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Stephanie and William’s story

My son was three when we discovered his allergies in the worst but best way possible.

Before I start this is the first time I have ever written our whole experience down, I have given brief summaries of what happened to people but never the whole story. I’m doing this now because I have started a campaign to get more allergy awareness into schools and I want parents out there to know a diagnosis of allergies is scary but you are not in this alone. I want people to take the time to understand what an allergic reaction is and why, we, allergy parents need to take it so seriously.

Thank you for taking the time to read Williams story.

Stephanie

William’s Story

We were living in Canada at the time and there was this one coffee shop we used to always visit. William would have his favourite berry smoothie and I would have (the mums must have) obligatory strong coffee.

One summer day, on one of our first outings as a family of four, we decided to pop by this coffee shop as a treat for a long day out running errands. William who was three at the time requested his normal treat, my husband and I had a coffee and Alex (newest addition to the family) was quite happy asleep in his pram.

We found a lovely table by the window for Will to watch the cars go by and settled in to enjoy our drinks. Within a few sips, William turned to us and said he felt “sicky”. Now, he had been playing up a bit when he didn’t get the balloon or toy he wanted, or when we had to leave the park, so we assumed this was another toddler moment. I told him he was fine.

He carried on and took another sip of the drink, then he said there was “hair on his tongue”. At this point, we thought he looked a bit pale so probably best we take him home. We left our drinks on the table and walked out. He kept saying that his tummy hurts and (to this day I regret what I did next) I told him off for being silly and not getting his own way.

By the time we got out of the car park William had quietened down, he started falling asleep and closing his eyes. We sang to try and keep him awake as I was worried about bedtime that was fast approaching. I carried him into the house, realising something wasn’t right and kept cuddling him and talking to him but he just stared at me. His lips were a funny colour.

We walked through our front door and he suddenly and violently he vomited everywhere, we still didn’t think much of it and thought it was a bug. And put that down his reason for being silly in the coffee shop.

It wasn’t until my husband took him upstairs for a bath that he saw the hives.

I heard him shout “DON’T PANIC BUT WE NEED TO TAKE WILLIAM TO THE HOSPITAL”. I ran upstairs and there was my baby, he was crying as he has just been sick again but his whole body was covered in hives. I had never seen anything like it before. Red huge hives everywhere on his little body.

I wanted to cuddle him but was afraid I would hurt him.

What the hell was this?!?

My husband had the common sense and composure to realise it could be an allergic reaction and sent me to find the first aid kit. I ran downstairs, found our first aid kit which contained anti-histamine and thankfully he took a dose.

We lived quite close to the hospital so ,my husband decided to drive him there and rushed him into A&E. I had to stay at home with our new born baby.

Due to the lack of phone signal in the hospital, I didn’t hear anything until 4 hours later. In that time I was going crazy, googling things on my phone with his symptoms, trying to piece the day together, where did I go wrong?

Finally I had a message to say he was stable.

What I found out later about Williams trip to hospital makes my blood boil.

Matt got him to hospital and the nurses looked over him , deemed it not serious and asked them to wait. William was in and out of consciousness, he raised this with them but nothing was done. Then William vomited twice in a row. And started gasping.

It was then and only then, they decided to have him seen straight away. The doctors administered a strong steroid dose and he was kept in for 24 hours to be monitored. They administered another dose a few hours later and were happy to send him home with the warning to be on the look out for a second reaction.

Thankfully they did warn us about a secondary reaction as a couple of hours later at home, we found him lying in a pool of water in his bed which he had vomited back up and slept through. We were lucky he was relatively conscious and secondly, didn’t choke on his vomit.

He spent the next few days going between his bed and the sofa for cartoons, we carried him everywhere as he didn’t have the strength to walk.

Three weeks after his allergic reaction, we met a consultant and discussed what had happened. After several tests, it was deemed the smoothie had a “new health beneficial ingredient” of flax seed placed in teeny tiny writing at the back of the bottle which caused his anaphylactic reaction. The quantity was meniscal but enough to almost kill my little boy.

Present day

William is now seven, we have spent the past 4 years educating ourselves on every aspect of allergy management. From our day to day life, to him starting school and finally enjoying birthday parties with friends.

