I beat my peanut allergy


I’ve been severely allergic to peanuts my whole life. It’s been hard at times but I have been blessed with a family and community who always took care of me and made sure I was safe and included in most things. However, I am now on the final stretch of high school and will be attending college in Cedar Falls next school year where it is a world of new foods and new people who aren’t aware of my allergy or how to be safe around people who have allergies. While the idea of doing Oral Immunotherapy has been on my radar for many years, I never wanted to do it because the whole idea was very scary. Being told your whole life if you eat this cookie or this candy bar you could end up in the hospital and then switching to, it’s okay if you do it this way, was very confusing and a hard mental block for me. It took me many years to even consider doing it, but the thought of feeling safer at college and not having to worry about it anymore outweighed the mental block and I finally committed to the idea. 

My doctor, Dr. Whitney Molis, is one of the few allergists who offers this treatment in the United States. The treatment essentially introduces the body to small doses of peanut that gradually increases over time to build up a tolerance and train the body to not react to the allergen.

 “Basically over time her body has made blocking antibodies that cover up the bad antibody that her body has been making, to fight off the peanut,” (Dr. Molis). 

On May 12. 2022 I completed my first Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) treatment. The first few months the amount of peanut is so small that it is taken in liquid form. Each week the amount of peanut concentration is increased, or the amount of peanut solution is increased. I would go to the allergy office every single Thursday for an up-dose appointment where I would try a higher peanut dose than the previous week under medical supervision. If I made it a full hour without a reaction, I would then be cleared to take the dose everyday outside of the office till the next up-dose appointment. Keeping up with the dose everyday and the rules that go along with it, is very crucial to completing the program. You have to take the dose in the morning and the dose has to be taken every 21-26 hours of the previous, meaning that if I took the dose at 8 a.m. the day before the earliest I can take the dose the next day is 5 a.m. and the latest is 11 a.m. Another rule that was the most inconvenient for me was, you are not allowed to do physical activity or sleep until two hours after the dose was taken. You also have to back down your dose if you have any sort of sickness.

My first appointment I took 1 mL of peanut solution A, which is equivalent to 250,000th of one peanut. It didn’t taste like peanut because the concentration was so low but as time went on that was not the case. For the next six months I went through peanut solutions A,B,C,D, and E. Typically it took about one month to complete each solution. I had a few minor reactions moving up to the peanut E solution, so that took a little longer but overall I didn’t have that many reactions or problems. The hardest part was the final week of liquid peanut: 20 mL of peanut E which was equivalent to one whole peanut in liquid. The liquid at this point was made up of peanut flour and water, then I would add a very large amount of fruit punch Mio flavor drops to mask the peanut flavor, but with that concentration of peanut it was almost impossible to make it taste even remotely good. 

On October 27, 2022 I moved up to solid peanuts where I ate two peanut m&ms for the first time. It was so much better than the liquid peanut but by the time I got to around 10 m&ms a day, the taste was very bad to me and made me nauseous from just the smell. It was mid December when we changed peanut forms because of this. I was a little worried about switching forms because if you try a new form you have to stay on the form for a minimum of five days and I was worried I would not like the other form even more and be stuck taking it but, I knew I could not stay on the m&ms. The choices ranged from peanut butter, peanut powder, dry roasted, and others but I chose dry roasted peanuts. Each week my dad would chop up that week’s number of peanuts and then we put the chopped peanuts in melted dark chocolate. I did this all the way up until my last up-dose where I had to eat 30 dry roasted peanuts. I was able to do it without any reaction, so now I am essentially unallergic. I am required to eat 10 peanuts a day, but that is only the minimum. I can eat anything I want now which is such a big relief. Already I have tried Chick Fil A, Scratch Cupcakes, and even a Casey’s donut! I also celebrated by getting one of every single chocolate bar. It’s been a journey but I’m glad I did it.