Our Peanut-free Journey

Life with a peanut allergic son.

Disney – Food Allergy Tips — November 24, 2015

Disney – Food Allergy Tips

Our fourth Disney trip is in the books. While I am no expert on all things Disney, I have learned some very important things along the way. First and foremost is that Disney is very food-allergy aware and accommodating. It is so nice to be able to take my son to a place where they get it. Food allergies are scary. Disney makes it a little bit easier.

If you go to Guest Services at any Disney park you can ask about their food allergy dining. There is a vast amount of places you can eat if you have a food allergy. Simply tell the person that is taking your order about what you are allergic to and they will be able to help you.

We had one sit-down meal while were there and it was at Whispering Canyon in Wilderness Lodge. In addition to having the chef come out, they also had a menu just for food allergies. Luckily, my son is only allergic to peanuts so we only had to worry about one food. Great food and great fun.

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As far as snacks go we don’t eat that many while we are in the parks. If you have a food allergy, Disney allows you to bring your own food into the park. Honestly, no bag checkers even asked why we had our own snacks, I don’t think they worry about it too much. We did have a Dole Whip float while in the Magic Kingdom. It is pineapple soft serve ice cream with pineapple juice on the bottom. I was assured that it was safe as it only contains sugar, water, and pineapple. Alex didn’t like it anyway but it was a nice treat for me.

Epcot was crazy busy when we were there. It was the second to last day for their Food and Wine festival and it was nuts. No pun intended. We could hardly get through the plethora of people. It was here that my daughter wanted a funnel cake. Right on the window it had a warning that people with food allergies should not eat it. They did not serve any kind of nut products but with a warning like that we decided that Alex shouldn’t take a chance. My daughter was more than happy to have her own funnel cake.

On our last night in Disney we decided to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party. I knew that hot cocoa and cookies were involved but I had read that the cookies were Snickerdoodle and that they had gluten and nut-free cookies for those with allergies. I still wasn’t holding my breath. It turns out that the cocoa is Nestlé’s and that the cookies for Alex were Enjoy Life chocolate chip cookies. Totally safe and so good! He was so excited to feel like a part of the group.

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Overall a very positive experience as was our other three trips. We just really enjoy going to Disney. Even if it was crazy crowded. Stay tuned for my next post. I’m going to give tips on things that I have learned over our last four trips.

Peanut Allergic Tween — July 1, 2015

Peanut Allergic Tween

Here we are, a 12-year-old boy with a peanut allergy. Not much has changed in regards to Alex’s allergy but we have had to implement some new safeguards now that he is on his own more. 

Hanging out with friends has become a lot more important and as such, he is on his own more. We outfitted his bike with a pouch in the front. It is small but it holds his Epi-pens and his cell phone. (More on that in a second.) When he gets to his friend’s house he makes sure to bring his med pouch (we use this case for now) and cell phone with him. 

I was so on the fence about getting him a cell phone but in the end it was the only thing that made sense. He is able to keep in contact with me and his friend’s would be able to call me in case of an emergency. 

So that is where we are right now. Still allergic. Still being cautious. Take care!

Auvi-Q — March 24, 2013

Auvi-Q

Auvi-Q, my new hero. Seriously. As my son approaches the teenage years, I am struggling with what will happen when he is off on his own with his friends. He’s not a girl, he doesn’t have a purse. He’s a boy. A very forgetful boy. Until recently I was the one who carried his epi-pens and he didn’t have to remember anything. Then he joined an art club. A 90-minute art club. Since he needed his epi-pens with him he carried a small drawstring backpack. Great for a kid who was sitting in class and not really doing much. But what about when he starts riding his bike everywhere? I worried about this stuff.

Enter Auvi-Q, a credit card sized epinephrine injector. Perfect for the pocket of a teenage boy. I am going to talk to his allergist and get her opinion but from what I can see, Auvi-Q is the answer to my prayers.

One of the best parts is the audible instruction that comes with it. Now it’s even easier for someone to help our kids when they need it most. However, like everything that is electronic, I feel that this could some day be defective and I hope that the actual injection would still work, should that happen.

So check it out and let me know what you think!!

Christmas Cookies — December 8, 2012

Christmas Cookies

It started last week with Halloween. The weeks and weeks of holiday food.

What’s a food allergy mom to do? Read, read, read. Labels that is.

What products do I feel are safe? Below is a list. It may be small but when all you need is a little Christmas normalcy it works!

•Ghirardelli chocolate chips in milk chocolate (sinful!) or semisweet
•Hershey’s chocolate chips in milk chocolate, semisweet, or mini chips
•Cake Mate sprinkles – just the sugar, jimmies, and little balls
•Cake Mate icing
•Betty Crocker icing in a tub

Again, this list is small but it’s all we need to have some yummy Christmas treats.

Please, remember to always read labels. What I have listed above works for us. It may not be in the comfort zone of your family.

Happy holidays!

First Scare — September 4, 2012

First Scare

So last week we ate at Olive Garden. Something we’ve done many times. Alex gets buttered spaghetti noodles and doesn’t eat the salad or breadsticks. Not because he can’t but because he chooses not to.

Fast forward to the end of the meal. The mints. Everyone loves the Andes mints you get after your carbohydrate laden meal. Alex especially likes them because they’re safe.

However, after eating the mint he starts to complain that his throat burns. Odd. He’s never complained about this before. We try to ascertain exactly what is going on. Did he drink water after the mint? That would make your throat burn. Nope. No water.