His allergies have now increased to include peanuts, tree nuts, mustard, sesame and dogs. All of which he was exposed to before the reaction with no symptoms.

There is a minefield of information out there, but as his parents we are determined not to let his allergies control his life or the adventures he will go on. We have always told him, that his allergies will not stop him from achieving amazing things, it just means that he has to be more careful.

We are in this together, we are his family, positively allergic.

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The secret behind my smile

 

As much as I love this picture of my beautiful family of three, a year ago today I was in a horrible place Behind that smile I was a terrified person. I would cry at any given moment (which is not me I am not a cryer) 

Anxiety comes in all different shapes and sizes and I for one had never experienced it and thought I was going insane.

I wasn’t anxious about my life, going out or anything happening to me but around Rocco’s allergies! 

On this evening we had been invited to a beautiful wedding reception (happy first wedding anniversary guys ❤️) and the moment I realised we would be taking Rocco the anxiety started! 

Rocco had only just starting to walk so still crawled around a lot so for me knowing there would be food meant not allowing him to crawl and play with any other children! I remember sitting in a corner and a lovely man cave over and tickled Rocco and gave him £1 😍 he didn’t know us and was so sweet but in the next instance I noticed his hand was holding something and I immediately smelt peanuts, my brain went into complete meltdown and I just needed to get away from him with Rocco. I felt rude and ashamed but my main priority was the safety of my child. Turns out it was actually popcorn 🙈 but my brain was having none of it, I just wanted to leave. 

I did seek help and when I finally went to the doctors it all came flooding out. It was explained to me that having a child in general makes you anxious as you naturally worry, but having a child with something like an allergy makes you extra cautious and you need to be more aware of your surroundings, she went on to say that my brain was just working harder (🤣 not something I hear often) and was in overdrive and it just needed to be brought back down to a normal level. I was prescribed Serotonin to help, and within a few weeks felt back to me with a healthy amount of worry around Rocco. I no longer take these tablets and I work hard everyday reminding myself it’s ok to worry. If I was ever to regress I would go back to the doctors in a second.

People do not understand allergies and more needs to be done. It’s that not he will just get a tummy ache he could die. So if you ever see my cleaning down tables, chairs, toys before I allow him to play please don’t roll your eyes or make a comment as it’s probably taken me a lot to get to there and if I ask you to mine for a cuppa instead of coming out or going to yours its just I know my house is a safe place.

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Q and A with May Contain

Inspirational blogger, you tuber and creator of May Contain Daniel Kelly answers questions about what life was like as a child / teenager growing up with allergies.

Tell us about your allergy journey (what are your allergies, when did you find out?

I had my first ever allergic reaction aged five. I was coming home from Primary School and my nanna gave my mum a chocolate bar, to give me as a treat. What happened next is still vivid as ever all these years later. I remember spitting out the chocolate bar all over the back seat, remembering my mum’s angry reaction as I was spitting chocolate everywhere. Within minutes I came out with red hives covering my whole body, we soon realized that something serious was happening and I was having an allergic reaction.I got rushed to emergency doctors and they gave me some antihistamine to calm down the rash. Not too long after they did blood tests and I found out that I had a severe allergy to all nuts.

What was life like growing up with allergies?

Going through school with an allergy I never felt different from the other children, my parents did a really good job making sure I fit in and was still able to attend kids parties with my allergy. Looking back a lot of my confidence in speaking up about my allergy is through my parents.

One thing a lot of parents worry about is the teenage years, what were these like with allergies?

The only time I thought having an allergy might hold me back, was when your friends start going on holiday abroad. However having an allergy hasn’t stopped me living in Amsterdam, and travel around Europe eating in lots of different countries.

Always remember to be vocal about your allergy and never take risks if you are unsure whether they understand how serious your allergy is. Always go with your gut feeling, it has helped me a lot in the past if I don’t feel they understand how severe my allergy is – I won’t eat in that restaurant.

 Tell us more about your allergy blog May Contain?

 Since creating the May Contain allergy magazine at University, I decided the best way to share my experience and raise awareness was to create an allergy blog called May-Contain. I have since created an Instagram page and YouTube channel to share more of my experiences and break down the stigma of having an allergy. 

