introduce peanuts and eggs at 9 months.  At 9 months exactly, we introduced eggs and it has been a favorite food since then.  At 9 months and one day, we introduced peanuts in the form of peanut butter on toast sticks.

It did not go well.  Looking back, we were lucky that it looked like a “classic” reaction.  He developed hives, facial swelling, and vomited in the car twice on the way to our pediatrician’s office.  After receiving injections of antihistamine and steroids, we were instructed on auto-injector administration and sent on our way.  After visiting an allergist, they determined that he was allergic to peanuts only, not tree nuts and we were encouraged to introduce all nuts except almonds to his diet (later, we determined that he was not allergic to almonds, and today, it’s one of the only nuts he can eat).

At age two, he started reacting to pistachios, so we tested those again and he came back positive to all tree nuts.  Because he eats almonds regularly, we got the clear to continue those in our diet, despite the positive tests, and we also got the clear to try hazelnuts (they are related) so luckily he has been able to eat both of those without reactions.  We tried a food challenge for walnuts, because he previously ate those regularly, and he failed, so we have been avoiding.

I can not adequately explain the anxiety that a parent experiences with each new food allergy.  Knowing that as little as 1mg of an allergen could cause anaphylaxis means that cross contamination could really present a problem and that traces of peanuts and nuts could linger in a lot of foods.  School has been terrifying and we’ve been in communication with both of Jupiter’s schools from day 1 (the first was a center day care setting and the second has been a traditional preschool setting).  He has not experienced a reaction at school, thankfully, but he’s also not allowed to eat everything that shows up in his classrooms. OIT has made the school experience a little more easy both for me and for his teachers.

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Jupiter at one of his allergist appointments–probably before a skin test. @Traci Geganto 2018.  All Rights Reserved.  Do not use without permission.

 

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Oral Immunotherapy

I started this blog in 2011 to write about my personal infertility woes.  Now that our wished for child is here (and almost 5 years old!), it’s time to start tapping away at the keyboard again to document our multi-nut oral immunotherapy (OIT) journey set to begin later this month.  The title “accepting vulnerability” is still apt for the blog, because man do I feel vulnerable watching my child eat a food that would normally risk his life!

We had a wonderful experience last year when our son, Jupiter (not his real name, but I’ve decided on this nick name, after his favorite planet), spent 10 months completing OIT for peanuts at a small practice a short driving distance from our New England home.  Like many, he experienced a few hiccups, but the benefits have definitely outweighed the risks.  Now he’s holding steady at his daily maintenance dose of a handful of peanut M&Ms.  To think that he was getting stomach aches on one of the early doses and now he’s eating many whole peanuts daily is astounding!

Now that I have some idea of what to expect, I feel confident that I can document this process in detail.  When I did post a few updates on F@cebook during his peanut OIT, friends seemed very supportive and curious about the process.  I’m not a fancy blogger.  The pictures won’t be pretty and I was not an English major either so the writing won’t be stellar, but I hope I can provide another parent or allergic person a glimpse of the freedom that awaits from completing the OIT process.  In the weeks leading up to his “Day 1” appointment on March 27th, I’ll describe our peanut experience and why we chose the OIT path.

If all goes well with his multi-nut OIT, Jupiter should be free to eat anything that does not obviously contain peanuts or tree nuts.  Not having to worry about cross-contamination is huge in the food allergy world where traces of allergens can appear in the most bizarre places.

I’m looking forward to the days when we can enter an ice cream shop or when Jupiter can join his brother, Saturn (boy #2’s favorite planet), for a doughnut at his favorite spot.  Looking ahead, it will be so nice not to have to worry about what he’s eating when he gets older and more independent.