Monday, December 20, 2010

Deck the halls with peanuts, almonds, and other non safe foods

If there is one thing that I have learned since 2009, we( people in general) put WAY to much emphasis on food--and its not even the healthy kind! Think about it! If there is a morning meeting at work, there are usually doughnuts present.  If there is a celebration to honor a new life or journey, there is cake and goodies involved. If its a holiday with the family, there is food of ALL types galore.

It seriously never stops. It has came to the point, that kids can't even have a 2 hour play date without some sort of cookies/crackers/goldfish laying out to munch on.

But all of us food allergy parents know the holidays are the worst. Because of course there is food but now memories are involved with the food("well your great aunt Myrna has made her fruity nut cake every year and it just wouldn't be Christmas without it.") Now that's where the tact part comes in because I think at one point we have all wanted to say "Well Christmas won't be the same if sally has to be taken from your house via squad because she can't breath either"

In a perfect world, everyone would truly understand life threatening food allergies. We would explain to them the allergy itself and the deadly dangers of cross contamination, and that would be the end of any food issue. Of course it is not a perfect world and other parents of FA kids have the similar issues with some family members at holidays.

Some tips/suggestions that I have used over the last year and a half for our specific situation. Obviously each family is different and what works for us may not for every family.

Tips for Family holiday get-together with your FA child

--Talk with the host of the event. Do they understand the depths of the allergy including cross contamination? Do you trust them to check every single item and ingredient put into the dinner to make the whole dinner "safe" for your child? If so, that's great and you will need to talk with other people who may be bringing food in as well.

--Offer to make some food dishes so you can be 110% sure of its safety. Desserts are always a good place to start because its a common hiding place for peanuts, and a high possibility of cross contamination.

--Remind all family about the severity of your child's allergy. Ask them to never give your child ANY food without asking you first. Please do this away from the child. Not because the child doesn't already know about it but if there is resistance to not having nuts, the child does not need to hear that and feel guilty that their allergy is causing someone else to have an issue.

--If you have a young child, remind them to ask you before eating anything and what to do if they should feel "sick or different". Show them what "safe" goodies you brought for them so they can still partake in the dessert table.

--Do not let others lay a guilt trip on you. You are making these peanut free requests to your FAMILY for the safety of your child. They should want to keep the child safe as much as you do.

--Perhaps this one is on a personal level, but I have heard other parents say the same thing. Do not let people(family members or not) talk about "how horrible it is that sally can't eat this, or this, or even this" in front of the child.

--This one seems pretty obvious(but I have seen it before) but make sure the host does not have out candy trays full of nuts laying about the house.

--Always ALWAYS have the epi pen handy. There are still some areas without 911, so make sure you have the number for the local EMS with the epi or programmed in your phone(if you are traveling.) Accidents do happen and we must stay prepared.

--Last but not least, if you read all these suggestions and say "listen that's great but I still don't feel comfortable taking my FA child to my family's get together"...I totally understand.  You can always choose to have a safe get together at your house later on in the day or the next weekend. You can make a small brunch, prepare it all yourself, and know that your child is safe. If family wants to come, that's great. If not, that's fine too because its time to start your own safe traditions. For your child's sake and safety.  That's what we did for Thanksgiving.

I really hope that everyone has a safe and reaction free holiday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Breakfast with Santa and other holiday joy

 Last weekend, Hannah and I put up the Christmas tree. I love putting up the tree and looking at all the ornaments and the memories. This year I was able to show Hannah the ornaments that were my favorites when I was a kid. or the ones I made for my mom when I was a kid. Then I showed her which ones were given to her the last few years from grandparents and aunts/uncles. We danced to Christmas music and sang the whole time!

 We went yesterday to the "Breakfast with Santa" at our Church. I knew that there would be tons of non safe home baked goodies there but I also knew that there would be games and of course Santa. I don't want her missing out on fun activities because there is unsafe food. She really did SO GOOD!! My big girl walked right past the huge tables of unsafe foods without a glance or a peep. Its like they didn't even exist!

Her attention was directed at the "reindeer games" they had all around the gym, the craft areas, and then eventually Santa. Although she wasn't too sure about the guy in red at first. We were there playing games and doing crafts for nearly 3 hours--it was a great morning!!! 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

planning for a peanut free trick or treat

Geez it's been forever since I have been able to blog. My laptop doesn't work good anymore so have to blog from my phone. Not a simple task for me since this blogging thing is new to me.

It's nearly Halloween and trick or treat time. This will be Hannah's first year going. She wanted to go last year but ended up falling asleep in her costume. Lol.

