March 31st, 2014 is the first annual Love Remembers Day – Celebration of Lives Lost to Anaphylaxis. This day is being dedicated to the memory of those in the food allergy community who have died from Anaphylaxis. Continue reading
Right off the bat that title just shrieks of bad parenting. Who would want their child to fail any test at all, let alone one that could erase a life threatening food allergy from their child’s life? Well, me in this case..
Rashmi’s Bakery is one of those finds that you hope you will never, ever have to give up. This might be a strange way to think of a bakery when there are hundreds of them around, but Rashmi’s Bakery is not like every other bakery out there. I discovered Rashmi’s last year when I was searching for a local place to obtain baked goods from for my food allergic son William. As many people will tell you I am not a great asset in the kitchen so whipping up treats at the last minute doesn’t happen. With the list of birthday parties that William was being invited to growing by the day I wanted to find a place to shop that had ready made cupcakes that were safe for him to eat. Rashmi’s Bakery to the rescue!
Valentine’s Day is such a special day for pretty much everyone. You don’t have to be married or dating someone to celebrate it because love knows no boundaries. We celebrate the love we have for our parents, our children, our families and friends. It’s just that simple.
So what could I possibly have against a children’s movie that would cause me to need to vent? Peanuts, that’s what. I grew up watching those little blue people sing their “La La” song and have never had a problem with it. I thought the fact that a movie was being done about it was kind of silly, but then I saw the first one with my kids and thought, “not so bad.” I really like the cast, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria (love him in Birdcage ) and the voice over cast as well. Katy Perry was a perfect choice for Smurfette. But then they released number 2.
Last year I attended my first ever Anaphylaxis Canada Community Conference in Toronto, Ontario and wow, what an eye opener it was. My son, four soon to be five year old William, has Food Allergies and was diagnosed at the age of 8 months. Ever since then my husband and I have been trying to figure out the best and safest way possible to feed William. For the first two years that meant no dairy, eggs, peanuts or tree nuts. William has thankfully outgrown the dairy allergy and I pray he will outgrow the rest to. In trying to find the right path for our son and our family to take we have devoured books, checked out websites and reached out to other Food Allergy families for support and guidance. We have a wonderful doctor who is great with William, but I always seem to come up with a question after I have left his office. Attending the Anaphylaxis Canada Community Conference last year was a blessing. You can read a bit about our experience in this post, if you’d like.
When it comes to being prepared for an allergic reaction, I consider myself to be a well equipped parent. I have an Epi Pen in my purse at all times. We have one in the house as well as at our daycare provider’s home. My son’s school has one in the office and William wears one every day. I have practiced with an expired Epi Pen and even shared that with my readers (check it out)! My ten year old daughter was in on that little session and I think it helped to demystify the whole “what does the needle look like” issue. I have educated myself, my family and my children’s school on the importance of awareness and being vigilant. Yup, I think I am prepared.
There is just one problem; I have never actually injected an Epi Pen into human flesh.
I have no desire to ever have to use an Epi Pen in a real life situation, let alone it be for my son. I have one fervent prayer and that is he never have an Anaphylactic reaction. But, what if he does? How can I be sure I will know what to do and remember my training?
There is a great product on the market these days, perfect for the treatment of Anaphylaxis. It is called Allerject. It is a different type of auto-injector. It provides the same life saving dose of epinephrine as the Epi Pen, but there is one huge difference. This product talks to you. Allerject quite literally tells you what to do when you need to inject yourself, or someone else, with epinephrine. How cool is that?! Does it replace the need to be prepared and even practice with an auto-injector? No, but what it does do is be a voice for your allergic child when you are not there. And even when you are there.
I have had the chance to test out an Allerject trainer. There was no needle or medicine in it, but the calm and confidant voice of the instructor was the same. In just a couple of seconds you can inject someone in distress and not worry that you might do it incorrectly or take too long. To me Allerject is revolutionary. I was recently updated with some exciting news.
“All schools and public health units in Ontario have now received educational materials about Allerject™ as part of the kits and update packages produced by Anaphylaxis Canada in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Education.
Educators and staff in all 5,270 publicly-funded schools in the province, as well as all school boards and public health units, now have the materials. These bilingual resources include auto-injector training devices, awareness and instructional posters, instructional videos, a presentation for school personnel and related materials, and other information.”
Having trainer Allerjects in schools along with the educational materials not only means the adults who take care of our children during the day are prepared, but they are also being made aware. Awareness is such a huge part of the fight against food allergies and if it takes having an auto-injector that talks to you then I am all for it.
