Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Be Aware of Cookies from McDonald's

I went through the drive through at McDonald's the other day to get my children a happy meal.  When I got the food, the lady gave me 2 cookies and said, "here are some free samples of some cookies McDonald's is trying out".  I took the cookies, wrapped in a wrapper and drove off.  When I got to my children's school to deliver their lunches, I read the label on the cookies.  And wouldn't you know?  An innocently packaged sugar cookie in the shape of Ronald McDonald's face said on the label "this product may contain peanuts".   It was written in such tiny print I couldn't have read it had it not been for the bright sunlight.

Those cute little cookies McDonald's was giving out are not safe for a child allergic to peanuts.  McDonald's has always been a "safe place" for Amanda to eat, who is allergic to peanuts.  The restaurant does have peanuts though because they serve them with some of their desserts.   

We've never had an incident there, but it's good information to be aware of.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

No to Snyder's Pretzels

I always thought pretzels were a safe food for Amanda to eat.  They are so good.  We love them.  We have always bought Rold Gold pretzels not thinking twice about anything.  Then our school recently sent home a note saying if you are sending pretzels for the class snack please send any brand except Snyders because this brand says "Processed on equipment that processes peanuts and tree nuts".  Snyders makes peanut butter pretzels so they have to make that disclaimer.  The chance for cross contamination is there.

Interesting to me is that they make gluten free pretzels.  That's good because there are a lot of children allergic to gluten (found in wheat, rye and barley.  But on that very package it does have the allergy information about peanuts and tree nuts.   Amanda has 2 children in her class who are allergic to wheat and peanuts - so they can't eat these pretzels either because of the risk of ingesting a trace of peanuts.

My book was featured in the Indie North Newspaper!

Friday, April 24, 2009

No to energy bars that contain traces of peanuts.

Yesterday Amanda was invited to go to a horse stable with a friend after school.  I spoke to the mom and knowing they were going to be gone awhile the mom told me she was packing snacks.  I said nothing with peanuts, ok?  She said, oh of course not.

After school I met with Amanda and told her she was going to the horse stable and the mom was there and said "I have snacks - energy bars".  Red flag warning.  Typically there are no safe energy bars or granola bars.  I don't know this to be true for all the bars because I haven't looked into it but my red flag went up.  Good thing.  I asked to read the package on one and Amanda read the package on another flavor.  Both said "contain traces of nuts".

We can never assume another adult who doesn't have a PA child will look at every label of a snack before giving it to a PA child.  Thank God Amanda can read labels - and she does diligently!!! Yay!

Today Amanda was out of school and was with me on errands when she got really hungry.  We were in a store and someone offered her some cookies to take the hunger pains away until we could get to lunch.  We always have to ask, and the cookies were innocent to someone as they were gluten and wheat free to some who has Celiac disease, but they had Pecans.  A no no to someone allergic to tree-nuts.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dragonfly dreams

Well we've had some where are the dragonflies?  I still have not seen a single one yet.  I think it's because we are still in a drought and in need of more water.  It's almost May and they are usually climbing there way out from being a nymph for several years by now.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dum Dum lollipops

Dum Dum Lollipops are a safe candy for peanut allergy kids.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Focus on the positive

I really like to focus on the positive in life.  Yes I live with a child who has a peanut allergy and it can at times be scary.  There's no denying that.  But Amanda has so many great things about her and it is my hope that she can treated like any other child - she just can't eat the same things.  But as you can see from this photo, not being able to eat PB&J sandwiches hasn't hindered her growth at all.  Here is Miss Athletic in our backyard pool.

What a brilliant idea!

My wonderful friend Diana Evans who, is illustrating my next book sent me this picture of some Quaker Oat bars sold at her local grocery store.   She lives in Ontario, Canada.  Look how on the front in big bold letters it says PEANUT-FREE.  Wow with labels like this we wouldn't even have to read the ingredients.  That would make feeding Amanda so much easier.   My problem is that the label where they list the ingredients is so small.  Lately, though I have seen some improvement where a few manufacturers are putting  "Allergy Information" listed separately.  It makes it a little easier to look for - but it's still on the back.

Where I shop I wouldn't have even bothered reading the ingredients on this type of food. I would have just walked on by, because they most certainly always say....may contain peanuts or the newest phrase I'm seeing....processed in a plant where peanut products are produced.  Cross-contamination is the main thing I have to be aware of and diligent about when I see labels like that, so we just steer clear of it.  

Back from donating platelets

Well that took long than I thought.hour   The whole trip for me was actually 3 1/2 hours because when you get there they have to make sure you are healthy enough to even give platelets.

So as I sit here gobbling up the Grandma's Sandwich Creme cookies that I picked up at the Blood center, I just happen to see that on the back in very small print it says,  

Allergy information:  This product is made on equipment that also makes products containing peanuts.  

This is exactly why Amanda is afraid to eat cookies at all.   The manufactures are putting that on so many of their products.    

