Category: Our Food Allergy Story & Updates

A brief history of how we have managed multiple food allergies for two sons over the last 6 six years and our trials and tribulations.

Flying United Airlines with Nut Allergies

United

We recently took a family trip to Naples and flew on a new carrier- United Airlines.  Typically, in the past, we have flown on Delta with our food allergic boys and have had no major problems.  And I must add, we travel quite a bit via airlines, with our boys.

Two weeks prior to our departure date I called United customer service and notified them that one of my children had a “life-threatening” peanut and tree nut allergy.  I asked them what their company policy was for food allergic passengers?  The representative on the phone told me she would make a note of the allergy in her system and on our tickets.  She also told me United would not distribute peanuts to passengers on the flights.  She said the safety of their passengers was a high priority.  I thought we were good to go, however part of me thought, and this is a bit pessimistic, that this was too good to be true!

Additionally, a few days before our departure I reached out to United via Twitter and their Facebook page asking them what the company policy was for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers?  Here is the response I received via United Facebook:

“We prioritize safety for all of our passengers. While we do not offer buffer zones on our planes, please notify a flight attendant of your son’s allergies and they will be able to pass on that message to their aircraft. Please use this link for more information: http://bit.ly/1Sk5iQs. Feel free to reach out if you have additional questions.”

The day of our departure during check-in the United representative told me that she would notify the head flight attendant of our son’s nut allergies and to make sure to mention this again to the gate attendant.  She stated that United takes food allergies very seriously.  Upon arriving at the gate I also spoke very politely to the gate attendant about our son’s food allergies and reiterated to her what the check-in attendant had mentioned.

Then, when we lined up to board the aircraft, the gate attendant told  my husband and I, “the crew wiped down everything in our aisle on the plane to take extra precautions.”  That was  music to our ears!  Jason and I were thrilled United “went the extra mile.”

However, upon getting to our seats, we noticed several pistachio shells on the floor in the aisle surrounding our seats and in front of each of our seats throughout the entire row.  My boys were TERRIFIED!  I remained calm and grabbed my bag of antibacterial wipes, re-wiped down everything again and picked up the pistachio shells and handed them to the flight attendant.  I explained our concern to her and she said, “I would be nervous too if I had a serious nut allergy.”

After calming our boys down and assuring them they would be safe (I kept my cool of course).  We were able to get ready for takeoff.  My husband and I reiterated to our 6 & 8 year old boys not to touch their shoes, do not put your fingers in your mouth or close to your mouth, and everything will be okay.

Thankfully we survived the flight without any accidental exposures to the nut residues!  No Benadryl or Epi-Pens were needed!  THANK GOD!

United, on a scale of 1 to 10 I would give you a 5.  The process seems to be there but the implementation of the food allergy process is poor, based on our recent experience.  There is lots of room for improvement.

Thankfully, we didn’t experience any additional concerns on the other 3 United flights during our entire travel process.  United- we will fly your carrier again.  In the future, hopefully you will improve your processes for peanut and tree nut allergic passengers which will improve their safety during the flight.

 

Know Your Child’s Asthma Action Plan

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As a parent of two children both with Anaphylactic Food Allergies and our youngest has asthma, my husband and I sometimes take it for granted that we have our youngest child’s asthma is managed well.

Our youngest son Christopher has asthma and thankfully has not been hospitalized for it in over 2 1/2 years.  He is on a daily steroid inhaler Qvar for management and Xoponex for his rescue inhaler.  Additionally, we have these meds available in liquid form for his nebulizer, which we proactively use, when he gets sick and we start to notice breathing difficulties.  Just to note, we also ALWAYS travel with the Neb, as you never know when you will need it and it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Last night was a rare occurrence where Christopher started coughing spontaneously after we put him to bed around 9:30pm (Friday was a day off from school so we let the boys stay up later than normal.)  I gave him 2 puffs of his rescue inhaler which didn’t help the cough subside.  We think the cough stemmed from any of the following: our dog, dust mites, the wood burning stove (which has not been a trigger in the past), or skiing all day outside in the fresh air…who really knows? It’s a mystery…

Anyhow, 20 minutes after the first inhaler we gave him 2 more puffs then looked at his Asthma Action Plan.  I have to be honest, my husband and I haven’t looked at it in awhile, and we were really confused when we read it.  I think we have been so focused on knowing the Food Allergy Action Plan inside and out, we just haven’t reviewed the Asthma Plan. And, like I said, Christopher’s asthma has been relatively well-managed over the course of the last couple of years.

