Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Candy without labels??

Halloween. The beginning of the holiday season. And the beginning of the allergy worries about the holidays. I love the holidays, and I really want Sophie to love them, too. I don't want her to miss any of the fun, the magic, the tastes, the experiences. So I have come up with a few things that help us to make Halloween work for her.

School parties: I always attend Sophie's school party. I always bring something to share with the class, and I often sign up to help plan as many of the school parties as possible. This can be a lot of extra work, but it also makes the food aspect of the party so much more comfortable for us.

Parties with friends: If Sophie is invited to another Halloween party (or birthday party, for that matter), I simply ask what will be served in terms of food and bring a suitable substitute for her. Many other parents now ask me to just tell them the right brand of hot dogs, the right kind of ice cream, etc. so that they can provide Sophie with what she needs. We have been very blessed to have such supportive friends! I always make sure to have some extra candy or other treats at home so that if goody bags contain things we're not sure about, she can trade for something we know is safe.

Trick or Treating: Isn't this such a nightmare? The traditional after trick-or-treating candy sort takes on new importance with food allergies in the house! I try not to make Sophie's candy sort too different from the other kids. Either Jeff or I sit with all of them as they go through their candy. For the most part, she knows what she can and can't have, and her sisters often trade for some of her forbidden items. I also have a reserve of Sophie-Safe treats to trade as well. The sad part comes when there's something that we're not sure about and she wants to eat it. I think all candy manufacturers should put their labels online, so that we can sit there Halloween night and Google all the candy that isn't familiar to us. Who ever thought about the ingredient labels before life with allergies?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Success at the Happiest Place on Earth

Well, for us it really was the happiest place, because the staff was fabulous about handling food allergies. All of Sophie's allergies are within the "top 8," and I think that made it easier on the staff. They were amazing. One place we ate at was a buffet and I asked about some buffet items. They told me what would work for her and then brought her plate out already made up so that I wouldn't need to worry about whether there was any cross-contamination with the serving utensils! The Chef came out to talk to me right away at every restaurant except one; at that one it was the manager instead. I am very impressed, to say the least.

As a side note, I had an interesting allergy experience at Disneyland. One of my other children ended up in the First Aid center because of a migraine headache, and I stayed with her while she was resting. While we were there, another mom and daughter came in. The little girl was having stomach problems--cramping, etc. She was able to get comfortable and fall asleep for a few minutes at one point, during which her mother and I started talking. It turned out that the little girl had food allergies. A little while later, the girl went to the bathroom. It was clear that her stomach problems were becoming more intense. When she finally came out, probably 15 or 20 minutes later, she was also sneezing repeatedly. This was a new symptom and struck me as being a little odd, until I thought of Sophie's recent peanut challenge.

During her peanut challenge a few months ago, Sophie ingested some peanut butter without problems, but eventually threw up and then sneezed repeatedly for several minutes. This was followed by more vomiting. At the time, I was very worried because whenever 2 body systems are reacting, you have to consider the possibility of anaphylaxis.

Well, the little girl's mom was worried about getting her daughter back to the hotel because she wasn't improving and needed better rest, and didn't really notice that her daughter had started sneezing. I mentioned that she might want to give her a Benadryl and have the RN take her blood pressure, just to check, and within a few minutes she ended up being rushed off with the paramedics to the emergency room. As far as I could see, she was not in any terrible danger at that time, but there were 2 body systems reacting--and you just never know where that's going to go.

Hopefully everything went well from that point--I haven't heard anything further. As I've considered the evening, it has struck me how interesting it is that I happened to be there with another allergy mom. If nothing else, we were able to give each other a little support in an unfamiliar environment. Right place, right time!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Is this crazy? We're taking our family to Disneyland. So in addition to long lines, crowds, trying to keep track of a wandering 3 year old, not to mention the possible nightmare of airplane travel with children, we are braving a vacation with food allergies. What does Disneyland have to offer a child who's allergic to eggs, wheat, peanuts and tree nuts? I've made a few phone calls, even received a phone call back from one of the head chefs, so now it's trial by fire so to speak. Our first Disneyland food experience will be bright and early our first day there, at the PCH Grill (the Lilo and Stitch breakfast).

It's too late to be nervous, so wish us luck!