A few months ago, Evan had a RAST test done to see if his IgE levels were low enough to challenge some of foods he's allergic to. While his milk and peanut levels are still off the charts, his doctor wanted to go ahead and challenge Egg. In a food challenge, a teeny tiny bite of the food is given to the patient. After 15 minutes of observation (during which we were looking for signs of an allergic reaction: itching, redness, hives, congestion, coughing, vomitting, swelling, difficulty breathing, etc.), another, slightly larger bite is given. Another 15 minute observation follows and the process repeats until the equivelent of a serving has been given. It takes several hours.
When the nurse called to tell me the [wonderful] news, I asked her for specifics on what we should bring in for him to eat during the food challenge. I assumed that we would be challenging BAKED egg, and wasn't sure how many eggs I should bake into my batch of super-delicious cupcakes that I just knew Evan would happily consume during the challenge. Silly me. We weren't challenging BAKED egg. We were challenging EGG. As in Hard-Boiled Egg. As in, There is No Way on Earth My Picky Eater Will Touch This With a Ten-Foot Pole. I told the nurse that "encouraging" my 3-year old to eat something new....something, not to mention, that we have previously told him to avoid eating, touching, or even being near....might be more of a challenge than she realizes, she responded, "No problem. Just bring his favorite food to mix it in." Hmmmmmm.....how to disguise a hard-boiled egg in his favorite food? He loves yogurt, but picks out all of the "berries." He'd pick out the egg, too. He loves applesauce, but drinks it through a straw.....don't know if egg would work in that. After much deliberation, I came up with sunbutter (I could roll the egg into a sunbutter pinwheel and he'd be none-the-wiser), and GUACAMOLE! It has a strong flavor, is already chunky, and he'd get to eat it with chips! Perfect.
Now to prepare Evan for what was to come. The weekend before our Monday morning appointment, we began to talk to Evan about the Egg Challenge....just as we had talked to him about the blood draw needed for the RAST testing. We explained that the doctor was going to do a science experiment to see if he could eat eggs. "He doesn't think you're allergic to eggs anymore, but we need to find out for sure." We talked about how, sometimes, when we're at a doctor's office, we need to do things we don't want to do....like sit still while we get a vaccine, or Eat Eggs, because the doctor is just trying to keep us healthy. He seemed to get it. He role-played Egg Challenge a few times. We read Green Eggs and Ham and learned that, "Say! I do like them Sam-I-Am!" We were ready to take on the Egg.
So the food challenge started with a physical exam to establish a baseline from which to measure any reactions. The nurse took a hard boiled egg and cut off the tiniest little sliver of egg white. She put it in a measuring spoon and handed it to Evan and said, "There you go, Evan. Eat up!"
Um. Right. So Evan gave her a look that said, "YOU eat it," and I took the spoon from him before he could chuck the thing across the room. I reminded him about everything we had talked about the two days prior and told him that it was time to be a big, brave boy. He kinda opened his mouth a teensy bit, so I shoved the spoon in there. Out came the egg. Oooooookay. So reasoning and shoving didn't work. I tried the No Nonsense approach: "Look. We're here to eat an egg. You're going to eat the egg." Nope. I tried the bribery approach: "See those lollipops over there? Guess who gets to eat one......as soon as he eats this itty bitty bite?!" Uh-uh.
By this time, we're talking full-on I'm Not Going To Eat That tantrum happening. Mouth clamped shut, head shaking "no," body turning into a noodle when I try to pick him up.....you can picture it I'm sure. At this point the doctor and nurse exchanged a glance and said, [cheery cheery] "Okay! Well, why don't you guys just let us know when he's eaten it!" and quickly exited the room. Sam and I exchanged a look of our own....a look that said, "I don't know. You deal with it." And Max exchanged a look with all three of us that said, "I'll eat it!"
And so, I stooped to my all-new Parenting Low. Sam distracted Evan and I hid the egg in a sunbutter pinwheel. "Here, Evan. Eat this instead." "Is it egg?" [here it comes....] "It's sunbutter. You love sunbutter." And he ate it. At which point, I wiped the sweat off my brow and breathed a sigh of relief. Until it occurred to me that I HAD JUST FED MY, up until this point, EGG-ALLERGIC SON AN EGG. I started watching him like a hawk, looking for any sign of reaction. For 15 minutes I stared at the kid. I analyzed every twitch, itch, sniff, and blink. Finally, the nurse came back in, checked his vitals, and asked us how he was doing. "Great!" Sam and I said.
And then she started measuring his next dose. The morning continued like this, with me hiding the egg, lying about the egg, and rewarding him for eating the "NOT" egg with lollipop licks and Bob the Builder clips on my iPhone. And after that first meltdown, Evan really did do a great job. He didn't even mind me staring at him, analyzing every little thing, and constantly asking him, "Ev? How are ya feeling, bud?"
And there were things that made us wonder....he just itched, is that something? He was congested this morning, but is he more congested? Are his eyes red from rubbing them or the eggs? Is he quiet and cuddly because he's tired after waking up before 6am this morning, or is this allergic reaction lethargy? But there were no hives, no coughing, no vomitting, no swelling, and no other blatant allergic reaction symptoms. We'd know if he were having a reaction. Wouldn't we?
And so, after three and a half hours, Dr. B pronounced a tentative PASS! We were to watch him for signs of allergic reaction for the next 24 hours, but Dr. B is confidently optimistic that We Have Eggs!
And you know what this means, right?
CAKE! I think we can safely say that the kid wouldn't even let scrambled eggs touch his plate, but what kid doesn't love CAKE?!
I have learned how to make an awesome eggless cupcake, but my cakes were sunken disasters. I can't wait to make him a giant multi-tiered, chocolate cake. And he'll be able to have a Wedding CAKE! His bride won't have to get creative with a cupcake stand!
When we got home, I gave Ev a big hug and said, "Honey, I'm so proud of you. You did such a great job at the egg challenge. Now we know that you're not allergic to eggs! You can eat EGGS!"
He looked at me like I was crazy, like I had just missed that whole spectacle that had unraveled at the doctor's office, and said, "But mom. I don't WANT to eat eggs."
Sometimes you have to throw everything you know about parenting out and just get through the moment. I'll teach him about honesty and remind him that we don't always get to spend the morning eating chips and dip and lollipops and watching shows right AFTER he eats his Very First Piece of Cake.