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.

Do You Practice What You Preach?

Scout on trail

It’s Thursday morning and the majority of Americans are more than halfway through a standard work week.  That means we should also be more than halfway through our weekly workouts also, right?  How many people have been telling themselves each and every day this week, “I’ll just get back into exercising tomorrow.”  Procrastinating just one more day to spend more time on the couch watching TV, playing with electronic devices or spending extra time at the office sitting in an office chair perched in front of your computer with terrible posture.  Who has time to exercise in this fast-paced society with work, children, extracurriculars, etc?  Right?  We’re all guilty of making excuses of why not to exercise.  I know I have been known to do this on more than one occasion.  “It’s too cold outside, I don’t have enough time, I’ll do it tomorrow…”   The list goes on and one.

Enough said!  I know I have preached in many of my posts that because of food allergies we tend to eat clean, healthy, low fat, and organic.  I can proudly say that I do practice what I preach when it comes to cooking for my 2 food allergic boys and husband.  Additionally, I haven’t posted very much on the importance of ALSO living a heart-healthy lifestyle by incorporating daily exercise into your program.  Whether it’s 20 minutes or 2 hours daily exercise is essential for living a well-balanced life.  You have to find the right balance for YOU!

Thankfully, I grew up an athlete from a young age and was very successful with my athletics throughout high school and college.  Although I chose not to ski race in college at the varsity level I did participate in our school’s club ski race team.  We even qualified for Nationals 2 years in a row which was pretty exciting considering we were not a school sponsored sports team!  The point I’m trying to make is that for me exercise has always been easy, enjoyable and a MAJOR part of my life! When I don’t exercise I feel TERRIBLE, crabby and I’m sure I’m just not a nice person.  Just ask my family.

When my children were first diagnosed with food allergies over 7 years ago I may have taken my exercise levels to a place that most people would think was a bit obsessive.  I trained for countless numbers of hours 6-7 days a week preparing for triathlons in which some days I would even complete 2 hard workouts.  In the end, I placed in the top 3 in most of my events and even won a race.  What the heck— I felt that all of the hard work definitely paid off!  I grew to love the sport of triathlon as an adult and during my training sessions I was able to focus on something I loved and not be distracted by the constant worry of my children’s food allergies and the potential of an anaphylactic reaction.  For me, exercise IS and WILL always be a way for me to control my anxiety of worrying about my little boys. Exercise is a way of life for me.   I’m sure this anxiety about the constant worry of my boys will never go away as long as I am a parent.  I have, however, toned down my trainings a bit over the last year and a half and have learned to find more balance with my workouts.

I’m extremely lucky to live in an area where I can road bike, mountain bike, trail run, water ski, playing tennis or paddle ball, skate ski and downhill ski, snow shoe, etc…it’s a playground for outside activities!!!  Exercise has become more enjoyable for me.  I know this is not likely the case for most people but YOU HAVE to make an effort to seek out something that you enjoy and is a good workout.  Whether it’s pumping iron in your local gym or walking the dog at a fast pace in your neighborhood there is something for everyone!  Just give it a try or try a new class of some sort.  MAKE THE TIME!  Get up just 20 minutes earlier in the morning.  Whatever it takes YOU have the POWER!

Now if you haven’t broken a sweat this week and have been eating garbage all week this is the time to take a stand for yourself and make a positive change!  For mind, body, and soul!

Do you like the picture of my running partner this morning on the trail?  I tried talking myself out of running because the wind chill was about 30 degrees with 15 mph winds but thankfully our dog Scout kept looking at me with guilty eyes that basically said, “Take me for a trail run!”

#running#roadbiking#moutainbiking#organicfood#foodallergies#hearthealthy#lifestyle

Pizza Hut “Book It” Reading Program & Food Allergies

book itTaking a jog down memory lane for me back to second grade, I vividly remember participating in the National “Book It” Program.  I would read for countless numbers of hours to accomplish my monthly required reading goals so I could obtain a Coupon, in exchange for a Free Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  For those of you unfamiliar with “Book It” – It is a national campaign which started in 1984 and has been successful for over 3 decades!  Book It “Motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza (bookitprogram.com).” According to bookitprogram.com, the program “Currently reaches over 14 million students in 38,000 elementary schools annually.”

