Peanut Allergic Teenager EATS PEANUT

It's Alexander's "Peanut Day". January 27, 2011. He is receiving a revolutionary new TREATMENT for his peanut allergy (not just participating in a clinical trial.) Today my son Alexander, a peanut allergic child, is going to EAT 1 Entire PEANUT!  

 Click here to see pictures along with this story.  Click here for the Home Page of my blog and read prior posts on treatments now available for food allergies to Peanuts, Egg, Milk and Wheat.

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. 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.
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.
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".
 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."  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 its 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. 

If you have any questions please feel free to post a comment on this story in my blog and I will be happy to reply. 

I hope this is helpful to you. Thanks- Julie Beiersdorf


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