Tag: Peanut Allergy

Back to School with Food Allergies

I’m happy to report I’m back on social media after taking the majority of the summer off!  It was a much needed break from social media and very refreshing to give my children and my husband my undivided attention this summer, not being completely attached to my cell phone for a change!

With many schools already in full motion across the country, my children don’t start school until next Tuesday.  I figured it would be a good refresher to post some quick back to school reminders, a check list if you will, for parents who have kids with food allergies.

These are the main points I feel are important to remember when sending your kiddo back to school safely:

  1. Make sure you have an updated Food Allergy Plan in place and on record with your school (ie. 504 Plan);
  2. Re-train all front office personnel on your child’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP) and how to properly use his/her Epi-Pen;
  3. Schedule a meeting with the Principal to make sure you are on the same page and are working together;
  4. Keep 1 set of injectors in the office and 1 set in classroom, or “on person” if your child self carries; (check exp dates!);
  5. Remind your child to always be diligent and to be a self-advocate;
  6. Make sure your child’s EAP is posted visibly in their classroom and in the office;
  7. Schedule meetings with all teachers your child will come into contact with throughout the day prior to the 1st day of school:
    1. Review EAP, Signage posted on classroom doors, surface cleaning procedures
    2. Create a “Substitute Teacher Folder” & discuss the importance of homeroom teacher relaying this info to sub;
    3. Ask to always be notified in advance if there will be a substitute;
    4. If possible, attend field trips or discuss field trip procedures and safely;
    5. Epi-Pen storage (ie don’t leave in a car on field trip due to heat/cold);
    6. Request to coordinate all classroom parties involving food;
    7. Discuss handwashing procedures & non-sharing of food;
    8. Keep a gallon sized ziplock bag in classroom with non-perishable foods in case student’s lunch/snack becomes compromised;
    9. Keep “safe” frozen treats at school for classroom bday parties/unexpected treats (my boys and I make these together- it has become a fun tradition every fall)
    10. Discuss how you have worked with your child to take responsibility of his/her food allergies and be and advocate for themselves
    11. Avoid using food in lesson plans

These are just a few of the MAJOR points I cover in my “Before School Starts” meetings with teachers and school personnel every fall.  Please remember to always communicate with grace and poise when discussing your children’s food allergies at school.  Although it’s very difficult, it also helps if you don’t become emotional.  This has taken me much practice over the years but I promise- IT DOES GET EASIER.  I almost cried during my 1st presentation to my son’s kindergarten teachers over 5 years ago.

Finally,  I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to create a “team working” atmosphere with teachers and all school staff.  Go out of your way to make their lives easier.  After all, we want them to focus on what they do best which is teaching our children!

The work doesn’t stop with these meetings- remember to consistently “check-in” with your child’s teachers throughout the marking period and school year.  I like to pop in to the classroom at dropoff and ask “What is working well?”  “Where is there room for improvement?”  It’s important to have an open line of communication when we have children with food allergies attending school.

 

Delicious Triple Berry Popicles

Summer is in full force here in Northern Michigan.  Last week my youngest son and I went raspberry picking at one of our  local organic farms, a  tradition we have shared the last couple of summers.  Needless to say, we have more raspberries than we know what to do with.  This afternoon our youngest begged me to help him make homemade popsicles.  He is my berry boy and eats berries like they are going out of style!

This is quick and easy recipe I hope you will enjoy!  It took us less than 15 minutes from start to placing the popsicle molds in the freezer.  By the way, I use BPA- free popsicle molds which are easy to find these days.  Also, you can use any kind of fresh berries you have on hand.

Ingredients:                                                Preparation Time: 15 minutes                           Freeze Time:   4-6 hours

2/3 cup raw organic cane sugar

1 cup blueberries

1 cup raspberries

1 cup strawberries

1/4 freshly squeezed lemon juice

Method:

  • Put sugar & 1/3 cup water into a small saucepan.  Over medium heat bring to a boil while continually stirring to make the simple syrup.  Set aside once sugar has dissolved.
  • While simple syrup is cooling, clean and wash berries.
  • Add washed berries to a food processor or blender (your choice.)

 

Squeeze the juice of one lemon, about 1/4 cup lemon juice and pour into food processor and puree mixture until smooth and well combined.

  • Slowly add 1/3 cup simple syrup to berry mixture.  Taste the mixture.  Some people enjoy more tart popsicles and others like theirs’ very sweet.  You can reserve the remaining simple syrup for adult mojitos later!

