With a suitcase full of food, my husband Daryl and I took Jenna on her first trip to Southern California Food Allergy Institute. We went into this appointment with so much excitement and hope.
To be honest, we were so excited (as explained here), that we somewhat forgot what the appointment entailed. The first visit to Southern California Food Allergy Institute is dedicated to testing. During this visit, a skin prick test and blood draw results are gathered. Jenna has been poked , prodded, and tested several times in her short life but it seems things caught up this trip.
An allergy skin prick test is administered by scratching or pricking the child’s back in around 40 spots and placing the oil of the allergens on the scratch. For this test, Jenna had to be held down for 20 minutes. Daryl held her feet and I held her shoulders while Jenna cried, begged, and screamed. I would be lying if I said this was not one of the most difficult things for her and me to go through. After 20 minutes, the nurse came in to measure each reaction. She had several clear reactions from the scratch test.
After the scratch test, we headed to the lab for a blood draw. The Allergy Institute will use results from both tests to develop a customized treatment program. Once we have the results, we will start adding “maintenance foods” to her diet daily.
If a mom new to the program asked me, “What should I expect from the first visit to SoCal food a?”, I would answer the following:
- Prepare mentally for the trip. There are a lot of emotions going into a potentially life-changing treatment program. Be sure to understand the first appointment can be emotionally difficult if you have young children or children that are not fond of needles. Be ready to be strong when your kiddo needs you and is in pain. Time to put the tough mama panties on!
- Bring backup (if possible). Learning the layout of a new city and continually figuring out the logistics of where, how, and what time can be challenging. Doing those things with a food allergic child is extra challenging. At least until you get your bearings of the area and know what to expect, I would suggest bringing another adult to help. It also helped when it came time for scratch testing as it took two of us to hold Jenna down as to not ruin the testing scratches.
- Research fun things to do in the area ahead of time. On each visit, I am going to attempt to do something fun and memorable with Jenna. Hopefully, this will off-set the not-so-fun stuff. While Jenna did talk about the scratch test with her classroom friends, she also mentioned she was able to swim. Good and bad!
Are you preparing for your first trip to Southern California Food Allergy Institute? Anything you would like to know? Let me know in the comments.
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