Wouldn't it be nice if one day manufacturers put PEANUT FREE on the front of food items?  We could probably get our shopping done in half the time!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

A prayer for Deb

This has been consuming my mind and breaking my heart so I just have to mention it.   I met Deb at the Blood and Tissue Center here in San Antonio.   I was giving platelets and she was there to say thanks to the staff and to everyone giving blood and platelets - which was essential for her to survive and eventually go into remission from Leukemia.  She is a beautiful, inspiring person.

I was so deeply saddend to learn of her relapse in November 2008.  She is in the fight of her life.
Read when she was diagnosed here:

I'm going to give platelets today.  It's a 2 hour process (plus drive time), but it's relatively painless.  You are just hooked up to a machine that takes your red blood cells and platelets.   The last time I gave platelets they told me the platelets were going directly to Methodist Hospital to save an infant's life.  I've done it a lot these past few years since I've known Deb.    

I started giving platelets in September 2005 after the catastrophic hurricane Katrina (  hit the gulf coast.   Many, many people were in need of blood transfusions and platelets.  

And if you feel like giving blood or platelets, please call Tracy and the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center at 210-249-4436.  You could save a life.

Soy nut butter

Thank you Katy who commented here today.....thanks for the info. on soy nut butter.

Here is the link:

It looks like a yummy alternative.  I am going to pick some up next time I go to the store.  Since Amanda was diagnosed I've been making her cream cheese and jelly sandwiches.

Thanks for sending the link my way.

The Allergist

After our scare with Amanda we took her to see a top Allergist in Dallas.  He us prescription for an epi-pen and told us to carry it with us at all times.  One thing he said that I found interesting and that I have never forgotten, is that he thinks there might be a correlation between how much peanut butter I ate while pregnant with Amanda and her peanut allergy.  I did eat a few peanut butter sandwiches.  It was like comfort food to me and that became a snack that I loved.

I didn't think much about that until a few years ago when I was reading about children being diagnosed with a peanut allergy at less than a year old.  How on earth they were diagnosed I don't know.   When I think back to when Amanda was a baby, she cried all the time.  She was extremely fussy.  I had a young pediatrician who just told me she had colick.   She was also always sick and would spit up her formula.  I mean projectile vomiting.  I took her to see the doctor a lot, but he always said the same thing - colick, or crying for no reason, or that babies do cry.  I was so happy to stop using formula because the throwing up stopped.   Is it possible for a baby to be born with peanut allergies?  She also had eczema and itchy skin and would get blotchy.   I'm sure I ate something that had peanuts in it back then and kissed her.   I wonder if she was allergic back then?  Or did giving her that tiny bite of sandwich give her the allergy?  I wish I knew.  W

Does anyone have a child who was diagnosed at a very young age that didn't eat peanut butter?  How did you find out?  And what prompted you to seek help?  Does anyone have a fussy baby and the doctor suggested a blood test to test for allergy's?
I'd love to hear your stories.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Living with a child who has a severe peanut allergy

Hi everyone - I decided to start posting about what it's like to live with a child who is allergic to peanuts because my daughter Amanda, who is 9, has a severe peanut allergy.

She was born on November 11, 1999.  In October 2001 she had her first anaphylactic reaction to peanuts.  Anaphylaxis is a whole-body allergic reaction that comes on suddenly and causes the airways to tighten.  I was eating a peanut butter sandwich and like most 23-month-olds, she wanted what her mother was eating.  I tore off a tiny little piece and gave it to her.  Back then I had really never heard of peanut allergies and didn't know of any child that had peanut allergies.  I was more worried about the consistency of peanut butter and that it might get stuck in her throat.

Within seconds her face started swelling and she started pulling at her ears.  I immediately knew something was wrong and panicked.  I threw her in my car and drove to the nearest emergency room about 3 miles away.   I parked in front of the ER and was so frightened for my child's life that I didn't even turn off my car or shut the door. I knew something was terribly wrong and that time was of the essence.  I carried her into the ER and the receptionist saw that this child needed help immediately.  She didn't even bother with the normal process of checking in. 

 Amanda was having trouble breathing and her face was so swollen that her eyes were almost completely shut.  A nurse carried her back as I was telling the doctors that I had given her a small piece of my peanut butter sandwich.  They knew immediately what to do for her.  The doctor gave her a shot to open up her airways and told me she was in anaphylactic shock.   She was throwing up, which is the bodies way of ridding a substance it recognizes as poison.  She was itching, her airways were quickly closing and her face was swollen.   All tale-tell signs of a severe allergic reaction to peanuts.  

Amanda was eventually stabilized and we went home several hours later.  The doctor told me I needed to get Amanda in to see an Allergist.  The only sign that remained that she had an allergic reaction was the swelling in her face which did not completely go down until the next day.

I suddenly found myself thrust into the world of living with a child who has a severe peanut allergy which I knew nothing about.  All I knew was that I needed to find out everything I could about peanut allergies and how to keep my child safe. 

Next step - call a really good Allergist in Dallas and get Amanda in to see him.

Check back for more postings on this issue....I hope to blog every day about this.