Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Little Allergy Awareness

I've mentioned here and there that Miss Q has food allergies, but thought I'd just take a little time to explain what life with food allergies is like for her (and the rest of the family, too).

When she was 5 months old, we were running low on frozen breast milk, so decided to supplement with formula if needed. The first time we did  this, within minutes she started vomiting, getting hives and swelling up. We called the ambulance and when they arrived, they told us that some babies don't handle certain kinds of formula well, so we should try another kind. Ok.... so they left and when she continued to vomit and the swelling was increasing, we decided to take her to the ER ourselves and found out she was in anaphylactic shock.  After that ordeal, our family doctor referred us to an allergist and we had her tested for all sorts of food and animals. I was shocked at the results- she was allergic to milk, soy, wheat, eggs, cows and dogs. That is quite a list for a 5 month old child! Later testing revealed she is also allergic to cats and all nuts.
Since I was nursing, I couldn't eat those foods either because they are all passed through breast milk. For the next year and a half (yes, I nursed until she was 2), I had to follow the allergen-free diet as well. It was hard at first- no ice cream, no chocolate, no bread, etc., but I got used to it fairly quickly since I really had no choice. All formulas have some type of milk or soy protein, except one brand that was $40 a can, which is quite expensive!
What can she eat? Lots of things, actually! She can eat all meats, fruits and veggies and rice. Our local Meijer and Kroger both have really good allergen-free sections where we have found alternatives to cake mixes, chocolate bars, graham crackers, pretzels, pasta, even ice cream cones (she has them with sorbet). Some of her favorite snacks are marshmallows, potato chips and Slurpees. We are very diligent about reading food labels- usually several times over. We can't eat out at restaurants, but that's probably not such a bad thing anyway. Below is our version of "trail mix" that she's taking with her for her VBS snack tonight. Looks pretty good- allergen free pretzels, animal crackers and gummy Life Savers!

I do get nervous sending her off places- especially school next year. She carries an epi pen with her every where  we go and will have one in the school office. We practice every month or so on how to use it in case she were ever somewhere without us and had an emergency. We got her a cute shirt to wear (in top photo) when we go places where people may need to be reminded of her allergies (she's wearing it to the first night of VBS tonight). She also wears this cool bracelet that has all of her allergies and emergency and doctor contact information tucked safely inside. They are both from Allergy Apparel, which has lots of fun allergy awareness items for kids.

So far, we've found people to be open to making a safe environment for her. Her preschool was wonderful with her snacks. If we end up going to some sort of fund-raising dinner or to parties, we bring our own food for her. Once we find out for sure which school she'll be attending in the fall, I'm hoping they are easy to work with as well.
So, no crafty post today- just a little glimpse into our life! :) I hope everyone is enjoying what's left of the weekend!
 
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