But what if your child has FOOD ALLERGIES?

A Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut would send my child into anaphylactic shock and possibly “Death by Cheese.”  Not to make light of this situation, but eating pizza in a chain such as Pizza Hut is the last thing anyone with a Dairy Allergy would do if their life depended on it!

I have had to get creative since my oldest son’s class started implementing the Book It program last year, when he was a first grader.  Thankfully, I have a good working relationship with Taylor’s teacher and last year, based on Taylor’s recommendation, we came up with Seven Eleven Slurpee Coupons for him in lieu of the Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  This reward worked extremely well.  Taylor was not only motivated to read by the delicious slurpee reward, but he started reading extra hours on his own!

Now that my son is in second grade this year he asked me for some additional recommendations other than the Seven Eleven slurpee rewards.  Taylor still loves his Slurpee’s but I think he just wanted a new goal to strive for.  We brainstormed for awhile and decided that Subway sandwich gift cards were an excellent reward for his reading accomplishments during each Book It calendar month.  I ventured to our local Subway franchise the other day and purchased 8 individual gift cards and placed $7.50 on each gift card.  My son likes to eat the ham and turkey 6 inch Sub on Italian bread.  I priced it out with a “meal” which includes a drink and bag of chips and the total I believe was just under $7.50 and came to $7.31!  Not a bad compromise in lieu of Death Pizza!  Plus it’s a healthier option as well!

subway 2

The reward of the Subway gift card will not only continue to keep our son motivated to read every day after school but it will provide a healthy alternative to pizza, a food that he cannot eat outside of our home.

Please note, I did take the time to call the Pizza Hut Book It hotline in Plano, TX.  The customer service representative assured me that Pizza Hut CAN accommodate customers that have gluten allergies.  However, I would have to check with the local franchise to determine if they can accommodate “dairy” allergies.   My boys and I would NEVER set foot into a pizza hut with the possibility of cross-contamination!  It’s unfortunate but SAFETY is our utmost concern! The choice is yours however.

Please refer to my post from a few months back on “Eating at Subway with Food Allergies:”

http://smalltownallergymom.com/2015/09/03/eating-at-subway-with-food-allergies/

Pizza Hut “Book It” Reading Program & Food Allergies

book itTaking a jog down memory lane for me back to second grade, I vividly remember participating in the National “Book It” Program.  I would read for countless numbers of hours to accomplish my monthly required reading goals so I could obtain a Coupon, in exchange for a Free Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  For those of you unfamiliar with “Book It” – It is a national campaign which started in 1984 and has been successful for over 3 decades!  Book It “Motivates children to read by rewarding their reading accomplishments with praise, recognition and pizza (bookitprogram.com).” According to bookitprogram.com, the program “Currently reaches over 14 million students in 38,000 elementary schools annually.”

But what if your child has FOOD ALLERGIES?

A Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut would send my child into anaphylactic shock and possibly “Death by Cheese.”  Not to make light of this situation, but eating pizza in a chain such as Pizza Hut is the last thing anyone with a Dairy Allergy would do if their life depended on it!

I have had to get creative since my oldest son’s class started implementing the Book It program last year, when he was a first grader.  Thankfully, I have a good working relationship with Taylor’s teacher and last year, based on Taylor’s recommendation, we came up with Seven Eleven Slurpee Coupons for him in lieu of the Personal Pan Pizza at Pizza Hut.  This reward worked extremely well.  Taylor was not only motivated to read by the delicious slurpee reward, but he started reading extra hours on his own!

