Friday, April 6, 2018

Today My Girl Ate a Peanut

Let me first start by saying I asked, no begged, Grace to let me write this. She was reluctant, but finally gave me permission.

Today was a big day.....I knew it was coming, we had talked about it. We've been working up to it. The doctor told us it would be soon. I knew in my mind it might even be today. The day my precious blue eyed girl would eat an entire peanut....a peanut. Down the hatch. With no trace of a reaction. A whole peanut. The very thing we've treated like a loaded gun, stayed as far away from as possible, have been held captive by for seven and a half years. She ate it.
Minutes after consuming 1 gram - just over a whole peanut

This may seem out of left field for anyone who doesn't know the OIT journey we've been on for the past few months. Grace has been adamant about keeping it quiet, and I've done my best to respect her wishes. For 7 and a half years my biggest priority for Grace was to keep her safe, and in doing so meant to keep her as far away from peanuts as possible. This was relatively easy when she was little, but as she got older, it seemed to become more of a challenge. And as she got older, she began to care more and more about being "normal" and not standing out.  However, the kid that always has to show up to someone else's birthday party with her own homemade treat automatically stands out like a sore thumb. To bring any unwanted attention on herself drove Grace crazy. So, as we started this new allergy process, Grace pleaded with me not to discuss it with too many people, because she didn't want them to talk to her about it. She didn't want to answer a ton of questions. She didn't want to stand out.

So for that reason, along with the obvious - SAFETY - we embarked on our OIT journey.   Oral Immune Therapy is essentially exposing the allergen to the allergic person and gradually increasing the exposure over time, slowly and safely. Grace started with a microscopic drop of peanut protein in a serum that she held under her tongue. Then we moved to swallowing that drop. Then we increased to multiple drops with higher concentration. Next came peanut particles mixed in a powder. And finally, crushed peanut. Grace has a daily dose of peanut every single morning, and that dose increases each week at the doctor's office. That's OIT in a nutshell. Ha.  Our goal was simple - get to that safe place where we knew Grace could be exposed but not experience a life-threatening reaction.

To say this has been a simple process wouldn't be far from the truth. There was the periodic stomach ache, the anxiety and fear, the occasional hive, but overall, it was a relatively smooth process. I say that as if it's over, and we're definitely not done. But, today, my girl ate a whole peanut. And that's quite an accomplishment.
After every dose, Grace has to have her lung function checked

Vitals are checked every 20 minutes
We are now at a place where it is safe for Grace to eat products "made in a facility" or on "shared lines" as peanuts. For most people this probably seems like no big deal. But, if you can imagine how extremely limited people who live with severe allergies are when it comes to food, you would know this is huge. Anything that was made in a bakery at a store has always been off limits. Most pre-packaged foods have always been no-no's. Anything that might possibly contain a peanut was impossible. And now, suddenly, a whole world of food is open to Grace!

I'm a mix of emotions. I'm so happy for her. I'm relieved this has all gone so well so far, and she has remained healthy. I'm excited to branch out and try new restaurants and new products.  And yet, I'm a little bit sad. I've poured my heart and soul into baking and cooking for this kid, and I feel like a little, no a big, piece of me is no longer needed. I might get over that when I make my next grocery trip and cut my time in half because I'm not reading every single label to make sure the ingredients haven't changed on the cereal I've been buying for years (because believe it or not, they do, and they have!).  I'm ecstatic that for the first time in her entire sweet little life, Grace is going to Menchie's with us tomorrow. In two weeks we'll be at Disneyland, and instead of sneaking off with her sister to go buy a sweet treat from Marceline's or an ice cream from Ghirardelli, Grace gets to join us! My "deprived" little girl finally gets a piece of normal - and a piece of candy, too!

Next week Grace will again increase her dose and she'll continue to do so until she is safely consuming close to four peanuts. This is mind boggling. To think that she ate one peanut is crazy, but four! But to know she will continue to do this and her body will keep learning that peanuts are not an enemy will continue to keep her safe in a way that not even I, Super Allergy-Mom, ever could! I am so thankful for knowledgeable doctors and loving nurses and staff, for supportive friends and family who have helped keep Grace safe over the years and will continue to do so, for excellent health insurance, and for the bravest girl I've ever met - my sweet Grace!
So proud of this brave girl!