Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Potpourri and Allergies

I have a new item to add to our growing allergy list-potpourri!  I don't like potpourri and never have it in our house.  I don't even wear perfume anymore in order to better protect Bee.  Do you want to know how I found out............keep reading..........

We try to go to the library story time.  Sometimes we are successful and other times we are not.  We made it this week!  For the craft the kids were making a Mother's Day card.  They put glue on a pink cardstock heart and put the heart in a  shoebox to shake potpourri over it.  Then they tied a ribbon to their heart and put it in an envelope.  We dutifully did our heart and then trooped upstairs for story time.  I survived lots of songs, hand motions, and keeping all 4 kids contained in the story time area.  Then we picked out a few books, grabbed our cards, and headed home.

As I was putting Bee in the car, I noticed a small red bump on her upper chest.  I dismissed it as a mosquito bite.  When we got home, I unbuckled Bee and noticed that her entire neck, upper chest, throat, and chin were bright red, swollen, and covered in hives.  We dashed inside; I undressed Bee, rinsed her off, and put some medicine on her.  Daddy was home a few minutes later to eat lunch with us, so he fixed lunch while I watched Bee.  She did not seem to be having trouble breathing and the rash was not spreading.  After a few hours the rash was gone.

After brainstorming what could have caused her reaction.....Kid who ate eggs for breakfast touching her?  Library book tainted with spilled milk?  Cheerio- or cracker-covered hands of another child?  Bee's breakfast?  The only new or different thing that we kept coming back to was the potpourri that Bee put on her card-French Vanilla.  We have never been around potpourri before and it never occurred to me that she would react to barely touching it.  

Later that afternoon, I called the librarian about the potpourri to discover the brand.  I have since left a message with the company to discover the ingredients in the hopes that I could narrow down what bothered her.  I'll be taking the ingredient list to our doctor.

Most potpourri contains multiple oils and some contains many artificial and synthetic scents and ingredients.  We are assuming that one of these things caused Bee's reaction.

So, potpourri is never coming near us again and I will continue to avoid perfumes and other fragrances for her-no candles or air fresheners.  Here at the hive we'd rather just be stinky!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Church and Allergies

I know I blogged about last year's Mother Day experience in the ER with Bee.  (Pineapple is not our friend).  But this year, we continued the Mother's Day tradition with another reaction.  Although, thankfully this one was much smaller and did not result in an ER visit.

It's Mother's Day and Baby Dedication to boot.  We have ourselves and 4 small children dressed and to church-on time!  We sit in our usual pew-don't all churchgoing families seem to have a  "regular pew "?  Halfway through the songs, Bee is starting to look rashy on her face.  She's getting antsy and flopping all over the pew.  Hubby and I exchange the ever-familiar "what are we going to do" look.  Do we stay?  Do we leave?  Do we give her Benadryl?

We settle on some Benadryl cream for her face.  We make it through Baby Dedication with a very calm baby Ladybug but a very fussy Bee.  Her face is looking red, swollen, and blotchy.  I'm sure the pictures were great, actually I'm not even sure we have any pictures....After we return to our seats I take Bee to wash her hands and then out to our car where we keep jammies!  Jammies with feet are our best friend.  When I don't want things to touch her skin we wear jammies.  I'm sure Bee is the only toddler who comes to church in jammies.

Throughout the service Bee is becoming more itchy and even more cranky.  As soon as that service-ending prayer begins, we are packed up and sneaking out of our pew.  It's home and a bath for Bee with lots of lotion to calm her skin.

Ok, so her breakouts were on her face and on her legs.  The culprit-the pew.  Bee was dressed so adorably in a dress, leaving her legs exposed to the pew.  She was also sitting turned around facing the couple behind us as she was playing peek-a-boo with them.  Therefore, her face was rubbing against the back of the pew.  Her legs and arms were rashy but her face was especially red.

So, what was on that pew?  Was it the solution used when cleaning the pews and the sanctuary?  Was it the perfume from a person who sat on the pew previously?  Was it pet hair from another church goer?  Was it donut slime from the donuts in the foyer?  Was it a spilled sippy cup or bottle?  Was it a snack food or even the bread from the Lord's Supper ground into the fabric of the pew?

I don't know and I probably never will.  That's the frustrating thing.  Bee can break out for reasons that I will never know.  How can I possibly keep her safe when whatever she touches seems to break her out?  These are the days I want to lock the door, stay home, and never leave.  I hate to see her miserable and I hate to have our lives limited by where we can go and what we can do.  Does it ever get easier?  Or will I always have this nagging fear and frustration that we won't always be safe?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Dairy Alternative that Wasn't....

I blogged about our ER visit which followed our experience with some dairy-alternative rice cheese made by Galaxy Foods.

At our health food store hubby bought some rice cheese shreds thinking that they would be fine since we had used some rice cheese in the past.  He glanced over the packaging and noted that not only was it a dairy alternative, it was soy free!  This is exciting because most milk free cheeses are from soy and many dairy alternatives are soy-based or contain soy.  So this one was dairy and soy free!

Wrong!  This "dairy alternative" contains dairy-in the form of casein which is a milk protein.  Most allergies are triggered by food proteins, so allergic individuals have to steer clear of any food that contains the protein structure of one of their allergic foods.  In the ingredient list the product does list casein and notes that it is a milk protein.  However, below the ingredients list, the product does not have the familiar "Product Contains: Milk" labeling that we always check for.

The lesson here is, never trust the packaging and always read the labels.  However, could they have been any more misleading on the front packaging of their product by declaring it a dairy-alternative?  I think not.

The company does manufacture one product-rice VEGAN cheese-that does not have casein.  Bee should be able to eat their Rice Vegan cheese.

I decided to call them and let them know that their packaging was misleading and confusing.  The representative informed me that the product is a dairy-alternative in that it does not contain lactose and is lactose free for individuals who are lactose intolerant.  That's fine.  The product should be labeled as lactose free in bold letters across the front-not as a dairy-alternative.  If you look for a dairy-alternative, you want it to NOT contain dairy.  That's only logical right?

So, not all rice cheeses are created equal and many are unsafe for allergic individuals.  The companies don't help clarify the confusing array of choices with their misleading labels.  And the kicker?  After expressing my frustration to the representative and urging the company to consider different, more clearly-labelled packaging, she asked if I wanted a coupon.  No thank you!  I don't think I will be buying any product from this company.  Saving 75 cents on a product that put Bee into anaphylactic shock and resulted in one horrible and scary day (and a $5,000 ER bill) is not really cost effective.
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