Food allergy testing is hard to get through as a parent for many reasons. First of all, as a parent, you still have this deep feeling that maybe they will be “cured”. You actually have this feeling deep down that the doctor is going to walk in the doctor’s office and hand you that clean bill of health. This of course has yet to happen to me and my family. You also have the obvious, parental guilt due to the needles poking your child, the skin inflamed and swollen due to the skin tests, and the fear and pain you have inflicted on your child due to the long time in the doctor office and all the procedures, etc. As a parent, you are trying to remember the symptoms, questions, and concerns and attempting to take it all in without losing it in front of your child. The worse thing to add to this overwhelming and frustrating situation, a terrible doctor. What do I mean by terrible doctor? A Mr. Know-it-all, fresh off the doctor mill, pompous, listen what I say sort of doctor. This is the type of guy I got.
If you’re not familiar with the allergy testing, there are two main tests utilized during allergy testing. The first is the blood test. This is using a needle in your child’s arm and removing blood to be sent away for testing. You and your doctor will explore what foods your child’s blood will be tested for. How this usually works is you identify food items that you have concerns about and/or have been seeing some reactions to when your child has been exposed. Then there is a skin test. What this consists of is your child’s back is softly scratched with a small plastic tool the size of a Barbie hairbrush with the possible allergen. This does not hurt, but if your child has a reaction, depending on the level of their allergy, can be extremely itchy and uncomfortable and really, on some levels, depending on your child, is like an allergic reaction. Both are no fun for the child and for the parent.
With our experience, we were lucky (as we always seem to be) to have received some great nurses and playmate support staff whom try to keep your child occupied while your child is being tested. They provide movies, toys of their choice, and snacks. This all seems very family driven, client derived supports. Our son did not like the needle...of course, but this was least of his sadness. The skin test, while didn’t hurt, but due to his severe food allergies created almost an instant blister like appearance on three quarters of his back, but the overwhelming need to itch controlled him. The only relieve during the 15 minutes we had to wait was when I would blow really hard and really close to the skin. So after I almost passed out from blowing his back for 15 minutes, the doctor came in with his interpretation of the blisters on my son’s back.
Our son did test positive and high on peanuts, nuts, egg, milk, strawberries, and several environmental allergies. The doctor looked at our son’s eczema and reviewed the results. He then proceeded to praise us on how well his skin was looking. Then he went on to discuss the three new creams he wanted us to start putting on our son. When I attempted to ask what the side effects were, he interrupted me and stated that they weren’t as bad as not using them and that was all I “really needed to know”. Then he discussed how it was important that I stop reading about food allergies and environmental allergies and allow “the physicians to provide the education”. The problem was that each time I would ask a question, he would stop, look at his attending, and give me this smirk as to shut me up. So, my son did not have a miracle healing incident and was actually still having to deal with food allergies, the sadness of being tested for food allergies, and now we had this pompous doctor not giving the family a voice or choice in their child’s medical needs, questions, concerns, and interventions. Sad…, but true!!! I am now in the process of interviewing new allergy specialist that has been referred to us because the reality is this is our child..just as that is your child and you wouldn’t just allow someone to tell you what to do, but to include you in any decision making. What you should advocate for is having your allergy specialist include you as a part of the treatment team, because in the end…you will make the final decision for what’s best for your child.