Now that my son is in second grade this year he asked me for some additional recommendations other than the Seven Eleven slurpee rewards.  Taylor still loves his Slurpee’s but I think he just wanted a new goal to strive for.  We brainstormed for awhile and decided that Subway sandwich gift cards were an excellent reward for his reading accomplishments during each Book It calendar month.  I ventured to our local Subway franchise the other day and purchased 8 individual gift cards and placed $7.50 on each gift card.  My son likes to eat the ham and turkey 6 inch Sub on Italian bread.  I priced it out with a “meal” which includes a drink and bag of chips and the total I believe was just under $7.50 and came to $7.31!  Not a bad compromise in lieu of Death Pizza!  Plus it’s a healthier option as well!

subway 2

The reward of the Subway gift card will not only continue to keep our son motivated to read every day after school but it will provide a healthy alternative to pizza, a food that he cannot eat outside of our home.

Please note, I did take the time to call the Pizza Hut Book It hotline in Plano, TX.  The customer service representative assured me that Pizza Hut CAN accommodate customers that have gluten allergies.  However, I would have to check with the local franchise to determine if they can accommodate “dairy” allergies.   My boys and I would NEVER set foot into a pizza hut with the possibility of cross-contamination!  It’s unfortunate but SAFETY is our utmost concern! The choice is yours however.

Please refer to my post from a few months back on “Eating at Subway with Food Allergies:”

http://smalltownallergymom.com/2015/09/03/eating-at-subway-with-food-allergies/

The Upside to Food Allergies

Although it’s not ideal to have to cope with two children that each have multiple anaphylactic food allergies there are actually lots of positives that come out of this challenging medical situation.

For one, my boys are both amazing eaters with a huge palate. They enjoy many foods that most kids won’t touch with a ten foot pole.  We experienced this to the fullest when we traveled to New York City for Thanksgiving 2 years ago and dined in wonderful accommodating restaurants with our boys!

Although both my husband and I joke that we each enjoyed ordering escargot when out for dinner with our parents only at the tender age of 6! I kid you not! I’m sure there is a genetic component to our boys eating foods like kale, spinach, asparagus, tomatoes right out of the garden, squash, mules and frites- muscles for those not in tune with the delicacies of shellfish. They love clams, Alaskan King crab legs, shrimp prepared every which way, even cold shrimp cocktail, salmon, whitefish, steak, venison which we have a freezer full of since we are sustainable hunters, duck, rack of lamb, trout, pork, veal, perch, sole, and my oldest’s favorite all time fish is grouper! This list probably goes on and on.

You may be asking yourself yeah so what is her point? My point is that my children’s food allergies HAVE NOT kept them from enjoying the delicacies and diverse food options available to them! Thankfully they don’t just eat hot dogs and Mac and Cheese. And not meaning to toot my own horn thankfully they have a mom who  loves to cook!

From  day #1 when my boys could eat solid foods they ate what my husband and I were eating for dinner.  No separate meals for the kids in our family! I don’t have the time, nor the energy to prepare two separate meals daily.  As a mother and passionate cook it gives me great pleasure to try new things in the kitchen knowing that my children will most likely enjoy what I have prepared…even if it’s a little “off the wall.”

All we can do as parents is protect our children from harm and teach our children to grow up as outstanding citizens. And hopefully to enjoy their veggies along the way!

~Erika

Below is a picture of the Fruti de Mari with fresh organic garden heirloom tomatoes and mules I made last night for dinner. My boys devoured dinner and each asked for second helpings.

IMG_2605

Marshmallow Olaf Party Snacks

IMG_2108

My boys and I recently visited my sister, brother-in-law and their two small daughters.  We celebrated my niece’s 2nd Birthday and of course the theme of her part was the movie “Frozen.”  I helped my sister make these adorable “Olaf” marshmallow snacks and they were so cute I have decided to share them with my viewers.  They are completely allergen friendly and I chose to use Glutino pretzels (GFree Pretzels fron Aldi’s also work) which are not only gluten-free, but dairy, nut and egg free too.  I have found over the years that many of the mainstream pretzel brands are manufactured on either “shared equipment” with peanuts and tree nuts or processed “in the same facility” as peanuts and tree nuts. Additionally, I used the Enjoy Life Chocolate chips as the eyes and buttons.  Kraft marshmallows and most generic brands are safe as well.

You could also modify these to look like ghosts for a Halloween party treat!

