(Read Allergy Updates #1, #2, and #3.)
This morning Will and I returned to the allergist for Will's fresh milk challenge. (In case anyone is keeping track, I've spent more than 10 hours at the allergist this month alone. They're going to set a cot up for me in one of the smaller exam rooms so I can save on travel time and gas money.) His first skin test was negative, but his second skin test was positive (negative = good/no reaction, positive = bad/documentable reaction); these results, when combined with all of Will's test results collected throughout the last few months, make absolutely no sense. Even the allergist is baffled. So while Will played Star Wars math games on his Leapster, the allergist and I discussed all of the options in front of us as well as all of the possible outcomes associated with these options. Long story short, I chose to go ahead with the fresh milk challenge.
We've spent the last four and a half years monitoring absolutely everything Will put in his mouth, making sure he didn't eat or drink something that could quite literally kill him. I knew - both logically and instinctively - that going ahead with the challenge was the right thing to do, but that didn't make it any easier for me to watch Will consume what we had previously considered poison to his small body. I was sick to my stomach from the moment the challenge began until we finally called it quits two hours later.
There's good news and bad news.
The bad news... is that Will is still allergic to dairy.
The good news... is that Will's allergy has dramatically improved/decreased. He was able to drink a teaspoon, and then 30 minutes later, a tablespoon, of chocolate milk for the first time in his entire life. He didn't throw up. He didn't break out in a full body rash. His throat didn't swell. After the teaspoon and tablespoon we moved on to an ounce, which unfortunately led to watery and itchy eyes (which are considered an allergic reaction and therefore ended the challenge) but fortunately didn't cause any dangerous reactions. Will will continue the cooked milk muffin trial for the next six months (heaven help us, and thank you Grandma for offering to send Will a package each week he eats all of his muffins), at which point he'll try the fresh milk challenge again. The allergist is 99% certain that when we test again in February Will's dairy allergy will be a thing of the past.
For some reason I'm feeling particularly sad for my little boy tonight. To be honest, I wasn't expecting Will to completely pass today's challenge - an allergy as severe as Will's clearing up in just five months simply doesn't happen. But deep down I had hoped that today would be the beginning of a new way of living for Will. The beginning of a less-stressful, less-restrictive, more-enjoyable relationship with food and mealtimes and restaurants and birthday parties and friends' houses. He never complains (except about the damn muffins), and he never asks "why me?"; instead, he takes responsibility - in a way that no four-year-old should have to and most adults wouldn't/couldn't take responsibility - for what he puts in his mouth and his own safety.
So tonight I'm complaining for him, and asking why for him. But tomorrow I'll follow his lead and take responsibility for helping him play the hand he was dealt. I'll also say a quick prayer that come February, when the trial is over, this too will have passed.