Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holidays and food allergies...


The holidays are hard with children and food allergies. When we went to dinner our relatives houses, they put a side vegetables and meats before all the gravy and butter was added to them. I really had to watch Nathan, there were plates of nuts or cheese and crackers out on the tables and I had to watch Nathan every second so he wouldn't touch anything on the cocktail table. It was very exhausting. He did end up getting a rash on he wrist and belly from something he either touched or ate. I tried so hard to avoid any reactions. I did give him some Benadryl.

Nathan is also at that age where if your eating something, he wants it. It is hard because I can't give it to him. I did frost and decorate one of his sugar cookies so it looked liked the ones we were eating. He did like that.

He really didn't eat as much over the holiday, hopefully he isn't losing any weight. We need him to gain since is barely on the weight chart.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A sad day with allergies

When I picked up Nathan from daycare today, he wasn't in his normal room with his friends. He was in the baby room because his friends were having snack time and Nathan couldn't be in there, with for the risk of him getting some of their Cheerios. He is allergic to them! I felt so bad for Nathan, that I cried all the way home, just in tears. I was so sad that he is different and is separated from the rest of the kids.

I guess, I should be happy that they are being careful and making sure Nathan avoids the allergens.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Another Week

Thursday after work I had to rush out the this bakery I found that makes french bread that is wheat, egg and dairy free. I was so happy to find them that I set-up a weekly pick-up of bread from them. I also tried their sugar cookies and Nathan loves them.

When I was at the bakery this week, I told them that I need to find breakfast items for Nathan like muffins and they are willing to make some special muffins for Nathan and we can try all the things he can come up with. If this works and Nathan likes them it will be wonderful. I am sick of giving Nathan the same brown rice bread everyday.

I really get depressed when meal time comes around. Sometimes I just want to give up and skip feeding him, that is bad that I even thought that. I feel like I feed him the same thing everyday. I feel like I don't have enough choices for him and he is now getting to the stage where he is getting picky.

Today we take Nathan on his first Treat-Or-Treat outing and he got some candy and then I thought....every year I am going to have to go through his candy and pull out all the candy that has chocolate or any of the tootsie roll products (they have soy and other stuff) because he is allergic. These allergies really affect our daily lives. After the TOT we went out to eat with the in-laws and Nathan is beginning to understand more and wants to eat what I am eating. He wanted my french fries, I gave him some not having any idea what is in them, some fries have wheat and soy. I just prayed that he didn't show any signs of an allergy...he didn't. It was a bad move on my part to take that chance but I was desperate because he was starting to act up and he didn't eat enough of his food, I felt bad for him. Now I am going to have to hide my food from him if it is something that he can't have. This is true with ice cream, we wait until he is in bed before we eat some...this is no way to live.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Filming of our news story

The local news channel Todays TMJ4, came to our house to film us today. They filmed me making allergy free food for Nathan and then talking about his allergies and how we deal with the day to day life.

Our news clip will be aired a couple times this weekend.

Here is a copy of the written story courtesy of Today's TMJ4.

More than 12 million Americans have food allergies. Many of those people are children. Some allergies are so bad, they could kill you. It's important that parents and school leaders do their homework when it comes to protecting kids with allergies.

Nathan looks like any other healthy, happy, 14-month-old. But when mealtime comes, mom has to be extra careful. Nathan is allergic to dairy, wheat, oats, soy, eggs, and peanuts! Nathan's mom Jeanette was shocked when she first learned of his allergies.

"I didn't know that somebody could have that many allergies," she says.

It's not such a shock to Dr. Asriani Chiu at Children's Hospital. Food allergies have increased by 55% in the last five years! There is no medicine to cure or control this disease.

"There's a lot of theories regarding the rise of allergies. One is the industrialization of our nations now," Dr. Chiu explains.

And if you think an allergic reaction is a rash and a little itching, think again.

"It really can progress to a more systemic reaction, including the respiratory system, as well as the cardiovascular system, to shock and even death," Dr. Chiu warns.

Jeanette can control her home environment. But she says daycare is another story. "Other parents don't understand how hard it is to have a child with allergies, they don't think much of it."