Food allergies affect over 2 million people in the UK, my main goal of the allergy blog is too break down the stigma and make more young people feel confident to speak up about their allergies and educate people about the seriousness. If you can make someone else’s life safer and better it’s so fulfilling.

I’ve had the opportunity to do talks at Cambridge University, Free from Allergy Show & Ted Baker this year.  I am really enjoying going to different schools & organizations to educate people about the seriousness of allergies. Hoping to do more talks later this year. I have a lot planned over the next 6 months, can’t give too much away at the moment but I’m really excited about the future of May Contain. 

What advice can you give to people growing up with allergies ?

It’s so important to always carry your two Epi-Pens everywhere you go. Too many young people don’t always carry the Epi-Pen. I think that’s a massive issue because there most at risk, as they are more likely to take chances when they move away from home. I feel it’s so important to make your friends aware of the seriousness of their allergy and speak up about it.

Mentioned before always go with your gut feeling if you feel the restaurants doesnt understand the seriousness your allergy, don’t eat at that restaurant. If you want to find out more about my experiences and living with an allergy make sure to check out my blog at https://www.may-contain.com/ or Instagram page May Contain

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Starting School

So proud!

Starting school is a huge milestone and mixture of emotions for every child and parent. When your child has an allergy/allergies these feelings can be coupled with anxiety and apprehension. I certainly felt that way when M started school two years ago. She was leaving pre school where we knew all the staff so well and they had been amazing with their care and understanding of allergies and she was also going to be at school 5 days a week meaning I would see her less and have less ‘control’ of her care. I was worried about this and as I have previously spoken about my anxiety this definitely became worse around this time. I will be honest and say on my days off work I would watch the clock waiting until I could pick her up and I checked my phone constantly to ensure the school hadn’t tried to contact me and she was ok. I am happy to say I am in a much better place now and do not feel the need to do this. M loves school and we have had a positive experience with the staff in caring for Ms allergies. As I prepare for my son G starting school this time round (with no allergies) there is less anxiety although I still worry about will he make friends/enjoy it etc! This takes me back to this time two years ago and remembering some things I did that made me feel better about M starting school and wanted to share with any parents who have their little one starting school this time around.

  1. Communication is key

This is so important to discuss your childs needs/ allergies and care plan. If a meeting has not already been held request a meeting with the key people involved in your child’s care to share their needs, what a reaction may look like and the course of action. Make a list of things you would like to discuss/ ask before you go so that you feel prepared and don’t miss anything. Ask about their policies on food allergies and staff training on administering an adrenaline pen. As all brands are different I ordered a Jext trainer pen’ (free from their website) and allowed the staff to have a ‘practice’ of administering this on each other. Ask if the school has a school nurse and liaise with them about your child’s needs. The school should have forms to fill in before your child starts including

Medication Authorisation forms

Special dietary needs Accommodation form – if your child is having school meals

Emergency Action Plan

Finally, if something doesn’t feel right do not be afraid to speak up and highlight the seriousness of your childs condition. I had an experience with the schools breakfast club where I felt they weren’t taking M’ allergy seriously. I went direct to the manager and managing director of the club to ensure that all staff were made aware and had training on using the pens.

2. Meet with your child’s teacher

I met with M’s teacher to discuss how things like class baking would work, school trips and daily allergy care (cover teachers etc) . The school were amazing with this and insisted on the children bringing only fruit and veg as their snack and always checked birthday treats with myself before giving them to M. We kept a safe treat box at school so if there was anything she couldn’t have it could be quickly swapped.

3. Visit your childs doctor

Make an appointment with your child’s doctor before school starts to get an up to date prescription of adrenaline auto injectors, any inhalers, antihistamines etc. We needed 4 pens as we left two at school and two for home. The doctor may also need to sign the forms for school.

4. Discuss with your child the age appropriate skills to manage their allergies

It is worth having a conversation with your child about what to do if they feel unwell, who would they tell. This is something I worried about as M used to be quite shy so I had to really make explicit that it was ok to interrupt the teacher if you do not feel well. It is also important to teach your child not to share food and what to do if anyone was unkind to them. As they get older these discussions will become different with other things to discuss. It is always worth having over the summer holidays and as I prepare my son for school I will also be reiterating these points with M.

