Friday, August 29, 2008

More Peanut Free Food Allergy Posters for School or Home

So, in my travels along the Internet superhighway, I have discovered a few more free Food Allergy Posters. Many of these are great for schools and classrooms, and in addition to peanut free posters, and nut free posters, there are also some for other allergies.

The Food Allergy Initiative Free Peanut and Nut Free Classroom Poster

ABC Peanuts Peanut Free Classroom Poster

Avoiding Milk Protein
Some really great allergy posters, including ones for no milk, no nuts, no food sharing, no latex, and reminders to wash hands.
and more here

Peanut Allergy Info
Lots of great posters for the peanut and nut allergic.

Weight Watchers and Food Allergies

I rejoined Weight Watchers a month or two ago to finally get a handle on the weight that had been not so slowly creeping on. I joined a marathon training program last year and ran the marathon, but made the unfortunate discovery that even though I was exercising ALOT, I still could not eat whatever I wanted. (snif, snif, snif)

I had been on Weight Watchers after Michael and Natalie were born, and it was great. I lost 30 lbs and was the thinnest I had been in a long time. Of course just after I got to my goal weight, when the twins were 9 months old, I made a shocking discovery - I was pregnant! I began eating right away to combat the shock, and have just never lost the weight since Conor was born 4 years ago.

So I finally got my act together and found my local Weight Watchers meeting here in the Bay Area. I walked in and sat down ready to go. The woman running the meeting began by giving an update on how she was dealing with her intense cravings for peanut butter. She then explained to everyone how she ordered a low fat peanut powder straight from Georgia, in 100lb quantities, so she could make her own low fat peanut butter. Just in case we were all interested she handed out a sheet of paper with how to order the peanut powder, and then how to make your own low fat peanut butter. Everyone in the group excitedly took a copy. I just wondered where she lived so I could stay as far away from her peanut powder infested house as possible.

I got a bit discouraged after this meeting. I looked at all the products they were selling there, and not a single one was safe for us. I was happy their labeling was so good, but a bit disheartened to discover what I had used in my life before food allergies was no longer an option now. I had a pity party for a while, as I reveled in the losses our food allergy struggles have left. I remembered going to Weight Watchers and losing weight with a time before I had to read every label, and worry about what manufacturing facility my food might have been made in. I left the peanut lovers, and headed home, to make a batch of egg free, nut free chocolate chip cookies.

After a while though, I came to a realization. Even though we can not eat alot of the processed foods we used to eat before, I am already more aware of what we eat and what is in it. It is not what we have lost, but finding a different way to do what we want to do. One way is not better or worse then the other, both are good if they can successfully get us to our goals.

So, I pulled up my bootstraps, and started figuring out what was safe, and better for me. I found a new meeting where everyone was not obsessed with peanut butter, and so far I have lost 10lbs.

Last week, I took Conor with me while Michael and Natalie were at kindergarten. He sat quietly with me playing his video game (leapster games are great and educational) as the meeting went forwards. The woman running the meeting introduced a new product they were selling, and began handing it out to everyone. Since it was a granola bar, I knew it would not be safe for us, and told her no thank you, Conor has food allergies. Someone wanted to know the ingredients, and she read them off to them, including the allergy statement that the bars had been made on machinery that also processed milk. Suddenly Conor yelled out loudly"I am not allergic to milk", and everyone turned to look at us. I waved politely at the many eyes upon us, embarrassed about all the attention, but proud that my little boy was able to speak up when he wanted to.

I said to him quietly, "I know Conor, you are allergic to peanuts and eggs."
He replied, "I know Mommy, but I can have milk, and I really like milk."

Sometimes things really are what you make of them.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hug Your Pug

This week is not turning out quite as happy as I had hoped. Michael and Natalie have started kindergarten, and that is going well, and the subject for a post in and of itself. No, this post is about the other child, not the youngest one who is allergic to everything, but my very first allergic child,

Buster our pug.

Buster is about 9 years old, and has gone from sleeping on our bed when we had no children, to sleeping under our bed once the three young ones arrived. He has put up with countless ear tugs, tail pulls, pokes and prods from three little children, all with a wag of his tail and a snort of happiness.

