Archive for March, 2009

Ignorance is NOT Bliss…

I came across this article from Time Magazine through this website I read quite frequently and I must admit it made me mad.  Obviously, the writer of the article is clueless.  She suggests that there is just too much hype over food allergies in the classroom.  That is so absurd.  If you’ve never experienced someone having a severe allergic reaction, let me describe it to you.  Imagine your child eating a snack and after just one bite she begins choking and coughing.  Her eyes are watering, her mouth and body break out into hives.  She’s scratching her skin to the point of bleeding and can barely catch her breath.  Her fingernails turn blue.  Now, she’s almost out of breath and fear is in her eyes.  This all happens within a minute or two.  This is what a severe allergic reaction looks like.  You have no time to think about how to help her, how to save her life.  You just act.  Did you know that an EpiPen will help her, but may not last long enough to get her to the hospital before her body reacts again?  Do you know how to use her EpiPen??  According to this article, most physicians don’t even know how to use an EpiPen!  Astonishing!  My daughter’s EpiPen Jrs came with a test pen – no needle – so that you can practice and know how to use it when the emergency happens.  Seriously, how many people will be able to read the instructions fast enough in such a high-pressure situation?  You better know how to use the pen before it happens!  I have a practice pen in my daughter’s tote bag, along with her EpiPens.  I have showed her babysitter how to use it and plan to teach my oldest daughter now that she is old enough to know and remember, just in case she’s with her sister when/if a reaction occurs.  Every second counts once a reaction occurs.  I don’t think anyone who has experienced a severe reaction could possibly minimize the risks involved in a classroom setting where food is present.  It is a life/death kind of situation for my daughter who has a very severe milk allergy, a peanut allergy and an egg allergy.  She will be in school in just over a year from now and you better believe I will be checking out her classroom setting and making sure there is an allergy-free policy in place before she goes to school.  It should be this way for ALL classrooms and schools.  I will not place my child’s life in the hands of ignorance.  It’s my duty as a parent to protect her from such situations and I will do everything in my power to make sure my voice is heard.  Food allergies can be life-threatening.  Educate yourself and your child’s caregivers for your child’s sake.

March 28, 2009 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment

Fudge Pops

I cannot tell you how excited I am to have found Tofutti brand Fudge Pops at my local Publix!!!  Do you know what that means??  They are dairy-free and my daughter can totally enjoy them!  She was thrilled to have her first one the other day.  Unfortunately, they were on clearance so I think they may not be selling them anymore after the current stock is sold.  We’ll see.  At least I know they exist.  I will try to find them at another location.

March 26, 2009 at 8:30 am 1 comment

Sweet Treats!

Rita’s Italian Ice offered FREE regular size Italian Ices today in honor of the 1st Day of Spring!  If you haven’t gotten yours yet, hurry!  They close at 10pm.  Anyway, my husband had to run an errand tonight so he took our two oldest with him.  He loves to take the girls out for special treats every once in awhile, so what better time to do it than when it’s FREE?  So, I quickly got online and checked out Rita’s website looking for an allergy menu of sorts and lo, and behold, they have one!  My daughter can totally enjoy her special treat tonight along with her older sister and everyone else that happens to be there!  This thrills my heart!!  I’ve added this sweet treat to my ‘Eating Out’ tab at the top of the page for future reference.

March 20, 2009 at 6:38 pm Leave a comment

Speak Up!

When my daughter was diagnosed with severe food allergies, I realized I had a new role to play.  All of a sudden, I became an advocate for children living with food allergies.  I quickly recognized that this environment in which we live, is not safe for my daughter.  In a society in which food is readily available and offered at every event, function, party, classroom, etc. a person with food allergies is at a major disadvantage.  How will people know of your child’s food allergies, especially when you cannot constantly be with them every minute of the day?  I found a good resource while I was researching after my daughter’s diagnosis.  AllergyKids.com is a terrific website with many products available to help ‘be your voice’ when you cannot be there.  For instance, I bought these stickers for our church nurseries that parents put on their child’s back which reminds the teacher/workers of their child’s allergies.  I usually put one on my daughter’s back and try to keep one stuck to the front of her little tote bag so that if something happened, they could find her bag quickly amidst the jackets/other bags hanging on the same hooks in the classroom.  When it comes down to it, time is of the essence!  This website also has other great resources that I would like to see implemented into the children’s classes at our church.  One is this allergy alert that includes the child’s name, picture, specific allergies, signs of an allergic reaction, what to do if there is one, who to contact, etc.  These would be very helpful, especially in situations where the usual teacher is not there that day and someone new is in the class.  It would be beneficial to them and could be life-saving for the child.  There are letters to parents of children in the class telling them of the specific allergies associated with their child’s class and other great resources.  Check it out!  It might be a big help to you and your child at your church, your child’s school or anywhere else.  The allergy alert would even be a great tool to carry in your child’s diaper bag or in your purse so that when traveling or in emergency situations, you could leave that with your child’s caregiver.  Great tool!