The past few weeks have been as predictably busy as they should be. A new school year means not only the start of a new grade, but also the start of extra curricular activities, adjusting to new teachers and how they “do” things, sometimes doctor’s appointments for annual check-ups and even, in my case, renewing my license. Busy, busy, busy… A new school year usually brings with it a lot of complaining about homework, old pals ignoring you for new friends and the “I don’t know what to wear” war cry. :-( Three weeks in and I am ready for a vacation. Seriously. But this year I would happily take on even more of those complaints ( okay, maybe not happily, but less unhappily anyway ) then deal with what has been transpiring.
William, my four year old son, started full time Junior Kindergarten this fall. Today marks his 11th day of school when you add in the first PD Day already taken. William is taking to school very well, thankfully, although he does still say every few days that he wants to stay home. I am still not an advocate of the full day program, at least for the littlest ones. William is most often exhausted by dinner time, which means he can get grumpy. Add in a hormonal pre-teen and it is no wonder I have started to drink. ;-) There is one other dimension I have to address this year and that is dealing with William’s Food Allergies. I know I have lamented, okay complained, about the potential hazards or accidents that can happen when he is at school all day, but as his mother I feel somewhat entitled to those feelings. That is never going to change.
So despite my misgivings I have given this whole thing a shot. And you know what I am thinking right now? I am thinking: Is it too late to homeschool? I am chuckling a bit as I write, but it is not a laughing matter. Today was the straw the broke the camel’s back. In the eleven days that William has been attending class Doug or I have visited his school at least six times and talked with them on the phone EVERY SINGLE DAY. The reasons vary for each call or drop in, but they all center around one thing: my son’s safety. The first issue happened on his third day when William and another child shared their snacks with each other. I do not blame the kids, for the most part, because they are both only four, both are new to this all day experience and just trying to impress one another. The only reason I am almost certain that William did not eat any of this other snack is not because the teacher stopped it, but because his big sister Emily happened to see it happen. Not recognizing the snack William was about to eat she took it from him and threw it away! I can just imagine the trouble that caused, but I am so grateful she was there.
The next incident happened the following week when I discovered William came home without the waist pack that holds his Epi pen and asthma inhaler. Ironically we were at the doctor’s office when I found out because not only does stress come with back to school time, so does nasty colds and flus. What this means is that for a good thirty minutes William was without his life saving medication. From the moment he left the class until he got into our day care provider’s van, William was vulnerable to every egg, peanut and tree nut contaminate out there. Since our school is not a nut free school ( don’t even get me started..) and William shares the school bus with kids up to 13 years of age, there is no telling what danger he was in. The only saving grace is that he was not aware of it.
Another incident took place the same day. My son takes his own water bottle to school for obvious reasons, yet there he was with his mouth area breaking out into a rash of some kind. I have witnessed hives literally pop out onto William’s skin, face included, more times than I can count, but this rash had a slightly different quality to it. The doctor’s diagnosis? A rash caused by cross contamination on the water fountain in the classroom, most likely eggs. William said he couldn’t find his water bottle and he was thirsty, well, he actually said “firsty”, but I digress. :-) I realize that I can not expect the teacher to monitor every single thing William does, but the school are the ones that insisted he would be fine, that they have done this many times before. Then why are my son’s needs, after eleven days of school, being neglected?
Can you bear to listen to more? Later last week William was given candy by another child. I am honestly not certain if he ate any or not. There was a supply teacher in the room for most of the week and it is my opinion that she was not paying that much attention. My husband even saw her come out to lock the gate in the play yard after the bell rang and in her hand she was already carrying William’s waist pack. You know the one with his life saving meds he is to wear ALL THE TIME.
That brings me to this week. William again came home yesterday without his Epi pen and inhaler. At the time of publication, it still has not been located. The school couldn’t find it, nor could the school bus company. The bus people, called STOPR, did confirm that they were totally not aware of William’s allergies and asthma. The school had not shared that information on the student forms with them. Say what?! It is bad enough that William does not have his sister to ride on the bus with him, but now I find out the bus driver isn’t even aware of his medical issues! The funny is the first day William rode the bus I deliberately wore my “Warrior Mama” shirt proclaiming “I am the mother of a child with food allergies.” The bus driver thought that my shirt was great! I felt some relief when she shared that. STOPR told me today that bus driver had to switch routes three days later so we have someone different now. Ya think the parents might have liked to know that information? That homeschooling thing is looking better every second..