Buster also was my first experience with anaphalyxis and allergies. I brought him home after one of his first rounds of shots from the vet. I looked down at him a few minutes later to discover his face was swelling up at an alarming rate. If you have never seen a pug's face swell up, it is a very interesting site. Their faces are already flat and sort of smooshed, and when it swells up like a cantaloupe it becomes even more sort of flat and smooshed. I threw Buster in the car and ran over to the vet who was thankfully just up the street, and showed them my swollen pug. They immediately grabbed him from me, took him to the back and gave him some medicine (I never thought to ask at the time). He ended up being just fine, and we always pre-treated him before shots afterwards, but it was my first experience with anaphalyxis.

So, we noticed a lump on Buster's chest last week, and I took him to the vet yesterday. There is only one local vet in town, and this one is great, but loves their cats. This is great if you have cats, but not so great if your youngest child is severely allergic to them. There were three cats in the waiting room walking around coming in and out an open window. In the exam room all the seating looked as though it doubled for cat scratching posts. I was completely afraid to sit down and just stood in the middle of the room trying not to touch anything. I am sure the vet thought I was either very nervous, or a bit odd, but who knows. Anyways, after a biopsy we discovered that Buster has a mast cell tumor that is cancer and scheduled for surgery on Friday. Hopefully removing the tumor will be enough, but we won't know until they send it off to pathology to get the reports.

So now Buster has to be on benedryl and prevacid until Friday. Some fun comments from our trip.

"Are you ok if you see a needle? I don't want to see you end up on the floor." (When she was about to do the biopsy)

In all fairness, perhaps she asked since I was standing oddly in the middle of the room trying not to touch anything. But Geeez, I hope not. Wanna see my epi-pen?

"Do you know what benedryl is???"

Uh, yea, I own benedryl in every shape size and form in our house. At our house he has the option of taking if from a pre-filled spoon (he needs 2), a dropper, a pill (dissolvable or chewable), or a dissolving strip.

"If you have trouble giving him the pill you can put it in some peanut butter."

Uh No!!!! Then I will have to see another different kind of needle being stuck into my son.

So, after I got home, changed my clothes and took a shower to get any cat remnants off of me, I had to explain to two 5 year olds and one 4 year old that Busty (as they call him) has a boo boo on his tummy, and they need to be gentle with him.

So, if you want to say a prayer for our Busty, that his cancer has not spread and his tumor is removed successfully, we would really appreciate it. In the meantime Hug your Pug.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More EpiPen Carrier Options

The Epipen Sleeve

(Sorry, I just could not get a photo from here to work. Check out the site below for photos)

This is an EpiPen carrier that can be worn on the shin, thigh or upper arm, and can be easily hidden under clothes. It can carry two EpiPens and is great for sporty or athletic people.

The Leg Buddy

Especially designed so you can comfortably wear it on your leg/ankle all day long. Made out of soft breathable neoprene material that contours to your body. Holds up to 2 epinephrine auto injectors such as EpiPen 2Pack.

The Frio Cooling Carrier - Hot Stuff

Made for the diabetic market, the Frio Cooling wallet is an excellent option for those who worry about keeping their EpiPens cool in hot climates. According to the website, "The FRÍO® Cooling Wallet: The most simple and convenient cooling system now available for medication. "FRÍO® cooling wallets are the ultimate stylish accessory for the safe and convenient transport and storage of insulin, and other medications that must be kept cool".The principle is simple. Activate the wallet by immersing it in cold water for 5-15 minutes. Crystals within the panels of the wallet then expand into a gel form, which remains cool for several days - relying on only the evaporation process for cooling. Then towel dry the outside cover and it's ready to go!Although activated by water, a feature of the product is that after towel-drying, the FRÍO® wallet is dry to the touch.It is re-usable and can be used either continuously or intermittently."

Go Ride A Bike

The EpiPen Holder is a holder for an EpiPen for those outdoor enthusiasts that have serious allergies to insect bites and what to keep their EpiPen close and convenient when enjoying their outdoor activities. The Holder can be easily attaches to a bike, ATV handlebar, or anywhere else you would like to have it close by.

Have It Your Way

This is a really cool site that will custom make EpiPen carriers for you to fit whatever your needs are. They have some pre-made options and styles available, but will work with you to create whatever you need. What a great idea!!! The site also has some relaxing peaceful music when you enter in case you are having a stressful day.