27 January 2011

Peanut Allergic Teenager EATS PEANUT

It's Alexander's "Peanut Day". January 27, 2011. Today my son Alexander, a peanut allergic child, is going to eat 1 entire peanut. 
The peanut must be average size. Not small and not large. We are ready. I have shelled peanuts the night before in preparation for today's visit to the doctor ( click here to read my "Shucking Peanuts" story )."Peanut Day" as we have named it, is an important milestone in the treatment Alexander is receiving at Dallas Allergy Immunology. Why a milestone? We both feel the ability to successfully eat a whole peanut with no adverse reaction is a miracle for a person with a severe peanut allergy. 

7:35 a.m. We enter the car to drive school prior to our appointment at 10:15. Fearful I might forget to place the jar of shelled peanuts in the car, I had done so last night. To my amazement no sooner than the car doors shut to the car Alexander remarks, "do you have peanuts in the car?"  He could smell the peanuts right through a glass jar placed in a bag in the back seat of the car.

10:15 a.m. We arrive for our appointment and follow the normal weekly routine. Alexander fills out a questionnaire detailing his current health.

Next the nurse checks his height, weight and blood pressure. 
A peak flow meter test is conducted. What is a peak flow meter test?  
This test is conducted on Alexander every week and measures a his maximum speed of expiration (his ability to breathe out air.) It measures the airflow through the bronchi and thus the degree of obstruction in the airways. Peak flow readings are higher when patients are well, and lower when the airways are constricted.  I like this quote I found on the internet "a peak flow meter test for asthma is like a thermometer for a fever. Both are tools to help monitor what is going on in your body.

Alexander does have occasional asthma; however, we did not realize the silent nature of his condition until Alexander took a Pulmonary Function Test last September to measure how well his lungs were functioning in preparation for this treatment. 
His lung function was only 60%.  See my "Roadblocks" post for those details.
Today Alexander had his "personal best" peak flow measurement of 470. Progress!

We are led into the Exam Room 1 our usual room.

The nurse arrives and enters Alexander's health data in the computer.

The nurse asks me to give her a peanut. In this case I have prepared a harvest. She places the jar of peanuts on the desk and a timer next to the jar. 

While we await the arrival of Angela Gallucci, P.A. for Alexander's exam, we prepare for a possible dose of a whole peanut. Alexander has a routine he likes to maintain. Since he really dislikes the taste of the peanut doses, he must have his "pink lemonade chaser" at the ready. I buy a can of pink lemonade in the break room and he is all set.

Pink Lemonade serves as a chaser after each peanut dose to help eliminate the taste
As we wait I ask Alexander what he is feeling. He says, "I don't want to do this". I ask, "Why?" "Because I don't like the taste (pause) but the result will be good.
I am sure he is a bit nervous although he did not show it.

Ms. Gallucci arrives and reviews Alexander's medical results entered into the computer.
She asks him for details as to why he could not increase his dose last week from the 500 mg capsule to a full peanut. Why the delay
He explains, "I had a cold and my stomach was been bothering me. I skipped a dose. The next morning I tried to take my dose. It (the peanut taste) makes me start to gag in the first place so I threw it up". Click here for details on what had to be done.

Angela Gallucci, P.A.
The exam proceeds. Ms. Gallucci says it is very important to establish a baseline in case he has a reaction. (Not very comforting). Thankfully his exam results are great.

Now it is time for the big moment. She presents Alexander with the jar of peanuts and asks him to select one of average size.
He must have felt she was asking him "pick your poison".

Alexander contemplates his selection of a peanut

He carefully selects the winning peanut. Not too big and not too small.

Then Alexander smells the peanut-his disdain for the odor of peanuts is intense
10:47 a.m.- He did it!  Alexander successfully eats his 1st Whole Peanut.

"What do you think?" Ms. Gallucci asks. 
Alexander replies, "It's different."
She asks, "It taste's better than the peanut flour doesn't it?"
Alexander says, "Yes. It's not as strong as the peanut flour."
"Congratulations! There you go!" says Ms. Gallucci smiling.

I hear Alexander gargling with the pink lemonade. I laugh. He smiles. Finally!

Now we wait. We adjourn to the patient observation area for 1 hour. I am required to stay with him the entire time to watch for any signs of a reaction. 
The hour passes. No reaction. Whew!

We depart for school as if nothing important has ever happened. Back to the routine
Surreal in a way as this was one of the most important moments in his life.