The bottom line is that you have to be the voice for your child.  If your child is the only one in his/her surroundings that has allergies chances are most of the people around him are clueless about how serious food allergies are.  Speak up and educate people.  I guarantee your child won’t be the last to have food allergies.  When my daughter was diagnosed, I only knew one child (older than her) with food allergies.  Now, there are at least 4 I know in our church younger than her with food allergies.  Someone has to pave the way!  Take that responsibility.  It could save someone’s life.

March 19, 2009 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

On the Border!

Found another favorite restaurant with an allergy menu!!  On the Border is one of my fave’s for mexican food so when I went online to check for an allergy menu – I was pleased to find they were on top of things!  I’ll be adding this one to my ‘Eating Out’ tab at the top of the page.

As I’ve mentioned before, don’t just take their word for it.  An allergy attack is too serious to just take someone’s word for it.  I printed out the menus for peanut-free, milk-free and egg-free.  Then, went over them with a fine tooth comb to see which items my daughter could have.  Then, I took the menus with me to the restaurant, explained to our waiter about my child’s allergies and had him double check the ingredients.  He wrote down my concerns, took them to the kitchen and came back to my table prior to ordering our meal and reassured me of the things I had specifically asked of him.  It was a successful dinner!  (And just in case, the EpiPens and Benadryl were right beside us in the booth.)  We’ll be going back there.

Free tip:  When eating at a restaurant that you aren’t very familiar with, go before the rush!  We like to go early – around 5pm – which makes it much less stressful on us and our waiter/waitress when we’re trying to convey our concerns to them.

March 15, 2009 at 8:48 pm Leave a comment

Special Allergy Alert!

I just came across this website from the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network where you can sign up to receive email alerts for items that have been recalled due to undeclared allergens in them.  Great site!!  A must-read in my opinion.

March 6, 2009 at 3:38 am 1 comment

On the surface…

When I first found out about my daughter’s food allergies, I automatically assumed that those allergens would only affect her if she ingested them.  In some cases, that may be true for some people with food allergies, but not with others.   When my daughter was 18 months old (6 months after we found out about all of her allergies), my oldest daughter was having chocolate milk for breakfast.  We have taught her not to leave anything on the table when she is finished eating, but that day she forgot and left her cup on the table where my allergic daughter could reach it.  I was at the mall, my husband was home with my two girls and I remember the phone call vividly.  My husband called and said that my youngest had gotten ahold of the cup, which apparently still had some chocolate milk in it, and because she was shorter than the table she dumped the entire thing on herself – head to toe.  Immediately, hives broke out all over her body.  She was wearing layers of clothes and overalls, to beat!  It was winter.  So, the milk soaked into her clothing and since overalls are hard to take off quickly, her skin was exposed to it for several minutes.  While I was on the phone with my husband, he stripped her down, put her in the tub, gave her liquid Benadryl and was trying to help her calm down.  She was covered in hives – even to the bottom of her feet!  And anyone who has ever had hives knows how itchy they are.  She was scratching herself to pieces.  To our knowledge, she did not ingest any of the milk, but her throat did start swelling and she was coughing and choking, as well.  I immediately left the mall, stopped by Walgreen’s on the way home and bought some Benadryl cream.  As soon as I got home, I rubbed her entire body down with the creme and the hives started to disappear.  I had never seen such a sight!  It was very scary to me and alerted me to the fact that even her skin was allergic to these allergens.  Later that night, the hives returned to a lesser degree, but it’s just a reminder that allergic reactions can reappear even though you think the worst may be over.  Ever since that day, we only give my oldest daughter milk to drink when we are at the table with her, even though my other daughter is now old enough to know that she cannot touch anyone else’s cup or food at anytime.  Always be cautious!  (And as a side note, even when my daughter is kissed on the cheek after I’ve had a dairy product, she breaks out in a hive in that spot.  That is how sensitive her body is.)

So, I shared this with you in order to either remind you or make you aware of the effect allergens can have on those who are affected by them.  It’s not just eating allergens that causes serious problems…sometimes it is on the surface.  Whether you have allergies or not, please be aware of those around you who DO have them.  Take it seriously.  It could mean life or death to them.

March 5, 2009 at 3:50 pm 1 comment

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