Ingredients:                                                                                                         Prep Time: 45 min

1 bag of Glutino Mini Pretzel Rods (or another allergy-friendly brand)

1 bag of marshmallows

Carrots cut into tiny wedges to be used as the “nose”

Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips

Plastic sticks used to assemble the snowmen

I recommend adding each ingredient above to a separate bowl in order to make the assembly on the Olaf’s easier. 

  • The first step is to add the marshmallows to the plastic sticks;
  • Stick 2 pretzels into the middle marshmallow for arms;
  • Add the chocolate chips to the top marshmallow for eyes and then a few for buttons;
  • Finish off your Olaf by adding the carrot wedge for his nose.

Kids love this party snack and enjoy!

~Erika

FIELD TRIPS WITH FOOD ALLERGIES

skulbus

My boys have now been back in school this fall for about 4 weeks and today is their first field trip to the high school football field for a Homecoming Pep Rally.  Looking back a few years when my oldest son was in kindergarten, I remember feeling quite a bit of anxiety leading up to his school field trips.  Its silly to think about the stress these school functions caused me but I’m sure most parents of kids with food allergies can relate in one way or another to my elevated anxiety levels on the subject. Even though I chaperoned almost all of the field trips,  I think most of my stress came from thoughts about my son riding on the bus and the potential of food that had been left on the bus prior to him riding it, and/or allergen oils on the bus seats.  Additionally, the is an added element of stress knowing that your child may not be as close to he hospital in case there is an allergic reaction.

In preparing my children for today’s school outing I referenced a very helpful checklist provided by FARE at www.foodallergy.org.  I have included this helpful checklist in the “Food Allergy Folder” I prepare for each of my children’s teachers at the beginning of each school year.  It’s a wonderful reference guide and I hope you will find it helpful to ease your mind while your children are safe and enjoying their school field trips.  ~Erika

Field Trip Tips

For Parents

  • Keep yourself up-to-date on upcoming special events in your child’s school. The more time you have to plan ahead, the better.
  • Remember that you and your child’s teacher need to work together as a team to keep your child safe.
  • Role-play with your child and practice what your child should do if a reaction is occurring.
  • Often times children are reluctant to mention that they’re having symptoms of an allergic reaction for fear of creating a scene. Teach your child to be persistent. In the event of a reaction, rapid treatment is essential.
  • After the event, briefly call or meet with your child’s teacher to discuss what went well and what, if anything, should be changed in the future. Be sure to give praise for a job well done; a thank-you note reinforces the idea of teamwork and builds a positive atmosphere.

For Educators

  • Update the food-allergic student’s Food Allergy Action Plan. Ask the parents to review the plan you have on file and note any updated information. Also ask parents to check the expiration dates on any medications.
  • Review the Food Allergy Action Plan with regard to the upcoming event. Find out where the nearest hospital is and discuss how a student would be transported there in case of an emergency.
  • Brief the staff and chaperones that will be supervising students during the event or trip. Identify the food-allergic student, discuss what foods must be avoided, explain the symptoms of an allergic reaction, and review the Food Allergy Action Plan. Designate a staff member to check the safety of any food served to that student.
  • The day of the event or trip, carry the food-allergic student’s medications wherever the student goes. In the case of a severe allergic reaction, known as “anaphylaxis,” speedy access to medications can be the difference between life and death. Keep all staff and chaperones informed about who will be carrying the student’s medications.
  • Carry a cell phone to place emergency calls, if necessary. Make certain all staff and chaperones know where the phone will be kept.
  • Take all complaints seriously. If a food-allergic student notifies the staff that he or she is not feeling well, compare the symptoms with those listed on that student’s Food Allergy Action Plan. If the student is having an allergic reaction, activate emergency procedures immediately. Remember, if epinephrine is administered, but not needed, the student may experience increased heart rate and nervousness. If epinephrine is needed, but not administered, the student may experience a severe or fatal allergic reaction.

