The Great Peanut Oil Debate – Part 1

Lately, I’ve been told that peanut oil does not cause allergic reactions that it is the protein inside the peanut that does.  I would have brushed this off as an ignorant comment had I not heard it on several different occasions.

The first time I heard this was 5 years ago in Asheville, NC while my in-laws were visiting.  We took them out to eat at this awesome local burger spot in the heart of downtown.  As we were perusing the menu my mother-in-law (has a food allergy to all legumes including peanuts and beans) noticed that everything was fried in peanut oil.  We immediately asked the server if this was true.  He brought back the chef, who tried to tell us that my mother-in-law was safe to eat the oil as it does not carry as many allergens and those cook out anyway.  We chose to eat somewhere else just to be safe and because we thought he was loony.

As time has passed, this has happened in several other instances where people swear that there is no relation to the allergen in peanut oils.  But I always ask, if it’s not an issue then why do you put a notice on your menus?  So far, I have not received an answer.

What baffles me more are the reactions I have witnessed.  In my son, DR’s first two reactions to peanuts it was because he ingested them.  It was very easy to identify the cause.  In his more recent reactions though, it was only found that his reactions were due to being touched by someone who had eaten or touched peanuts earlier in the day.  So when people touch peanuts and peanut products are they not carrying around the oils from those products?  Is that not what caused his reactions?

Because I am afraid of the careless, ignorant, and uneducated actions of other, I am currently researching this issue and will present my findings in part 2 of this blog post.

~Lacey

Advertisements

10 phrases allergy moms “love” to hear

  1. How allergic is your child?  When I tell someone my child has a food allergy, I’m telling them so that my child can avoid the allergen.  It doesn’t matter “how” allergic he is.  He doesn’t need the food, and we don’t need the agony of an allergic reaction.
  2. Is he really allergic or do you just not want him to have sweets? Of course I don’t want to constantly shove sweets down my child’s throat, but just because he can’t have certain foods does not mean I don’t let him have sweets.  Besides, why would you ask a mother (whether or not she has a child with food allergies) if you can give her child sweets?  Why can’t you offer my child an apple or even better a non-food item like stickers?
  3. I feel bad that he can’t have the same food as other kids.  I don’t want him to feel left out.  Most moms of children with food allergies come prepared with alternative options for their children.  While the children may feel a little left out from not getting to eat certain foods it is far better than the alternative of them eating the foods and having a reaction.
  4. Ugh…my life is so inconvenienced by your child’s food allergy.  Why do daycares, schools, airplanes and public buildings have to be peanut free?  First, if you seriously can’t wait until you get home to eat your peanut items, then maybe you have a bit of an issue?  Second, the severity of some allergies like peanuts differ from person to person.  Some people react just by touching an item that someone who had peanuts earlier touched.  It’s like with the flu.  If you have the flu virus you shouldn’t be bringing it out into public where it can hurt others.  Just keep your peanuts and your flu at home and to yourself.
  5. How long has it been since your child has tried this food? Maybe he’s built up a tolerance.  Yes, some people may grow out of their food allergies, but some of them may get worse.  Currently, there is no way to know either way.   There are some research efforts underway to see if there is a cure for food allergies.  No, we will not test his tolerance right now in a non-medical environment without his doctor’s consent just because you want to see if he reacts.  I can tell you that I am probably losing my tolerance for you.
  6. You must have eaten too much of that food during your pregnancy or while you were breastfeeding! You must be ignorant. Thank you for blaming me for my child’s medical condition though. Bless your heart. Do your own research and know that we blame ourselves enough for our children’s reactions without others trying to blame us too.
  7. Giving them a little bite won’t hurt. Right, and neither will letting them hold a rattlesnake. To allergy moms those two things are equal. Both could kill our child. Let me say that again to make it clear: ONE BITE COULD KILL MY CHILD. I’m not willing to take that chance. You shouldn’t be either. Killing people is frowned upon last time I checked.
  8. Oh, they’ll grow out of it. We actually want this. We desperately want our child to grow out of their food allergies. For them and for us. Unfortunately we don’t know if that will happen. Neither does my child’s allergist. I’m so glad you know though.
  9. It was processed in a plant/on a conveyor belt/on a counter top with the allergen, but it doesn’t have the allergen in it.  It should be safe. If it wasn’t potentially dangerous, then why do the products have to tell you they were processed near the allergen?  What if your favorite food item said processed by someone who had the flu or TB?  Would you feel comfortable chancing contamination?
  10. This one we will never hear said to our face. We’ve heard others say it about other allergy moms when they don’t realize we are listening or don’t realize we are also allergy moms. They’re just doing it for attention, I doubt their child even HAS a food allergy. Don’t be this person. This person is not a nice person to be. Please know that we are not seeking attention. Most of us HATE having to ask what ingredients are in everything when we are at a restaurant, a person’s house, on vacation, etc. I don’t like inconveniencing people. I hate it. I’m a southern girl to my core and I love making people feel at ease. I’m way out of my comfort zone when I have to seek people out to ask questions. I will do it for my child’s safety EVERY SINGLE TIME no matter how uncomfortable it makes me. I can assure you if I could take it away from them I would in a heartbeat.

