Saturday, February 23, 2008

Hors d'oeuvres For Your Oscar Party

Last weekend I had to take an appetizer to our homeowners association board dinner (I'm Vice President). I recalled an appetizer a friend had made for a Mom's night out and decided to give it a try. As I made it I realized it was something my kids could actually eat (whether they would or not is debatable). In fact it seems to be free of the top eight.

So in honor of the Oscars here is an hors d'oeuvre to serve to all your FA friends:

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

1 C ketchup
1 C brown sugar
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2 cans whole water chestnuts
1-2 packages bacon

Cut bacon into thirds. Wrap each third around a water chestnut and secure with a toothpick. Cook bacon wrapped water chestnuts at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Drain grease.

Mix ketchup, brown sugar and apple cider vinegar. Pour marinade over hot chestnuts. Let sit for however long you have (I refrigerated for 2 hours but you don't have to let them sit at all). Before serving cook at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Just to be sure, I looked up water chestnut. It is not classified as a nut.

Chuck E Cheese

Everything went fine. I took in food. No one said anything. Max had a fabulous time and wants to know when we can go back.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Pizza Friday and Chuck E Cheese

We had decided to let Max go to the Chuck E Cheese birthday party even before his testing but in light of his RAST number I think it is definitely safe for him to attend but of course he won't be eating the food there.

I called the manager at the Chuck E Cheese to make sure it was not a problem for me to bring Max's food in. To my surprise it was. "No, outside food." She really would barely let me talk with all her explanations as to why. It seems to be Chuck E Cheese's feeling that if one person brings in food than everyone will want to. (I hear the pizza really isn't that good) She did say I could bring in ice cream? (I'm sorry did you not just hear me say he is allergic to milk?) She said, "He could have french fries or a hot dog." I have to say I wasn't prepared for this conversation and was a little off my game. I asked if I could bring in a cupcake as I was sure they would be having cake and she said yes that was fine. I then explained that our substitute for pizza was an English muffin with carrots and olives on it. And this is what I would be bringing. She sort of acquiesced, saying that if we brought in something small and she didn't see it (wink, wink) it wouldn't be a problem.

Now I feel like I am sneaking food into Chuck E Cheese. I called the birthday boy's mom to see what the set-up was. Were we in a separate room so we would be less likely to be detected? She said no, tables were out in the open. She also thought it was ridiculous that I wouldn't be able to bring in food.

I guess we'll see how things go tomorrow. Perhaps it is leftover anxiety from childhood but I have a real fear of rule breaking. I don't want Max to get caught with contraband food and feel shamed. Maybe we won't bring anything and just leave before people eat or just continue to play. Any suggestions?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Freaky Friday

Friday morning my email greeted me with the following:

TO: Me
From: My friend in my food allergy support group

Subject: You're famous!

"Did you know your blog is mentioned in Reader's Digest?? I was just inbed reading my latest RD, and there's a tiny little box on p. 75titled "Get-Real Food Allergy Advice". It mentions 3 blogs, and as I'mreading the intro, I'm thinking, "huh, wouldn't it be funny if one ofthem was Kari's?" And then I get to the third one, and it IS Kari's!!I didn't want to post to the group because I wasn't sure whether youwanted everyone reading your blog, and you may already know about thismention in RD, but just in case you didn't, I thought you should know!You're famous now - people are going to be coming to your blog in muchhigher numbers. NO pressure! :)"

WHAT! At first I thought she must have been mistaken but she confirmed it was true and I went and bought Readers Digest myself and checked and she was right. Right there on page 75 is my blog! The whole thing kind of freaked me out. I went back and forth over the weekend about changing my kids names and ultimately decided not too but did add a counter to the site.

I never intended this blog to be anything other than my own personal therapy in dealing with my kids food allergies though I do think it is important for people to understand the challenges we go through on a daily basis. However, suddenly having my blog published in a magazine is....wierd. I feel like when you speak up in class and suddenly everyone is looking at you and you freeze and your mind totally goes blank. I may have been an actress at one time but sometimes I freak out when I'm in the spotlight. I guess I'll just take a few deep breathes and keep writing.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Pizza Friday and RAST Results

Hold the phone, put on the brakes, this is the reason I am not the allergist. I was jumping to all kinds of conclusions based on Max's skin test before seeing the RAST results. I was lamenting him not outgrowing milk. I was fantasizing about french toast. When really I should have just been...waiting. Which is not something I am good at.

