Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Allergy Test

I must admit that I have had a couple of weird dreams about Isla's up coming allergy test. It has obviously been playing on my mind quite a lot. Both Ken and I knew that she would either fight all the way and have to be pinned down, or she would sit there and be amazing.

Isla has, we suspect, an allergy to milk; her skin reacts strongly to tomatoes; she complains that melon hurts her skin so wants it cut up small so she can put it in her mouth without the "owey"; she had strawberries on Friday and developed a rash and excema on Saturday; we suspect an allergy to peanuts. She knows she can't have cows' milk and is clearly quite at ease with this: Annabel can't have cows' milk either, apparently, although Robert can. I can't quite describe what I felt when I heard this narrative in a story she was acting out with her baby dolls.  She is philosophical about it all and despite her love of our homegrown tomatoes last year, she won't even ask for them if we put them on the table.

Isla is a very independent girl and likes to know what is going on. She is tough, stubborn and when she is finding things a bit difficult will get all defensive and doesn't want a cuddle. Not until afterwards, anyway. I see a lot of myself in her - poor child!  Prior to going to the hospital Ken and I primed her by talking about Doctors finding out what her body does and doesn't like. We mentioned on Sunday that they may want to put some of the food on her skin to see what happens. We thought this better than springing it on her at the time.

So, we arrived at the hospital. We waited. We went to be weighed and measured. We went to see the Doctor and we chatted. Isla was subdued but was fine about everything except opening her mouth. Watching her trying to say, "I don't want to" whilst keeping her mouth closed was very amusing! The Doctor sent her for a skin test.

The nurse doing the test was clearly not amused by Isla wanting to sit on her own on the small red chair that had taken her fancy. "We prefer it if a child of this age sits on Mum's lap and you hold her spare arm still," she said. Isla wanted to sit on her red chair alone. I decided it would be better to not pick a fight and asked if she couldn't stay there but move closer to the nurse? The nurse reluctantly agreed clearly anticipating problems. Isla sat there, watched the nurse write on her arm, said it tickled; watched the blobs of test fluid being put on her skin and then didn't flinch when her skin was pricked. Isla just commented that it tickled, with an occasional "Ow". "Well," said the Nurse. "Proof that this doesn't really hurt. I wish I could have videoed that."

Then the blood test. Again, the Nurses anticipated non-compliance and had decided that power came in numbers. There were three of them: one to draw blood, one to pin down the child's arm and one to distract. Instead Isla sat on my lap with her arm in front resting on a pillow. She was a little distracted by the drawing board offered to her but was far more interested in watching what was going on. The anticipated response, "She might find this disturbing," was replaced by "Is that my blood? It's red."  She didn't flinch or even tense her muscles.

For Isla, knowledge is power, not force or coercian. On the way home she was quiet and then fell asleep. Self control can be exhausting. She woke up crying needing her hug but then told me how brave she had been desperately wanting to show Daddy and Angus her arm writing and plaster.

The results were all negative. They were testing for milk and standard allergies this time not Isla-specific ones. The negative milk wasn't a surprise as she has never had a skin reaction or anaphylactic response. The blood test will check that. Next time we have to go back with a fruit.

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