OIT -Reaching the Finish Line

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May 8th was a big day for us. A really big day. we graduated from Oral Immunotherapy after a week of successful food challenges to cashews, hazelnuts and walnuts. I wasn’t expecting to take our graduation picture in a mask, but life is full of unexpected things! After starting treatment for milk and egg in November 2018 , and then cashew, hazelnut and walnut in September 2019, we are finally done with our weekly appointments.

It is unreal to me. We have been going so long that it has become part of our normal lives. Yet in the midst of our normal lives, Coronavirus happened, and nothing was normal anymore. I don’t know that I fully understand what our new lives will be like post-OIT because our lives right now are so different than how we lived a few months ago, but I can say that the gains we have made along the way have been worth the sacrifices. It has been such a huge commitment but it was worth it all just for the amount of worry and stress that has been lifted off our shoulders.

Covid19 and Our Last Appointments

It was Friday March 13th and Riley and I headed to our weekly Oral Immunotherapy appointment. It was just another Friday updose. We had finished our last updoses for hazelnuts and cashews. We came in for our second-to-last walnut updose.

That was the last normal day before Coronavirus rocked our world.

The following Friday, March 20th, we drove up to our appointment and were turned away because our youngest son had a fever earlier in the week. I was very frustrated, understandably, since I had spoken with someone in the office the day before about our son’s fever and was not told to cancel the appointment. I didn’t realize when we drove away that day that we would wait for 7 weeks before we would come back.

The city where we complete our immunotherapy was put under a stay at home order and we were asked not to leave our home unless it was essential. Because we could hold where we were without needing any mixed or specially measured doses, we decided to wait. We watched the news and the case counts and called in every two weeks to tell the nurses we would not be coming in again that week. When our state began to lift some restrictions we decided we had better get in to the clinic to finish our appointments as quickly as possible.

We scheduled our last walnut updose on May 1st. We scheduled our cashew challenge May 4th, our hazelnut challenge May 6th and our walnut challenge on May 8th. On his challenge days, he ate 24 cashews, 24 hazelnuts, and 10 walnuts. We sailed through all of those days without one hive or itchy tongue. Because he eats nuts every day now, I sometimes forget how incredible this is. He used to have gut-wrenching stomach pain from a food that had been cross-contaminated with a fleck of a nut. This is truly miraculous.

Looking Ahead

I am incredibly grateful for the benefits we are already seeing. I am grateful that finishing OIT made it so much easier to grocery shop in the midst of this crazy pandemic. I don’t worry if the one safe brand is on the shelf. I can choose from so many more. I am so grateful that when I need a break from cooking, I can go to ANY restaurant for take out and I don’t have to worry if they were careful about cross contamination or accidentally put cheese in his burrito after I’ve driven home and realize they got it wrong. Even though we are not currently having social gatherings where these food allergies seem to become the most obvious, there are still many benefits and we are savoring them. I am looking forward to the day when the world is back to normal and we can test out our new freedoms to the full extent.

While we are done with our weekly updose appointments, we still have two more challenges before we are completely done. Riley needs to pass a pecan and a pistachio challenge a month after graduation. Walnut has a similar protein to pecan and cashew has a similar protein to pistachio. Because they are similar, treating one nut usually treats the other. Once those nut challenges are complete, he theoretically will be able to eat anything. That is pretty incredible. I am so thankful to Dr. Firszt, Heidi and Shana and all of the other nurses who have helped us and who have changed our lives for the better.

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