Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Allergy Testing

A couple of months ago, I got a referral from Grace’s pediatrician to go to an allergy doctor and be tested.  At the time, she was having a particularly terrible bout of eczema and I was frustrated beyond belief.  To get an appointment with Dr. Bob Lanier, one of the premier allergists in the nation, the waiting list was pretty long, but we finally had our appointment today!  I grew up watching Dr. Bob on the NBC news every week where he had a special health segment, and it was really neat to meet him in person.

Grace was a real trooper.  It’s not fun to be stuck with ten needles at the same time then not touch or scratch the marks for 15 minutes while your body is itching like crazy from the reactions.  She cried a little bit softly, but was soon distracted by a lollipop the nurse gave her.

Here’s the verdict:  She is highly allergic to eggs and cat.  She is moderately allergic to dogs and mold.  She had NO skin reactions to milk, wheat, household dust, or peanut.  Because she reacted so strongly to the eggs and cat, Dr. Bob order further blood testing to determine the extent of her allergy and help determine the best way to treat it.  Also, it is common for milk and wheat allergies to be verified in a blood test even if no skin reaction occurred today.  (We hope this is not the case!) 

Dr. Bob spent about an hour with us teaching lots of information about the genetic reasons for her allergies.  Basically she was born this way because the gene that determines allergies is quite dominant (there is a history on both sides), so she didn’t have a chance!  We were tickled with his explanation that people with this gene are “superior human beings.”  Basically, humans developed the ability to attack parasites thousands of years ago because they were living in the wild, drinking dirty water, and catching diseases from animals.  Humans who had a particular gene were able to attack certain stomach parasites and survive.  Other humans died.  Our ancient ancestors passed this gene down to us today, where it is manifested by having reactions to environmental stimulants that our body decodes as having a similar make-up to dangerous parasites.  Interesting stuff. 

Anyway, Dr. Bob will be able to give us more information about prognosis and treatment options when the blood tests come back, but usually young children with food allergy-related eczema eventually “outgrow” the problem.  Unfortunately, it can often manifest itself in breathing and asthma difficulties when they are older children.  But we’re praying this doesn’t happen. 

She won’t be tested for outdoor allergens (pollen, ragweed, etc.) until she is at least 5 years of age. 

After leaving Dr. Bob, we went to the Children’s Hospital to have her blood drawn.  Grace was so good…she barely flinched when the World’s Most Unfriendly Nurse inserted the butterfly needle. 

Sidenote:  If your job is drawing blood in a children’s hospital, basic “people” skills would be nice.  Like maybe a smile or even a brief “hello”.  The only communication we got was “hop up” (referring to the chair) and a grunt and a finger point towards a bowl of lollipops when I asked if Grace would get a reward for being so still and quiet during the draw.  It wouldn’t have killed her to say “good job” or even “goodbye” when we were done!  Okay, rant over.

Grace was fascinated by all the blood running through the tube.  Future nurse???  She didn’t get that from me!  :)


the lewisi female said...

I can sympathize with Grace... I reacted to all of the needles they stuck me with on the first go round and it was miserable that they all reacted in the first 5 minutes and I still had to wait another 15 for the anti itch cream! I didn't even get a sucker! But my number 1 allergy is cats too!! The bump didn't go away from that particular one for days.

Mimi said...

As to the rude nurse... I would certainly nicely register a formal complaint. She can be praised for her expertise in drawing blood without pain for Gracie, but certainly she doesn't have the child/people skills needed in that position at a CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL for goodness sake. The children deserve better!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately that was probably not a nurse but rather a phlebotomist who simply draws blood all day long. this is a tedious job and that doesn't take away from the need for "people skills". I agree with Mimi that you should let them know. it's been my experience that they are disrespected by all the rest of the hospital staff as being low on the food chain so to speak. so your kindness probably caught her unable to respond it was so unexpected. just a guess. jt