This post is not intended for people who genuinely care about our children’s safety. If you are asking us questions that are intended to really help our child or if you are wanting to know details so that you can make them or give them a safe treat we welcome that. We always know your intentions as soon as you speak though. We can tell when you are a caring person and when you’re just trying to be a busybody or a tush.

~Hope & Lacey~

image

 

“MH” Part II: NICU

image.jpeg

The first 24 hours after MH was born was miserable. I felt like I couldn’t breathe I was hurting so bad. Not from the pain of just having gone through 18 1/2 hours of labor or the fact that I had been cut open from hip to hip, but because I didn’t have my baby in my arms. My heart felt like it had been ripped out. I’m the mom who doesn’t let anyone take my babies out of the room without me or my husband going with them during our hospital stay after our babies are born. Now, I was having to trust strangers, very amazing and capable strangers, to care for my fighting baby girl. My husband was the first to hold our sweet baby. He went up to the NICU as often as he could while I wasn’t able to. I was a very sick mess for the first 24 hours after her birth. I finally made it up to the NICU to hold her and she was stable but fighting. She had transitioned from a c-pap to regular oxygen but still wasn’t doing the best. I honestly can’t remember all of the terms they used to describe what all was wrong, I just knew she was fighting. After my first visit with her they gave me fluids and a blood transfusion then unhooked me from my IV. I was able to shower, change clothes and blow dry my hair. I felt like a completely new person. During my second visit with her I was able to stay a lot longer and I was able to do kangaroo care with her. It was good for the both of us. She was beautiful. She had a million wires and IV’s hooked to her but she was beautiful. Each time I had to leave was gut wrenching. J went up there very often and I went as often as possible. My sole mission at that point was to provide as much of my milk to her as possible. I became a pumping machine! We got to feed her for the first time when she was a little over two days old. Tiny little drops through a syringe. 1cc of liquid gold. She slowly improved each day and on the Sunday after the Thursday that she was born I was discharged. Those few weeks before, during and after her birth were filled with days that seemed to be the worse days of my life.
I’d do it all over in a heartbeat to have my sweet girl.
Leaving her was hard. One of the hardest moments of my life. I was thrilled to see my kiddos at home though!! I had missed them so so bad!!! That Monday was bittersweet and miserable. I had desperately missed my kids so I was happy to spend time with them but I was honestly really worried and stressed because I couldn’t take care of MH. My parents came to sit with our kids so that we could go visit her around 3pm. We live an hour away from the hospital. That morning when we had called to check on her the nurses told us she was stable but had not improved. I had prayed all. day. long.