After much debate--I decided that we would have "safe"(peanut free) candy here at the house. Once we got back to house, we would switch out the unsafe for the safe candy. We are only going to a few houses here by our house anyways. I was concerned that she might be upset because she couldn't have certain candy(realistically most of it) even though she does understand her allergy. If I tell her a food isn't safe, she normally accepts it and moves on. Although I have been getting a lot of "why does it have peanuts?" lately.

So we had a trial run at my work when they had a scavenger hunt for candy. I brought a bag of safe Candy to give her if needed. Needless to say, it was. There was only one station that she could partake in...and it was silly bands. She did not care that she couldn't have the candy there..she told me that she was super happy that I had safe candy. So I think Halloween will be just fine. She is so excited to go trick or treating this year, so I am determined to make it safe and fun for her.

This is last year--shortly before she fell asleep and missed trick or treat lol

This year--right before the Halloween Scavenger Hunt at work.

I am super paranoid about Halloween candy. Because most of the candy allergy info is printed on the big bag that it came in...not the individual bags inside. Many people don't understand that it just not peanuts she can't have. Its also candy made in the same facility with peanuts present. That really narrows down the choices A LOT. So if I am not 110% sure its safe...then we say its not safe. Its ridiculous to take a chance with Halloween candy of all things.

I did see a few options at the store this year for non food/peanut free trick or treat items. I bought a bag of mini play doughs,  bag of mini raisin boxes, and 2 bags of peanut free candy to give out as well. 

Our trick or treat is this Thursday so we will see how it goes. I hope all of you have a safe and fun Halloween! Remember your epi pen on trick or treat night even if you are just going around the neighborhood!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

how making calzones gave me a great idea!

It all started out innocently thanks to my friend Jess (zookeeperjess) who gave me a yummy homemade calzone recipe. I let Hannah do a majority of the prepwork. She had a ball smearing the pizza sauce all over the dough, putting the cheese on(one shred at a time lol) and covering it all in pepperoni. After it baked, we ate them like they were going out of style. Then she told me "These are my new favorite AND the neat thing was I made them" That got me thinking....

Usually when someone has an allergic reaction, it happens in a restaurant or at someone's house(who doesnt quite understand the allergy)..what if I try to instill a love of cooking in Hannah. She might be less likely to go out and eat because she will prefer to do it herself. Now I realize that she will still go out to eat, but enjoying/loving to create her own "safe" dishes will certainly be helpful in her lifetime. Especially if we learn to make recipes "safe" that she might not be able to eat otherwise. 

If you know me at all, you might be giggling a bit. While I can cook, I am still fairly new at the game. But I am willing to learn more and if the calzones are any indication, it could be fun :)

We prepared corn on the cob and pasta salad this evening and she thought shucking corn was the best time ever :) At this point, there are limits on how she can help but its a great start for sure!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Have a Happy Easter!

Its really hard to believe Easter is nearly here! I finally have stuff for Hannah's basket--just need to put it all together.

Also, I rechecked all the expiration dates on her Epi Pens this week. We keep 2 pens with Hannah at all times. One reason is in case the first one misfires/doesn't work for some reason and another reason is that one single dose of epinephrine may not be enough for her anapylaxis.

I also added some benadryl to her "emergency pack". The cool kind(read:easy) of benadryl that comes in a pre filled spoon! Its called Children's Benadryl Perfect Measure. See their website below for specifics.

Obviously since its prefilled, you will need to check with your allergist or physician about the dosing before adding it to your kit.  IF you are able to use it--it makes things a lot simpler AND less messy. Much easier than carrying around a full bottle plus syringe for administering.

Holidays that seem to revolve around candy/chocolate(it seems like they ALL do now) are always stressful to me. I just tell myself to take a deep breath and try to enjoy the holiday. I hope everyone has a safe and happy Easter!

Hannah's First Easter--she was totally done with the picture taking at that point :)

This pic still cracks me up--that "mom you better be done taking pictures" look on her face!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I went back a few months to find this picture--but its perfect. No words needed at all :)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why I feel alone in this ordeal....

Since next week is Easter, our family has decided to go for a buffet style dinner at a local restaurant on that day. Which to normal people makes perfect sense. No problem. Good food and no clean up.

Not in our world of peanut allergy. In fact, of anyone with ANY food allergy knows to stay far FAR away from any buffet. Its a huge no-no. The chance of cross contamination is probably doubled with each person that walks near the buffet let alone gets food off it. It seems to me the common thought is "So there are only a few items on the buffet that contains nuts(or whatever allergy applies), so you just don't get those items, right?"

