"My ears are itchy," he says, just minutes after the doctor has given him a teaspoon of whole cow's milk via a syringe.
"You're ears are itchy," I repeat "Hmmm."
He turns his attention back to Toy Story.
"Do I have any hives?" he says. He clears his throat a couple times.
"Not on you face." I reply "Are you itchy anywhere?" I am trying not to put words in his mouth or ask too many questions.
"When will she check me for hives?" he asks.
"Well, if you have any hives I will go get her." I reply.
"I'm itchy right here. Do I have a hive?" He lifts up his shirt.
"No, no hives."
"It must just be a regular itch then." He says. He focuses again on the movie playing.
This repeats itself over and over again as we wait out the 20 odd minutes before the next dose of cow's milk. I write it off as nerves. He really wants to pass the challenge.
The doctor finally comes back in with . "Was that there when we started?" she turns to ask me. There is a small swollen spot on his bottom lip. "I'm not sure." I reply. His skin test was still positive so it is possible that a dribble of the milk irritated the lip. She listens to his lungs asking him to take deep breaths. His lungs are clear so we to continue with the challenge. She gives him two syringes full of cow's milk. "Let me know if there is any further swelling in the lip or if he is clearing his throat a lot." I nod.
He continues to say he is itchy, asks me to check his face for hives. After 5 minutes or so a definite large hive is forming above his lip. I call the doctor in the office. "We'll have to stop." she says. "I know." I reply. She gives him 2 teaspoons of Benedryl and says we will have to hang around to make sure the reaction doesn't progress.
"Do you understand what this means?" I ask him. "Yes," he puts his head on his hands. "Are you disappointed?" I ask. "Yes, I really wanted to try cheese." he replies.
The doctor and I talk. It is good that he tolerated as much as he did with only a minor reaction. However, she wants to wait another year before we try it again. "A year!" protests Max "That's a long time!"
"Yes, yes it is." says the doctor "But we want to give you time to outgrow the allergy."
I ask about challenging peanut. She feels with a low blood test and low skin test it is a good possibility he could pass a challenge but wants to wait til after his 6th birthday. Sometime in August.
Max is starting to fall apart. He's hungry. He wants to leave. I chalk it up to disappointment plus Benedryl.
After 30 minutes the hive has resolved itself; the Benedryl doing it's job and we are released. Max falls asleep in the car on the way home. Ever since he was first diagnosed at age one I would feel slightly panicked when he fell asleep in the car. I always want to reach back and make sure he is still breathing.
At home my mother-in-law suggests we play up the good side of this as much as possible. His bravery, he is outgrowing and we'll try again next year, it isn't his fault and there is nothing he did wrong it's just the way it it. She suggests a celebration.
So at dinner I make one of his favorites. Grilled chicken with rice and soy sauce. I tell him we are waiting for Daddy to get home to eat together because he are having a celebration. "A celebration?" he says "What for?" He loves any kind of celebration. "Because you were so brave at your food challenge today. Look what we get for dessert." "Cupcakes! Can I eat as many as I want?"