Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Hyper aware of allergies

Andrew and Geoff were giggling in the bathroom last night, as I was cleaning up the living room. When they came out, Andrew had a bandaid over his papercut from preschool yesterday, and Geoff had a Wiggles bandaid on the back of his neck.

We had bathtime just a half hour later, and Geoff was annoyed at the bandaid on his neck, so I peeled it off. Well, there was a rash and little red dots all around the edges of the bandaid.

So I had a good five minutes of sinking feeling in my stomach, and wondering if Geoff has a latex allergy, or if it was just that he'd been picking at it, and irritated his skin. And plotting out life without latex: avoiding birthday party balloons, being careful at doctors' checkups, and all the other places where latex hides.

If I didn't have an allergic kid, I'm sure that I'd have gone with the skin-irritation-from-scratching theory. After all, Occam's razor says, "the simplest solution tends to be the best one."

Instead, since I'm hyper aware of allergies, I went digging for the box of bandaids, and was thoroughly relieved to find that the bandaids are latex-free, so it was probably just irritation. Or an allergy to the adhesive, which is a lot easier to deal with than a latex allergy. One can avoid bandaids. Phew.

Bullies and allergies

I have Google news alerts set up to send me me news and blog postings about allergies. Today's alert included the posting "Mean Grown-Ups," from the Please Don't Pass the Nuts blog. (I've also added a link to this blog in my sidebar.)

This post also links to the Our Story blog, and I found one of the comments so enlightening that I wanted to excerpt it here: "Instead we teach him to be aware of his surroundings himself, to always be on alert. We have worked with the school on awareness and epi training. Everyone knows him and his situation. The school has been very accommodating. My son carries his epi/benedryl everywhere he goes in his fanny pack. He carries wipes with him to use on tables/surfaces he is not familiar with. He washes his hand constantly. Is this alot to ask of a 7 year old? Yes, but to him that is just the way it is. He doesn't know any different.....he has had these allergies all his life yet still leads a very normal life despite his allergies. He does not feel sorry for himself." (comment made by orgjunkie, who, amazingly, is also here in BC. It's a small world.)

I'm lucky that Andrew's not in school yet, but I'm also dreading that day because of these issues of parents who threaten to smear allergic kids with peanut butter.

And I just heard last weekend that my neighbour's 12-year-old daughter had pistachios waved in her face at her high school, with the taunt, "So, are you going to pass out if I do this?" Her mother went up to the school and spoke with the teacher, and was assured that it wouldn't happen again.

Bullying is bad enough in the schools. I get that kids need to play power games, just because they're learning how to deal with life. But when bullying threatens the life of my child, I'm afraid that I'm going to become one of those crusading allergic parents.

And I just don't get the parents who are bullies. They're setting horrible examples for their children, and it's no wonder that bullying then becomes such a huge problem in the schools.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

What part of anaphylactic to peanuts don't you understand?

We were playing outside my mom's house today, and the 4-year-old girl from across the street came to join us. She really likes playing with Andrew when their schedules coincide — she's in daycare, and has a few classes scheduled too, so they only see each other once a month or so.

She went back inside at some point, and came out with dog cookies for her huge and friendly dog. Her dad assured us that the cookies were home-made, totally safe for dogs, adults and kids. He listed the ingredients, which included peanut butter.

My stomach churned, and my blood pressure went up, and then I reminded him that Andrew's allergic to peanuts — he'd been told before, but we don't see him very often. He let his daughter feed one cookie to her dog, and then took the tin away from her.

And then the dog proceeded to try to lick all of us. And the dad explained that "he's a licky dog, has been since he was a puppy."

So, what part of anaphylactic to peanuts do you not understand?

I should have just taken the kids inside, but instead, I just tried to keep Andrew away from the dog. He did most of it himself — he doesn't like overly-friendly big dogs anyways. Geoff is fascinated by dogs, so I wasn't so successful at keeping him away, but then again, we don't know if he's allergic to peanuts or not, though he's scratch-tested negative so far.

At the time, it didn't feel right to ask the dad to just put the dog in his back yard while the kids were playing, but that's probably what I should have done. We were only outside playing for half an hour, and then the kids got thirsty and wanted to go inside. (I'd also taken them to the park for an hour earlier, so they had plenty of outside play time.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Allergy Shock Hits Home

This article from the Victoria News is like a look into our future.

It shocked me, as I’m sure it shocked everyone who heard the tragic news, that a 13-year-old Esquimalt girl died last week from a severe allergic reaction after eating some fast food. ...

My youngest son is about her age and he too carries the burden of a potentially life-threatening allergy. It’s not clear what allergen killed Carley – she had allergies to peanuts and dairy products – however it is clear that she lapsed into anaphylactic shock and never recovered.

His son is about to go off on a band trip, his first without his parents. The fears that fill his head are also in mine. I hope that we'll be able to raise a responsible kid who's not too afraid of the world, and who will be careful with his life.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Anaphylactic Student Protection Act

Another round of support and letters are needed.