What about school age children? The average American elementary school has ten children suffering from severe food allergies.

Cheryl Peil is Food Service Director for the Elmbrook School District. She says the lunchroom can be a scary place for kids with allergies. "That's why we have parent professionals out there that do handle, and try to prevent food-sharing and stuff."

Peil and her team are taking the allergy problem into their own hands. Their food service handbook, 'Managing Life Threatening Allergies In Schools', is nationally recognized. The district's school lunch program is completely peanut-free. Every school lunchroom also has a 'Peanut-Free' table available for kids with peanut allergies.

"Lunch is a huge function. Everybody wants to eat and participate," Peil says.

The schools also have a 'No Snack" policy for any classrooms that have a child with a peanut allergy. Peil admits these strict guidelines are sometimes met with mixed reviews. "It's a 50/50 world, and a lot of people have a 'don't push this on us' type of attitude."

Jeanette hopes Nathan grows out of most of his food allergies. In the meantime, she's taking precautions.

"He's my life, and whatever it takes to do for him, I will do it," Jeanette insists.

One of the things Jeanette has done is start an allergy support group for other parents of children with allergies. Parents can share advice and allergy-friendly recipes with each other.

Here's the information:

FOOD ALLERGY SUPPORT GROUP FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH FOOD ALLERGIES

TOPICS:
Recipes
Eating Out
Dealing with Allergies at Daycare or School
Allergy Awareness

For more information, contact: foodallergymom@hotmail.com

Saturday, September 15, 2007

We were contacted to be on the local news

I am starting a local support group in my town for parents of children with food allergies. I posted my group on local websites and now I have a reporter from a local news station asking me if we would go on camera and talk about our food allergy story and how if affects him in everyday life. They also want to talk to our MD and nutritionist.

I just told DH so we are thinking of doing it. I have never been on TV.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Allergy Appointment, so MAD

So last night Nathan had an appointment at the children's Allergy clinic at the Children's Hospital and when I was checking in I had noticed the receptionist had an open bag of Planter's PEANUTS in the shell on her desk. She was eating and taking PEANUTS out of the shell at her desk in an allergy clinic where children go who have allergies to PEANUTS!! Here is what I said:

Me: Are you eating peanuts?

Receptionist: Is son allergic?

Me: Um YES!

Receptionist: Don't worry, he can't smell them.

WTH, what kind of response is that?? I said something to the Dr. later in the exam room and he said he will address it. I am so angry, I think that is a liability issue!! They have a sign about wearing strong perfume, etc. but nothing about eating peanuts. Some people are so allergic they can't even be in the same room as peanuts. Someone who works in an allergy clinic should know better!!

I want to write a letter to the hospital. This is unacceptable.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Finding out our son has allergies


My husband Steve and I got married in July 2005 and in July of 2006 we had our first baby, a boy. We named him Nathan and he was a perfect, healthy, beautiful baby.

Nathan was diagnosed with severe food allergies at 10 months old, last month.
He has food allergies to Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Wheat, Oats and Peanuts. For environmental allergies he is allergic to cats and dogs. It may seem like nothing to most people, it isn't like cancer, autism, or some other tragic condition but it is something and can be very deadly. It also affects our daily lives.

Nathan has been sick since January on and off with colds, ear infections and respiratory infections. He stopped growing as far as weight. He had been off the growth chart. He was hospitalized on Easter 2007 with a respiratory infection and then diagnosed with Asthma. He has had so many skin problems Eczema and rashes. It seemed like we were going to the Doctor every week.

May of 2007 we changed Pediatricians because we got new insurance and our new pediatrician suggested Nathan to be tested for food allergies. We needed to go to Childrens Hospital and they would do a blood test. We already suspected he was allergic to dairy and eggs because of the reactions he had when we feed him these things.

Blood tests came back and showed that Nathan was in fact allergic to Milk, Dairy, Eggs, Soy, Wheat, Oats and Peanuts. We were told to see an Allergist and Nutritionist to get help with his condition. I tried to make appointments and we were told we would have to wait a over a month before we could get in....are you kidding me? I had no idea what to do or what to feed him. The pediatrician said we needed to carry a Epi pen with us and wrote a prescription for us. Also, we needed to keep Benadryl in the house in case he would have an allergic reaction.

