Hi Hive! It’s been awhile, but we did go to our first in-person appointment at SoCal Food Allergy back on June 11th, 2018. The first appointment was all about data collection, and was a 3-4 hour appointment just like they said.
They start by asking you a food intake questionnaire. We did this in person, but it looks like they’ve now streamlined it so you get an email asking you to fill out the questionnaire in a Google Doc before you even go into your first appointment. They just continue to find ways to be more efficient, and are going through the waitlist at an incredible pace!
Anyway, this food questionnaire is for them to get a historical look at what kinds of foods your child has eaten, how frequent, and if there were any allergic responses to foods in the past.
Next, they’ll have your child do a skin test. The skin test does not actually prick the skin. It is superficial, so they simply press a small amount of each allergen topically onto the skin. Some of the different allergens they press into the skin are in the picture on the left below. On the right is my daughter’s skin reacting to the allergens they pressed onto her skin.
They had Lil’ Miss Louboutin lay there for 15 minutes without moving in order to give time for the skin to react. The stronger the allergy, the bigger the bump and the larger the circumference of red. It was very uncomfortable for her, but she was able to watch a show on my phone and that helped pass the time. When you go in for appointments, I highly recommend bringing an iPad to help distract them. SCFA has free wi-fi.
Once the 15 minutes are up, they’ll come in and measure the bumps with a little measuring tool they have. As you can see in the below document, there are two numbers – a numerator and denominator. The numerator measures the size of the bump, and the denominator measures the amount of redness. Anything 3 or greater is considered a positive reaction, meaning she is sensitive to that food in some way.
After this, they had us go downstairs to a Quest Diagnostics Lab to get bloodwork done. They collected about 8 vials of blood from her. If your child is under 50 pounds, it’s unlikely that you will be able to get all the bloodwork done at once. They will ask you to schedule a separate appointment at a Quest Diagnostics of your convenience to get the remaining bloodwork done.
This was pretty much the entirety of our first visit. We did not get to meet Dr. Randhawa until the second day of our next visit (a two day visit), which was scheduled 7 weeks after this visit. They need at least 6 weeks to get the results from the bloodwork back.
I know everyone is curious about costs. I’m not sure how much other OIT programs are, but your out-of-pocket costs at SCFA will be a minimum of $4,500 per year, charged quarterly. So every 3 months, we pay $1,125. Then on top of that, you might have the standard medical costs based on what your insurance covers or doesn’t cover (things such as blood work, office visit copays, etc.). SoCal Food Allergy has been very clear about costs, and will provide you the billing codes up-front so you can check what is covered by your insurance plan based on the billing codes they submit.
If you’ve gone through OIT, how was your process similar and/or different? Please let me know what other questions you might have about this whole process and I’ll do my best to answer in future posts!