  • Slowly pour the mixture in your popsicle molds and freeze for approximately 4-6 hours.

  • Now you’ll have delicious and healthy popsicles for the entire family to enjoy!

 

 

 

Generic vs. Milan’s Epi-Pen

A few days ago I picked up a refilled prescription for my oldest son of what I thought was going to be Mylan’s  Epi-Pen 0.3 mg twin auto injectors.  This is what we’ve been accustomed to using since the big recall happened with the Auvi-Q auto injectors fall of 2015.  Despite all of the controversy with Mylan, and the increase in pricing for the Epi-Pens, we have unfortunately had to stick to this prescription, as our insurance RX program never filled a generic option in the past.

To my surprise, when I arrived home and opened up the bag from the pharmacy, I receive 2 twin packs of the Authorized Generic form of the Adrenaclick, 4 auto injectors 0.3mg manufactured by Lineage Therapeutics.  This generic version was apparently introduced to the market back in June of 2013.  It boggles my mind why it was not available to me as an option until now???

At first, I was really UPSET because the pharmacy didn’t notify me that my prescription for Mylan’s Epi-Pen had been replaced by the Adrenaclick generic.  After a few minutes and once I cooled down, I realized it was exciting to finally see a “generic form of the life saving auto-injectors!”

My excitement quickly turned to ANGER again when I realized that the devices did not come with any type of training device!  What???  The box that contains the twin injectors has a spot for a trainer, but NO trainer was included in the box!  I was LIVED to say the least!

I quickly went to my laptop and typed in the manufacturer’s website which is http://www.epinephrineautoinject.com/contact_lineage.php.  The site contains a link which allows you to order ONLY 1 training pen at a time!  There is a 1-800 number you can call to order more than one training pen at a time.  Of course, I called it right away thinking about all of the people in our lives that we would need to train how to use these generic auto injectors- school staff, coaches, kid sitters, our boys of course, myself and my husband, friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc…the list goes on and on.

After being on hold for approximately 5 minutes, a nice customer service lady answered my call, and when I told her that I would need to order at least 4-5 trainers, she mentioned they were backordered by 4-6 weeks!  She suggested I go to the website and individually order 1 trainer at a time.  This is what I did…I ordered 2 in my parents names, 1 in my name and 1 in my husband’s name, 1 in my sister’s name, and 1 in my brother-in-law’s name…WHAT A PAIN IN THE BUTT!  Needless to say, we’ll see when these trainers actually arrive!

So, all in all, it’s absolutely wonderful that my insurance RX program finally gave me a generic option!  It appears that consumers dealing with anaphylaxis do have more prescription options available now. Here are the PROS & CONS broken down for you:

PROS:

  • Price- my out of pocket expense for 1 pack of twin injectors was approximately $15.00 compared to hundreds for Mylan’s Epi-Pens
  • Size- generic packaging of auto-injector is approximately a 60% reduction in size compared to Mylan’s Epi-Pen.  Since we have 2 boys and they do not carry a purse, it will be easier for them to carry these in their pockets

CONS:

  • Trainers do not come with auto-injector prescription
  • Trainers must be ordered separately on manufacturer’s website
  • Only 1 trainer can be ordered online at a time, for more you must call customer service hotline
  • If you want more than 1 trainer, these orders are on back order for 4-6 weeks!  Unacceptable!
  • It took the pharmacy over 5 business days to fill the script…I’m assuming because Meijer does not keep this generic version on their shelves.  This was frustrating and thank god I had extras and didn’t need it immediately!
  • Trust- I don’t trust the generic as I have not had to use it yet
  • Quality- I do not know the quality of the generic
  • Learning Curve – it is cumbersome to re-train everyone in our life with new auto-injectors- cannot train them until trainers arrive
  • I have 4 new generic auto-injectors that cannot be used since we do not have the trainers…our boys will need to practice on trainers 1st before we feel comfortable with them carrying these devices

While there are currently more CONS than PROS at this juncture, I’m confident once we have an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with this generic, the PROS will begin to outweigh the CONS.

If you have any experience using these Lineage Generic devices I would love to hear your feedback!  Please contact me or leave feedback in the “comments” section of my post.

Once the trainers arrive in the mail I will update this post with feedback regarding re-training everyone/ease of use.

