When we first had Fruit Bat tested for food allergies, he was five months old. He had eczema from head to toe and I was desperate to figure out the cause.
He tested positive for dairy, egg, tree nuts and peanuts. My initial reaction was relief. I could cut those foods from my diet (I was still nursing him exclusively) and maybe his skin that was red, angry sandpaper would soften, would stop itching.
And the full body rash did ease quite a bit.
Still, I didn't fully understand food allergies. I thought I could have a piece of peanut butter pie here, a milkshake there and it wouldn't be any big deal.
When we had him retested at age one, his wheals (which are the hives the allergists measure to get an idea of how allergic someone might be to a particular substance) were huge.
Still, I didn't get it.
I'd occasionally give him cheese and ply him with baked goods containing egg and dairy. It wasn't until hives started popping out on his arms and legs that I realized how these foods were taxing his immune system.
At three he was tested again. This time the allergist chose to do a blood draw and have the lab perform a CAP RAST so we could get actual numbers rather than just measuring wheals.
His numbers for nuts, egg and dairy were high. So high. I wept. I gnashed. I was jittery. I had to take a Xanax that day.
Last year, his numbers for egg and dairy started to abate a bit. And I made the mistake of hoping. Hoping that he'd someday be able to eat real pizza, Ben and Jerry's, omelets, frozen custard. Hoping that we wouldn't have to bring our own cupcake to birthday parties and that he wouldn't have to feel left out when other kids got treats he couldn't have.
I've always known that the Peanuts are probably a lifelong allergy. His peanut numbers are astronomical and, honestly, it is peanuts that I fear will someday put him in the ER (Hopefully not worse. Oh, please, hopefully not worse.).
But the eggs and dairy. They've never been the thugs to me that Peanuts are. They're the delinquents that swagger several paces back from the thug. They sneer and threaten, but, as long as we don't make eye contact, they will never actually jump us.
This morning, though, I was informed that Fruit Bat's numbers for eggs tripled and for dairy doubled. This is after years of reading labels, avoiding restaurants, bakeries and ice cream shops, of never giving him anything homemade by someone I didn't really, really trust. After years of believing that if we strictly avoided eggs and dairy he had a great chance of outgrowing his allergies to them.
So, with no exposure, why would his numbers have gone up?
I'm frustrated. I'm so fucking frustrated. And I'm scared. I'm sending Fruit Bat off to public, all day Kindergarten in a month. The school is close to our house. He'll be with grown ups who care about him, but who probably understand food allergies about as well as I did when I was feeding him nibbles of Cheddar and spoonfuls of yogurt.
The delinquent eggs and dairy are getting feistier, their glares more menacing.
Usually I'm able to accept our reality of little to no eating out, of teaching Fruit Bat what peanuts look like and to stay far, far away from the bastards, of a certain amount of deprivation.
I'm able to celebrate when I find a new soy ice cream treat he can indulge in and dance a little jig when a friend bakes safe cookies for him to enjoy with his friends.
But today. Today I'm a little bummed. I don't feel like I need a Xanax this year. I've been around this track quite a few times.
I just want my boy to be able to enjoy life. To not have to fear something as pervasive as FOOD, for God's sake. I want him to be able to eat cake.
Any damn cake he wants.