I wish it was that simple, believe me. People drop food off their plate onto the buffet all the time. A peanut can fall off their plate and bury itself in the green beans. Or someone uses the serving spoon from the sweet potatoes that has peanuts in it and puts it in the mashed potatoes. Not even a whole peanut needs to be there to cause a person to go into anaphylactic shock. Between 1/200-1/1000 of a piece of a peanut is enough to put a person with a peanut allergy in anaphylactic shock.  I think the below article describes it quite well.

Making this long story even longer--the family just doesn't understand why we can't come to the Easter buffet. It's not like we are making it difficult on purpose. Its not like we are not coming to ruin it for everyone else. I am just so tired of hearing "I can't imagine there would be peanuts on the buffet" "I am pretty sure she would be just fine" and "Just don't get anything with peanuts"...its just NOT that simple. I am not willing to risk my child's life on "pretty sure". I have tried on several times to educate--and its just not getting through. I feel like everyone thinks I am over protective and taking things too far with her allergy. My daughter almost died from 1 peanut...I expect strangers not to understand. But family? I feel frustrated and alone in this.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter candy, chocolate, and Epi-pens oh my!

As a parent of a PA(peanut allergy) child, we always feel like there are peanuts lurking behind every door and around every corner on a daily basis. Its SO much worse around holidays--because it seems every holiday must be celebrated with some sort of sweet candy or chocolate. I can't count how many packages of chocolate/candy I have picked up just to sit right back down because they were "unsafe" due to possible cross contamination. I really don't even bother looking anymore--I just tell her they all have peanuts. I am happy that she accepts this at this age--I am sure she will be having me check every label as she gets older though LOL

Even walking past the holiday displays, I feel the need to double check that we always have our epi pen within arms reach and that they are kept correctly/not expired. Its almost a compulsion at this point(which is probably not a bad thing but a tad obsessive admittedly)

I think that we are lucky in the fact that Hannah has never had a basket full of chocolate goodies to miss now that she is diagnosed with her peanut allergy. We don't need to try to change traditions on her midway through her childhood. We are able to start our own traditions free of chocolate and candies.

Ive been thinking of ideas for non food items for her Easter basket. Yes I am a bit behind this year but it snuck up on me. I have come up with quite a few ideas between myself and some helpful friends from facebook. Some of these would be good ideas when a parent needs to take peanut free treats(or any food allergy) to a classroom party. 

Here they are in no specific order. Thanks to everyone on facebook for your ideas. If you can think of anything else, feel free to add a comment:)

Sidewalk chalk, jump rope, stickers, hair ties, new sippy cups, silly putty, play doh, sunglasses, small craft items, new markers/crayons, puzzles, coloring books, pinwheels, bubbles, match box cars, bakugan, lego sets, books, soft football/baseball, DVD, stuffed animals, flip flops, and the list could go on and on. Another friend suggested for an older child, perhaps putting change/money into plastic eggs as well. Last year an Easter themed Mr Potato Head was a huge hit at our house.

However if your child DOES have a sweet tooth--there ARE peanut free options for Easter(and other holidays/day to day) available. Check out these really great companies that cater to the allergic child and family! Also, a cool thing, on the allerneeds website--you can actually search by specific allergy(not just peanut/tree nut)

I am always trying to look on the bright side--since most of the "unsafe" foods out there for Hannah are not exactly healthy. So if there HAS to be a bright side, she has a very healthy diet :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Its been 1 year

It's been nearly 1 year since we found out Hannah had a severe peanut allergy. The hard way. It still gives me goose bumps just thinking about it let alone sharing it out loud. I know that I have felt quite alone in this whole process, felt like no one understands the specific dangers. Certainly its peanuts themselves--but most important its cross contamination. That's the part where, I feel, people start not understanding or they feel that the the parent is being "too paranoid" if the child is young. Cross contamination is explained on several sites but I particularly like this one as its large print, easy to read, and has clear examples.

Like any parent, I was starving for information after her anaphylactic shock and hospital stay. This was completely new to us as we had no experience with food allergies. I googled "peanut allergy" that night and came up with a plethora of information that scared me to death. So I had to read the basics and take a step back from the "scary stuff". If your child has just been diagnosed, that is what I suggest. Learn the basics from a reputable source. I recommend the FAAN website. It is the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis network.

I am learning new things all the time, and unfortunately still have issues with some family members about the peanut allergy. Some people just don't get it. I still hear "I wouldn't think there would be peanuts in it" and "I am sure it would probably be ok". That is NOT good enough when it comes to my child. She can die from anaphalactic shock. Probably and don't think are not acceptable in our world. I have explained on several occasions but it doesn't seem to be understood.