Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Eating your curds and whey

This was just linked from another forum that I was reading, and I found it to be very useful:

Milk Allergy & Intolerance:

It covers the question of why Andrew is allergic to milk, but has scratch and RAST tested negative to cheese — there are two different proteins in milk, and he's only allergic to one of them.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

5 ways to deal when you find out that your child has a major food allergy

Our world changed when Andrew was officially diagnosed with major food allergies, two years ago.

We already knew that he reacted to some foods with hives and vomiting, but we were able to sustain a certain amount of denial, and hope that he would outgrow the reactions — or that they weren't really reactions, that it was all in our minds. (He was 8 months old when he vomited and got hives from yogurt — he was our first kid, and we were able to continue in denial for quite a long time. I even kept on feeding him tastes of dairy every month, to see if he'd outgrown it yet. Yes, I was that stupid and uninformed.)

He was two when I finally got him to the allergist, and had the allergies we knew about (peanuts, dairy, cats) confirmed, and a few added (nuts, dustmites, mold, eggs). Even though the diagnosis only confirmed most of what we already knew, it was now official, and really hard to hear.

So, after a couple of years of living with Andrew's allergies, here are five tips for other parents who are dealing with this kind of news.

1. Go straight to acceptance
You will go through the stages of grief when your child gets diagnosed with a serious allergy. You can take the time to get through all the other ones, at a later date, but for the sake of your child's health, you need to go straight to acceptance, and process the rest of it later. You can't afford to hang out in denial any more. Rid your house of all of your child's allergens, and then add them in later when you start feeling more confident.

2. Get support
I've listed a lot of great allergy groups in the sidebar to this blog. Visit them all and find the ones that work for you. There are tons of amazing parents in all of the groups, but of course, each group has a slightly different dynamic. One of them will fit your parenting style the most. All of the groups are supportive, and encourage questions from new visitors. And all of the boards have extensive archives that you can look through if you're feeling too shy to post your question.

3. Get informed
I know more about allergies than my family doctor. And I know more about Andrew's allergic responses than his allergist does, since his allergist has only seen him once. I've done a ton of research, and read everything I could find. I know that egg hides in the oddest places, such as in vaccines (which is why he's not getting the flu vaccine). And I've learned the other names for his allergens — for example, "whey" and "casein" are alternate names for milk ingredients. But even I make mistakes and let him have things that make him vomit. And then I throw out that package and chalk it up as another lesson learned.

And part of getting informed is finding out what your child can safely eat. On the net, there are lots of lists like the one I made, of safe commercially-produced foods for Andrew. Make your own list of safe foods, so that you can give the list to family and friends who invite you over.

4. Learn to cook
It's healthier for you to cook your own food, so having an allergic child is almost a blessing in disguise. We've learned to make non-dairy versions of almost everything, and I know that what we eat has far fewer preservatives and chemicals than its storebought equivalent. Yes, it takes a lot longer to cook than to simply microwave or throw something in the oven, but it's better for my peace of mind.

5. Forgive yourself
You didn't give your child this allergy. It wasn't something you ate when you were pregnant, and it wasn't something you didn't eat or do when you were pregnant. Your child's allergy is not your fault. This was really hard for me. I did avoid peanuts when I was pregnant with Andrew, and he ended up with a huge peanut allergy. I also drank lots of milk, and he's allergic to that, too, so there's not much of a cause-effect pattern there. Someday, maybe he'll be the researcher who figures out why he was hit with so many allergies, but until then, all you can do is go easy on yourself, and deal with today.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

allergy allerts via google

A couple of noteworthy posts came across my google news alerts today.
A little girl on Kenzie & Madi's bus has been picking on Makenzie since day one. Her name is Kendall, and she is in kindergarten, too. On Wednesday, she took a PBJ sandwich from her lunchbox and waved it in Kenzie's face, knowing very well about Makenzie's peanut allergy. Kenzie was so terrified that she was in tears. I didn't know 5-year-olds could be so evil.
From As the Story Goes.

This infuriates and frightens me. I know that little kids are mean, but this is bullying behaviour, and it's in kindergarten!

Also, as a followup to my Unexpected Peanut Exposure post:
Several years ago, a popular children’s book had a “scratch and sniff” feature. On one page was a picture of a jar of peanut butter that, when scratched, emitted the distinctive odor of peanut butter. ... the inhalation of peanut butter odor does not cause allergic reactions. Another study by Dr. Perry and colleagues from Johns Hopkins Medical Center analyzed the air around peanut butter, peanuts and peanuts being shelled, and found no detectable peanut protein in the air samples.
From a peanut allergy page that's new to me

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sabrina's Law documentary online

Global TV, a Canadian network, has put a documentary online called Sabrina's Law, the history of the allergic kids' legislation in Ontario.

My warning: if you're a parent of severely allergic kids, keep a box of tissues close by. It was hard to watch this and not think about losing my kids.