So the allergist had good reason for us to come in and review the RAST results and re-do the skin test. To review: Max's skin test two weeks ago resulted in a large positive for milk, a negative for egg and a small positive for peanut (tree nuts were not tested).

The RAST results for milk and egg were complete opposites of the skin test. Meaning the milk RAST was NEGATIVE. Completely. Negative. No detectable levels of IGE. The egg RAST was the same relatively positive number it has been always been. Really hasn't budged. But here is the REALLY good news the peanut showed the same pattern as the small skin test. His RAST for peanut was (drum roll please) .51! It has gone down each year. It really looks like he may outgrow peanut. I almost started crying in the office.

With that info we re-did the skin test. (Max was less than thrilled.) Result was still the same large positive for milk and small positive for peanut. But this time egg was a big old positive. No explanation for why he didn't react two weeks ago.

So where do we go from here. What do we do with these results. For starters looking at his blood test it looks like he has outgrown milk. Yet for some reason his skin is "remembering" the allergy. Dr. B. suggested we schedule a food challenge in the office. We did. March 11th is the date. Yikes!

Dr. B. is more hesitant to challenge egg now and I have to agree. His number is fairly low by RAST standards. Only a 1.54 which falls in the moderate range. But he has been known to develop hives to eggs frying in the room and react to food cooked in a pan formerly used for egg so I think egg is truly a no go.

But peanut! Dr. B. said she could see us challenging peanut in the office in the next year. Even with low numbers and a small RAST peanut is still a tricky one and he could still react. Numbers are in the end really just numbers. They give us an indication that an individual may react but we can never now to what degree until the allergen is ingested and with a risk of anaphalaxis this is tricky business.

So I guess that's it. That's where we are. Whew! It was a really exciting and rather weird day. I'll get to the weird part in a future post.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Perplexing RAST Results

Dr. B's office called today with Max's lab results for his RAST. Pretty good turn around for test results at any kind of doctors office. However, we are again left in ambiguity.

The nurse whom I spoke to said that there was some confusion as the RAST results did not match Max's skin test results so they want to re-do the skin test. Great, let's explain that one to Max. I asked if I could have the results and the nurse said it was better if I just came in as the results were "complicated". Now I've been recieving RAST results over the phone for a number of years now, how "complicated" can it be? Dr. B preferred that I come in for a follow-up and a re-do of the skin test and they would explain the results then. Also, if the second skin test results were good we could do a challenge in the office right then for one of the allergens. I thought I had her on this one.

"Okay," I replied "so WHICH food should I bring in?"
"Good question" she said "Just a minute"
She got off the phone and conferred with Dr. B. "I guess you should just come in and we will do the skin test and then schedule a food challenge."

Luckily they have an open appointment for tomorrow. Will things be any clearer then?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Reaction Today

I have been suspicious of Owen's allergy to sunflower. I know he had all over body hives but his RAST was so low! Was he really allergic?

Well, I think he really is. Today for breakfast I had a piece of toast with Sunbutter. I ate it standing up and washed my hands after. HOURS later I was playing with Owen. Kissing his face and pretending to gobble up his cheek because it makes him giggle. As I pulled him away from me I realized his face was red and splotchy. Crap!

So just to make sure I took a tiny smear of Sunbutter and put it on the back of his calf (I know why do the same experiment if you already know the results. One word DENIAL). Of course he got a few hives on the back of his leg. I washed him with soap and water and gave him a teaspoon of Benedryl. He's fine.

Yes, he really is allergic to sunflower seed. The next step in the grieving process in acceptance.


The other day at The Little Gym I overheard a conversation. As one mom was leaving she said something about seeing them later and not bringing peanuts. The other woman rolled her eyes and laughed "Yeah, no peanuts." The first mom than went on to explain in whispers to a dad waiting on his daughter in class about some situation. I couldn't hear the whole thing as she really was whipering even though I was like ten feet away. I know I shouldn't listen in on people's conversations but it is a public place and the mention of peanuts had my antenea up.