Prayer is a powerful thing.
When we got to her on the main NICU floor we were met by a nurse who asked if we were ready to take her to a transition room!!! We had NO IDEA that she was doing so well!!! Her oxygen was gone, she was down to only one IV line and she was very stable! After only a second she was being wheeled into her own room and I was told that either I or my husband could stay with her 24 hours a day if we chose to!!
I was staying. No one could have pulled me away. My husband was instantaneous in his decision. He knew I needed to stay with her, I needed it with every fiber of my being. It was the best news I could have ever heard.

We left for an hour to go get a few things at a local store because I hadn’t packed anything. I was planning on staying with her as long as she had to be there and I needed necessities and comfortable clothes to keep myself clean, comfortable and keep my milk supply strong for her. A couple of bags of toiletries, food, yoga pants, t-shirts and a giant mason jar water bottle later I was set. When we got back J was able to feed her her very first bottle!! He stayed as long as he could and then left to care for our other sweet kiddos. Then, it was just Mommy and MH. That was the first time I had been able to be alone with my sweet tiny girl.

It. Was. Blissful.

~Hope

“MH” Part I: Birth Story

image.jpeg
Throughout my four pregnancies before MH I never had any serious issues. My blood pressure was always good, so was everything else. I always had amazingly easy deliveries even through a couple of small complications during the birth of two of my sons. When I went in for a routine checkup at 19 weeks during my pregnancy with MH my blood pressure was very high. My doctor admitted me to the hospital for an overnight observation to check for more signs of pre-eclampsia. All of my tests came back fine, my blood pressure was normal for the full 24 hours after and we found out that day that we were having a girl! I went home with high hopes and thankful that it seemed to be just my nerves that caused the issue. Everything was fine for the next few weeks. Then at another routine appointment at 36 weeks my blood pressure spiked again and I was admitted again. This time the tests weren’t great. I had pre-eclampsia. I had to stay in the hospital under observation. My amazing husband stayed by my side the entire time. Our kiddos are very blessed to have awesome grandparents and close family friends that they stayed with during this time. I was induced at 37 weeks. The day before the ultrasound tech told me that MH should be perfectly healthy and she measured over 6lbs. My labor was 18 1/2 hours long. Sometime during the morning I remember feeling a huge movement that felt like she flipped but I didn’t give it much thought in the moment. When I finally reached 10cm my water still hadn’t broke. As the doctors and nurse checked my progress my nurse noticed that she wasn’t feeling the baby’s head, she was feeling the umbilical cord. I was immediately rushed to surgery for an emergency c-section. The big flip I felt was just that. MH was breach and I had a prolapsed cord. I lost a lot of blood during the procedure and felt myself going in and out the whole time. Once they got her out something was very wrong. I couldn’t her her crying and they didn’t immediately let me see her like they normally do. I honestly was so out of sorts that I didn’t fully understand everything that was going on. I became very sick and my blood pressure wouldn’t stabilize. My husband came to my side and I remember my anesthesiologist telling him to stay because he was making me stable. He is my rock. I finally heard MH crying and I knew there were a lot of people in the room. I didn’t know what was wrong. In recovery J, my husband, told me that MH had to be taken to the NICU. She was very small and had breathing problems among other medical issues. I was able to see her for a minute after recovery but I didn’t get to hold her. I know this isn’t food allergy related but it is MH related. To tell her story without explaining everything she went through, fought through, before her diagnosis would not give her the credit she deserves. She is my fighter.

~Hope

It’s not always a death sentence

Much of the time I feel like food allergies is such a negative part of our lives.  I spend the majority of my time checking food items, planning meals, and worrying about situations beyond my control.  However, food allergies don’t always have to be a death sentence.

My son JN just turned one in May.  For months I dreaded it, after witnessing other children who react after their first bites of birthday cake, not with joy and excitement, but with itching, hives, and the inability to breathe.  Since his older brother DR is already diagnosed with both an egg and peanut allergy we knew that we could not go the traditional birthday route with cake and candies, but we still wanted to make it fun.

