Friday, April 30, 2010

Things to Remember and Some Relief

We went to a park with friends today so the big boys could play, and we all had lunch. Luke kept putting his food down on the picnic table {I was holding him on my lap}. All I could think about was, what if someone before us had a PB sandwich on this table? So note to self, next time bring a table cloth.

I've spent a lot of time reading various allergy message boards - the one I frequent the most is at Kids with Food Allergies. Today I read a post from a mom who's 13 year old needed 2 Epi shots for an allergic reaction. People commented that it's not uncommon for the first dose to not work. This is a bit overwhelming for me. It's a good reminder that having an Epi on hand isn't a reason to not be diligent about keeping Luke safe. It's not insurance - it just buys you some time. Each EpiPen will give you approximately 15 minutes to get medical help.

Which reminds me. We frequently travel to a house that my parents own on the weekends. It's in an area known as Northern Neck. It's very rural, and we love it because of that. It's nice to get away from the craziness of Northern Virginia, even if for just a day. When we discovered Luke's allergy though, I started to worry about what would happen if he needed attention while we were there. My first priority was to memorize the address {5+ years there and I still didn't know it! I do now} in case we ever had to call 911. Then I started wondering which would be the better thing to do - call 911 and wait for help to arrive {wondering how long it would take}, or hop in the car and head for the nearest hospital in Kilmarnock {about 20 minutes driving the speed limit}. There is a small volunteer station down the road from us, but we never saw anyone there. It was really eating at me, and I didn't know how to find out what the answer was...

...that is until last weekend. We happened to be driving past the volunteer station, and noticed that there were actually people there! And they were washing an ambulance! SCORE! I made a quick u-turn, and went back to talk with the EMT that was there. I told her where our house was, and she said response time would be about 5 minutes. Turns out there are several EMTs that live around us. If we were to put a call into 911, an EMT would respond from their home directly to ours, and another would head to the volunteer station for the ambulance. Perfect, exactly what I needed to hear. Obviously my goal is to never have to call 911, but it has given me a bit of relief in worrying about what we would do.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

{Baseball}

Today before nap time I took Cody outside to try out his new t-ball set. I have high hopes that he'll want to participate in a baseball camp for 4 year olds in August, and thought this would be a good start for introducing the sport to him. First, I forgot how much I love to hit a baseball, and I'm pretty darn good at it. Second, I discovered that Cody does have one part of the sport down - taunting. Whenever I missed {which was often whenever Cody was throwing to me} I was treated to a sing-song of "haha, you MISSED!". Gotta love it.

My goal for this summer is to take Cody to a baseball game. We're lucky enough to have a minor league team, the Potomac Nationals {aka the P-Nats} down the street from us. We've lived in our house for almost 7 years and haven't been to a game once. Which is really odd, because before I met my husband, I worked for the team as a receptionist. And before that, my friend and I were regulars at the games. But now Cody is old enough to sit through a few innings, so I plan to take him to one of the $1 night games. Hey, for $2 to get in, if we have to leave after a few innings, it's not such a big deal :)

Will we take Luke? I'm not sure. The allergist has said that he can be around people eating peanut products at a baseball game, he just can't consume or touch them. Will I be comfortable with it though? I'm not sure yet. The Washington Nationals {who happen to be the parent team of the P-Nats} have a game in early June with a peanut free section. That intrigues me, and I really hope that it's something they do every year. I'm just not sure it's worth the hassle of going downtown so that a 1.5 year old can go to a baseball game. Next year? Definitely. This year? Probably not. But many, MANY kudos to the Nationals for doing something so great!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Eating Out with Allergies

We've been eating out a lot this past week due to having a house guest. We went out of town over the weekend, to a small place that my parents' have a second home in. Driving down there on Friday we stopped at a locally owned diner, Horne's, for lunch. I was faced with my very first time having to make sure the waitress understood how important it was that Luke's food not contain any kind of nuts. I'll admit, I was nervous. I'm not the most outspoken person, but Luke's safety depends on me becoming that person. When we placed our order, I told the waitress that Luke has a peanut/tree nut allergy, and that it was very important that his food not come in contact with any. She looked at me like I had 2 heads, and said "tree what?". UGH. Not a very comforting reaction! Once I explained what tree nuts were though, she understood, and everything went well.

