Have you heard of the milk ladder? Its a 12 step programme to try and re-introduce milk into the diet of a child with a milk allergy. The one we tried had 12 steps and starts with very small amounts of baked dairy as that makes for the smallest reaction. Step12, the goal, is fresh milk.
When Nathan was 9, with our consultants and Nathan's consent, we tried the ladder. Steps one and two were passed with flying colours. You have no idea how happy that made us, the possibility that Nath could possibly be getting over his allergy was such an amazing thought.
And then we got to step 3. And Nath started reacting, only a small amount and we tried again over the next few days and then we paused when the reactions continued.
At our next paediatrician's appointment we told the consultant. Another blood test was completed to check Nath’s IgE sensitivity* and the result? Nath’s numbers were still “off the scale”. We were told at this point he was unlikely to ever grow out of his allergy. We were told there was no point being seen again next year at clinic as there would be no change and that we were going to be discharged.
We were devastated. We knew what the outcome was as soon as Nath failed step 3 of the ladder, you don’t want to acknowledge it, and as a parent you cling onto any piece of hope no matter how small and flimsy, until there’s no hope left. When the consultant voiced the reality the hope was gone.
That was a moment. It felt like a door was shut in our face regarding our options. That was the time we started accepting the longevity of Nathan's allergy and making sure Nathan knew that this would not define him. That, is still a work in progress.
Photo from The MAP guideline
* A test to check for the levels of antibodies in the blood which are an indicator of allergic reaction to a type of allergen.
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