~Erika

 

The Little Things about Food Allergies Most People Don’t Even Realize

I was chatting with a few of my girlfriends yesterday over coffee about how our dog had recently been sick.  As unfortunate as it is, our two year old Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, Scout is a sock eater.  Yes!  He loves to eat our boy’s stinky socks when left on the floor!  No matter how often I remind the boys to put their dirty socks in the laundry bin, they still end up on their bedroom floor from time to time.  It’s been a challenge since Scout was a puppy.

Recently, Scout ingested something…we’re not sure what it was but he started acting peculiar last week and was not eating like normal.  I took Scout to the vet on Tuesday and thankfully after X-rays, he didn’t have an obstruction.  However, he did have lots of inflammation and irritation in his gut from whatever it was that he ate and then passed.

Long story short, our vet recommended we feed Scout canned dog food for the next couple of days since it’s more easily digestible.  The canned dog food at the vet’s office contained dairy and eggs so I had to take a pass.

I went to our local feed store and explained to the staff that I was looking for a canned dog food that didn’t contain dairy, eggs, or nuts.  We had about 3 people, including myself, reading every canned dog food label in the entire store.  Finally, we found a grain-free lamb dog food that was dairy, nut, and egg free.  To top it off, Scout loved it thank God!  And yes, Scout’s normal dried dog food is dairy, egg, nut and grain free too just in case you are wondering!  He’s on basically the same diet the rest of the family is on and he never complains!

My girlfriends couldn’t believe that I have to read the ingredient listings on the dog food labels.  Reason being, if Scout ate dog food that contained milk, eggs or nuts and then licked either of our boys it could mean TROUBLE!  Allergic reaction!  My friends said to me, “Challenges that you face on a daily basis with kids that have food allergies are not even on our radar, such as reading the ingredients on the dog food bag.”  For once, I felt like my friends actually understood what it was like to walk in my shoes.

This recent conversation with my closest friends struck a chord for me…my brain went into overdrive as I started thinking about all of the labels I have to read on a daily basis on all of the products in our home and when I’m grocery shopping.  For example, shampoo, dish soap, laundry detergent, body lotion, makeup, chapstick, sunscreen, prescription medications, hand soap, kleenex, deodorant, cleaning supplies, dog treats (most of which contain eggs, nuts, and dairy), etc.  The list goes on and on….now I have a HEADACHE!  These are not even food items mind you!

I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that parents of children of food allergies obviously have to be diligent with food labels.   That diligence extends beyond to so many more products that we come into contact with daily.  Most people would have a permanent headache if they had to continually check everything the way that we do.  I wouldn’t change it for the world…I’m just trying to help people gain awareness about the challenges parents of children with food allergies face encounter regularly.

I digress…Namaste and have a wonderful weekend

~Erika

 

Vegan Hot Cocoa – Perfect for this Time of Year

hot cocoa

It’s snowy and cold here in Northern Michigan.  Today is the first day of our downhill ski season  and I thought it would be timely to post my delicious hot cocoa recipe.  Many children that ski often look forward to hot cocoa breaks in the lodge to warm up from being out in the elements.  Obviously, our boys cannot drink the hot cocoa from the vending machine in the cafeteria since it contains “milk” as one of the main ingredients. 

Over the years I have been making my own dairy free version of powdered hot cocoa mix.  I make several individual servings for my boys to use throughout the ski season. They simply put the zip lock baggie in one of their ski jacket pockets, add hot water from the cafeteria “hot water” machine, stir, and they are the happiest kids in the lodge.  It’s creamy, warm and delicious!

Promoting Ways to Live a Healthly Lifestyle in Rural America
Small Town Allergy Mom™

 

Here’s my recipe which has taken a few years to really perfect:

Dairy Free Hot Cocoa Mix

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hersey’s)

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/3 c. powdered soy milk (I use Better Than Milk Vanilla Soy Powder purchased in bulk from amazon.com- it’s the creamiest!)

Method:

Mix all of the ingredients together with a wire whisk in a bowl.  I will often double or even triple the recipe making a huge batch that I store in an air tight container for the winter.  I will then scoop about 3 Tablespoons of the mix into several small ziplock bags for my boys to take skiing each day.  It stores well and is easy for them to grab out of the pantry in individual servings.

You can also add dehydrated or mini marshmallows to the individual baggies.  I usually add these since my boys love marshmallows with their hot cocoa like most children.

Just add hot water to the mix, stir and enjoy!  This powdered hot cocoa is not only Dairy Free but it’s creamy and delicious as well!  Not to mention, easy to take on the go whether it’s skiing, sledding or ice skating!