I could make out parts: trail mix, peanuts, sitting next too, someone asking what they were eating. The last part she said in a normal volume voice "and then she asked "Could you please wash their hands!" She went on with a "Come on, they are just sitting there and here, I have my antibacterial right here."

I saw this as my cue. I said "Antibacterial doesn't affect food proteins. They need to be washed away with soap and water." I felt myself blushing as I get self conscious sometimes still when I speak up.

"Oh," she replied. She seemed a little surprised that I had said something. The conversation ended with that and she went back to occupying her small child. But after her child had a snack (Cheez-its) she took him to the bathroom to wash his hands. It hadn't been my intention and I didn't tell her that Owen was allergic to cheese. However, she didn't speak to me for the rest of the class.

Just before the kids finished she came up with her child and asked how old Owen was. Her toddler was the same age. She made small talk for awhile. It was interesting and I was unsure of what her intention was. Did I change something in her opinoin by my one comment?

I also found this interaction interesting because her own daughter is diabetic. She comes out of class at least once during the hour to get her levels checked. Her mother pokes her finger and then give her a small snack and back in she goes to class. I always figured that mothers who have children with special circumstances would understand that others have their challenges too.

(Seriously, when is blogger going to fix spell check!)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Shoe Shopping

This past weekend I took the boys (Max, Owen and David) to a shoe store. Each of them picked out shoes for me. I needed tennis shoes so Max picked out a pair of Nike's with a big pink swope on them. I chose some others to try on but Max's pick won out as the most comfy.
We then moved to another isle because I wanted something cute. Max picked out a pair of Skechers with an Asian design and a pair of plaid with a dog on them. Both actually really cute. Owen picked out a pair of bright pink snake skin pumps and though they fit me unusually well I don't know where I would wear them. David picked out a pair of knee high leather boots becuase he thinks they are sexy.

Of course Max had the winning shoe choice and he also kept telling me "Mommy, you should get three pairs of shoes. You really deserve it."

I have lamented that fact that because I didn't have any girls I would never have anyone to shop with but maybe once Max stops feeling the need to run up and down the aisles and hide in the clothing racks he will prove to be a good shopping partner. He certainly has good taste.

He also understands the concept of coordinating one's outfit. Once when he was about three we were at the mall. A woman in front of us was wearing a skirt and knee high boots. Max looked up at me and said "Mommy, that woman's skirt matches her boots perfectly."

That's my boy.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Pizza Friday and Fantasies

Now don't think I'm getting racey here. My biggest fantasy going into testing this year was about Max outgrowing his milk allergy. I imagined telling his teacher and asking if we could have a celebration. Cheese for everyone! I imagined introducing him to all the stuff he's been missing out on: whipped cream, ice cream, real pudding, macroni and cheese, PIZZA!

Instead my fantasy has shifted. After getting over the idea that he is not outgrowing milk, I really started to think about all the things he can have if we get rid of egg and peanut as allergens. Canned soup! Egg noodles! French toast! Baking will be much easier. It will change the face of how we eat breakfast.

And outgrowing peanuts! My word, the worlds that open up! I would say 75% of things in the grocery store are cross contaminated with peanut. Moon pies and Synder's pretzels would be options. Grocery store trips are going to take even longer because I will need to re-read every label in the place.

So the roller coaster ride isn't over. I hope, I hope, I hope the blood test results are good!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blood Test Today

Max was very brave. I had to pick-up him up early from school and he told all his classmates he had to go get a blood test. He is an anxiety ridden child when he knows he is going to the doctor. All his classmates told him to be brave.

For sitting on my lap and only crying a little while he took deep breaths and the phlebotomist drew his blood, he got to pick out a toy at Target. He chose Moon Sand. I chose new sheets, boots for the kids, a water can, shelves for the boys bedroom and other random things I just couldn't resist.

We'll probably get the results in a week or two. Keep your fingers crossed.