My poor boy. I'll post some wonderful things about him tomorrow, but tonight I'm throwing him a pity party. This is not to neglect the girl, who is in her own special realm of reality and has been alternating between insanely happy and scarily despondent for the past few weeks, but the boy gets his own post tonight.
He is miserable.
M1 has had allergy problems since he was tiny. It started with eczema, which isn't an allergy per se but can indicate an inclination to them. By the age of 3, he was having regular sinus infections, and all the rinses in the world weren't enough to alleviate his misery, so we had to use antibiotics (and their other half, probiotics) to get the infections under control. We started him on Zyrtec to reduce his histamine response. As long as he was on that, he did okay, but I hated giving him a pill every single day, so sometimes I'd try to give him breaks. Inevitably, we'd wind up back at the doctor's office.
When he was five, he had his tonsils and adenoids removed. To paraphrase his ENT, they were gross. This helped his eczema and sleep patterns and some behavioral issues since he was able to breathe more easily, but it didn't help the sinus trouble. He also developed asthma triggered by cold, dry weather.
About two years ago, in the dead of winter, he developed a rash after being outside. *I* thought he must have been coming down with something, but when I braved the incoming sleet and hauled him to the urgent care center, they chalked it up to 'virus' and sent me home. Sure enough, the rash disappeared by evening. In summer, it reappeared at random intervals, like when we were having a Fourth of July party and he was being pelted with water balloons and running around in the sprinkler. At that point, I thought he must have had a grass allergy and began to try to wonder how on earth one deals with a grass allergy in an overactive 6-year-old when one lives in the middle of the country in an area well-known for being HORRIBLE for allergy sufferers.
Winter arrived and killed all the grass, but the hives persisted in appearing. I began to wonder if, in fact, my little boy was allergic to cold, not grass. My hypothesis was seemingly confirmed when we had a really warm day in spring and he hived up the instant we walked into the chilly grocery store. A few months ago, he developed these overblown, nasty-looking things and said they itched like crazy. I already knew that there was little to do for hives, but he'd never complained of itching before, so back to the pediatrician we went. We came home with antibiotics, which both helped and confused me as to why they helped. The pediatrician also suggested taking a daily Pepcid to up his body's histamine blocking abilities. It was too much. I asked for a referral to an allergist and got one.
We saw the allergist about two weeks ago. She agreed that it sounded like M1 had cold urticaria (a fancy name for hives) and made sure that I was carrying an EpiPen, which I do, since patients with cold urticaria can have an almost anaphylactic response to hives developing quickly and pulling all the body's energy away from vital organs. She told me that people who develop hives can also develop them whenever they're fighting an infection. That was what she suspected had happened when M1 looked and felt so awful. She then asked if M1 had ever had allergy testing done.
He had done a blood draw when he was four or five that showed a massive allergy to dust mites, but I'd been pretty diligent about taking care of the house since then - special pillow, mattress cover, HEPA vacuum used on a regular basis, air filters changed regularly, stuffed animals kept in a plastic container, etc. Oz and I even purchased him a separate HEPA air filter for his room after the Big Hive Incident.
Yet even on the daily Pepcid and Zyrtec, M1 is still sniffly. His nose still itches. The hives have pretty well stopped appearing, but if I forget to change the filters or if he steps into a dusty environment, M1 will have a sneezing fit. We still have to watch his asthma in cold weather, and I carry a rescue inhaler alongside the EpiPen. He's 8 - almost 9 - now. Developmentally there's a huge difference between 5 and 8, and it appears that his allergies have significantly worsened over the past couple of years.
As much as I had hoped to avoid it, allergy testing has become necessary. The doctor kindly explained the different techniques of allergy testing to M1, and he opted for the scratch test over redoing the blood test. We set up the testing date. Then the doctor gave me the pre-test instructions... including stopping all antihistamines one week prior to testing.
M1 has been off of his Zyrtec and Pepcid since Tuesday. He had been doing okay, but yesterday I noticed that his face was looking blotchy. He began complaining about his legs, too, and today they began to get spotty. I'm trying to keep him from scratching, but it's nearly involuntary so it's almost impossible to stop him. I don't think I can give him hydrocortisone lotion, but I'm using calamine in the hope that it won't mess with anything. I'm encouraging him to stay in his room with the door shut as much as possible to try to avoid all the airborne allergens that may be in the rest of the house, but again... he's 8 and he's active. I can't just shut him in a bubble!
He's asleep now, but Tuesday morning can't get here fast enough.