Because Olivia was sick several weeks ago, we had to cancel her initial 9 a.m. allergist appointment and reschedule to today. I decided to go with the 7:45 a.m. time slot and I’m glad we did. We had to allot for four hours, and for some reason, 9-1 p.m. sounded a lot more daunting than us getting home around noon.
If you’ve missed it, we’ve been dealing with the weirdness of Olivia’s egg allergy/not egg allergy since September and you can read part 1 and part 2 here. The gist is, she had an initial mouth rash after eating some eggs, we did some blood tests, which came back negative and then saw an allergist who did a scratch test and she didn’t react to that either. He told us to come back at 15 months for a food challenge to go from there, but she was still able to eat foods with eggs baked in them, since she hadn’t previously reacted from those.
She couldn’t eat two hours before her testing, so when Chris got up at 6:00 to shower, I went and got a sleeping Olivia and brought her into bed to nurse (which she was happy to oblige). We were able to make it out the door in time, bringing everything but the kitchen sink with us, because I wasn’t sure what to expect. We packed books, toys, two DVDs (because they said they had a DVD player) and her two containers of vanilla yogurt for the testing—which filled her big diaper bag, her lunch box, and her cow backpack.
We arrived right at 7:45 and Olivia tried to hand her daddy every magazine on the table before we were called back. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t expect our 4 hour appointment to be a standard exam room. The “DVD player” they told us about was just that: a portable DVD player. I guess I was expecting a special room with a couch and an actual TV. Patients spend their entire mornings in there, so you would think they would make it more comfortable.
A food challenge is basically ingesting the thing you are allergic to in a controlled environment. We brought in her yogurt and it would be mixed with egg white powder in increasing amounts, 7 times with ten minute waits in-between to see if there is a reaction. After sobbing her way through the nurse’s audacity to check her oxygen and vital signs, the doctor came in to do his exam—which she also sobbed her way through. He told us the nurse was mixing up the egg white powder and should be in shortly.
She got her first dose an hour after we arrived, and after she started being So Done with all this. Luckily, we found a Curious George DVD and she was pretty content to sit on Chris’s lap for the duration of the movie. For the first ten minute check, the nurse tried to slip a pulse oximeter onto her finger, but Olivia was having none of it, arching and crying. I was getting frustrated because clearly the machine was having issues and it was only working her up. Red-faced, sweaty and distraught (the nurse, not Olivia) she had to bring in another staff member to try. Turns out, it wasn’t Olivia, it was the machine. Red-faced, sweaty and distraught (Olivia, not the nurse), she burrowed in closer to Chris to hide. It sucked. The next time, after a few seconds of the machine being unable to pick up her oxygen despite her tiny finger fitting perfectly into the pediatric finger sensor, I told her we’re nixing it and she can listen to her heart with the stethoscope. Olivia still hated it, but it was over in seconds.
After her fourth dose of yogurt and egg white powder, she started looking a bit flushed in her cheeks, but it was hard to tell because 1) her cheeks were chapped already from the cold weather, 2) she was upset and 3) she was tired. (Bottom left photo) ↓
We watched the Curious George movie, Micky Mouse Clubhouse and part of Frozen (her first time! I know, I know, what kind of girl mom am I?) and thankfully the DVD player did its job and kept her occupied almost the whole time. The doctor came in and examined her flushed cheeks and thought we were ok to continue if we agreed. We did.
I’m so glad we did, because we made it to all 7 doses and she didn’t react at all (the flushed cheeks went away as time passed, so we chalked it up to her being upset at the time). Every time, when the ten minutes were up, the nurse would come in, check her heart rate and breathing, and then her skin for rashes. It was on the 6th time that she stopped screaming and crying during the process and even gave the nurse a smile.
We finished with the 7th dose (luckily she loved her yogurt and ate everything we offered) around 11:00 and then after her ten minute check, we had to sit there for another 30 minutes before we were free to go.
The allergist came in during our wait—what an amazing pediatric doctor; he was so good with her—and told us since she passed, we could start giving her a small amount of eggs as soon as the next morning.
I’m so happy. I’m so glad she didn’t react because 1) regardless of my status as an RN, I wouldn’t do well emotionally with my kid having an allergic reaction and 2) I like eggs, therefore Olivia must like eggs.
After all this, after all the mystery and tests and doctor’s visits—
—she better, you know, actually like eggs.