On March 28, 2007, the Anaphylactic Student Protection Act, 2007 was introduced in the BC Legislature by an NDP Member of the Legislative Assembly, David Cubberley (MLA for Saanich South and New Democrat Education Critic). There was an impressive show of the support at the legislature by BC advocates and the local media picked up the story with province wide coverage. Overall, the day was quite successful.

Now it's time for action. As the MLAs review the need for this type of legislation, a massive show of support from the public is required. Given that the Bill was introduced by the opposition party (NDP), it's vital that they receive support from the governing party (Liberals) in order to increase the chances of the Bill being passed.

Sara Shannon, mother of the late Sabrina Shannon, sent a letter to each MLA, including the Premier, requesting their support of this non-partisan Bill. Mike Shannon, Sabrina's dad, attended the BC Legislature last week to show his support. For their ongoing efforts, we extend our deepest thanks to them both.

While the second reading is listed on the Orders of the Day for April 16, 2007, there is no guarantee that the Bill will be read that day. We urge you to send an email/letter to show your support today. Take this opportunity to share your story and why you think this Bill is so important. Your email should list some key messages which may include:

- Emphasis on children's safety and protection at schools
- Need for regular training and education for schools on anaphylaxis management
- Raise awareness of anaphylaxis in the community and need for support

For BC Residents: Send your emails directly to your MLA and to those politicians listed below:

For Non-BC Residents: Show your support by emailing:

- Premiere, Gordon Campbell: gordon.campbell.mla@leg.bc.ca

- Hon. Shirley Bond, Minister of Education: shirley.bond.mla@leg.bc.ca

- David Cubberley: david.cubberley.mla@leg.bc.ca

If you are interested in connecting with other BC parents, please contact the following Anaphylaxis Canada members in the BC area:

Pam Lee at: pamela2543@shaw.ca or Caroline Posynick at aspa@posynick.com

Also, if you know of other parents who would be interested in helping to support this bill (with or without children at risk), please forward this email and ask them to send their letter of support as well. Everyone's voice deserves to be heard.

Together we can make a difference.

Anaphylaxis Canada

Another dead teenager

This one's too close to home. A 13-year old girl died from anaphylactic shock after eating with her friends. She had left her epi-pen in her locker, and went to the food fair in the mall.

The Vancouver Sun wrote:
Carley Kohnen, with allergies to a number of foods including dairy and peanuts, ordered a burrito and a doughnut from the Hillside mall food court on Thursday. According to her parents, she was told her food was free of the proteins to which she was deadly allergic. ...

Her parents told her to never try a new food without gaining permission from them first. Throughout Carley's young life her parents had hauled chefs and bakers out from their kitchens to assure them her food was free of dairy, peanut or egg. They read every package that went into making her food.

But in the end, even their best efforts couldn't protect her. Carley was a teenager, said her parents, and she longed to eat the same foods others kids enjoyed.

I know there are thousands of allergic kids who survive their teenage years. I hope Andrew does as well. Stories like this one, however, scare me shitless. Especially since it's the second dead child this week. My heart goes out to her parents.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


I've added a couple of allergy-related blogs to my sidebar: No Peanuts Please, Rachel's Recipe Box, Notes from the Trenches and Mama Maven.

Definitely check out Rachel's Recipe Box for a ton of incredible looking recipes. I've really gotten into a food rut in the last year, and I'm hoping this will help me out of that rut.

Also, I've moved my knitting obsession to a new blog: Yarnfloozies, which I'm sharing with my friend Dotty. She's doing more posts than me, but I'm really enjoying our new digs over there.

Monday, April 02, 2007

What does "die" mean?

A 13-year-old Australian boy died last week from eating something with peanuts. He was away at a camp, and out of his normal routine. The allergy folks do warn that the most allergy-related deaths
occur among teenagers, because of their higher risk-taking behaviours. This scares me, but it's still a decade away, so perhaps Andrew will have outgrown his allergy by then. (I'm eternally hopeful, but still frightened.) His allergic reaction last week has led to quite a bit of clinginess and neediness over the last few days.

And right after we got him home from the clinic, Andrew asked "what does die mean?" That's a question that no 3.5 year old should have in their head, let alone think to ask. So from what we can tell from his questions and behaviour, he's trying to deal with the concept of mortality. It's something I can barely think about, so I'm struggling along here.

And another news piece for all the new moms out there: Apples and fish reduce allergies of babies in the womb. I didn't eat much fish when pregnant with Andrew (afraid of all that mercury), but with Geoff I did eat some sushi every week.

Wouldn't it be ironic if all that advice for moms on what to eat was actually contributing to the allergy epidemic? I remember being told not to eat peanut butter, fish, caffeine, and a whole lot of other things. I thought that was tough back then -- and now I'm on an even more restricted diet (no dairy, very little soy, no nuts or peanuts) and it's not that bad.