Labor Day Weekend Detroit Tigers Game with Our Food Allergic Boys = AMAZING TIME!

comerica park

My husband and I recently enjoyed a hot Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit with our two food allergic boys.  This is the second time we have taken our boys to a Major League baseball game and I have to say kudos to Comerica- our experience could not have been any better!

Prior to arriving at the ball park we met several family members for a “Family Fun Day Sunday” at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Detroit on Broadway Street.  The staff was extremely helpful and our server took our 3 x 5 pink Restaurant Food Allergy Card back to the chef to ask for dairy, nut, and egg free menu recommendations.  My boys happily settled on the sweet BBQ and cilantro chicken wings and washed it down with a delicious root beer.  Not very healthy but hey– it was game day and a special occasion!  They loved it!   Plus Punch Bowl has several bowling lanes, an arcade, and shuffle board…a paradise for both parents and children for a pre-game with the family!

After meeting up with all of our family at Punch Bowl we then walked to the ball park which was only a few short blocks away.

In the past I have carried in a soft 12″ x 12″ inch cooler filled to the brim with safe snacks for our boys to enjoy during the game in addition to the 4 Auvi-Q epinephrine pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler.  Last Saturday however I only packed a few snacks in my purse (Auv-Q’s  of course) and my boys were able to enjoy multiple food/drink items at the park.  Upon entering Comerica in the 85+ degree heat we bought Minute Maid Frozen Lemonades for the boys and a few waters.  Not to mention the multiple souvenirs (ie. water squirt fans to keep the kids cool, stuffed animals, new baseball hats, and jerseys of course).

Unfortunately, the Tigers were not winning and at one point during the game I ventured to the Big Cat Food Court area where the merry-go-round is located.  My husband stayed back in the seats with the boys.  The Hot Dog Vendor Sidekick did not have a line at all and I decided to venture up to the counter.  After noticing they sold hot dogs, I politely asked one of the employees if he could possibly grab the box of hot dogs and buns from the walk-in cooler in order for me to read the ingredients list.  He also mentioned that out of the two different types of Ballpark hot dogs they sold one brand had casein in them.  Once he brought me the box of dogs without the casein I re-read the ingredients at least 3 times after realizing they were COMPLETELY safe for my boys to eat.  Additionally, the bun brand they carried was safe as well!  My eyes literally started welting up and tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes underneath my sunglasses.  Why did I start to tear up you may ask yourself?  Well, it’s actually quite simple…this is the first time my two little boys would be able to enjoy a hot dog at a Ball Game!  A quintessential moment enjoyed by most Americans during their lifetime!

When I returned to the our seating section my husband and kids were standing near the entrance to our seats with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew.  I handed the boys their hot dogs and told them they were SAFE and they proceeded to devour each dog!  My husband and I were ecstatic!  It was a very memorable moment that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Our Sunday Fun Day at Comerica proved to be an amazing experience with our boys and extended family!  We will definitely be back with the boys and hopefully next time the Tigers will have a WIN!  Thank you to our family and Comerica for a amazing fun filled day at the ball park!

Labor Day Weekend Detroit Tigers Game with Our Food Allergic Boys = AMAZING TIME!

comerica park

My husband and I recently enjoyed a hot Sunday afternoon at Comerica Park in Detroit with our two food allergic boys.  This is the second time we have taken our boys to a Major League baseball game and I have to say kudos to Comerica- our experience could not have been any better!

Prior to arriving at the ball park we met several family members for a “Family Fun Day Sunday” at Punch Bowl Social in downtown Detroit on Broadway Street.  The staff was extremely helpful and our server took our 3 x 5 pink Restaurant Food Allergy Card back to the chef to ask for dairy, nut, and egg free menu recommendations.  My boys happily settled on the sweet BBQ and cilantro chicken wings and washed it down with a delicious root beer.  Not very healthy but hey– it was game day and a special occasion!  They loved it!   Plus Punch Bowl has several bowling lanes, an arcade, and shuffle board…a paradise for both parents and children for a pre-game with the family!

After meeting up with all of our family at Punch Bowl we then walked to the ball park which was only a few short blocks away.

