Thursday, January 31, 2008

Skin Test Results - Sorry about the confusion

So after some phone calls and comments I realized I need to clarify:

Milk - Skin test is a definate positive. Doesn't look like he will be outgrowing this year or perhaps ever. The wheal was a 12. In fact the size of the wheal has never changed from the time he was first tested at age one. I may have to deal with the fact that he may never outgrow milk. Hence "nope, nope, nope." Hasn't outgrown, down the roller coaster we go.

Egg - Completely negative. Not even a bump.

Peanut - Very small wheal. Even smaller than the control histamine.

The "still hope" for egg and peanut is because we still need to do the blood test. If the RAST numbers come back good (meaning they are down or the same as last years numbers which were in the low to moderate levels) we will be looking at oral challenges for egg and peanut within the next year!

A little sun, a little half empty, glass half full. Haven't sorted out my own feelings yet.

Skin Test Results

Milk - nope, nope, nope, nope, nope
Egg - still hope, still hope

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Rant (mainly) About a Cupcake

I'm sure you could look at this situation from the other mom's point of view but this is my blog and I'll rant if I want to.

Before school started Max's teacher and I talked about food allergies and birthday celebrations and she decided it would be best to just encourage parents to bring in fresh fruit for a celebration snack. I think this is great on many levels. Besides cutting down on the food allergy worries it keeps kids from loading up on sugar before lunch which is when birthday celebrations are scheduled. Just personally, I also don't know why food must always be the center of any celebration. Montessori does a lovely ceremony, involving the child walking around a lit candle the number of years he has been on earth to symbolize the sun going around the earth while the teacher talks about each year of the child's life. The child gets to be the center of attention and made to feel very special. Why add food to this?

So when on Friday, Max's teacher said another mom wanted to bring in cupcakes for her son's celebration (he was having a party on Sunday) I felt a little worried. Max's teacher gave her a recipe and strict instructions on which products and cross contamination. I still felt worried and called her Sunday.

Her son wasn't feeling well on Monday so the celebration was pushed to Tuesday. I finally got in contact with the mom Monday night. She was exasperated with the recipe. Here are some of her exasperations:

"The recipe looks so hard!"

"I don't have all the right ingredients."

"I'm not much of a baker."

"I'm sure every pan and bowl we have has had egg in it at some point."

"I didn't know someone could be allergic to eggs!"

"What do you feed him?" (When I told her he was also allergic to milk, peanuts and tree nuts)

(And my favorite) "My son just doesn't like fruit. Really. He just doesn't like it."

So I listened patiently and then did what she was really asking for. I let her off the hook. I told her to make whatever her son wanted and I would send something safe for Max. At which point she offered to make my son a fruit kabob! Come on, my kid is pretty good about his allergies but if everyone around him is eating cupcakes he's not going to be happy with a fruit kabob.

She gave the obligatory "I just don't want him to feel left out." which in return I gave the obligatory "Don't worry, this is our life and he is used to it. He hasn't known anything different." Blah, blah, blah. Why do I have to make other people feel good about my son's allergies when they want to go against the class rules and bring cupcakes because their son doesn't like fruit?

And another thing: When buying the usual (and only kind which were safe for us) chocolate chip cookies at Whole Foods today, I noticed the labeling was different. It now says they contain milk (even though I couldn't find milk in the ingredient list) AND it said it CONTAINED (not even MAY contain) trace amounts of peanut, tree nut and egg. Followed by good manufacturing practices used, yadda, yadda, yadda. This is completely different from previous labeling and it pissed me off.

AND ANOTHER THING! The person hosting our usual weekly afternoon playgroup sent out directions and indicated that she would be serving goldfish crackers and brownies as a snack. I emailed back that we wouldn't be coming. Somedays even I get tired of dealing with our allergies. And do we really need goldfish and brownies right before dinner?

Okay, done ranting.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The Roller Coaster Begins

An earlier post talked about the difficulty getting an appointment at my allergist so on the recommendation from someone in my food allergy support group, I called to make an appointment with a new allergist, a woman who did her fellowship with the famous Dr. Wood. They could get me in in two weeks! Our appointment is Thursday. So begins the roller coaster. The up hill I hope, I hope, I hope followed by the downhill, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

I told Max today that he had an allergist appointment this week (thinking I was distracting him from some other tragedy going on in his life). "Are they going to poke me again?" followed by crying. I tried to explain that this was necessary, that we had to find out if he's outgrown anything. This did not help. And I realized it's as much a roller coaster of emotion for him as well.

So this week is met with apprehension, a few tears and I hope, I hope, I hope.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Pizza Friday or What to do

What to do. What to do.

Yesterday Max received an invitation to a birthday party at Chuckie Cheese. What to do. What to do. Now I would never in a million years send this kid to a peanut factory or even one of those restaurants that scatter peanut shells all over the floor as he is allergic to peanuts and I don't know how much peanut residue could cause a reaction in him. So do I send my milk allergic son to a place covered with cheese residue?

It has been a long time since Max has had a contact reaction to milk. And though we (meaning I, for my own personal consumption) keep milk products in the house, it is limited and we are careful with cross contamination. Would just being at Chuckie Cheese cause any problems for him? I don't think I have ever knowingly subjected him to being around that much milk residue. Correct me if I am wrong here but I imagine Chuckie Cheese to be a place where children go from handling cheesy pizza to playing games to handling cheesy pizza to jumping in the ball pit. Greasy cheesy hands must touch every inch of that place.

