Post-Peanut Pediatrician’s Visit

Just a quick update before I start my day of work.

I picked Graham & Reid up from daycare mid-afternoon yesterday, and we headed to the boys’ pediatrician. Our appointment was at the tail end of the day, and both boys were tired. The office was also running just a bit behind schedule, which left me entertaining two wound up boys in a 6×10 room with nothing but a pile of books for just a li-ttle too long.

Oh, just tottering around in Mom's heels and my Elmo Canadian mounties shirt. What of it?

Oh, just tottering around in Mom’s heels and my Elmo Canadian mounties shirt. What of it?

We had fun for the first 15 minutes, but the last 15 minutes found us in an escalated state: Graham shouting and bouncing off the walls and Reid wavering between gleeful joy and ugly crying tears. (Also? I had no pacifier.)

This was the state our pediatrician found us in when she walked through the operatory door. It was the first time I’d met her since Andy had handled any and all doctor visits while he was job hunting. Reid lit up when he saw her and started softly laughing in anticipation of what she was going to say to him. Graham was on her like a bug on a windshield.

“DOCTOR!DOCTOR!DOCTOR!DOCTOR! I can spell my name! G-R-A-H-A-M. DOCTORDOCTOR! Do you have band-aids? Reid has an allergy. Yesterday I had two germs but then I brushed my teeth and they were GONE. DOCTOR! My brother can’t eat peanut butter!!…. “

And on it went. Our pedi was amazing with him. She talked with me while every so often returning her attention to Graham and engaging him in conversation. Usually seeing what letter sounds he could identify and seeing if he could spell.

Reid cried intermittently – both when we paid too little attention to him and when we paid too much attention to him.

Oh yeah, did I mention I have laryngitis? So in the midst of Graham’s shouted proclamations of anything-that-occurs-to-him-at-the-moment and Reid’s cries, I squeak-barked out a recap of Reid’s reaction and our doctor probably mostly lip-read what I was saying.

All that preamble aside, here was the meat of the conversation:

We established that we do have a family history of peanut allergies (my brother, Tony). We went over the nature of Reid’s reaction. She asked a few clarifying questions and then started in on next steps.

“Well, there are two tests we can run now. A blood test and a skin/scratch test. I’d like for you to get the skin test, because it’s a little more accurate and gives us the most information, but you can do the blood test in addition if you really want to. I’ll also get you a prescription for an Epi-pen.”

This is where I told her that we’d had a few friends & family telling us that we were lucky that he’d had a mild reaction. She nodded. “So… is that right? Do you consider this a mild reaction?”

Her response: “Well, yes and no. ‘Yes’ that he didn’t have swelling in his tongue, around his mouth or any coughing.. nothing respiratory. And ‘no’ because food allergy can get worse with repeated exposure. Just because that didn’t happen this time doesn’t guarantee that it won’t happen next time. We just don’t know. So we’re just going to make sure we’re ready if it does.”

I asked her if we’re at the point of talking about whether we needed to be a peanut free household or if that’s a premature step (because it sure feels like it.) She said that those [the “where do we go from here”] questions are ones we’ll tackle with the allergist once we get Reid’s test results.

Now we have an appointment with a pediatric allergist next Tuesday morning. There we get to figure out if Reid is even old enough to undergo the skin test, if he’ll have bloodwork done and then there was another test, a food challenge study, thrown out as a possibility as well.

All of this sort of doesn’t feel real. It feels like we’ve triggered some sort of overreaction on the behalf of the pediatric medical community. Some grand “crying wolf,” of sorts. Like once we get in the office and get testing underway, he’ll test negative across the board and “overprotective mother” will be written in his chart somewhere in the password-protected section where they make special notes about such things.

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I never snapped a picture of Reid while he was broken out in hives, so all I have to go off of is my memory of what he looked like in that moment. Knowing from my line of work how unreliable our perceptions are, I’m starting to get embarrassed at all of this.

Oddly enough, this is what it felt like to first start telling people we were pregnant with Graham. I didn’t really feel any different. I had only one little at-home test to go off of (for awhile, anyway) but telling people (doctors, friends, family…) instituted instant excitement. A slew of doctor’s appointments. Dramatic lifestyle changes. All from one little sign that something very big was happening – even though day-to-day life felt no different. All while a little voice in my head worried “What if I’m wrong? What if I’m blowing this out of proportion? What if I go to the doctor and they don’t find anything? What if I have to go back and tell everyone I overreacted?” 

Back then, I sort of felt like I was living a lie for awhile. And, if we’re being honest, I feel like that now. It makes me thankful that Andy was there for Reid’s peanut butter aftermath. Maybe together – until next Tuesday’s appointment – we can convince ourselves that we’re not totally insane.

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