In the past I have carried in a soft 12″ x 12″ inch cooler filled to the brim with safe snacks for our boys to enjoy during the game in addition to the 4 Auvi-Q epinephrine pens, Benadryl and asthma inhaler.  Last Saturday however I only packed a few snacks in my purse (Auv-Q’s  of course) and my boys were able to enjoy multiple food/drink items at the park.  Upon entering Comerica in the 85+ degree heat we bought Minute Maid Frozen Lemonades for the boys and a few waters.  Not to mention the multiple souvenirs (ie. water squirt fans to keep the kids cool, stuffed animals, new baseball hats, and jerseys of course).

Unfortunately, the Tigers were not winning and at one point during the game I ventured to the Big Cat Food Court area where the merry-go-round is located.  My husband stayed back in the seats with the boys.  The Hot Dog Vendor Sidekick did not have a line at all and I decided to venture up to the counter.  After noticing they sold hot dogs, I politely asked one of the employees if he could possibly grab the box of hot dogs and buns from the walk-in cooler in order for me to read the ingredients list.  He also mentioned that out of the two different types of Ballpark hot dogs they sold one brand had casein in them.  Once he brought me the box of dogs without the casein I re-read the ingredients at least 3 times after realizing they were COMPLETELY safe for my boys to eat.  Additionally, the bun brand they carried was safe as well!  My eyes literally started welting up and tears started to trickle out of the corners of my eyes underneath my sunglasses.  Why did I start to tear up you may ask yourself?  Well, it’s actually quite simple…this is the first time my two little boys would be able to enjoy a hot dog at a Ball Game!  A quintessential moment enjoyed by most Americans during their lifetime!

When I returned to the our seating section my husband and kids were standing near the entrance to our seats with my brother and sister-in-law and nephew.  I handed the boys their hot dogs and told them they were SAFE and they proceeded to devour each dog!  My husband and I were ecstatic!  It was a very memorable moment that will stick with us for a long time to come.

Our Sunday Fun Day at Comerica proved to be an amazing experience with our boys and extended family!  We will definitely be back with the boys and hopefully next time the Tigers will have a WIN!  Thank you to our family and Comerica for a amazing fun filled day at the ball park!

Epi-Pen Injection Given to Our Son on Vacation and Thankfully It Turned Out Positively!

I apologize for not posting over the last several weeks.  My computer crashed and my new laptop is finally up and running.  My husband, two boys and myself were on vacation in Florida with family two weeks ago for spring break.  Two days before our last day of vacation the boys and I were in the grocery store reviewing the boxes of the many different flavors of Pop Tarts.  There are a few flavors of Pop Tarts that have been safe in the past for my boys multiple food allergies which are: Brown Sugar Cinnamon, Strawberry, Cherry, and I believe Blueberry.  My boys were excited to try a new flavor and since we were on vacation I was a bit more laid back with them eating a healthy breakfast in the morning.  My youngest handed me a box of Pop Tarts and I read the ingredients and noticed that they contained “milk, eggs, and wheat.”  I then told him the allergens that were in the box and to look for a different “New” flavor.  My oldest then handed me the Cinnamon Swirl box and after reading through the ingredients about 3 times slowly I told him we were safe and they only contained “Wheat” which is not an allergen for my boys.  After that my youngest son chose his box of Pop Tarts, and looking back in hindsight, I believed it was a flavor we had purchased before and I failed to “re-read” the box which was unusual for me but the boys were getting hyper and we needed to get to the check out aisle and complete our shopping trip.