Saturday we had lunch at another local eatery, Newsomes Restaurant I started out asking if they cooked in peanut oil, the answer was no. I then informed the lady taking our order of his allergies, and she turned around and told the cook, so I was comfortable.

Sunday night we were back home, and went to dinner at a local steakhouse, All American Steakhouse. Again, I informed the waitress of his allergy. When she came back to the table, she told me that they didn't use peanut oil, and the only peanut products in the restaurant were for one desert item, and it's prepared away from the main courses. I pointed out tree nuts again, because I knew of at least one salad that came with candied pecans. She said they were pre-packaged and wouldn't come near his food. So again, I felt comfortable.

Eating out is definitely an adventure these days. But having three good experiences this weekend has given me confidence that speaking with the staff, and getting a positive feeling after speaking with the staff, will ensure a positive experience.

Friday, April 23, 2010

What A Nut Allergy Means {for us}

Goodbye nut products. The day we came home from the hospital we threw anything out that mentioned "nut" on it's label. I've learned so much since that day. For example, in the US, food makers must note if there are nut products IN the product. They don't however have to note if the product was made in the same facility or on the same line as other nut containing products. This is important, as even if a product doesn't contain nuts, if it has come in contact with them, it can still cause a reaction. Cross contamination is a big risk. So although a product doesn't mention nuts, we have to be careful. Some brands are known for being better about labeling than others and can generally be "trusted" in the way of taking their labeling at face value. Hershey's is one of them. Hershey Kisses have become my best friend lately.

Eating out is another adventure. Even if a dish is nut free, such as a grilled cheese, it's important to make sure that the cook and server understand that it can't come in contact with nut products. For example, if a non-nut product is prepared on the same surface as a nut product was prepared on, there is a cross contamination risk. Cooks have to be sure to sanitize all surfaces, use a clean cooking utensil, etc. Eating at places that use peanut oil {Chick-Fil-A} is a no-no. So are places with open containers of peanuts {Five Guys}.

Testing, Testing, 1-2-3

During Luke's most recent allergist visit we learned of the test results from the previous visit. The allergist did a 2 day patch test for various foods, and also sent Luke for blood work for peanut/tree nut allergies. He said that doing a skin test for the nut allergies would more than likely send Luke into anaphylaxis again.

The results...

Soy +
Milk +
Wheat ++
Egg +++
Chicken +
Green Beans +
Carrot +
Corn +
Pea +
S. Potato +
Banana ++
Oats ++
Rice +
Barley ++

Almond 0.95
Peanut 2.76
Cashew 0.74

{<0.35 Absent/Undetectable}
{0.35-0.70 Low Level}
{0.71-3.50 Moderate Level}
{3.51-17.5 High Level}
{17.6-50 Very High Level}

So what does this mean? Luke has been referred to a pediatric GI doctor for the food allergies. If there weren't so many that he reacted to, the allergist would have done an elimination diet. But because there are so many, an ED isn't possible. What will happen at the GI appt? I don't know. The doctor mentioned that the allergies may be also causing Luke's slow weight gain, so that's the main concern with the appointment. Celiac disease was mentioned {but said he doesn't think it's what Luke has}, and in his note to the GI doc, noted possible "allergic GI disease".

For the nut allergies, Luke is in the moderate level. Towards the higher end for peanut and towards the lower end for tree nuts. Luke is anaphalactic to peanuts, his reaction in March shows that. We don't know about tree nuts, but we are avoiding anything with any kind of nut product in it. Luke's nut allergy won't cause a runny nose or tummy ache. It's life threatening for him. The levels of the blood test don't show how bad a reaction would be, it can't predict it. It only shows that there is an allergy. Also, the allergist has said that Luke has a good chance of outgrowing the nut allergy because he is so young. He also said though that when we do blood work next year, the nut levels will probably be higher. This is because they typically go up before they come back down.