Then he starts to panic. He feels weird. His throat burns. A full on anxiety attack is happening.

If my husband hadn’t been there I would have given him his Epi-pen. But since my husband noted that he had no other symptoms he didn’t want to use them. I ask Alex about other possible anaphylaxis symptoms and he starts to say his stomach hurts. Again, is this real or anxiety?

We decide to head to the ER. He is not in any distress except for the anxiety of a possible reaction.

On the way to the ER he asks to play with my phone. Once his mind is off the incident he is magically better. We stopped at a Walgreen’s and I got some Benadryl and he took a dose while in the parking lot. Crisis averted.
No Epi-pen, no ER.

But did we do the right thing? I don’t know. The allergist would probably say no. I would say no. My husband would say yes. Who’s to know?

Disney World – Take Two — December 2, 2011

Disney World – Take Two

We went to Disney again last month. Even though it was two years ago that we last went, the story is still pretty much the same. The restaurants are very mindful of food allergies. If your only allergy is peanuts it’s super easy. There is hardly anything at all with peanuts in most of the large restaurants. Some places do serve pb&j but it was the Uncrustables so there wasn’t much chance of x-contamination.

The Nestle ice cream bars that are made specifically for Disney and are on literally every corner, in every park, are still safe to eat. Much to the elation of my kids! They had one at every park. Four ice creams in five days. Yum!

The Guest Services has a packet of papers that you can read to see what restaurants have what allergy issues. While this is a great thing to have, it is a little difficult to understand. They have all four parks listed and sometimes things are in different parks and well, it was confusing. However, we told the chefs at each place that we had a peanut allergy and they were very helpful.

The only issue we had was leaving our backpack in the stroller. I tried to keep it with me at all times but sometimes with a certain ride it wasn’t feasible. The problem with this is that it is where we kept the epi-pens. I was worried someone would steal our backpack.  I finally had my husband keep an epi-pen in his jeans so that we would always have one with us. Turns out we did have something stolen from us but it wasn’t the backpack.  Someone stole our newly bought ornaments from under the stroller. We decided to do one last ride and while we were in line or on the ride they stole our ornaments. It happens.

All in all, a wonderful, and practically worry-free vacation. It’s awesome!!

Halloween 2011 — October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011

It’s heeeeeeeeere. My poor boy wants nothing more than to trick-or-treat like the other kids but I just can’t do it. So him and his sister will dress up and hand out Nerds, Airheads and Sweetarts, candy that is safe and that they enjoy. Perhaps in a year or two I’ll feel comfortable going door-to-door but for now we’ll have a little candy scavenger hunt at home and we’ll enjoy seeing all the crazy costumes that kids wear from the comfort of our own home.

New Book — July 11, 2011

New Book

I’m anxiously awaiting the release of a new book called “Don’t Kill The Birthday Girl”.   I saw it mentioned in today’s Parade Magazine. The book is stories written by a woman who has multiple food allergies in addition to other environmental allergies. While the author is not allergic to peanuts, she is allergic to several “main ingredient” foods and I’m sure I will be able to relate to her stories. The book is released on July 12, just in time for our beach vacation. I’ll be back with a review after I’ve read it.

Acting Camp – First non-school experience. — June 27, 2011

Acting Camp – First non-school experience.

Update – Camp went really well and thankfully there were no issues. My boy is growing up. *sniff*

 

Alex is at an acting camp this week. He will be there for 3.5 hours Mon-Thurs and then from 9-4:30pm on Friday. This is the first time Alex is in charge of his epi-pens on his own. The first time he is in charge of giving himself an injection if the situation warrants. This is scary stuff for him and for his momma. We went over the use of  his epi-pen yesterday and today using the trainer. He already knew the basics but we wanted to be sure he was ok with the actual action. He did well. This morning I went over the things he needed to look out for in case of a reaction. Things like his tongue feeling larger, his mouth/tongue tingling, difficulty breathing and feeling as though his throat was constricting. This all scared him but I told him he had to be prepared for anything.

At first he was a little too nonchalant for my taste. “I never had a problem in school” he told me. I explained that he had to be prepared in case he touched someone who had peanut butter residue on their hands. It is acting camp so who knows what kinds of things they’ll be doing. Shaking hands is very possible. Now that I think of it I probably should have sent some baby wipes with him. Mental note for tomorrow.

So, this is a first for us. I am hoping that 8-years-old isn’t too young for this. I know he has to get used to it at some point but he’s still my baby and I worry. A lot.

Pennsylvania Epi-Pen Law — June 18, 2011

Pennsylvania Epi-Pen Law

When we visited the allergist last month, she mentioned that Pennsylvania is working on getting a law passed that will allow students to carry their epi-on their person. As of now schools can make the decision for us as to where our children’s epi-pens are stored. While I get that kids in kindergarten, first-grade, maybe even second-grade should not be allowed to carry their epi-pens I believe the children in the upper grades should be allowed. If you are able to do the epi-pen yourself, you should be allowed to carry it. My son is going into 3rd grade next fall. I don’t know if the law will be passed by then or not. If not, he will be fairly far away from the nurse’s office and that makes me very uncomfortable. Up until now he was right down the hall from the office. Granted, this year it was as far down the hall as he could be, but close enough that I felt comfortable with it.

My hope is that even if the law isn’t passed, the new principal (yes, I have to start over with a new principal this year) will call our allergist and find out what this new law entails. If our kids can’t outgrow this allergy then we need to do our best to advocate for their safety.

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