August 11, 2010

A different way to carry Epi-Pens

With so many back to school sales, this is a great time to stock up on some tricks for living with food allergies.

Small pencil cases make great Epi-Pen holders. You can find some small enough that they'll fit two Epi-Pens and some single-dose Benadryl packets perfectly, or buy a bigger pouch to fit an inhaler too.

I buy solid color pencil cases (usually soft cloth or neoprene) and in permanent marker or fabric paint, write in big letters Epi-Pens followed by a red cross. The red cross alerts people that the pouch contains medication. I also put in a piece of paper with the important information: child's name, allergies (i.e. anaphylactic reaction to tree nuts), your name and contact phone number.

A pencil case fits easily into a backpack, a shoulder bag or a purse, so it adapts easily to whatever you or your child happen to be carrying at the time. Which helps increase the compliance with having Epi-Pens available at all times. Happy shopping!

Posted by Ann Marie at 6:01 PM | Comments (0)

June 27, 2010

Summer's here!

Summer is finally here! A great time to relax… more homework, no more tests, no more packing lunches or thinking about class parties or where there might be food. For those of us with children who have food allergies, the end of the school year is a welcome break.

Remember though, while you’re relaxing at the pool or beach, you still need to be vigilant about your child’s food allergies. With summer comes the ice cream truck, summer camps, vacations, sleepovers and amusement parks; all of which include food in some form or another. It’s still a good idea to keep special allergy-free treats at home; so when the ice cream truck comes around or your neighbor brings out a freshly baked batch of cookies, you’re well prepared. It’s even fun to once in awhile be that neighbor who brings out a freshly baked batch of your child’s favorite treat! Your child will appreciate it more than you know.

In a way, having play dates with friends from your child’s class is easier because they’ve spent the school year learning about your child’s food allergies and how to help keep her safe. Your child’s friends and their parents may feel less intimidated by the food allergies and Epi-Pens because they’ve seen all year long how food allergies can safely fit into everyday life. It’s still a good idea to review your child’s allergies and what to do in case of an emergency with the adult in charge, even if they’ve heard it before.

And for more summer fun, you can help arrange non-food activities, like water balloon fights, lemonade stands, outings to parks and beaches and even a quiet afternoon watching a favorite movie. It’s a perfect time of year to celebrate your child’s success in safely managing his food allergies for another school year. Well done!!

Posted by Ann Marie at 9:53 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 25, 2008

Allergy Free Food Storage for Everyday Living

I suppose this tip is really only useful for those of us with children who have food allergies, or for anybody with food allergies for that matter. As most of you can probably attest to, I find myself buying different varieties of the same food. For example, bread...for my children and myself without food allergies, I buy 100% whole grain bread, which is usually 100% wheat. But for my daughter who is allergic to wheat, we buy a gluten free loaf. And throw in there a child who doesn't need the extra fiber of the wheat bread, I end up buying a less-than-whole-grain variety of wheat bread as well. In the end, I either end up throwing away a lot of bread or I freeze it.

Here's my trick. I put the bread I want to freeze in a gallon size freezer bag. I cut out the label of the bread, including the ingredient listing and include it in the bag as well. Then when I need to retrieve the bread from the freezer, I know exactly what it is. And Heaven forbid that my daughter ever has an allergic reaction, I will know the details of the food that caused it. Another trick that I read somewhere for thawing bread is to put a piece of paper towel in the bag as the bread defrosts, and the bread never gets soggy. It really works!

Posted by Ann Marie at 12:04 PM | Comments (0)

September 5, 2008

An unexpected way to carry Epi-Pens

For those of us looking for better ways to carry Epi-Pens, I came across a great idea. My 7th grader began carrying her own Epi-Pens to school this year and so she keeps them in her backpack. We have a fanny pack at home that we've used for over 10 years. It was too bulky to fit in a backpack. We also have a much smaller case which fits 2 Epi-Pens and some Benadryl (tablets, Rapidmelts or perfect pour capsules) perfectly and it's what I use to put in my purse/bag when I take the girls places. My daughter started keeping it in her backpack, which was fine except that I then lost my preferred carrying case.

My daughter's friend gave her a pencil case that came with a backpack that she wasn't going to use. It was the perfect size to fit two Epi-Pens and some Benadryl. The problem was that it looked like a pencil case, not an emergency medication pouch. Preparing for the worst, I imagine my daughter having an allergic reaction and a rescuer going through her backpack looking for clues of what might be happening. A big pouch with the Red Cross or Medic Alert symbol emblazoned across the front seems like it would quickly capture attention.

So, I used bright red fabric paint and painted a large red cross on the outside of the pencil bag. Inside, along with the 2 Epi-Pens and Benadryl, I included an index card with emergency information on it: my daughter's name, allergies, my cell phone number, and a note to call 911. Now my daughter keeps her Epi-Pens in the "pencil case" in her backpack all the time. We have other Epi-Pens that we use after school; you know, to go to friends' houses, sports practices, etc. This way I know that she will always have Epi-Pens with her at school, and not forget them at home on the counter!

Out of curiosity, during my shopping trips for school supplies this year, I kept my eyes open for suitable pencil cases. Surprisingly I found all different pencil cases and even calculator cases that fit 2 Epi-Pens perfectly. Just add a red cross on the side and it's good to go! This of course doesn't work well for those who need to also carry inhalers, which is my other daughter. So now I'm on the look out for that as well!

Posted by Ann Marie at 3:07 PM | Comments (0)

March 13, 2008

Some good food allergy advice

I came across a website that had some good advice for cooking with food allergies. I'm sure they won't mind if I direct you to it. It's called The Hampton Roads Food Allergy Connection. Check it out!

Posted by Ann Marie at 8:36 AM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2008

Bringing Food is a Good Idea

There is so much to remember when dealing with our child’s food allergies. I used to think that if I had the Epi-Pens, I’d be all set. With safety being my number one priority, this was true. But then I was burned a few times when we stayed someplace longer than we thought or there was food in an unexpected place. I’ve lived and learned and now I tend to pack safe snacks everywhere I go with my kids. So no matter where we’re off to, I throw food in a bag.

A couple of years ago we hit some rough weather while flying over the Midwest. We ended up circling over an airport for over 4 hours before we could land! Everyone was miserable, except my kids. I had packed enough food for an emergency meal, thankfully. Many parents were asking me how I thought to bring so much food. I was thinking, how could you not think of it? As food allergies become a way of life for us, some things become routine; and two of my most engrained routines are grabbing the Epi-Pens and packing at least one small, allergy-free snack before we go anywhere!

Below is the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis website's list of reminders.

"Cooking and Dining Dos and Don’ts
• Don’t forget that egg substitutes may contain egg whites; egg replacers do not.
• Do prepare the allergy-free dishes before preparing foods containing allergens, cover them, and keep them separate from the cooking area.
• Do bring a “safe” dish with you when visiting a friend or a relative; he or she will appreciate it, and you’ll rest easier, too.
• Do ask about ingredients and cooking methods used whether you are in a restaurant, friend’s home, or about to serve a dish someone brought to your home.
• Don’t eat “high risk” foods, including desserts, sauces, pastry-covered dishes, and fried foods, when eating away from home.
• Do stock up on key ingredients.
• Do use parchment paper as a liner for your countertops when mixing or blending foods that may cause a reaction. Throw the paper away when you are finished."

Posted by Ann Marie at 1:39 PM | Comments (0)