We had Nora’s Bee Allergy Skintest on Monday. I think we were both nervous about it. I had it all planned out to head to Asheville at the crack of dawn (630a), get in, get it done and be back to pick Lorelei up from Preschool at 12pm. Aaaaaand, Lorelei had a fever and Daddy had to stay home with her and miss work anyway.
It was a beautiful drive there, though very early for us. I got there right on time, no rushing, which was nice. We were called in quickly and explained about the procedure. It turns out they do not use the plastic thingy, like I thought, they do a two step process like a tb test is done. Basically she got 12 mini shots under the skin. Oh what fun! Thankfully, the nurse was wonderful with Nora and with me letting me know that the kicking and screaming was a typical reaction for a six year old.
We did seven shots to begin with; Honey Bee, Yellow Jacket, White Face Hornet, Yellow Hornet and Wasp. The bottom two are a positive and negative for control. Nora let me take a picture of her arm and it was a great distraction. We waited about ten minutes and then the nurse came in to check. The first go around was something like 1/10000 of the venom of these insects. These were negative for Nora. They did a higher diluted dose and only did the five insects again. It turns out she got a positive on the Wasp and Yellow Jacket shots. We thought she had been stung by a hornet the first time, but I guess not.
The doctor who did the tests (or looked at the results) was not our doctor and he only confused me more by pushing the immunotherapy and not really answering any of my questions. I stewed a little bit on the information we gained and then talked to her original doctor who is much more helpful without being an immunotherapy salesman. What immunotherapy entails is two months of twice weekly shots (the buildup for her immune system) and then up to five years of 4-6 weeks maintenance shots. After the buildup period her chance of a life threatening reaction to a bee sting goes from 70% to 2%.
My questions were:
Are these the only insects she is allergic too or does Yellow Jacket, for example, have the same type of venom as another bee? A) She is allergic to only these two. Hornets are similar to Yellow Jackets, but she tested negative for both of those.
Will puberty change anything? She’s so young and her body will go through a lot of changes will that affect the immunotherapy? A) Puberty will not affect her status and kids actually react better to the shots than adults.
What if something happens in a couple of years and we lose our insurance or move and are unable to continue the shots? Will it all be for nothing? (5 years is a heck of a commitment!!) A) Anything past the buildup time period will have helped her. The maintenance shots help her maintain the 2% status, so the longer we maintain, the more likely she will stay at 2%.
So, now we decide whether to go ahead with immunotherapy or not. It’s hard because It isn’t a total cure. She could still be apart of the 2% after all of this or she could not be stung again. I’ve only ever been stung by a wasp once in my entire life. I guess it’s better to be safe rather than sorry, but what are the chances that she’ll not be near her epi-pen or a hospital if she does get stung or what are the chances that it will be a full on sting (sometimes it’s a dry sting or just a tiny bit of venom) and that she’ll have a reaction? Even after the therapy she is still considered allergic and will have to carry an epi-pen around with her for the rest of her life. Maybe if I wasn’t so turned off by Dr. Immuno-salesman this decision would be easier.
I’m still doing a little bit more research, but most likely we will go ahead with it.