Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Caitlin and the Allergist

Question: What goes Sniff! Snerk! Sniff! and drives the human brain to the edge of insanity?

Answer: The sound of your child's unconscious sniffling at any rate over one Sniff! per 30 seconds.

Caitlin is ordinarily incredibly healthy, so when she started sniffling at the end of school/early summer, I thought it might have just been a small cold. She wasn't sneezing her head off or acting ill, but I thought it was a little something that would pass in a few days.

No such luck.

The Sniff! Snerk! Sniff! continued. We offered her copious numbers of tissues. Nothing came out. We asked her to stop sniffling like that (We thought she was doing it consciously in the beginning.). Fat chance of that working! We applied Children's Claritin. No change. We contacted her pediatrician and brought her in. They prescribed Nasonex and Claritin. The sniffling got worse. Then they gave us samples of Allergan to try instead of Claritin and the sniffling got even worse than befofre. Three snerky sniffs very close together. Maddening!

Note: Being stuck in the car with someone habitually snerking in the back of their throat on a constant basis induces insanity in some subjects.

Called the doctor again and they recommended we go to the Allergy & Asthma clinic. Assured panic stricken grandparents everywhere that a) it was not a brain tumor and that b) we really were on top of the situation. Getting an appointment quickly is never really an option, so we had another couple of weeks to get through with snerking before a potential diagnosis and (hopefully) a cure would be available. We took her off the (very expensive) Nasonex and Claritin. Apparently the anti-histamine would mask her responses to the tests, which is not what we'd want. Watched in amazement over the course of the 2 weeks leading up to the appointment, sans drugs, that her snerking slowed down.

Doesn't that just figure?! Just like when you have the mechanic take a look at your car because of that sound, the sound goes away right before they get a chance to see it. Phooey. However, in our case, the sound didn't go away entirely it just seemed to calm down a bunch.

The doc looked her over, listened to her snerking, peered up her schnoz (He commented on the fact that we used the term schnoz and quizzed us on who The Schnozzola was. We responded with Jimmy Durante, Ha-cha-cha-chaaaaa!, and he was impressed that kids "as young as you" would know who Jimmy Durante was. Hee!) and determined that yup, she was still inflamed in the deep, dark recesses of her nose. Then it was off to have assorted concentrated liquids applied to her back to zero in on her potential allergies.

Things have changed since they did it to me as a kid. No needles! Much nicer. The nurse/receptionist was very funny and sweet and Caitlin was well behaved.
  1. Bad news for Grammy: Caitlin is not allergic to cats. Sorry! We're keeping our furry children.
  2. Good news for Grammy: Caitlin is not allergic to dogs, either.
Watching as her back began sporting red dots that turned into large, angry, red, quarter-sized dots was fascinating and scary all at the same time. We learned many different things from this visit, including the fact that while we had been very good at avoiding "food accidents", we had no way of knowing if her peanut allergy is small, medium or large and had no business walking around without an epi-pen, just in case. Finding out the hard way would involve watching her gasp for breath and a trip to the emergency room, so he prescribed epi-pens for us right away. Eep! He also told us that the skin test tells us possible allergies, not probable and that we'd need blood tests for that level of knowledge. Her massive response to Cottonwood pollen blew her response to peanuts out of the water, but that doesn't mean that she's more or less likely to go into anaphylactic shock over tree vs food.


Also, when I mentioned something about families of nuts, he completely shut me down by saying that that is botany, this is allergies and the twain do not necessarily intersect. Oh! He blew up all kinds of misconceptions that I'd had about allergies and said to ignore any advice you're given about allergies unless they're paid to give them. Apparently what John Q. Public doesn't know about allergies is something he deals with on such a volume and such a regular basis that he doesn't waste any time at all with mollycoddling you into accepting his point of view. Brusque. But boy did he sound like he knew what he was doing! and has clearly been doing this for years.

What now? Now, we turn into neat freaks regarding Caitlin's bedroom, teach her how to give herself a shower every night, congratulate ourselves on removing her carpeting serendipitously, track any and all "food accidents", give her a saline nasal wash and start her on two new meds to see if the snerking goes away. Then we do some blood draws, because I really want to know just how allergic she is to her list (Cottonwood, short ragweed, grasses, one kind of mold, walnuts, but apparently not almonds maybe and a whole host of other things.). Depending on the results of the serum tests, he may try her on a series of "food challenges". Not something to leave up to us lay people. He made that very clear.

I am looking forward to removing the Snerk! from my child.

Are you allergic to anything?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, housework...and cats, and dust mites, and beech tree pollen and a certain Western NC tree mold. Plus something else. I coulda shown her how to do a mean sinus salt rinse while I was in town...glad to know she's doing ok. And those quarter size spots sometimes itch like MAD!
yer belly massaging pal...

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