The Day We Thought Would Never Come

I took Olivia to her yearly allergy appointment yesterday. For anyone who follows along this blog regularly, you know that our daughter Olivia has life-threatening (anaphylaxis) allergies to peanuts, treenuts, eggs, and soy. She has outgrown allergies and intolerances to dairy, cinnamon, avacado, banana, and most fruit. There were times over the years when we weren’t sure what was causing her reactions and questioned shellfish, wheat, and even the possibility of exercise-induced anaphylaxis.

Luckily, as she’s been growing, she’s outgrown most of her allergies and we are left with a short, but dangerous, (and probably permanent)  list. Olivia has had reactions and ended up in the hospital when our B&B guests have been eating nuts in their rooms. As a result, we became a “peanut and treenut free accommodation” – the first in Nova Scotia! 🙂

What was initially overwhelming, has become just the way we live. We’re all very good at reading labels and she is mature enough to understand that she cannot always eat  what those around her are eating. She always asks “Is this safe for me” before trying something new. Our family and friends are supportive and conscientious to ensure she stays safe. Luckily, D’Arcy & I love to cook and bake so we always have safe treats on hand!

Throughout her testing over the years (we received her official diagnosis when she was ten months old) the hope was that she would outgrow as many of her allergies as possible. Because her numbers are so high, and because of the type of allergies she has, she will probably have to navigate her peanut, egg, and soy allergies for life. Based on the results from last year’s blood-work, her doctor tested her skin yesterday for tree-nuts* and egg, to see how they were progressing. Much to our amazement and surprise, her tree-nut pokes (with the exception of cashew) came back negative!


Olivia shows off her poke tests. The doctor ground up actual nuts (rather than the serum they normally use – makes it even more accurate) which was then put onto her skin. They take a tiny needle and poke the mixture so it enters her skin. If a hive appears, the test is positive; no reaction means negative. You can see the hive for egg and cashew on the top left. The hive on the bottom right is the histamine control.

So what does this mean? Although the blood and skin tests are now negative, it is too dangerous for her to just start eating nuts. If the tests are false negatives, she could go into anaphylaxis as soon she ingests them. Olivia is scheduled for an “almond challenge” under medical supervision in June. We chose almonds to test first because they will open up the most options for her: skin creams, cereals, almond butter, almond milk, etc. We’ll continue with challenges throughout the summer until she has passed them all.

To be clear, even if she passes, she still won’t be able to eat nuts in a restaurant or at a party due to the risk of cross-contamination with peanuts, but she’ll be able to eat them in a controlled environment and we’ll be able to eat them around her! 🙂

She was slightly put-out that her allergist decided she could wait until next year to have more blood-work done. I asked him if he’d ever met a child who was disappointed that she did NOT get to have bloodwork? (No.) Turned out she wanted the finger puppet they give the kids at the lab at the IWK Health Centre after their needles are over. Weird kid. We went to Woozles book store instead and got a treat there.

I still can’t quite believe it! Rest assured, we are still committed to being a peanut and tree-nut free property, knowing the peace of mind it brings to our guests with food allergies.

Olivia surrounded by bubbles being blown outside a candy shop in Halifax. Happy her appointment was over.

Olivia surrounded by bubbles being blown outside a candy shop in Halifax. Happy her appointment was over.

* Peanuts and treenuts are not the same thing. Peanuts are a legume and grow in the ground. Treenuts grow on trees and include nuts such as almonds, pecans, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, macademia nuts, pistachios, and hazlenuts.

4 comments on “The Day We Thought Would Never Come

  1. Sylvia Estey says:

    I was so excited to read your news!! Congrats to Olivia. Almonds is definitely the place to start, it will be so exciting!!
    I developed a nut allergy in my late 20’s to cashews, hazelnuts and pistachios. It is a very scary thing! I cannot imagine dealing with it as a kid and also a parent.
    Good luck with your upcoming tests. Happy Wednesday.


    • Thanks Sylvia – it is very exciting. As you well know, anaphylaxis is very scary to experience. I asked her allergist if challenging tree-nuts would be confusing to her since she will continue to have to avoid them most of the time, but he said no – as long as we educate her properly. Luckily, she’s a smart kid! Will keep you posted!


  2. Carolyn says:

    WOW! I didn’t realize her allergies were as extensive as this. However, as you said, this is good news for Olivia and her family.


    • Thanks Carolyn,
      We do our best to make sure that she does not have to live in a bubble, despite her allergies. It can be pretty scary for her parents sometimes, but we’re lucky to have family, friends, and local restaurants who are willing to go the extra steps to keep her safe! 😉


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