As the allergist made a point of saying to me this morning, for today I am not allergic to insect stings. My risk of an allergic reaction is the same as any person who has never been stung before. Of course, the doctor said “for today” because situations can change, especially if I were to get stung more than once. But the good news is that I do not need to carry an Epi-pen, although I may as well keep the ones I currently have until they expire.
The process was time-consuming but relatively simple. There were three stages of testing with a 15 minute waiting period after each. The first was a scratch test, while the other two were small injections right beneath the skin. The scratch test covered 6 things: honey bee, wasp, yellow jacket, hornet, saline, and histamine. The saline and histamine were controls to ensure that my body was reacting the way it should. The only reaction I had for that test was with the histamine, and that is completely normal and expected.
The second phase began the small injections in a smaller concentration. They tested the same four insects and the saline this time. Waited. No reactions.
The final phase of injections was with a slightly larger concentration of venom, but this time they only tested the insects. No saline. More waiting. The wasp site was a little more red than any of the others, but there was no hive or other sign of a reaction. The redness is all gone now, but I am still sporting little dots across my inner forearm. I could play connect-the-dots!
The doctor also mentioned that I may no longer be allergic to penicillin. Like insect sting allergies, there is a good chance you may have outgrown an allergy to penicillin if you haven’t had penicillin for 10-15 years. Unfortunately, they do not test for a penicillin allergy for the “future”. The only way to test that would be for my doctor to be brave and have me “challenge” the allergy when I have some infection requiring penicillin. Since I so rarely require medication of any sort, I guess I will continue to live with the assumption that I am allergic to penicillin. It just seems easier that way.