New Year’s Resolutions

LOUISE JONES’S DIARY

Wednesday 1 January

EpiPens carried 2 (v.g), labels read 14, labels re-read 14, minutes spent finding glasses so can read labels 187,  calories burned lugging around allergy kit 225 (excellent), calories burned chasing after 3-year-old to police potential nut consumption 572 (hooray, will soon be waif!)

In 2014:

I WILL NOT

  • Rant to myself in supermarkets whilst reading “may contain” labels.
  • Make like Road Runner at the sight of a child eating peanut butter cups across the room at playgroup. Will instead calmly assess the risk, most probably stay, but spend the rest of the morning bouncing on toes like tennis star awaiting opponent’s serve, poised to leap on D if he takes one step in snack eating child’s direction.
  • Give myself indigestion in restaurants each time D coughs or clears his throat. Before considering allergies, I will first assess whether a piece of pasta has gone down the wrong way, or if indeed he is just clearing his throat.
  • Automatically reach for the anti-histamine if we are in a park and he gets a nettle-sting rash on his hands. Will first look around for nettles.
  • Procrastinate for days on receipt of a party invitation as to how best to let the host know that my son has a severe nut allergy. Instead I will simply say to the host that “my son has a severe nut allergy” and discuss the party food options in friendly and clear manner, exuding calm zen like vibes and whilst remembering the mantra “inclusion not exclusion”.
  • Crave Indian takeaways, peanut M&Ms, Revels and similar but instead be thankful of the incentive to cook healthy food from scratch, each and every single day.
  • Leave Easter Egg shopping until Good Friday and then tear around Sainsbury’s in search of Kinnerton eggs in manner of Tasmanian Devil.

I WILL

  • Give myself ample time to get to all hospital allergy appointments, so I can be the “bigger person” in battles for hospital car parking spaces thus avoiding excessive swearing, getting ulcer and/or pranging car.
  • Get contact lenses/glasses chain/my eyes lasered, so I stop wasting half my life looking for my glasses so I can read a food label.
  • Buy a large, stylish handbag from Zara or similar, to cart around emergency meds, wipes, safe foods and the like, in place of rucksack. Thereby channelling mum-about-town vibe as opposed to laden down hiker.
  • Properly explain purpose of my orange wig wearing to the other mothers at playgroup on Orange Wig Day, so everyone knows we are raising money for the Anaphylaxis Campaign as opposed to me being an overkeen mother who joins in fancy dress games with children, in public.
  • Keep plentiful supply of appetising but safe snacks in my bag, ready to whip out at a moment’s notice, thus avoiding having to say “no, you can’t have one of Ben’s cakes as they may contain nuts” and falling into trap of promising to buy safe cake. To then find no nut free options in supermarket.
  • Remember that just because I have found nut free chocolate coins/Christmas biscuits/mincemeat, it does not mean I need 500 bags/packets/jars of each.
  • Finally make a decision as to which is safer: a holiday in an English speaking country versus a short haul flight. Then book first post peanut allergy diagnosis abroad holiday. Will look on the bright side that worrying about peanuts for the duration of the flight will at least stop me stressing about the wings falling off.

2 comments

  1. Hi Louise

    Happy New Year! A timely read and an excellent reminder that its important to maintain a sense of humour to keep sane. Your last point about holidays in particular is indeed a toughie.

    Our 4 year old had a reaction to cows milk when he was 10 months (fortunately he didn’t experience full anaphylaxis, though it was still a scary time in hospital as we didn’t know what was going on and how serious or not things would develop into) and whilst we suspected a cows milk allergy we only found out about his other (nut and egg) allergies when he was subsequently tested. We have excluded nut ever since so he (and we as a family) have not been through the same experience as yourselves (and hopefully never will), for which we are very thankful. He has been in the vicinity of peanuts (prior to his diagnosis) and so our thinking is that he is currently not allergic to airborne particulates but needs to ingest peanuts to experience symptoms – we still keep a nut free kitchen and I guess in some ways only time will tell (cue: put scary thoughts to back of mind).

    Just thought I would share some of our experience of holidays abroad. We had already been on a long haul flight to the US (to visit family) by the time he was diagnosed so for us the fear/risk factor was perhaps not as great. Since then we have been on flights to Portugal, Spain, Austria, and recently returned to the US last year. Always self catering (ski-ing excepted) and plenty of research first, unsurprisingly. Friends of ours have an apartment in the Algarve which was the perfect first holiday overseas post diagnosis. He did have a minor (not nut related) episode whilst out there and following a somewhat frantic phone call the owners put us in touch with an english doctor at a nearby private clinic that helped provide a degree of reassurance about being in a non-english speaking country (whilst many Portugeese speak some English, their ‘Allergy’ English is a different story, as is our Portugeese). We also found a nearby hypermarket with a large free from section, though did find that milk (but not nuts) is in so many more food items than over here in the UK (all bread for instance). When we went to Europe we also went with one or both set of parents which helped with the whole management/destressing thing. For ski-ing we went with Esprit, who offer fully catered family holidays in chalets with english chefs onsite, and also english childcare in creches/nurseries either onsite or at a nearby chalet. They were not cheap but our experience was that they were very responsive and didn’t mind our presence in the kitchens etc. We were able to ask about dietary requirements prior to and at the time of booking.

    We did have some nervy moments like when the man at the end of the row on a flight produced a packet of peanuts, but he kindly agreed not to open them. One time our flight back from the US was first delayed significantly and then we were rerouted onto a different flight/plane – we began to wonder if we were going to run out of prepared supplies – Airports are not great for ‘free from’ supplies and our new flight did not have sufficient notice to cater for our dietary requirements. Fortunately the senior air stewardess on the flight was an angel and ‘liberated’ some supplies from first class – she couldn’t do more for us and made us thankful we had been changed on to a Virgin flight (Sam Sadleir’s incident aside).

    Anyway, apologies for the long post but thanks for an excellent blog/website and I hope you manage to sort out a well deserved holiday – here’s to an incident free 2014.

    1. Hi Nick – thanks very much for the comment. That’s reassuring to hear how much safe travelling you’ve done since discovering your son’s food allergies. (And thanks also for the recommendation about Esprit.)
      I think, for our first attempt, we’d maybe look at going back to a place we’ve been in France before – self catering, good local supermarket and – key point! – English owners who live on the estate and who could help us with “allergy” French. I’ll certainly post when we’ve finally psyched up to it. All the best for 2014!

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