For DR’s first birthday we did the traditional smash cake photos and did not want JN to be left out.  So our alternative to the traditional cake smash was a  watermelon smash which gave birth to JN’s “One-in-a-Melon” themed birthday.   Click the link to view the photo gallery by the amazing Ashley Brown of E&J photography: One in a Melon. We had so much fun planning and implementing this party and photo shoot.  All of it was allergy-free.

We did end up making cupcakes, but they were of course allergy-free (except for wheat, which could easily be done).

cupcakes

~Lacey

 

“D”

imageAfter Z grew out of his milk protein allergy and his allergy induced asthma we put him on lactose free milk to keep his digestion running smooth. We thought that things were FINALLY normal for us!!! After four years of craziness our lives calmed down for the most part. We still have to keep him away from horses and cats but he’s totally normal now.
During this calm normal food period my kids enjoyed peanut butter and jelly for lunch often without a single thought. We enjoyed eggs for breakfast and sometimes for a quick dinner when my husband was working. I baked with eggs every single day. I have always loved to bake. I still love it!
I never had to put any thought into what I was feeding them other than making sure they had proper nutrition. I’m a meal planner, it saves my family a lot of money and aside from making the menu itself and cooking the food that was all that I had to do. Yes, it was a pretty big job for me as a ( then ) mom of three but it was enjoyable. Then I had “D” right before MB turned 2. His birth was scary. He had distress towards the end and the doctors thought he had swallowed some meconium. We had to wait on a team of specialists only to have them walk out the door as soon as they heard the very loud cry he was belting out of his perfectly clear lungs. Up to that point all of my labors and deliveries were very nice experiences with only one small cord issue during Z’s delivery. After he came his life was simple and sweet. We enjoyed having our wild and stubborn little man! I waited until after he was one to feed him any nut or egg products and after he had them he was fine. No issues! Then one day when he was about 15 months old during a snacky lunch when we had veggies, nuts and popcorn, D started breaking out in hives. At this point aside from my own grape allergy as a kid I had never dealt with a food causing this type of reaction. I did know what it was right away because of Z’s animal allergies though, so we gave him Benadryl and he was fine. Cashews were the culprit. A few months later pecans caused another reaction. Peanuts never bothered him. So we still had peanut products in the house. His allergy to tree nuts is a hives only reaction at this point but we always stay away from them to be safe. When D was 8 months old we found out we were expecting baby number 5!!! She was born when D was 17months old. She is our whirlwind baby. With her, things have always been crazy, scary and fast. Her story will take more than one post. MH turned 2 on the 22nd of May. Her short two years have been more eventful than most people ten times her age. She is my fighter.

~Hope

Hostess recalls 710,000 snack cakes, donuts — WPMT FOX43

Snack food giant Hostess is recalling more than 700 thousand cases of its snack cakes and donuts. The reason? The snacks may contain peanut residue not listed in their ingredients. The residue can sicken those allergic or highly sensitive to peanuts. Hostess blames the residue on flour recently recalled by its supplier, Grain Craft. The […]

via Hostess recalls 710,000 snack cakes, donuts — WPMT FOX43

It takes a village

When you send your child out into the world, you worry that they may not be cared for as you expect.  When your child has a food allergy, this fear is amplified by 1000.  I have struggled with this a lot lately as I’ve seen mothers and fathers post about the inconvenience food allergies cause them and their child(ren). For a parent of a child with severe food allergies the memory of that first hive break out or the unresponsiveness of the first anaphylactic reaction is enough to worry anyone. Knowing that there are school policies in place for lunch and specific foods allowed gives me enough peace of mind to not just keep my child at home – and yes, this was a comment a parent made: “All kids with food allergies should have to be home-schooled.”  I posted something similar to this on my Facebook page and was shocked to see parents who agreed with the statement or believed that kids with food allergies should be segregated.

Untitled.png 5

This issue even affected our decision in which school to place our child, as parents from the one he was going to attend started cyber ranting when the administration sent out a reminder that certain types of food were not allowed as part of school policy. These were not new policies that had been made for my child; these were already in place when we applied, but as I saw parent after parent complain about the “issue” I realized that in order to protect my child we could not go to this school.