 

ALDI is Rivaling U.S. Grocery Store Chains with Low Cost Organic and Allergy Friendly Foods

 

aldi-corporate-2

Last year I authored a post about how I started shopping at the German-owned grocery chain ALDI and how I absolutely LOVE IT!  ALDI is one of my favorite stores to grocery shop at because it offers many low cost organic produce options.  They also have a corporate policy to sell foods that do not contain certified synthetic colors, partially hydrogenated oils, MSG from all its private-label products, pesticides, synthetics, and hormones.   ALDI  is constantly increasing their line of Gluten Free Foods, which are private labeled under the Live G free name to keep costs low.  Many of the Live G free foods are also free from many Allergens!  And I might add- DELICIOUS!

aldis

I have spoken to many of my friends about the benefits of shopping here and unfortunately the buzz I have received on the street is that many people think it’s a “low-income” type grocery store.  They are just not informed about the many wonderful products this store sells and the fancier foods they carry to compete with the consumers that frequent Whole Foods.  They now carry higher end specialty products such as artisanal cheeses, quinoa, coconut oil, and smoked salmon according to a Business Insider article.

In a recent press release from ALDI corporate, the Vice President of their Saxonburg Division stated, “ALDI has a different style when it comes to grocery shopping and that differentiation has helped make us one of the fastest growing retailers in the US,” said Hart.

ALDI is currently in the midst of a huge expansion plan in the United states.  By the end of 2018, it will bring fresh and high quality groceries to more than 45 million customers each month.  To reach its aggressive goals, ALDI will create more than 10,000 new jobs at its stores, warehouses, and division offices in the United States alone!  Once this $3 billion expansion is complete,  ALDI will have nearly 2,000 stores marking close to a 50% increase in only five short years!

ALDI has taken away market share from popular grocery store chains such as Walmart, Kroger and Whole Foods in the U.S.  They are able to continue to keep their costs low by offering consumers low pricing by limiting inventory to a lean selection of private-label items.  Whereas, traditional supermarkets  typically carry several different brands of a single product.  ALDI also invests far less in customer service and merchandising than traditional grocers.  Most of the store’s grocery items are placed in their shipping cartons to keep restocking quick and easy.  Consumers must pay a quarter ($0.25) deposit for a grocery cart (which you get back when you return the cart), bag your own groceries, and either bring your own grocery bags, or purchase bags they have for sale.

I certainly don’t mind taking a few extra minutes to bag my own groceries if it means heathy LOW COST organic foods free from chemicals for my family at a cheaper price!

If you haven’t shopped at an ALDI yet you are definitely missing out!  I encourage you to try it.  Here is a picture of many of the allergen-friendly products our family loves from ALDI’s:

290

In addition the products above my family also loves these allergy-friendly products from ALDI: pickles, many cereal varieties, hormone free turkey and ham lunch meat, all kids of fresh organic produce, whole wheat bagels and bread, jam, many varieties of Clancy’s chip products, coffee, organic spiral ham during the holidays, frozen wild mussels, canned albacore tuna fish, German red and white sauerkraut, hormone free maple bacon, frozen chicken fingers.  I like these paper products too: quart sized zip lock baggies, aluminum foil, paper plates, ultra strong paper towel and toilet paper.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

~Erika

 

 

Please Help Support FARE’s Teal Pumpkin Project this Halloween

 

teal-pumpkin

With everyone into the full swing of fall and Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to post about FARE’s very successful Teal Pumpkin Project.  FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) launched this successful campaign a few years ago and it has taken off across the country to bring awareness about food allergies and this growing epidemic.  Additionally, it advocates for a safe Halloween for children that have food allergies by encouraging homeowners to offer safe non-candy alternatives on Halloween.

In year’s past, my boys and I have painted a few pumpkins teal and set them on our porch to let trick-or-treaters know that we have safe “non-candy” options for children that have food allergies.  We are excited to paint our pumpkins this year as well!  Additionally, you can print a picture of a teal pumpkin from the FARE website and hang in in your window to notify trick-or-treaters that you are participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project.

This year FARE has partnered with Michael’s craft store which is selling teal paint for your pumpkins and CVS Pharmacy also has accessories to decorate your home with teal pumpkins.  This is an amazing campaign and I hope you will support food allergy awareness and place a teal pumpkin on your front porch on Halloween.  Thank you for your continued support of this AMAZING campaign that helps to make kids with food allergies feel included and most importantly enjoy a SAFE Halloween!

