Monday, September 26, 2011

Food Allergy Symptoms

Here is a great article that lists the common food allergens and the food allergy symptoms.  Perfect for sharing with family and friends who are unfamiliar with food allergies.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Allergy Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

'nack! 'nack!  'nack!

That's a never-ending chorus around our house.  Everyone always wants a snack!  And I don't always have something baked and ready to go.  So, sometimes I have to consult a box............

And these little crunchy cookies were pretty yummy........

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Where did you go to medical school?

Sometimes you just have to wonder........just where did that doctor go to medical school?  Where did that nursing degree come from? 

And you know the situation might be a little desperate when a mom is trying to explain medical terms to the doctor or nurse.  Then, all she gets is the blank deer-in-headlights look. 

Ohh, I remember one of our many doctor visits with little Bee.............we were on doctor 10 or 12 and I was giving the run-down on her medical history.  We didn't keep doctors too long because they were always making me angry-by disagreeing with me... 

At this visit, I began by giving the nurse a crash course in Bee's history, including her RAST tests.  RAST, as in radioallergosorbent test.  It's not that difficult to figure it out-all you really need is Wikipedia.  (And in case you don't have time to skim Wikipedia, RAST is a blood test.  They draw your blood; they test that blood against certain allergens; they see if your immune system responds.  If it does-you might be allergic; if not-you might be ok.  It's really very simple).  So, I could not understand why I was getting a blank stare each time I mentioned the RAST test results.  I was talking to a nurse who worked in a doctor's office for an allergist.  Isn't that what they do? 

After repeating myself about 4 times and the nurse began to type.  Hooray!  She's got it!  She busily input all the information into the computer.  Then we were shown to our room to wait ever-so-patiently for the doctor. 

Finally!  The doctor comes in, pulls up Bee's information on her fancy laptop, skims over what the nurse recorded, looks very puzzled, and asks........She's allergic to RATS?  Is that why you're here?


And that's my M.O.M. degree at work.  Trumps all the other ones out there every time! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

RAST Test Results

We have results!

Tell me!  I'm listening!

We are allergy free according to our RAST test!  We are about as negative as you can get!  
So, it's time to chow down!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Growing Up

After feeling like many of my previous posts have been on the negative side, how's this for a positive post?  Bee has a new room, new bed and a new comforter coming soon.  She and Curly and roomies and are loving their new bunk bed arrangement.  Bee asks Curly to read to her every night and together they decide on a CD.  Curly even tucks Bee in each night and we can hear them talking and giggling.  She's growing up too fast!  They both are..........

And this is sometimes how she sleeps.........
So cute at this age!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Food Allergies and Hand Washing

Bee's little system is so sensitive that even the slightest amount of an allergen can trigger a reaction for her.  This means that if someone handled a food that is an allergen for her and then touched her, her food, or something else she was to come into contact with, she could break out.  Therefore, we wash our hands frequently!

Our house is mostly allergen free to keep Bee safe.  Occasionally the other kids eat something which contains one of Bee's lesser allergens.  However, we keep that food separate and wash their hands afterwards.  So far we haven't had any problems.  

I had not given our obsessive hand washing much thought until the other day.  After snack time, during which Tiger and Curly had a snack bar that contained a small amount of soy, the kids jumped up from the table, threw their trash away, and rushed to the bathroom to wash their hands.  I didn't even prompt them.  They have certainly picked up on our hand washing trend-we wash after we eat!

Now when I remind them to wash their hands before they sit down to eat I get funny looks.  They seem oblivious to germs.  Their thinking is to wash off the allergens after they eat.  The other germs are not nearly as important in their eyes.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Doctor Update

In August, we made the trek to Texas Children's for our biannual checkup.  For our trip, I pack the diaper bag with the necessary gear.  I pack an extra bag with toys and coloring books.  I pack a bag with food and snacks.  This time I also had Ladybug in tow so I had her gear and a stroller.  I felt like I was moving in!  Hubby took the older two kiddos to a nearby Children's Museum while we spent 4 long hours at the appointment.  Here's the recap:

Round 1 with the doctor:  The general consensus was that we still have bad allergies and bad eczema.  Nothing new there!

There was a family practice doctor shadowing our immunologist so I got to explain our problems from the beginning so she could learn.  Our doctor made multiple comments that she was going to use one my comments when teaching other doctors.  Lovely.  So nice to be infamous and be a teaching tool.

We discussed our latest reactions and the doctor encouraged me to be more proactive in using the Epi-pen.  Allergic reactions are unpredictable and can clear up in 5 minutes or take a turn for the worse in 30 seconds.  She wanted us to err on the side of caution.

The dietician:  The dietician went over our current diet and we concluded that there was nothing else we could add or change.  We're staying the same on our diet and there aren't too many new products out there for us.  Bee has gained 2 pounds and the dietician felt that her growth was right on target.  Go Bee!  She's working a little of the cute toddler chub!

The respiratory therapist:  Well, this was a new one for us!  Apparently the doctor decided that she wanted us to be armed with inhalers as another line of protection in the event of an allergic reaction.  Now we'll have an albuterol inhaler with a fun little mask to help insure that Bee actually breathes in the inhaler.  So we spent some time going over how the mask works and I practiced using it on Bee.  She was surprisingly cooperative and stopped playing with her magnets long enough to try on the mask.

The nurse:  Just in case I couldn't figure out the Epi-pen, the doctor sent in a nurse with a demonstrator pen.  I had to pretend to give Bee the Epi to prove that I could in fact use the Epi-pen.  Pull off cap, press into thigh, count to ten, and don't forget to have a total panic attack and meltdown.  Yes, I've got the Epi down; I just don't want to use it!

