So Sunday I found myself in the Dairy Section at the Super Market.
That's a first in the past 2 years.
And I wasn't just all "remember the good ol' days when we used to buy this stuff?"...I was buying stuff.
For my kid with the Dairy Allergy.
Yea, you read that right. It was finally time for 'J's Dairy Food Challenge (remember this post when we learned the good news?). Luckily this wasn't our first time at the Food Challenge Rodeo since we did this all before for his Tree Nut Food Challenge. But this time things seemed different. The stakes seemed higher somehow. I found myself eagerly anticipating this day & dreading it all at the same time. So many "what if"s. I found myself wanting him to pass not to fulfill a fantasy of us all sitting around on a brisk Fall day eating my homemade tomato soup & grilled cheese fresh off the griddle, no, I wanted him to pass more than anything so that he didn't have a reaction. The thought of us intentionally giving him something we very well know he (at one point) was extremely allergic too & him needing to be stabbed in the thigh with an Epi Pen & the Allergist rushing in to do whatever he needs to, or worse, calling the ambulance. That thought never left my mind & made me sick to my stomach. This wouldn't be an "oh no, I had no idea there was milk in that!! hurry get the pen" kind of situation, but a "here kid, drink this milk & eat this yogurt...let's see what happens..." thing & I was terrified of the 'see what happens' part.
So we got up yesterday (after hardly sleeping all night...) & tried to get him to eat breakfast & drink extra milk since he couldn't have anything but water after 9am & the testing was scheduled to run until almost 4. Then we left & remembered on the way that I had forgotten a minor detail...the freaking bag full of dairy products sitting in our fridge! So we stopped at a market & restocked.
I like to be a very prepared person. Which means I packed the laptop with 2 movies, plenty of cars, a new car coloring book & travel watercolors. I also thought ahead to the possibility that he wouldn't want to drink milk. I don't even drink milk, so why should this kid want too? So as back up I brought a small chocolate milk & a yogurt. I had to stop myself from bringing butter too, hahaha! After waiting a LONG time to find ourselves in this situation the last thing i wanted was for him to not eat or drink ANY of it.
The winner (and saving grace) of the day was the yogurt. It took some prompting of "Dada" eating it too for him to finally relax & snack a bit.
I assume most people have not, nor will ever, find themselves at the allergist enduring a food challenge. So I will give you a little insight as to what exactly it is. They first do some preliminaries with weight & pulse, then rub a small amount somewhere from your chest down. This time we did it on his calve. Then we wait 15 mins & wait to see if there is any reaction. Then they do a small scratch test where they poke you with a "control" prick & an "allergen" prick to see if your "numbers" are still low. Next they rub a small amount on the face, wait 15 mins, check for reaction. Then some milk around the mouth, but not on it. Wait 15. Then rub a little on his lips, wait 15. If he passes all those without any reaction then we move from the skin testing to ingestion.
Dun Dun Dunnn.
First he gets to taste a teeny tiny amount, wait 15, check for any oral swelling, etc.
Then a little more (this is where the yogurt saved the day. He wanted nothing to do with a liquid syringe or medicine cup, even if there was chocolate milk in it!).
We slowly increase the amount every 15 mins until he is eating a full ounce. Then repeat the ounce a couple times. Finally he gets checked out by the allergist & he give us the all clear!
But, there was this one time we had a slip up & he (literally) licked a piece of meat that was in a stew that was made with a spice packet that contained powdered milk and 6 hours later he had some serious stomach pain to the point he was thrashing & screaming. 2nd scariest night of my life. Well, because of that, he was at risk of having this delayed reaction so we had to keep a close eye on him the rest of the day & night. He did get really upset after he took a late nap, but we figured out that he was gassy from the dairy & worn out from a long emotional day.
We woke up this morning & knew we were in the clear! Finally! No more worrying every time he is in the care of someone else. No more fearing that a friend or cousin will try to be nice & share their milk or snack. No more packing a cooler or bag full of food every time we go somewhere else "just to be safe". And no more fearing that damn Epi Pen.
We were instructed to start out slow, first with cooked items...then SLOWLY work up to cheese & such. But truth be told, we aren't big fans of dairy anymore. After being Dairy-Free for so long, & eating Paleo (which we don't do as much as we did before, but still on occasion) we realized you don't really need it. I've been making delicious dairy-free meals for years. We have cookies, & cupcakes & ice cream just like everyone else. The only thing is cheese. Can't find a good fake cheese & never will. There is no real substitute for cheese & anyone that says differently is just lying to themselves...& you, how rude.
Then we discussed little 'A' & that reaction he had last time I really ate dairy. So I am on doctors orders to eat dairy for 3 days & see if he reacts again. If so, then we do a scratch test in the office & see what's up.
I guess I got a little excited, seeing as how we left the appointment & I found myself at Sonic 15 mins later ordering a CHEESEburger & Oreo Sonic Blast. Then later while on a fantastic "sister date" with my sissy I had a Chai Latte with skim milk. Apparently my body didn't get the memo I was embarking on this dairy filled journey & kept me up all night as a pay back. Ugh. Today I hardly had any dairy, so tomorrow I'll have to pump it up a little. There needs to be a bulk in my system so it can pass to him & be big enough to cause a minor reaction. In his case: hives, extra spit up, diarrhea. Fun. Fun. Fun.
So after driving by & staring longingly at an adorable little Pastry Shop on Main Street for YEARS, we finally strolled on in as a family this evening & ordered without hesitation. Ok, I take that back, there was MUCH hesitation!
A- there were SO many choices!!
B-I didn't want to overload him, and
C-I was completely out of the comfort of this world we have known for years & a little terrified.
In the end I chose a Dark Chocolate Chunk cookie for 'J', the hubby picked out a GIANT eclair & I stuck to a tried & true favorite...a cannoli. It was surreal, to say the least. Us sitting outside a PASTRY SHOP sharing yummy treats like so many other families we see. As long as little 'A' passes the test, then it's a reality we can get used to. And if not, no biggie, we know our way around the Dairy-Free route pretty well by now ;)
*congratulations on making it this far!! Sorry this was dreadfully long, but hey- If I had to sit in a doctors office for 4 hours with a tired/hungry/cranky toddler & baby, then it's only fair that you have to sit in your seat for a few minutes reading my story. But seriously though, thanks for sticking it out champ.