Anyhow, we deduced that we could give him up to 5 puffs in a row of Xoponex in his inhaler chamber a total of 3 times. These could be 20 minutes apart and substituted for 1 Neb treatment every 20 minutes. If, after the total of 3 rescue attempts, the breathing didn’t get under control then he would need to be taken to the hospital.  We gave him the Neb for the 2nd round and his color didn’t look good- his face was really red and his heart was racing, which is typically how he responds to the Neb treatments of levalbuterol, but the coughing didn’t slow down.  The coughing actually became more frequent and he was coughing profusely every minute or so.

We took him outside for fresh air, which sometimes works for my husband’s asthma when he is struggling to breath.  That helped temporarily until the coughing spasms kicked in again.  We then went to the 3rd round of inhaler treatments which didn’t cause a change.  At that point, I quickly packed an overnight bag for the hospital and started getting together food for the hospital since we usually take our own due to the food allergies.

I have to include that we spaced the above rescue treatments out more than 20 minutes and tried to calm Christopher down and have him focus on breathing “in his nose and out his mouth.” He told us repeatedly that his breathing was “OK” and just the cough was bothering him. He is usually really good at letting us know whether or not he is in the “RED” asthma zone, which means heading directly to the ER.

At about midnight, my husband Jason, noticed we had Children’s Diametapp in the medicine cabinet. We gave Christopher 2 tsp, which is the recommended dosage, and the coughing and spasming stopped 5 minutes later! We couldn’t believe it!  He finally fell fast asleep!  Although both Jason and I were up all night monitoring him.

Thankfully, last night didn’t end up as a trip to the ER and we were able to get his breathing and coughing under control.  Again, I don’t know what to attribute Christopher’s asthma episode to last night.  Perhaps Christopher has a viral bug that caused the rampant coughing and breathing challenges?  He has been coughing a bit this morning so I’m now convinced he has a bit of an upper respiratory cold/virus of some sort.

In conclusion, I have to stress, if your child has food allergies and asthma, be mindful of both Emergency Action Plans and review both frequently!  Last night’s episode was an example of why you should always be prepared and knowledgable of your child’s health action plans.  Thankfully, we were able to get our little guy’s breathing and coughing under control!

Happy Friday and have a Happy Easter!

~Erika

 

 

 

 

 

Ski Trips with Food Allergies

gondola vail

We recently took a week long ski trip with our boys and extended family to Vail, Colorado.  Our two boys have been downhill skiing practically since they could walk.  That’s a bit of exaggeration but if you are a ski family like we are, then you can most likely relate.  We love to ski with our boys and often.

Although my husband and I have been taking annual ski trips together out west for over a decade this was the first trip out west with both of our boys.  We felt that age ages 6 and 8 they would be able to hold their own and ski the majority of the terrain without a problem.

The key to any vacation when traveling with kids that have multiple food allergies is to stay in a place that has a kitchen and well-equipped one if you love to cook like I do.  Thankfully we were also vacationing with my father-in-law who owned his own restaurant for over 30 years and is a professional chef…that definitely helps!  We stayed in a beautiful condo in Arrowhead which is just a hop skip and a jump to one of the Arrowhead/Beavercreek chairlifts.

I’ll cut to the chase today as I want to be thorough but brief.  There was absolutely no chance that my husband and I were going to risk an accidental food exposure for either of our sons while skiing during the day at either Beavercreek or Vail.  For (1) it would be very timely to get a child off the mountain if they  experienced anaphylaxis and (2) I was a bit skeptical of the emergency care in Summit County although I researched it and I’m sure it was more than adequate.

Our boys ALWAYS ski with 2 Epi-pens each which they put carry in their pocket located inside of their ski coat with about 8 Benadryl tablets each.  My youngest son also skis with his inhaler.  We have always felt this is a good pocket for the Epi-pens because it’s close to their bodies and doesn’t get too cold, since these little buggers are temperature sensitive…ugh!

