Fatal allergic reactions are a very real, very terrifying possibility for nearly 300,000 Canadian families. With the prime allergens causing anaphylaxis being nuts, eggs, milk and insects, every day activities can feel overwhelmingly stressful when working to avoid deadly reactions. Allergies interrupt our lives, they're intrusive and annoying (believe me when I tell you I'm mad I can't eat peanut butter, too).
Not too many years ago (I mean, it can't be too many, my kid's only five), we had to eliminate a whole pile of food from my son's life thanks to (confirmed) food allergies. Strawberries, tomatoes, dairy, soy, eggs, white fishes (all of them!), shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts... I'm not sure if there were more, but you get the idea. A lot. It sounds horrible, and you might wonder how we fed him, but you know what? There's a lot of food out there, and he did just fine. In fact, he was 26lbs by six months of age. Ha.
Recently my five year-old son was admitted to hospital due to a severe asthma attack. We hadn't even known he was asthmatic. It was scary, exhausting, and even though he's fine now, I'm finding myself a bundle of nerves and emotions in the aftermath. It was such a blur, really. I noticed he was struggling to breathe, and off we went to a local emergency room. I threw a few things into a bag, but when we got there I realized there was a lot I'd forgotten and I wish I'd had a list to make it easier during that stressful time.
You already know that in the five years I've spent dealing with my son's food allergies, my views on how these things should be handled have changed. Part of that is that he's getting older, but a larger part is that I'm understanding more about how allergies work, and what's realistic for us to ask of the world around us. I think that for young children, food bans have a place, as does Dr. Susan Waserman, one of Canada's foremost allergists and president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. But as kids age, well, bans need to be loosened.
Before I was a parent, I’d see people struggling in malls with their cranky, annoying offspring and wonder why they brought them out that day. I’d see them pandering to their miniature dictators and think they were too soft on those brats. I’d watch them from the corner of my eye when they yelled at the kids in public and think they must be monsters behind closed doors. I knew exactly how I’d raise my imaginary children, and I knew the kinds of people they’d grow up to be.
May is Food Allergy Awareness Month, and even though I spend every single day spreading allergy awareness, this is the time of the year when it's kicked up a notch. Niagara Falls was bathed in blue and green lights on May 11 for allergy awareness, and many people wore teal on May 12. Me? I'll be sitting at my computer writing supportive emails back to all of you who write me every day asking for advice, help and support.
Asthmatics everywhere are (I'm sorry for this pun) breathing a sigh of relief knowing a cure is on the very near horizon. Every year, about 250 Canadians die from asthma, a point that was made very clear to me just last week when my five year-old son was hospitalized with a severe asthma attack. He has been formally diagnosed as asthmatic now, and the news of the discovery came just as we received his diagnosis. I hope this cure can help him, and my husband, too. Asthma is scary.
Take me out to the ballgame, but hold the peanuts and Cracker Jacks. At the Indians home opener at Victory Field, fans won't be able to buy or bring any peanut products into the stadium. "We've received calls from fans over the years about not being able to come to the ballpark due to peanut allergy," says Indians senior marketing and communications manager Jon Glesing.
Great news, Canadiens fans! The Montreal Bell Centre has just partnered with Pfizer Canada, Inc., distributors of EpiPens to stock emergency kits around the centre. In an awesome trend that seems to be picking up momentum, more public places are stocking the emergency epinephrine kits to help keep guests safe.
Removing your home from Google Maps Streetview is easy, but many people don't know just how to do it. I'm here to help!
There are a number of reasons you may not want your house viewed online. Or maybe it's your car you'd like blurred. Or maybe the Google Streeview car caught you putting out your garbage braless in your pajamas? Whatever, I don't judge.
Holy crap, you guys. Tim Hortons will be serving donuts filled with Nutella. And it'll be a spread option for bagels, too. And there'll be pastries filled with the ubiquitous hazelnut and chocolate gooey stuff. Those in the allergy community are freaking the heck out - and with good reason, right? DANGER, DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! NUT ALERT!
Except, um, no. Back off the panic button, allergy friends.
A new report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal details the experience of an eight year-old boy who, following a blood transfusion, experienced a severe allergic reaction to salmon when he previously had no allergies at all. I read the article via CTV News with interest this morning, because I've never heard of this happening before.
Typically, food allergies are confirmed by either actual reaction, skin prick testing, or IgE blood testing. By far the most reliable predictor of reaction severity is an actual reaction, but as anyone with an allergy can tell you, that's not a risk we want to take. There are countless peanut allergies that are determined via skin prick alone (like my son's), and you know what? They're not always accurate.
I'm not a doctor. I don't play one on TV, and I don't profess to have any great knowledge beyond my own experiences. But here's what I know: vaccines have saved the lives of more babies and children than any other medical intervention in the last 50 years. Let that sink in a bit.
If I tell you I worry I'm not a great parent, you might tell me that because I'm worried, it means I care, and so I am obviously a "good mom." Or maybe you'll say I need to just chill out! Or maybe I'm worrying about the wrong things.
If I say certain words to my kids, I run the risk of crushing their wee spirits.
Or maybe I will over-praise them and damage them as adults?
My son turned five in December, and is in senior Kindergarten at a school that's literally a stone's throw from my back door. I work from home, and have always felt so relieved that I'm here whenever I get a call from the school saying he needs me. Last year there were bumps to the head, a swallowed plastic fork tine, changes of clothes needed, and more. Every time that phone rings, and I see the school's name on the display, my heart sinks and my stomach turns.