Monday, January 18, 2010

Still a Food Allergy Mom

It's been a little while since I've talked about our food allergy stuff around here. Don't worry--no big reactions or anything. In fact, I've got fun stuff to share! :o)

First and foremost, I'm going to be hosting the Living with Food Allergies Blog Carnival this coming Thursday! So if you want to send in a post that's related to food allergies* then click here. The deadline to participate in this edition is Wednesday, January 20, 11pm Eastern. Be warned that the edition won't likely be published until late on Thursday.

Next, I learned about a new allergy-friendly bakery here in Atlanta! (I got this link from our local food allergy email list, and I can't recall just who posted it.) The bakery is called Cake in the Box, and the cakes look very fancy and delicious. I especially love that they do wedding cakes--and this is going to be a growing market. As all of these food-allergic kids grow up and get married, they're going to want these cakes!

When we went to my mother-in-law's wedding back in October, the wedding cake wasn't safe for Ryan. My mother-in-law, awesome grandma that she is, bought some Cherrybrook Kitchen mixes and a mini-wedding cake pan, and we spent the two days before her wedding baking up individual allergy-free wedding cakes for all of the children in attendance at the reception. It was actually kind of fun and such a sweet thing, for it would have sucked to be the only kid there who didn't get to eat cake on that happy occasion. Still--how much nicer (not to mention easier on the bride) to get to eat the actual wedding cake!

I make my kid's birthday cakes, and I'll continue to do that (Cake in the Box is waaaaaay far from my house), but it's so nice to know that there's ONE place in Atlanta where I could go and just pick up a cake, no worries.

An update on Ryan--he has been doing fine physically lately--no reactions or even mystery hives. But he's getting to that next stage I've often read about--the "emotional processing stage" (for lack of a better term). He is hyper-aware of the allergy. He is hyper-aware of possible allergens in his immediate environment. These are Good Things. He's developing his own peanut radar, and that will serve him well throughout his life.

But he's also hyper. Any possibility of a peanut anywhere near him and he . . . well, let's just say he takes it seriously, he takes it hard, and he takes it personally. As in "Look! That kid has a PB sandwich! Is he trying to kill me?" Which is what he asked me at the playground the other day. (Fortunately, the child and his mom didn't hear him ask this question.)

When Morgan and their friend came out of Egyptology class on the first day, with wrapped chocolate "coins" received from their teacher, he got really upset. Even though Morgan told the teacher about her brother's allergy, refused to eat the chocolate, and willingly handed the candy over to me to protect her brother (sweet, sweet child--and their friend kindly didn't eat the chocolate near Ryan either). I had a talk with the teacher, and she seemed understanding, and Morgan knows that she shouldn't be eating food in that class. It's not that she couldn't--but I am worried about residue (she is not the tidiest of eaters by a long shot), and right now this is such a touchy subject that should Ryan have a contact reaction that could be traced back to Morgan . . . oh jeez, the mind boggles. I don't care if she eats peanuts or peanut-containing foods, but I need to be aware of when and where it happens, and it needs to be under the supervision of someone I know and trust to help her clean up properly.

When he becomes upset about peanuts that may (or may not) be near him, such as on the playground, or at homeschool co-op, I do my best to reassure him. I try to tell him not to worry, name specific things we can do (like walk away or not go into a certain area), and I remind him that we have his Epis. My recent attempts to tell him that "I'm not worried about this." were misinterpreted. Instead of getting "Mom's not worried about this because we can handle this." he takes this as "Mom's not worried because she doesn't care and is not taking this seriously and it's my LIFE!"

So I've switched from "I'm not worried about this particular peanut thing." to "I'm confident that we can handle this particular peanut thing." That seems to have helped. It's interesting, the change. Mom not being worried used to comfort him. But I think it's indicative of him taking on a little more of the responsibility for his allergy.

Mom doesn't take this seriously. I wonder if he will ever know. I hope he will.

*Food allergies, people! Not: nursing school or fad diets or x-ray techs or fitness or penguins or chewing gum or space shuttles or dogs or Disney parks or anything else!!!! I will take vegan recipes, though. :o)


Ryan said...

Wow, I didn't know that contact reactions were a possibility. I thought ingestion was required for a reaction. So far, my daughters don't seem to have any allergies, but I occasionally run into kids that do. Now I know what to expect.


Tori said...

That bakery recommendation is great! I'll have to note it if I ever need an egg-free cake in the future. I considered one for my wedding, but at the time the only allergy-free cakes I could find were $5+++++ a slice. We just had the caterer bake the a regular cake for $1.50 a slice and my grandmother made me a small egg-free cake to cut and eat at the reception.

Fatcat said...

I love it, just the change in wording from "I'm not worried about" to "I'm confident", it makes a world of difference!


Rational Jenn said...

Thanks for your comments!

Ryan, not everyone with a food allergy is contact sensitive. But my Ryan is. Any contact with peanuts on his skin and he will break out into hives. They don't spread all over his body like they probably would in an ingestion situation.

The other issue with residue is that a kid could touch a contaminated surface and pick up enough protein to cause an ingestion reaction should he then touch his mouth. It's the same principle with germs on door handles--that's how we catch colds, right? So even kids without contact sensitivity need to be conscious of and aware of residue.

This might explain why many food allergy sufferers and their parents are a little jumpy around Food of Unknown Origin. :o) I know I am. I have a very finely-tuned Peanut Radar!

Tori--that must have been a pain, but what a wonderful grandma you have! :o) I'm hoping allergy-friendly bakeries are going to become more prevalent. I suspect they are.

Fatcat--thanks! I was rather proud of that particular stroke of brilliance. :o) It seems to have helped him somewhat.