Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I'm Back...

Hello my long lost lovelies!

It has been quite a while since my last post and this one is way over due.  So much has been going on and I know I have been slacking...

First, I want to let you all know that the little 5k Run/Walk that I hosted turned out to be a HUGE success.  We had 160 participants and were able to write FARE a check for $3500.00.   Pretty awesome, if you ask me.  This year's 5K will be on September 20th.  If you are in the Central Illinois area and want to show support for food allergies, stop on by!  You can register at www.runspringfield.com/farewelltofoodallergies.  I am so excited for this year's event.  Our community shows awesome support and commitment to those living with food allergies.

Secondly, I want to inform everyone that we have added some new allergies in our house.  While we knew that egg, milk, and peanut were the foods Brady was to stay away from, blood and skin testing revealed last month that the peanut is way up from where it was at the last RAST test and his almond and tree nuts came back really high. I avoided tree nuts just to rule out cross contamination all along, but with additional allergies always comes additional anxiety.  And we all know how much allergy moms LOVE anxiety.  (Insert massive eye roll.)  Brady has also started to develop asthma due to his allergies.  This is another buzzkill.  As if anaphylaxis wasn't enough to freak me out, now I freak every time his breathing gets weird.  Thank God we have an amazing allergy doctor and staff that is very hands-on and could not be more supportive!

We tried a baked milk challenge, but that was unsuccessful.  We are trying an in-office egg challenge today.  Fingers crossed we can beat this one!!!!! Wouldn't it be nice if he could eat eggs ---hum that to the Beach Boys' "Wouldn't It Be Nice" and I bet you will smile.

With school starting all across the country in the coming weeks, I want to really get into the nitty gritty of how to manage allergies and stay safe at school.   This will have to be broken into a few posts as there is just sooooooooo much to cover.  Perhaps we should start with how to create a school health care plan for a child with food allergies.

As if sending your child to school for the first time wasn't emotional enough, sending a child with food allergies to school for the first time is downright terrifying. The responsibility you are entrusting to teachers, administration, and the school nurse is HUGE! Coming up with a plan is the best way to keep your sanity and make sure your child is SAFE. 

There are three types of plans that are most commonly utilized: Emergency Care Plans (ECP), Individualized Health Care Plans (IHCP), and 504 Plans.  Before a plan is in the works, it is a good idea to meet with the school's principal and teacher in person to discuss everything.  Together, you can work to create the plan that best addresses the child's needs. If possible, this meeting should be made before school starts.  To see sample plans visit www.kidswithfoodallergies.org.

The steps to the plans can be as simple or as complex as you would like.  Some parents feel that their school has a good grip on management, and do not feel the need for a 504 plan.  You should know that legally you are entitled to a 504 plan if your child has been diagnosed with food allergies or any other disability.

One of the first and most basic steps in creating a management plan for school is to create a Anaphylaxis Emergency Action Plan (and an Asthma Action Plan if necessary).  All allergy doctors should do this for each student.  This should be updated before school starts every year.  Next, all school staff that come into contact with the student should be informed of the child's allergies and how to administer epinephrine and where the EpiPens/Auvi-Qs will be kept.  Older students will be able to self-carry.  As a rule, I always keep two Epis in the classroom and two in the school office.  I meet regularly with the teachers to reinforce the plans as well.

Next, a letter from the school principal/nurse/teacher should be sent home to all parents in the class stating that there is a child in the classroom with potentially life-threatening food allergies.  It should state that there is a need for strict adherence to food allergy rules and guidelines.  The letter should specifically request that students refrain from bringing foods containing the student's allergens into the classroom and that any food brought in should require an ingredient label.   I know this is upsetting to those parents who like to bring in special treats they slaved over the night before, but let's be real...if your kid was standing in the street about to get hit by a car, I would run and try to save him and push him out of harm's way.  For my kid, it is not a car, but a peanut.  Get my drift? I get that your kid lives on PBJ, and that's awesome for them, but one little crumb of that sandwich could KILL my baby.  KEEP IT AT HOME!  I would do the same for your child, no questions asked. 

