In the time since my daughter was diagnosed as being deathly allergic to walnuts, pecans and filberts, and highly allergic to many other tree nuts, she has eaten hazelnut pudding, drunk a bowl of almond milk, slurped down some pesto-coated spaghetti, downed an almond-laden piece of baklava and eaten walnut bread. And she hasn’t died.
In fact, she hasn’t even had a reaction. I’m beginning to suspect that she may not be allergic — or, at least, as allergic as we were told.
To be completely honest, I was always skeptical about allergies. Then, shortly after our oldest turned one, I gave her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich from Panera. Red streaks started appearing on her face and it seemed she was having trouble breathing. My husband and I rushed her to the emergency room where she was pumped full of Benadryl. After a few hours of observation, they let us go, suggesting we go see an allergist.
We went to the allergist and they gave her those pin-prick tests. After administering it, I think they said they’d be back in 15 minutes or something like that. But within just a few minutes, the little pin pricks of allergens were causing a major reaction. The doctor explained exactly what she was allergic to and what she wasn’t. She was as allergic as one could possibly be to walnuts, for instance. And — and this surprised me — she wasn’t actually that allergic to peanuts. That ranked at the low rung. I assumed that previous peanut butter incident must have involved a mixture with tree nuts. The allergist said, we could try giving her peanut butter again. She told us that three years ago and I still haven’t had the courage to do it. I always think, “Is today a good day for a run to the ER if things go south?” Today is never a good day for a run to the ER. Ergo, sunflower butter sandwiches for everyone.
Every year we get epi-pens and we carry them with us and keep one at her school and train the babysitters how to use it.
And yet, I’m not entirely sure she’s actually allergic.
I’m fairly careful about just keeping her away from nuts. But there have been incidents. I forgot to ask the waitress at the hip Cobble Hill diner what kind of pudding came with the kid’s meal until she took a bite. Hazelnut. Her aunt forgot that almond milk has nuts in it, only remembering when my husband asked her what the heck had she put our daughter’s cereal in considering we had no milk in the house. Grandparents and caretakers have had momentary lapses. It happens to all of us.
None of these lapses have resulted in a reaction. Isn’t that weird? Particularly the time someone fed her walnut bread with huge chunks of walnut in it. Consuming walnuts is supposed to result in an anaphylactic response. And yet she had no response at all.
I asked the allergist about the situation and she said that my daughter’s test results were valid and that she wouldn’t grow out of tree nut allergies. She said that sometimes people are just allergic to the skins of nuts and not the meat of the nut. It’s certainly possible that all of these mistakes with nuts involved only their meat and not their skin, but I’m just kind of suspicious.
If we’re going to have to live our lives around avoiding nuts, I’d like to be absolutely sure that she’s got them.
Oh, another thing. When we first got her diagnosis, the allergist implored upon us to not even bring food items into our house if they had been made in a facility that processes tree nuts. But we already knew that she’d consumed tons of stuff that had been processed in facilities that process tree nuts. So we didn’t abide by that restriction. We’ve never had anything even close to a problem.
Should I just go to a second allergist? Should I continue to live my life in abject fear of my daughter encountering nuts? Has anyone else encountered a similar situation?