So this morning I took Chickadee back to the allergist, our new second home.
To review (if you don’t feel like reading the whole rash saga): Our lovely dermatologist had suggested a number of tests when we last saw her, and “felt strongly that we’re looking at something autoimmune,” but then her skin biopsy came back negative for whatever they were checking for and she then said, “It’s looking more like an allergy.”
Which left me wondering what exactly they DID with the circles they punched out of my daughter’s arm. I know they looked at them under a microscope. Did the angry red bumps hold up little signs? “Allergy! Probably! Maybe! HA!”
Anyway. That all sent us back to the allergist with a list of tests to run. Except that the allergist decided not to run them.
Now, listen. I understand that it’s sometimes not prudent to run off half-cocked, running every single test in the book—particularly when some of them are expensive—but this allergist gave me a lecture about how he’s a detective and he likes to do things in sequential fashion, eliminating one possibility at a time, and basically made it clear that he thought I was being hysterical and pushy in wanting him to, I don’t know, RUN THE TESTS HIS COLLEAGUE HAD REQUESTED. It’s not like I consulted Dr. Google and marched in there with a million wild ideas, pushing my own pseudo-doctor agenda on him. The doctor HE’D sent us to see had requested these tests. And he said no. Because that’s not how he does it.
Very calmly I explained that I understood the reasoning behind his preferred protocol of trying one thing at a time, but that this is the second summer this has happened, we’re now going on over a year since this began and still we have no answers. I pointed out that this year was much worse. I told him that I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect an 11-year-old to just “wait and see” any longer, when she’s already suffered through most of the summer in long pants and long sleeves. I looked him in the eye and pointed out that this CHILD has been on steroids three times this summer alone because the other five prescriptions she’s been given haven’t handled the state of her skin, and then I quietly remarked that I didn’t know if HE had ever had the pleasure of a pubescent daughter on steroids, but that I was not so much enjoying the side effects, if he caught my drift.
I basically begged him to reconsider. And he listened and nodded and said, “Well let’s just do this patch test first and we’ll see, after that.”
I felt somewhat defeated, but still hopeful that what he was telling me was that if we didn’t learn something from this, he’d step it up a little.
Of course, then he added, “But I don’t think we’re going to see anything from this, because I sort of doubt it’s an allergy at this point.”
He may have said something else, after that. I really don’t know, because I was busy smacking my head into the nearest wall. And maybe crying a little.
So on Monday, Chickadee had 29 chemical allergens taped to her back. It’s exactly as pleasant and comfortable as it sounds, to have your entire back covered with plastic and tape. Yeah. And she’s been complaining that it hurts, and we headed out first thing this morning to have it read.
We were ushered into the exam room and she donned the paper shirt. The allergist and his assistant came in and explained that they would review the results, and that we would then come back again tomorrow to be checked a second time. (For… further reaction? Less of a reaction? Worms? It wasn’t clear.)
The tape was pulled off of the first strip. Then the second. And the third. We all stood back and looked at Chickadee’s back.
“Now, it’s ALL red from the tape and plastic and such, and that doesn’t mean anything,” warned the doctor. I nodded.
I pointed at one small, angry red square. “What’s that on the lower left, there? Is that a control?”
“We don’t do positive controls on this, so that’s a result. Let’s see…” he picked up the reference chart and matched the square up with his little allergen key. “Huh. That’s cobalt.”
All of the adults in the room looked at each other.
“Oh, no, COBALT!” I exclaimed. “Chickie! Your days in the cobalt fields are OVER! What will you do now??” She giggled and the doc’s assistant grinned at me. (Not the doctor, though. He has no sense of humor.)
“Yep,” agreed the assistant. “No more long days working in the cobalt mines. It’s a lucky break, really.”
We continued cracking cobalt jokes for another minute or two. Then there was a lull and I said, “Uhhh… so… what’s cobalt in?”
The doctor had been measuring and feeling the area, all this time, and now he looked up. “Well, this is a pretty weak positive, first of all. We’ll see if it holds up. And second, cobalt is in a lot of paints. It’s not real common in everyday things.”
This led to a fresh round of jokes about her aspirations of being a house painter having been cruelly dashed. Poor kid.
We’ll go back tomorrow for a recheck, and after that… well, no idea. I tried (again) to broach the subject of the blood tests requested by the other doctor, and was basically told we’d “cross that bridge when we come to it.” Funny, I thought we were already AT that bridge.
And I bet they painted it with cobalt, too.