Round 2 with the doctor:  We agreed on no testing for Bee for the day since she probably hasn't improved enough to do a food challenge.  In 6 months we'll retest and hope for some improvements.  Maybe we can add a new food back in!

After discussing her latest reactions the doctor cautioned us to avoid all cats and dogs and not even enter a house in which a cat or dog lives.  Bee is definitely allergic to both animals.  She also reminded us to watch for reactions to any other foods and let our experience guide us when choosing foods for Bee.

We addressed Bee's eczema which is out of control right now.  The doctor believes the heat is our biggest problem.  We have a few options:  1) Give Bee a daily dose of Zyrtec to help control the itching and the flare-ups  2) Cover Bee in a steroid cream daily to help reduce the eczema  3) Do a combination of both  4) Try the medications daily for a few weeks at a time to help control the eczema and then back off with the understanding that we may need to continue the medication daily

I am going to choose.............none of the above!  We've tried daily regimens before and the day we stop them, Bee flares up 10 times worse than she was before.  We're going to stick with cool tub soaks, wet wraps, lotion, and the occasional Cortizone Cream or Zyrtec dose on days we need it.  We've kept her under control for over a year with no meds so I want to keep doing what has been working.

Monday, September 5, 2011


Today we are celebrating the fact that we made it through the weekend.  But, you say, isn't the week supposed to be the hard part?  Nope!  For the month of September the weekends are going to be misery for me and for my poor hubby.  Did I ever mention that he is a PhD student?  This weekend was the beginning of prelims or the comprehensive exam.  He's taking it in 3 parts-one part per weekend.  His job is to write and research and study and edit and pull all-nighters.  My job is to keep the kids out of the bedroom and keep them busy and somewhat quiet!  I do wonder which job will be more difficult....

Today we are one exam down and two more to go, and that is reason to celebrate!  Not to mention today is a holiday and we have a full day of Daddy fun!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Summertime is about swimming, eating watermelon, playing outside, enjoying ice cream, and firing up the grill for hamburgers and hotdogs.  Or at least it is for most kids.

I hate summer!  When I think of summer all I can think about is the list of things we can't do or can't eat.  Swimming is difficult because swimsuits make Bee itchy.  Wearing a swimsuit leaves her skin exposed and vulnerable and it's too easy for her to scratch.  Bee is such a water baby and loves to swim, so we try to make it happen as often as possible.  But it is so. very. stressful.  Watermelon is a no-no because she is allergic.  Who has ever heard of an allergy to watermelon?  I mean, really?  Playing outside makes Bee hot and itchy and scratchy and rashy.  Outside=hot=inflammation.  Inside begins to sound really nice.  Ice cream.....ha!  Other parents take their kids to fun ice cream shops and little Bee has not seen the inside of one.  Hamburgers and hotdogs............a no-go.  I am determined to learn how to make a hamburger bun that Bee can have so we can make our own hamburgers.  At least I can work toward that part of summer.

When I begin to think of what summer means for most and how it will never mean those things for Bee I begin to feel so down.  We'll just have to learn to make a new definition of summer for Bee.  She doesn't need to think in those terms.  She can use her own dictionary and define summer according to the things she can do and the things we do together.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Allergy Free Biscuits and Gravy

My kids love biscuits and gravy!  Can you tell we're from the South??  Here's the recipe for the gravy that never lasts long at our house.

1/4 cup of Earth Balance spread (dairy and soy free - red container)
1/4 cup plus 2 T rice flour
2 cups plain rice milk
1/2 t salt
1/4 t pepper
pinch of cayenne red pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1/2 pound of ground sausage, browned (The sausage we use has sage, red pepper, salt, and pepper seasoning).

Melt the spread in a saucepan over medium low heat.
Add the flour and whisk for a full minute.
Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly.  Continue whisking until the gravy reaches the desired thickness.  Then add spices and browned sausage.  If the gravy is slightly too thick after adding the sausage, whisk in more milk.  

I usually have to double this recipe for my kiddos.  It's really rich and creamy and it doesn't even taste dairy-free!

Friday, September 2, 2011

To Test or Not to Test for Food Allergies

We have been wondering if Ladybug had food allergies.  We have been praying and hoping that the answer was NO!

Was the best answer to simply have her tested to find out?  Or do we wait until she has a reaction or shows some other symptom of an allergy?

I know some allergic parents have all their other children tested once they have a child diagnosed with an allergy.  Other parents prefer the wait and see method.

In my heart I've just felt that Ladybug was allergy free.  But she has started to have some interesting symptoms lately.  She has always been a spit up baby.  Lately, it seems like she's been spitting up-all the time!  Occasionally we even have projectile.  That is sure fun to clean off the floor, wall, and furniture.

Other than her interesting spit up episodes, Ladybug doesn't seem to be showing any other symptoms.  She has beautiful, clear, eczema-free skin.  She is gaining weight and looks like a little butterball right now.

I decided to take her to our doctor to discuss her never-ending spit up fun.  He seemed to think she was doing fine but agreed to have her tested if it would make us feel better.  I thought it might be easier to know her RAST results before we began solid foods with her.  The whole trial-and-error method just doesn't make me feel very safe.

We headed to the lab after our appointment and the tech was wonderful.  One stick and the fastest blood draw that we have ever experienced, and Ladybug was all done.  She really didn't have time to fuss.

Now to wait for our results.  Are we allergy-free???

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Allergy Free S'mores

Her very first s'more.  I think it was a hit!

 I even made this in the oven-half a graham cracker with a marshmallow on top.  I'm not even going to think about using a fireplace in Texas - in August!

Where have these graham crackers been?  Combined with some marshmallows and some Enjoy Life chocolate bars.........yummy!  Perfection!

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