Later at home I ask Alexander for his thoughts on eating a peanut. Quietly he says ,
"I didn't like it but I can handle it!"  
Alexander's grandfather texts him "how did it go eating your first peanut?". Xander replies, "yuckish, but I'm alive so it's all good."
That says it all. 

People with these types of food allergies live under the pressure of a constant threat. An ominous mostly invisible danger of peanuts lurking in places they cannot see or detect.  Click here to read Where Is the Peanut Hiding?

If you have any questions please feel free to post a comment below and I will be happy to reply. Thanks for joining us on our journey!

Here is an informational link on treatment for Peanut, Milk, Egg and Wheat food allergies, Oral Immunotherapy Overview at Dallas Allergy Immunology

Share your food allergies stories. Email your stories to salt.light.truth@gmail.com and I will post them on the blog.  There is a world out there waiting for help or encouragement.


Kara King Locke said...

My name is Kara King Locke. I found out about your blog from a friend who doesn't even have a child with allergies. But, my friends are always letting me know about any news or information when it comes to food allergies. I have a daughter who is 11 with egg,peanut, and tree nut allergies. Thank you so much to you and your son, Alexander, for sharing this journey with us. What a miracle that Alexander was able to eat his first peanut this week. I could relate to so many of your feelings and emotions since these peanuts that we have tried to avoid during our childrens' lives are like poisen. What hope it gives us that doctors like yours in Dallas are trying this new program. I'm so happy that your son was able to ingest the peanut without a reaction and that he can start living his life more like his friends! I'm curious what his blood levels were through the years if your allergist took his blood each year. Thank you again for taking the time after stressful days at the doctor to write about it. It is helping so many parents out there! I pray that he continues to do great with the peanuts and that you both can breathe a little easier knowing that it isn't as dangerous as it used to be for him!

Ahoelscher said...

Julie-- great to track alexanders progress! I do think we will contact your doctor to evaluate jordan's eczema. Anyway..... You are giving your family some peace of mind regarding alexanders allergy :).

JulieBeiersdorf said...

Hi- I think you might be right about the fruit. I just found out that the wax used on many fruit can be derived from milk (casein). So if you have a milk allergy that may be a cause. FYI-just in case. I now have page called Where Is the Milk Hiding and found this information during my research.

JulieBeiersdorf said...

Hi Cari,
I am so happy to hear you have decided to see Dr. Sugarman. I know of someone traveling from Houston to start the oral immunotherapy treatment for MILK this Thursday.Keep me posted.
By the way- Alexander's dose has increased steadily. He now eats 12 Peanut A Day! WOW.

Aggiejules2002 said...

I am curious to here how your daugters treatments are going, if you started the program etc?

Aggiejules2002 said...

hello, my name is Julie and I have a 5 year old daughter with severe peanut allergies.  I have an initial consultation with Dr Wasserman in 2 months.  Have been reading about Alexanders progress and had a question concerning the giving his nuts at home.  It would me very nervous to try that at home and that is my biggest fear about this program.  Can you tell me about that and if they are able to tolerate it in the office visit then is it pretty sure they will the rest of the week at home?  Thanks Julie

Cariclark04 said...

We have spent the summer traveling weekly to Dallas for appts. I am happy to say the all is going great and my daughter will be increased to 10 peanuts this Monday. I wish I could say she loves the taste of peanuts, but unfortunately, like Alexander, she cannot stand the taste of them! We are so thankful for what Dallas Allergy is doing - it was much less stressful taking our daughter to her first day of kindergarten last week!

Aggiejules2002 said...

thats awesome Cari...if we do the treatments I will be traveling weekly to Dallas with my 5 year old daughter as well.  Are you nervous at all about giving her the daily peanuts at home  - that is my greatest concern. Is her allergy to peanuts severe?  Also, how far into the treatment process did you start giving her peanuts at home?  Thanks Cari for your response...

JulieBeiersdorf said...

Hi Cari,
So happy to hear the good news 10 peanuts. WOW! You probably have to pinch yourself to ensure this is real.
Ah yes- Kindergarten- I remember the scary feeling. But that concern continued until now. I need to pinch myself

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JulieBeiersdorf said...

Dear Julie,
How did your consultation with Wasserman turn out? 
Alexander is still doing well. Once he took his 24 Peanut challenge in the office we have been on a maintenance dose.
I hate to report but Alexander is not 100% faithful in taking his dose.
So far so good.  We won't know much more I don't think unless Wasserman runs further labs.
Alexander does not like peanuts. He hates them thoroughly so he is not eating more than his dose.
This in a way he still avoids them because he does not like them.