The birthday boy is a classmate of Max's. The popular one (and you thought such a thing didn't exist in Kindergarten). The boy Max most wants to have playdates with. His mother knows Max is allergic to milk and the boy's father is an ENT doc (actually the last ENT I saw who tested me for food allergies!)

Max is also so sensitive lately about people eating things he can't have. Would Chuckie Cheese let me bring in food for him?

What to do. What to do. Any opinions on this?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Happy Birthday to ME

For my birthday I got carded at Safeway buying a bottle of wine. I'm 38 today. Didn't figure I still needed to carry ID.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mommy Secrets

SHHHH! Don't tell anyone, I have been eating EGGS in my own house! Egg whites to be exact. In my desire to lose weight I decided I need a low fat high protein breakfast and well for me nothing satisfies this more than eggs. So I bought a special "egg" pan meaning that the only thing this pan is to be used for is eggs. I eat them while Max is at school and I choose to get the cartons of egg whites because I felt this would be less messy than cracking eggs.

We have tried at various times to eat eggs here since Max's diagnoses 4 1/2 years ago. When he was two frying an egg in the house resulted in a screaming Max (like he was in pain) and hives on his torso. He would only calm down once we had taken him outside and aired out the house.
Hence, we stopped frying eggs.

While I was pregnant with Owen I craved eggs. So I designated an egg pan and boiled eggs while he was at school. This system worked fine until my sister came to stay with us after Owen was born. I forgot to tell her about the egg pan and one morning she made Max's oatmeal in the "egg" pan. After a few bites he said "My lips are burning." and developed a few hives around his mouth. The egg pan got thrown out.

So two years later, I am trying it again. Owen will challenge eggs at the doctors office in April and hopefully Max is outgrowing and we will tell all visiting relatives about the "egg" pan.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Clearing My Head

The beginning of the week someone forwarded me an article from Harper's magazine written by Meredith Broussard. Ms. Broussard makes some fantastical assertions about food allergies. I have been so angry about the article and Ms. Broussard's interview on NPR's Leonard Lopate show that I can barely function. So this is my exercise in letting it go. Meredith Broussard is an idiot. My children's food allergies are real and the they are THAT serious. I am not paranoid.

I feel Rational Jenn expresses all I want to and more.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Kitchen Complete with Fake Allergens

Owen is two today. He got a new kitchen complete with fake allergens (ie cheese, egg, pizza). So Max "boiled" an egg and served us cheese and pizza.

David and I like to laugh about things like this. Are we sadistic? "Son, go play with your allergens."

At one of the local malls the play area used to be in a breakfast theme. Huge soft waffles and long pieces of bacon and a huge, puffy fried egg. When we would go there we used to ask Max if he wanted to go jump on some allergens. Are we sick or what?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Hitting the Nail on the Head

David and I had ordered pizza one night and the next day I was trying to secretly eat a leftover piece. Max caught me and was upset. "No food in the house that I am allergic to!" he grumbled.

"Max, I said why does it upset you so much lately when people are eating things you are allergic to?"

He paused and finally said the words, "Becuase it isn't fair."

I guess that says it all.

Solstice Party Post Mortem

The food was not as good as I had hoped. The "Yummy" Vegan Spinach Dip (it's actual title) was not yummy. Some kind people said it was good but I would never make it again. And now I have a whole can of Nutritional Yeast Flakes. What do I do with Nutritional Yeast Flakes?

The Solar Candy tasted like rinds of citrus fruits (which is truly what it was.)

The lamb, I thought, was underdone. But I had left David in charge of cooking the lamb. I aslo forgot to put out the mint jelly. David commented we should rethink the "lamb on the solstice" tradition.

The fudge didn't set up and was too mushy.

The only real hit I had was the lentil soup. I got this recipe from the internet years ago so someone deserves credit for this tasty concoction.

Solstice Soup
1 cup of brown lentils
2 litres of water
1 onion
1 clove garlic
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 cup each of grated carrot, parsnip, pumpkin or root vegetable of choice (I used carrot, parsnip and potato)
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper
1 tsp powdered chicken stock (Note: I used 2 litres of vege broth and omited the chicken stock)
1 1/2 cup of peeled roasted garlic tomatoes (I used a can of plain diced tomatos)
2 cups of chopped silver beet or spinach or other greens of preference (I used spinach)
More water as required

Soak a cup of brown lentils in 2 litres of water (or stock) while you are gathering and preparing the other ingredients.

Put olive oil (or butter) in a large capacity saucepan, add chopped onion and saute. Then add the crushed garlic, the celery, and the grated vegetables. Cook together for a few minutes. Then add the lentils and the liquid they are soaking in.

Crush coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle and add those, plus the whole cumin seeds, the garam masala, the powdered chicken stock and the sugar.

After about 15 minutes add tomatoes.

Cook for about 30-40 minutes in total, adding more liquid if necessary.

For the last five minutes of cooking, add the greens.

Test for flavour, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with crusty french bread.

The Wassail and Spiced Mulled Wine was also a hit as well as the hummus (Whole Foods)