Itchy, Sneezy and as always, Wheezey

It's that time of year again and the fall allergy season is already upon us. It seems as though Joey has no real good season though. Spring sucks with trees blooming and grass growing and summer is hard because it is hot and humid and then fall hits and, well, that sucks too. I feel like winter is the only time we get any break from his allergy triggers but then we are constantly fighting colds & flus - the worst triggers of them all.

I guess my point is, it is hard for my kid to live comfortably. I hate that he gets very little respite from the itching, sneezing and constant wheezing his asthma and allergies cause him.

I understand it could be worse, way worse, and that lots of kids have allergies that are more severe than Joey's. I am also aware that his asthma could be worse and that we are so fortunate to have incredible doctors to help Joey stay as healthy as possible. I hate to complain, because he never really does, but I can't help it. The kid got a raw deal. He can't be a regular 4 year old and I fear he never will be able to do everything he wants to do, that he should be able to do, the same things other kids his age do with no problems at all. It makes me angry, frustrated and incredibly sad.

We just completed our usual round of allergy skin testing last week. I went into the appointment hoping his results would be better than the last time we tested and that ideally we would be able to challenge his peanut allergy. I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up. As soon as he was stuck, being brave as he always is, the welts started appearing. He sat there for15 minutes twitching with a back full of hives trying not to itch. I have had this type of testing so I know first hand it isn't pleasant. He listens to me when I explain why he can't scratch, even though I know he wants nothing more than to roll around like a monkey, and he waits patiently for the nurse to come apply the Benadryl. The doctor came in to measure the welts and to inform me that he's still testing highly allergic to trees, cats, grass, pollen, molds, and the list goes on and on. I think there were only one or two things he didn't get hives from. I felt like I had been kicked in the gut.

They then stuck him with the peanut test, set the timer for 15 minutes and sat with us while we watched and waited. Within a minute his back was swelling and after 7 minutes the doctor decided he needed to stop the test and apply the Benadryl. He wasn't feeling optimistic about the peanut challenge but said we needed to do a blood test to check his peanut (all nuts, really) levels before we could say for sure.

I then explain to Joey he needs yet another stick and that they need to draw blood. He is scared but he's done it before and he is trying hard to be so brave. He cries as I tell him he has to sit real still and I bribe him with a reward of ice-cream if he's a good boy.

The doctor called a few days later to tell me the not-so-good news, his peanut and tree nut levels had increased since his last blood test. His allergy was becoming more severe instead of getting better. I was hoping that he would grow out of this allergy, like he did his prior egg allergy. I was told it was not safe to challenge nuts at this time and that we need to continue to avoid all peanut and tree nut products. I was heartbroken for Joey, who just that morning had asked when he would be able to try peanut butter.

Joey usually does all that I ask of him in terms of his medical treatment, as he generally does for all his doctors. It may take a lot of explaining and often bribery, but he does it. He is just 4 years old and he sits still for blood tests, skin tests, a CT scan, nebulizer treatment after treatment, oxygen masks, a scope of his sinuses, pulse ox tests, blood pressure cuffs, peak flow tests and IV's. He is an incredibly strong, brave child. It is because of all of this, all of these things that we constantly put him through, that I am scared of what his doctors are suggesting we try next. Allergy shots.

I know allergy shots are proven to work and there are so many studies that show how beneficial they can be. I know they have been shown to lessen symptoms therefore reducing the amount of medication patients need. This all sounds so incredible to me, I hate that Joey has to take so many medications each day, except for the shot part.

He is just 4 years old and now I am supposed to try and make him understand why he needs to go through more hurt?

Most doctors don't start allergy shots on children under 5 years old. Joey's doctors think we need to start the shots on him sooner than later due to the severity of his asthma and how the allergies trigger it. It is one thing to be itchy and sneezy but a totally different ball game when the allergies cause you not to breathe. They are suggesting two shots per week for 6 months and then two shots per month for 3 to 5 years. Yes, years. I am just not sure I can put my kid through more hell, on purpose.

When he can't breath, the things we put him through are necessary. They help him breath, they keep him alive. These shots, although proven to be beneficial, are still optional. Will it be worth torturing him every week at this young of an age when I know he won't understand how this will eventually help him?

I can't help but feel like a terrible Mom. I hate having to be the one to constantly ask him to do things that hurt him instead of just being the one to comfort him. I want nothing more than for him to be healthy, to feel good and to run and play with his friends without wheezing. I am just afraid that adding more trauma, which I think these shots will be for awhile, will only make things more difficult for us when we need him to cooperate with things that are not optional when he can't breathe.

When is it the right time to put my sweet faced boy through more? I already ask so much.


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