Please click on this link to print your paper teal pumpkins and learn more about this project at FARE:

https://www.foodallergy.org/teal-pumpkin-project

Print

~Erika

The Anxiety of Raising Kids with Food Allergies

stress-ballstress-relax

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary ANXIETY  anx·i·ety \aŋ-ˈzī-ə-tē\

is a noun and the simple definition is “fear or nervousness about what may happen.” 

In our hectic modern-day society parents are extremely busy multitasking from day to day and trying to fulfill work, school, extracurricular and social schedules.  How do we fit everything into just 24 hours a day?  Simply raising children that do not have any health problems or disabilities can be a challenge for most parents throughout the world.  After all, we all want our children to grow up and become successful contributors of society, don’t we???

This raises an important point about how to deal with the anxiety of raising a child or children with food allergies and how to properly manage this day-to-day worry?  My boys CAN DIE if they ingest only a trace amount of dairy, nuts or eggs!  Do I have anxiety that relates to caring for our children?  HECK YES I DO!   

I’m by no means a medical clinician, but I am a MOM and I have had to learn how to cope with my constant worry about my children’s health and safety for over 8 1/2 years now.

People deal with anxiety in many different ways, from not acknowledging it may exist, to proactively managing it by either exercise, meditation, pharmaceuticals, alcohol, food, yoga, etc…to each is his/her own.  The point I’m trying to convey in this post is that as common as it is to have anxiety from caring for a child or loved one with life-threatening food allergies, it is also just as important to (1) Acknowledge you do worry and (2) Learn how to deal with it in a way that works best for you.

I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember.  I competed as a ski racer for the better part of my life, and competed in golf and tennis throughout my youth and still enjoy these activities today.  For many summers in my mid 30’s I trained hard and raced in many triathlons.  I love the dedication it takes to train really hard and reach your performance goals!  It’s simply in my DNA to be a competitor.  Most of my family members competed at high levels during one point in their lives.

Whether I’m mountain biking or trail running with our dog Scout, these activities have helped me to manage my anxiety in a positive way, and in general, become a better mother to our two food allergic boys and a better wife to my husband.  I’m a busy body and could not properly function without exercise being a huge part of my daily life!

I often wonder what works for other parents that are caring for anaphylactic children?  How do you manage your anxiety?  If you have food allergies yourself, how do you manage the stress?

During the better part of my 20’s I was an avid Yoga-junky!  For some reason, I got away from regular yoga for about a decade or so.  I have had lots of athletic-related injuries, and not to make an excuse, but it just got away from me.

Last Saturday, my husband took it upon himself to sign me up for a local yoga class online.  He said to me, “You’re going and you’ll really enjoy it.”  I’m so fortunate that my husband listens to me, as I had been complaining for a few weeks about how I needed to get back into yoga but just couldn’t find the time…blah…blah…blah…excuses!

By Jason signing me up for that class I am now completely hooked again!  I love everything about it from “centering,” to working on perfecting my alignment with different poses, focusing, meditating, strengthening, and working on me and my mental health!  I might add, I was literally dripping in sweat for the ENTIRE hour and a half class!  Thank you Tiffany — by the way!  Yoga for me is a nice supplement to all of the other athletic activities I enjoy regularly!  Besides, let’s face it, I’m NOT getting any younger and need to invest in such practices for my physical well-being and my sanity in general!

I understand that exercise and yoga are not for everyone.  (ie. I still play the piano from time to time and I obviously love to cook!)

Whatever you may do to manage your anxiety as a person with food allergies, a caregiver of someone with food allergies or none of the above, it’s important to find what works best for you.  It may be a combination of things.  Please do yourself a favor and take care of yourself so you can be the best you can be for yourself and for your loved ones!

Namaste

~Erika

yoga-2

 

Back to School With Life Threatening Food Allergies

back-to-school

This is an excellent article in our local paper regarding food allergies and how to manage them in schools locally.  Thank you Jillian Fellows for taking the time to interview me for this piece & Petoskey News Review for covering this important topic and helping to gain awareness locally!

http://www.petoskeynews.com/featured-pnr/back-to-school-with-life-threatening-allergies/article_5c9c4c52-6ffa-56ca-85d6-c842cf1d68fe.html

 

Outrage Over Increased Price on Epi-Pens