We decided it was easiest to pack tortilla roll-up sandwiches for the boys each day because they took up little space and they are also one of the boy’s favorite foods for lunch.  We would typically roll up organic deli ham, melted Daiya mozzarella shreds, and lettuce.  Typically, we would make 2 roll-ups per boy and then we would give each child 1-2 Enjoy Your Life Choco-Loco bars for snacks on the mountain.  We skied a total of 4 days with the boys and alternated the roll-ups from day to day adding various ingredients so they wouldn’t get tired of the same thing.

My husband Jason and I would typically put a few in our ski jacket pockets and the boys would carry a few for themselves.  Easy peasy.  Then, once we were skiing all morning and decided to go in for lunch on top of the mountain (usually anywhere from 10,000 – 11,000 ft above sea level), we would buy entire lunches for Jason and myself and then just purchase drinks and “safe” chips for the boys.  This system proved to work well throughout the week of our ski vacation.  The boys were happy with their lunches and most importantly SAFE!

It was a huge success and any of the pre-trip anxiety I had about eating on the mountain was squashed once we executed our plan.  This system also enabled us to share a memorable vacation with our boys skiing in the mountains of Summit County Colorado for their first time our West!  It was an awesome trip!  I can’t wait to create more ski vacation memories with my 3 boys in future years to come!

Click on the link below to view Taylor ripping it up on the Word Cup Downhill run Birds of Paradise at Beavercreek Resort:

Taylor Birds of Prey

First Friday for Foodies at Crooked Tree Arts Center Today

Please come out to Crooked Tree Arts Center today at 11am and support local Food Allergy Awareness.  I will be offering delicious samples from some of my favorite allergen friendly healthy recipes.

http://www.petoskeynews.com/calendar/community/first-fridays-for-foodies-small-town-allergy-mom/event_bf7e097a-dd83-11e5-90d2-10604b9ffeb6.html

Please Follow Me!

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I just transferred my blog domain name to a new host site.During this challenging transition, I did not retain all of my BLOG followers.Please click on the link and FOLLOW ME to receive updates from Small Town Allergy Mom™ on social media.

I sincerely appreciate your support and I promise to keep adding useful content!

~Erika

First Friday for Foodies: Small Town Allergy Mom™ Presenting Friday March 4th

I will be presenting this Friday at 11am at Crooked Tree Arts Center in Petoskey, MI.  Small Town Allergy Mom™ will discuss how to prepare your kitchen to entertain guests with food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.  I will cover important topics like cross contamination and how to avoid it during food preparations.  Additionally, I will give a brief cooking demonstration on how to prepare my Dairy Free Lasagna Florentine and sampling my famous Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes.  Please join me to support food allergy awareness locally.  More information is available at the Crooked Tree Arts Center link here: https://www.crookedtree.org/event/first-fridays-for-foodies-small-town-allergy-mom-erika-keiswetter/?instance_id=3123

Thank you,

~Erika

Chocolate Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes- By Popular Demand Here is my Recipe Finally!

 

 

 

Taking Advantage of Winter

  
We live in a small Northern Michigan town with short beautiful Lake Michigan summers and LONG cold winters!  Thankfully, we have raised our boys to love the outdoors and embrace the cold snowy winters!

Food allergies aside, it is very important as a parent to teach your children about living a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise and admiring the beauty of nature.  Most importantly, combining the two with fun outdoor activities as a family!

We are a downhill ski family and love to ski together frequently. However, it’s great to mix up the winter outdoor activities with our boys and enjoy a fun experience snowshoeing from time to time. Our boys not only love snowshoeing in the outdoors, but it’s good quality time well spent with our boys, and our dog Scout gets to run freely and it keeps him in shape also.

So if you live in a winter wonderland like we do, don’t forget to include your children in your fun outdoor activities this winter! Enjoy the snow and have a great weekend!

