A few months ago, we experienced our first food challenge. Long story short, it did not go well. We brought a wheat roll into the allergy office and it was separated up into 4 different doses for Olivia to eat. The first round went great, the second round went down with ease, but when we hit the third round of wheat, Olivia refused to swallow. She started to sneeze, cough and rub her eyes. Since her reaction to the wheat involved two different body systems, we knew she was in fact still allergic to wheat and was experiencing anaphylaxis. She was given Benedryl and watched very closly to be sure we stopped the food challenge in time and that no other system had been affected. We left that appointment in tears. We were so confident and sure se had outgrown her wheat allergy – more wishful thinking than anything. And when she had such a poor reaction, it really took the wind out of our sails.
Putting your baby through a food challenge feels like you are going into the doctors office just to feed them poison. I know that may seem a little drastic but at the end of the day, that is what these foods are to kids like Olivia. Wheat, dairy, eggs, peanuts or tree nuts COULD kill her if ingested. So going into the office to purposefully give her the food she is allergic to feels unnatural and cruel. Unfortunatly, food challenges are a necessary evil in the world of food allergies. Skin pricks and blood tests can only tell you so much – you have to actually eat the food before you know for sure if you are still allergic or not. Scary but necessary.
A few months have passed and our wounds and broken egos have healed from the wheat challenge and Olivia’s latest blood test showed it was time for the next challenge…EGGS!
We talked to Olivia about her food challenge coming up and that she would be able to try eggs and she was so excited! She woke up this morning like a kid on Christmas. Her eyes opened, she called for Dada and her first words were, “Dada cook eggs!” At least one of us was pumped up – Dan and I were a WRECK! It is so stressful that we found ourselves walking around the house aimlessly trying to get ready and out the door. Olivia wouldn’t leave without her Anna dress, Peppa Pig rain boots and ‘Livey baby’ but as soon as she had the essentials, she was ready to go! This time around, we had a much more realistic approach to the food challenge. We were going to take it step by step.
First: We got to the office and they do a skin prick test to see how her skin reacts to the food. She did show a small reaction to eggs – a small little hive where she had been pricked. This is the part of food allergies that is such a hard science to follow because that small hive could have been her eczema flaring because ya know, someone just pricked her skin and its irritating, rather than a true reaction to the egg The doctor deemed it small enough to proceed. So on to the next step.
Next: round one. Olivia was amped up to try eggs. Don’t worry; we didn’t forget the DipDip (ketchup)! She ate and loved the first dose and it went down with ease. She immediately asked for more and was disappointed when she had to wait 15 minutes before the next dose of eggs. Nothing a little Peppa Pig couldn’t fix.
Round two: this dose was a little bigger than the first but could still be eaten in one bite, covered in ketchup. Still asking for more…15 minutes on the clock…
Round three: This dose was even bigger than the first two. She had to take two bites with this one and by that second bite she was done with eggs. She tried to spit it out but that food had to go right back in! She kept the eggs in her mouth and swallowed, reluctantly. That excitement over eggs had now dissipated and we were left with a toddler who wanted out! To make matters worse, she developed a hive on her chin – AH! The doctor came in to check the hive and just told us to watch it closely. Thankfully, it wasn’t bad enough that we had to stop the challenge – just some extra anxiety for momma and dada. 15 minutes and counting…
Round four: this last dose of eggs came in and it was a doozy. The cup was almost filled to the top with scrambled eggs and Olivia wanted nothing to do with it; but she did want some of her sweet potatoes that we packed for lunch. My friends, I have never been more proud of myself than I am for what I did next. I hid the scrambled eggs in with a spoonful of sweet potatoes and she ate them without complaint. Now, the eggs had to be COMPLETELY hidden. I mean, if you could see any yellow, she would not take a bite. She would only eat the eggs if they were hidden in sweet potatoes and ketchup – but it didn’t matter how she ate them, just as long as she did. I held my breath the entire dose and didn’t relax until that last bite of egg went into her mouth AND was swallowed. We did it. Four rounds of a food that is essentially poisonous to Olivia, down the hatch! This time we had to wait 45 minutes…
During this 45 minutes, we played with the Doc. McStuffins doctor kit, watched Pepa Pig and 101 Dalmations on the iPad and even read some books – all while watching every little red mark, scratch or sneeze that came from this tiny little kiddo. After the 45 minutes were up, the doctor came in and gave us the good news – Olivia PASSED THE SCRAMBLED EGG CHALLENGE!
Now what does that mean? Well, because her skin still reacted to the egg i.e the scratch test reaction and the small hive on her chin, we should still avoid raw egg. So, we will still avoid Mayo (vegan Mayo is way better anyway!) and some frostings that contain raw egg. This means no over easy eggs or raw cookie dough for Olivia. BUT we can scramble up eggs for breakfast, make pancakes and cupcakes without having to substitute flaxseed or applesauce and she can go to her favorite bakery and order whatever she wants – not just from the egg free section!! For the next two weeks, I have to give Olivia 1 egg a day and watch her like a hawk…I know right? I have an exciting 2 weeks ahead…but once she does that for 2 weeks, we are in the clear and can just give her eggs as she wants them. She has officially outgrown egg and we couldn’t be more excited. So my friends, just keep challenging! Challenge the impossible every day – you never know what you may outgrow!