I never wish a food allergy on anyone, especially a child, but I hope the world becomes more understanding of the dangers that lurk for those who do suffer from one.

 

~Lacey

Just when you think you’re winning

index.jpg10

DR’s egg allergy was diagnosed in October of 2014.  While we were devastated, we were also motivated to cut out all egg products immediately.  It was very much a learning process as so many products we do not think about contain eggs.

About 3 weeks into our egg-free diet, we had a scary reaction.  I was baffled, as I was sure he did not have any egg products.  I called my husband, Justin on the way to the pediatrician’s office to ask if he knew of anything they could have added to chicken salad that would cause this reaction.  There was a pause on the other end, and then Justin calmly said “Well, mayonnaise is made out of eggs.  Everyone knows that.”  No, not everyone knows that, and even those who do, don’t always think of it as an egg product.  I had never made mayonnaise in my life, and I hardly ever used it except in potato, tuna, and chicken salads.  The day before I had fed him tuna salad.  Couple that with the school lunch of chicken salad, and his poor immune system was under attack.

For weeks I beat myself up over this incident, but I learned to be even more vigilant.  We scoured every ingredient list we could find.  We researched every food item that could possibly contain eggs.  We were prepared for any food question.  We were prepared!

Or so we thought.  When you think of food allergies, most people only think of food products.  We were in that mindset, until one day when I went to pick up DR from school and he was covered in hives.  We looked over the food list that day, and as we were doing so, a new teacher from one of the older kid classes approached me.  During recess, one of her students had passed pieces of chalk to DR.  As a one year old, his initial thought was to put it in his mouth.  The teachers caught him half-way through the piece of chalk, and washed it out of his mouth.  No one thought to check the ingredients, though, until he started breaking out.  Believe it or not, the non-toxic chalk being used in the school was made out of eggs.  This prompted us to look at other non-food objects like crayons.

Another random incident with packing peanuts, brought us to the realization that these bio-degradable items could also be made from eggs.  As the list continues to grow, I become less comfortable with the world around us.   I have become a hover-mom, never letting him out of my site, constantly checking to see if he’s chewing on something.  I feel that even with all our hard work, we will never win.

~Lacey

“Z”

I am not new to allergies. When I was little I had a few severe reactions to grapes, a few small reactions to popular antibiotics and I am still very allergic to cats. I grew out of my other allergies. It was never a big deal when I was a kid so I was not prepared for how my life was about to change after I became a mother. My journey as an allergy mom did not start with only food allergies. My journey started with my second oldest son, Z.
I have five amazing kiddos, three of which have or have had food allergies of different severities and very different reactions. Z is my sweet, slow and steady boy. He was the easiest of all of my babies and instantly took breastfeeding by storm. My first son had a lot of complications with breastfeeding and wasn’t able to. I was thrilled to have Z take to me so easily. Then we noticed instead of having normal movements that he would go 3-4 days without having even one poopy diaper. The first many rounds of doctors appointments didn’t help. After four months with no answers and him going up to nine days without having a dirty diaper I was told to stop breastfeeding and to try soy formula. It worked! I was so happy to have a baby that could poop regularly and go an entire day without terrible gas! Then three weeks later he started having the exact same issues as before. After three more months of trying EVERYTHING we finally got our answer!!!

Milk protein allergy.

His body could not digest milk proteins. So he had to be put on a very special formula until he was 18months old and couldn’t have any dairy until after he was 3. In the middle of all of that he also had very severe environmental allergies. He would break out in hives and have horrible asthma attacks any time he came into contact with cats, cat hair, horses, certain plants, dust, and so on. The list is very long. So my first four years of motherhood were a whirlwind! It was spent getting answers for Z and keeping him away from things and foods that would harm him, enjoying having two sweet boys who were only 17 months apart and best friends and having my sweet daughter MB come along. After Z turned 3 his milk protein allergy vanished and I no longer had to worry about ingredient lists for him. Little did I know that this part of my life was really easy compared to what was to come.

~Hope