Small Town Allergy Mom is Interviewed During “Live Podcast”

Just prior to Halloween on October 24, 2015, I was interviewed by Sean Miller at the Petoskey News Review for the “Teal Pumpkin and Food Allergies” live Podcast.  Please click on the link below to listen to my live interview and learn more about food allergies in general.

Enjoy and thank you for your listening support!

http://www.petoskeynews.com/podcast/

 

 

 

BIG TEN FOOTBALL GAME WITH FOOD ALLERGIES: Michigan State vs. Indiana

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 15: General view of Spartan Stadium Stadium during a game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Michigan State Spartans on September 15, 2012 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Thanksgiving holiday in America is a time where many Americans enjoy one of our favorite national past times- FOOTBALL!   People either go to college football games or cheer from the sidelines at home.  I figured this week was a great time to post about our recent experience of taking our boys to their first Michigan State University home football game.  My husband and I have been excited for years to take our boys to a game since we both attended MSU.  This year since our boys were finally old enough to sit through an entire game.

The kickoff time for the football game was at 3:30pm so it was imperative that we fed the boys well before going into the stadium.  We tailgated with family members and the boys munched on Subway sandwiches that I ordered for our tailgate.  When I called to place the Subway order the night before I specified they were for children with multiple food allergies to dairy, nuts, and eggs.  The manager of one of the East Lansing Subway stores (on Saginaw Rd. & Abbott) was amazing and told me that she would personally make our party sub tray first thing in the morning before anything else was made.  She assured me that she would use clean utensils and she was properly trained on cross-contamination.  This really eased my mind.

Back to the football game…there was not a whole lot of pre-game homework I had to do to ensure the boys would be safe during the game.  However, you cannot take in a purse or bag into the stadium, in which case my husband and I each carried 2 Epi-pens each in our coat pockets and my son’s inhaler.  We were all set.

We were fortunate enough to be able to take the boys onto the football field prior to the start of the game.  The boys thought it was so cool to be standing feet away from the huge MSU football players and coaching staff.  Taylor and Christopher were in their glory to say the least!

During various breaks throughout the football game our boys were able to eat Subway sandwiches once again that were safe.  Additionally, there were a few varieties of chips they could have at one of the vendor’s.  During one part of the game, when it down poured for 15 minutes, we took shelter and the boys each had soft pretzels which were a “safe” brand they have eaten in the past.  My husband and I were thrilled and the boys were happy!

The boys were not only able to eat safely during the game but they lasted the entire football game, they sang during every MSU chant and fight song, and HAD A BLAST!  I think it was also most helpful that we were sitting next to my brother and sister-in-law and my nephew who is 10 sat next to the boys as well!  What a great game and Michigan State University beat Indiana!

We’ll definitely take the boys back to Spartan Stadium for future MSU games!  GO GREEN!  GO WHITE!

 

 

ALL AUVI-Q’S NOW RECALLED THAT ARE ON MARKET AND SET TO EXPIRE OCT 2015- DEC 2016

Last week I posted the voluntary recall of Auvi-Q’s and now the recall has expanded to include ALL auto injectors on the market. 0.15mg and 0.3mg.  The lot numbers included in the updated recall have expanded quite a lot!  This means the Auvi-Q’s I left at my children’s school that were deemed to be safe under the original recall last week now need to be removed!  Now I’m definitely not sure how I’m going to quickly replace the 6 sets of 2 packs at my children’s school.  I’m open to ideas from any followers if you have any recommendations on how to quickly refill the Epi-Pen Junior 2 packs???

I’m headed out the door to stop at all of the pharmacies and see how they can help me.  I still have not received any type of response from my emails or voice messages to Sanofi from last week.  Still never received a phone call from Walgreens where I filled 12+ Auvi-Q scripts last year about the recall!  Can you believe this?

This is straight from the Auvi-Q website:

“Sanofi US is voluntarily recalling all Auvi‑Q® (epinephrine injection, USP). The recall involves all Auvi‑Q currently on the market and includes both the 0.15 mg and 0.3 mg strengths for hospitals, retailers and consumers. This includes lot numbers 2081278 through 3037230, which expire October 2015 through December 2016. The products have been found to potentially have inaccurate dosage delivery, which may include failure to deliver drug.”

https://www.auvi-q.com/

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