The evening of May 31st, we went to the health food store and tried to find foods that we could feed Nathan. We thought goats yogurt would be good, not the same as cows milk. When we got home I made Nathan dinner and after I decided to try the goats yogurt. After he ate, I left to go to the drugstore to get his prescription filled for the Epi-Pen. Steve calls and said I needed to get home, he thinks Nathan is having an allergic reaction. He said he was coughing, wheezing, crying, swelling up and had hives. I left the store (didn't even get the Epi-Pen - the insurance wouldn't cover it) as fast as I could and raced home. Nathan looked horrible. I didn't even recognize him. I first called the doctors office and they said to give him Benadryl and to call 911. I called 911 and it seemed like it took forever for them to come when really it was minutes. They immediately started giving Nathan Oxygen and said they had to go, one of us could ride along. One of us? Steve said he was riding with Nathan, I didn't want to argue, I got Nathan's diaper bag together and flew off to the hospital, the paramedics were long gone. On the way to the hospital I was frantic and called my parents and my sister. It just seemed to get my mind off of what was really going on. When I arrived at the emergency room at the paramedic came and took me to Nathan's room. It was 8:00pm, Nathan was hooked up to all these machines but I have to admit he looked so much better, his skin cleared up. The Doctors and nurses came in and asked all the questions, but of course they needed all of our insurance information first. At a time like this I didn't feel like answering questions about my insurance. By 11:30pm, they decided we could finally go home, Nathan was long asleep. This is the day we really found out how bad his allergies were and how deadly they could've been.

A few days later we get a call from the allergist office, they seem to have an opening in the next week. Funny how they suddenly have an appointment for us, it took our son being admitted to the hospital to get us an appointment sooner.

Our allergy appointment was long a couple of hours going over family history, etc. Neither my husband or I have any food allergies. Steve does have a little allergy to cats and has had Asthma attacks in the past. The allergist confirmed the food and environmental allergies and gave us some prescriptions for Nathan's itching and to control his Asthma.

Not only were we going to a lot appointments for Nathan's allergies, we were also going to appointments for his chronic ear infections. It seems like he always has a ear infection. We had been seeing a ENT specialist who recommended ear tube surgery and by the end of June 2007, Nathan had the surgery.

His surgery went well and had 2 ear infections since, which is pretty good. It also has been summertime so that also may be the reason. At least now it is easier to detect an infection for me instead of going to the Dr. every week.

On Nathan's first birthday my sister and I took Nathan to the zoo, he just loves animals. I took him in the petting zoo and one of the goats came to lick his hand. I didn't realize how allergic he was to goat saliva, he immediatley broke out into hives up and down both arms. It was horrible, thank god I had the Benadryl with me. It is so sad to see him suffer like this.

I was nursing Nathan until he was 13 months, I didn't watch my diet very closely and it was time to stop so if Nathan has a reaction, I can pinpoint what it is from. The Nutritionist gave us a prescription for a formula that Nathan has to drink instead of whole milk. It took a while to get him to drink the new formula and to this day he still refuses it from time to time.

We do most of Nathan's grocery shopping at health food stores and it can be very pricey, it is hard to make things from scratch and work full time. Nathan's food allergies take up a lot of my time. I did make up a Mac N' Cheese recipe made from rice milk and rice cheese and he really loves it.

He has had a couple attacks since he was diagnosed, but they have been minor, hives or skin problems and we just dose him with Benadryl. Usually is was because we ate somewhere and were misimformed of the ingredients in the food. This has happened at restaurants, we now just bring our own food.

I have tried to find support groups in my area, I feel that by meeting other moms who are going through this too will help me. I couldn't find any. I decided it was time to start my own group. I went to one of the health food stores that I shop at and asked if I could hold a meeting at thier stores conference room, they agreed, I made made flyers and posted online to start my group.

Above photo is Nathan with an allergic reaction.