Moving forward, very early the next morning my husband and I were still in bed and both of our boys were on their Ipads just outside of our bedroom on the sofa lounger.  They each knew where the kitchen cupboard was that contained all of their “safe” foods and namely their new and exciting Pop Tart flavors.  We told them they could each grab a Pop Tart.  A few minutes later our youngest son told us his tummy hurt after only eating one third of the Pop Tart.  It was at that moment my husband ran into the kitchen, grabbed the S’Mores Pop Tart box and re-read the label to then shockingly discover they contained not only one but two MAJOR allergens of our boys- “Milk and Eggs!”  I was completely dismayed and shocked this box made it into the grocery cart without me even noticing it!  I had known from past label reading that the S’Mores Pop Tarts contained the lethal allergens for my boys.  Then, our youngest son yelled “Mom! Dad!”  We both rushed upstairs and he had vomited all over the couch and was feeling very lethargic.  At that point we knew something serious was about to ensue and we both kept our calm and comforted our son.  We gave him 2 Benadryl children’s chewable tablets and I grabbed our Emergency Action Plan to review.  I had read it a thousand times before but this time I read it very slowly as if in slow motion paying attention to every single detail.

A few minutes later our little guy ran to the bathroom and had violent diarrhea.  At that point we knew we were headed to the ER because our little guy was not only anaphylactic but an asthmatic which adds another element of fear to this whole process.  About a year earlier he accidentally ingested a Tara chip with milk in it and he described words that made us think his throat was starting to close up.  That said, we knew the Auvi-Q injection was going to be needed.

We loaded into the car and I drove our youngest to the ER which was about 4 miles away in South Naples thankfully.  My husband stayed back with our oldest son.   On the way to the hospital I kept talking and reassuring my little 5 year old that everything was going to be okay.  In the heat of the moment I was surprised that I was able to keep my composure and do what was necessary- get us to the hospital safely.  I kept telling my son that he was such a brave big boy and I would have to give him the Epi-Pen injection when we parked the car.  I reassured him that he didn’t cry this year when he got his flu shot and he Epi-Pen would feel about the same.

I parked the car in the lot adjacent to the ER entrance doors and quickly got out of the driver’s side door.   I walked around to my son’s door, opened the door and told him it was time for the Epi-Pen (Auvi-Q).  I pulled the injector out of it’s housing sleeve like I had done a thousand times before with the trainer and then told my son to squeeze my hand really hard while I injected the Auvi-Q into his right quadricep.  Then we listened to to injector count down from 10 to 1 and then it said “Injection complete.”

I then whisked my brave son up into my arms as I ran into the Emergency Room.  My son then said, “Mom that didn’t even hurt.”   I held back the tears trying to wear my brave hat as well.  Thankfully the waiting room wasn’t very busy and we were admitted back into the initial screening room right away where they took my son’s blood pressure, listened to his breathing and took his weight.  I calmly reiterated to the nurse what had happened and that I was fearful that his breathing may continue to decline like it had during the previous allergic food reaction a year ago.

Long story short, when the ER doc finally came back to take our son’s vitals he reassured me that I did the right thing by giving him the Epi-Pen.  He said that “it was the right move given our son’s past food reaction, asthma and being on vacation in an unfamiliar town.”  The doctor said that he thankfully was NOT going into anaphylactic shock.  Due to new standards across the country for ER patients admitted after being injected with Epinephrine, they would have to monitor him for 6 hours post-shot.  This is because in the past patients have been released too prematurely and have had more serious allergic reactions landing them back in the Emergency Room.

Our son received a pretty large liquid dose of children’s prednisone to continue to help his body fight off the reaction and we began counting down the hours in the ER.

It was a LONG and stressful day in the ER but bottom line is that we took the necessary precautions to get our son to the ER to receive further treatment.

I beat myself up for days post-reaction thinking what I could have done differently to avoid such an allergic reaction?  I kept asking myself, “If I can make a mistake like this and I re-read all labels multiple times and I’m extremely precautious and diligent then it can happen to anyone.”  I finally came to terms with the fact that this was a freak accident and that accidents will happen with our children in the future with regards to allergen exposure.  I kept reassuring myself that both my husband and I acted quickly in the heat of the moment and followed our son’s emergency action plan which I believe ultimately kept the reaction from worsening which could have resulted in a lethal ending.

This was a very emotional situation for both of our sons, my husband and myself.  The lesson learned here is that we can move forth with positivity knowing that we have all trained ourselves how to act promptly during an emergency allergen exposure situation.  Please ALWAYS carry your Epi-Pen auto injectors.