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!