Sunday, September 2, 2012

Allergist Appointment 2012

I can't believe that I never really got around to discussing Georgia's October 2011 allergist appointment, and now here we are having completed her 2012 allergist appointment.  Mostly that just means I've been busy (raising children, taking care of a baby, etc.), but I think it's also a positive sign that allergies don't mentally plague me on a daily basis as much as they used to.  At the beginning, when you get a food allergy diagnosis, your mind is swirling and there is a steep learning curve with many unanswered (and in some cases, unanswerable) questions to confront.  But as time passes, allergies just become a part of life like anything else.  So, I guess that is a good thing. 

Before we get into how this year's allergist appointment went, let me share a few bullets about other stuff.
  • My father passed away in May.  Obviously, that's a whole other story (and one of the reasons I've had a busy year), but the reason I'm mentioning it here is that I believe it to be noteworthy that we survived a week of non-stop grieving food generosity without incident.  We traveled for the funeral and were staying at my parents' house. My parents' friends were unbelievably kind to put on a veritable buffet of homemade comfort food for days on end after my dad died.  It truly was amazing - and delicious.  Obviously, my first feeling about this was thankfulness.  However, I was quite nervous about the prospect of Georgia eating so many things prepared in others' homes.  Many people were nice enough to even ask about her allergies, but good intentions and loving care do not always translate to safety.  For example, when sesame seed buns were offered, someone thought that Georgia simply eating bottom buns only would work.  But with vigilance, and passing on pretty much all of the baked goods, everything was just fine.  I will admit that my safety standards were not as high as normal, but high enough I guess?  Or did we just get lucky?

  • We made it through an entire school year without Georgia suffering any allergic reactions at school.  Woo-hoo!  Props to her teachers for so carefully reading all snack labels.  I'm thrilled that she'll be in the same classroom again this year with the same teachers.  (It's Montessori, so even though she's moving on to kindergarten, it is a mixed-ages environment.)  It's such a comfort to know that her teachers already know the drill.  Nevertheless, we still met with them a few weeks ago, because it never hurts to review emergency procedures and that kind of thing. 
  • Minor gripe:  if the school in practice is storing her Epipens and Benadryl in a conveniently located cabinet in the classroom, why must they continue to have me sign an "official policy" that states all medication will be kept in a locked cabinet in the main office, accessible only by the principal and her designees?  I'm satisfied because I've seen with my own two eyes where Georgia's meds are stored.  But I know our allergist would not be happy with the thought of medication being locked up and not in immediate reach.  I've been led to believe that in some cases of anaphylaxis, an extra 15 seconds or 1 minute can be the difference between life and death.  Anyway, I'm biting my tongue on this one since at base I've already gotten what I want, but it always bothers me when policies don't match reality.  

  • Earlier this month we went to the American Girl store in Chicago for the first time.  Overall, I was quite impressed with their allergy awareness.  (Of course you should use your own judgment, but I felt comfortable letting Georgia eat their food.)  When we booked the reservation online, there were boxes to check to indicate certain common food allergies.  I later called to speak to one of their customer service reps about Georgia's allergies and their allergen practices generally.  The only part I'd give them low marks on was communicating all of this to the server, because when I made sure to mention Georgia's allergies to the server, she handled it very politely, but clearly it was the first she'd heard of it.  I suppose from a practical standpoint that may have made absolutely no difference, but somehow it didn't instill a feeling of confidence in me about everything else they'd already told me on the phone.  I guess I assumed if you checked an allergy box on your reservation form that when you showed up there would be an allergy indicator next to your name or something.  Also, American Girl serves soy nut butter rather than peanut butter finger sandwiches, which is great.  However, I think they (or at least our server, perhaps I should say) are in the habit of nevertheless describing these in person as peanut butter sandwiches when setting them on the table.  I imagine this is to help the parents of picky eaters avoid any difficulties; call it peanut butter, and nobody asks questions (at least I assume that's the idea).  It caused our table to do a double-take, though, at which point the server corrected herself and we all chuckled mildly in relief.  Interestingly, Georgia still declined to eat any of them.  She really is unbelievably cautious at this age, at least when it comes to food, which is fine by me.  One more American Girl anecdote:  did you know that amongst their doll accessories, they sell an allergy-free lunch, including a faux allergy shot and medical bracelet?  We didn't buy one, but how cool is that?
I think it's a sign of the times that enough children have food allergies that a doll store would even have something like this available.  My first thought was, "Who needs this expensive set? We could fashion our own from stuff we already have at home."  I could see myself eventually deciding to treat Georgia to this, though, because in my view it's no different than the dolls with glasses, braces, or the ones in wheelchairs; every child just wants to feel normal and accepted for who they are. 

Wow.  Those were some seriously long bullet points!  Sorry for rambling on, but now I think I've got to go.  The allergist appointment summary will have to wait for a different post.  (And because I am too lazy to change it, this post will now have the most poorly selected title ever!)
Until next time...take care!  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Oh, hello there!

Hi there, poor, neglected little allergy blog o' mine. I'm not sure where the time has gone, except, wait, actually, yes I am. I had a baby boy in August, and as such critters are wont to do, he's been keeping me quite busy. Three kids under 5 is officially a handful in my book. With a scarcity of spare minutes for blogging, I've been devoting those minutes to capturing Waylon's babyhood and our girls' antics elsewhere rather than Georgia's allergies on this blog.

All of that said, I have made connections on this blog with other families dealing with food allergies (sidenote: my apologies to those of you to whom I owe emails; it's nothing personal but I've been terrible about correspondence lately), plus I like having some record of Georgia's progress, so I'm not yet interested in totally foregoing this blog or shutting it down.

They say when you get behind in school, sometimes it's best to just let go of what you haven't done and instead start reading for the next class. With that sentiment in mind, I'm jumping back into this blog without rehashing every detail of the past 6+ months.

But there were a few events worth mentioning...

In September, our family participated in a FAAN Walk for Food Allergy. I am not sure whether Georgia really got a kick out of being in a community of supportive people and others with food allergies, or if I was just projecting that sentiment on to her because I sort of felt that way? Anyway, it was a gorgeous fall day. We tried to explain to Georgia beforehand that the purpose of the walk was to raise money for scientists and doctors to learn more about food allergies, and she really latched on to that apparently. My favorite part of the walk was that she kept asking where the scientists and doctors were. "Is he one of the scientists, mommy?"

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
It was a 2 stroller kind of day for our crew.

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
Waylon, always the supportive little brother at 5 weeks old, wore his green ribbon in honor of his big sister. (Blue ribbons were for those with food allergies, green for friends and family.)

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
Good thing this wasn't a race; I think we would've come in dead last. Actually, we didn't really complete the whole walk, but I think it's the thought that counts, don't you? At this point in our life as a freshly minted family of five, I was impressed with us just for showing up.

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
June enjoying some fancy top 8 allergen-free jelly beans. (They had all sorts of free goodies there.)

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
I think I look pretty terrible here, but with good reason, right? And now you can see part of the reason our troupe was moving so slowly.

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
Georgia proudly showing off her free t-shirt.

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
Normally, people with food allergies just want to fit in with the crowd and be "normal." But when you're 4, you think it's pretty darn cool to get your very own special blue ribbon just for having allergies.

FAAN Walk for Food Allergy 2011
June kept running way ahead of us on this path along Lakeshore Drive. I love her wobbly toddler jogging. : )

Oh, shoot. Look at the time! Well, I had intended to write about Georgia's October allergist appointment, too, but if I wait to complete that, this will probably never get posted. So I'm just going to hit "Publish Post", run to get in the preschool pickup line now, and save the rest for a different day. Ta ta!