This letter should also contain the school's anti-bullying policy and make very clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to food allergies and bullying.  This will be an entirely different post.

Another part of the plan should be continued communication with your child's teacher about projects, crafts, and activities in the classroom that may contain the allergens.  Fieldtrips should also be discussed. 

Another suggestion I have is that classrooms go food-free for holiday celebrations and birthdays.  This guarantees equal participation for all students, and no one is left out and feelings are not hurt.  There are several alternatives to food: fun plates instead of cupcakes, birthday
hats, stickers, a special game, and of course, still singing Christmas songs and "Happy Birthday". 

In the lunch room, there should be an allergy-friendly table.  Most schools will do a peanut-free table.  Usually, the table is reserved specifically for lunch and not any other activities.  If your child eats in a cafeteria and they are not able to self-carry, Epis should be stocked in the cafeteria as well.  Ingredient labels should be mandatory for all items in the cafeteria.  Sending a lunch with your child is probably the safest option to lessen your anxiety.  It would also be a good idea to give the cafeteria manager and school administration a list of safe foods for your child to eat.  There should be routine hand washing and glove wearing (switched after touching allergens) by anyone handling food.  You may also want to find out if the ingredients in the food served by the cafeteria are available on the school's website.

If you have a child that receives a snack during the school day, it is best to bring in a supply of safe snacks in a specific contained labeled with your child's name and allergens.  I did this last year and it worked out great. 

While the school has a ton of responsibility when dealing with students with food allergies, parents also have responsibilities to the school.  As a parent of a food allergic child, you have the responsibility to inform any and all caretakers, teachers, and administration of the child's current health situation and management plan, as well as address any concerns you have or any problems that arise.  It is very important to stay in constant contact with the school staff to make sure the child's safety is the first priority.  You also have a responsibility to make other parents aware of your child's allergies, especially young children who play in close contact with each other.  No one would want to send their kid to school with peanut butter on his hands and later find out that it caused a reaction in a student with a peanut allergy which could have been prevented. 

Your allergy doctor will be able to help you with these plans and any questions or concerns you may have.  Make the school staff feel like you are all on the same team and everything will flow smoothly!

I promise my next post won't take 9 months to write:)

Last weekend I made my little man cherry cupcakes with lime frosting.  Brady loved them!  Here is the recipe:

  • ½ c. vegan butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 1½ c. granulated sugar
  • egg replacer equal to 4 eggs
  • 1½ tsp. vanilla
  • 2 c. flour
  • 1½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1⅓ c. soymilk
  • 1 (10 oz) jar, maraschino cherries, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. reserved maraschino cherry syrup (from the jar of cherries)
  • Lime Frosting:
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg. vegan cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 c. vegan butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • a few drops of green food coloring
  • 6 cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line (two) 12-cup cupcake tins with paper liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl with a stand or hand mixer, on low, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. While still on low, gradually add the egg replacer. Add the vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, while mixer is on low. Batter will be smooth and creamy. Measure out the soymilk, add the cherry syrup and stir. While mixer is on low, slowly add the buttermilk mixture to the batter. Lastly, add the chopped cherries, and slowly mix just until evenly dispersed into the batter.
  4. Add the batter to the lined cupcakes and fill to ¾ full. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean and free of crumbs. Let cupcakes cool.
  5. While cupcakes are cooling, mix the frosting. With a clean bowl and stand or hand mixer, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Add the lime juice and vanilla, and continue to mix until smooth. Gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. (Do this slowly, so you don't end up with powdered sugar everywhere.) Frosting will be thick and creamy. Lastly, add a few drops of green food coloring and thoroughly mix into the frosting. Spread or pipe on to the cooled cupcakes. Top with an additional maraschino cherry with stem.