5. Try and relax and be positive!

I know, I know this is easier said than done but to ensure M didn’t pick up on my anxiety around starting school I kept it positive and made it an exciting thing. I remember taking her on the bus to town as a treat to choose her uniform and bag etc which she loved. I also popped little notes in her bag etc and for the first few weeks she took a hair bobble which I had one too so she could look at it and know I was thinking about her. As M didn’t know any other children when starting school the school secretary gave me (with the mums permission) the contact details of a family down the road whose daughter would be in M’s class. We met with them a couple of times so she would have a familiar face on the first day. Starting school is a huge milestone so be gentle on yourself, plan some nice things for the weekends in September and try to adopt some extra self care. There were plenty of tears (from me) that first day but she loves school, has made some lovely friends and has learned so much. The time we have in the holidays and the weekends is even more precious. So good luck to all the new school starters and mamas/dad’s/grandparents waving them off on that first day!

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Guest Blog

This Guest Blog is written by Professional Chef Martha Morgan also known as the Allergy Dragon. She is mum to three amazing children; the oldest of which has celiac disease the youngest also has celiac disease as well as 33 severe food allergies. This led Martha to create her own You Tube channel called Allergy Dragon to share her passion for cooking delicious, gluten free , allergy friendly food! She believes that everyone deserves to have fun in the kitchen and eat delicious food no matter your diet limitations.

Welcome to The Allergy Mom Club

In 2002 with the birth of my youngest child and only girl Kara, I was over the moon. I thought to myself; my family is complete, happy, and mostly healthy. Little did I know that my little girl was going to initiate me into the allergy Mom club, and by doing so help me find out several of my “health issues”  where undiagnosed food allergies, and Celiac/Coeliac Disease. Surprise! She got it from her Mama.  

Our journey into the world of Food allergies started with Kara’s first reaction. She was almost nine months old when she had an anaphylaxis reaction to eating strawberries.  It was terrifying, and the first time I had ever witnessed a response like that. Luckily the emergency services were quick and effective. I remember feeling helpless, and just praying that whatever they could do would work. Then started the discovery process of food allergies, the what, the why, and how to keep it from happening again.

So through elimination diets, and scratch testing, we confirm Kara’s allergy to certain foods.  She was confirmed to be allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and strawberries the list was relatively daunting at first to a new allergy Mom. Who am I kidding…any food allergy diagnosis is formidable when it first gets confirmed. However, we are allergy Mom’s and Dad’s we can do this! ….Right?  Yes, you can!

Growing up, Kara was always in the kitchen with me partly because I believe all kids need to learn how to cook, and know where your food comes from. I especially feel it is essential when you have an allergy Kid.  She also got to learn cooking from “ the best chef in the world,” her words not mine. I am proud to say my sous-chef has become quite the cook at 16 now and makes most of her meals during the week, and sometimes she makes enough for everyone.

As positive and empowering, I have tried to make Kara growing up is tough; even tougher if you are growing up with food allergies. Kara has experienced over the years food allergy bullying, allergic reactions obviously, and having to be left out of experiences because of food. This did cause a mental strain on her, and me. I know how much anxiety it causes me as a parent, but I didn’t realize how much distress it caused Kara until we went to a counselor. So when people ask me what the one thing I didn’t think of I wish everyone knew when raising a food allergy kid is? Get a counselor.  Kara does not see hers all the time, but she was priceless to us at the time she needed someone else other than Mom.

Luckily for Kara, she has had at least two friends parents that she was able to go out with and experience real childhood experiences. Such as sleepovers, amusement parks, and just being a kid. They where a massive part in Kara being able to have a safe and fun childhood. I will always be forever in their debt for taking care of her as if she was her own. I probably would not have seen the anxiety she was having if not for them. They contacted me saying she would only eat chips over the weekend they were out. In Kara’s mind, she was eating what was safe. She didn’t want to take a chance and miss out on anything they where doing with a reaction.

Kara is 16 years old, computer science major in high school, and is one strong young lady. While it is correct kids can outgrow food allergies, in Kara’s case, she only outgrew her peanut allergy. Kara still avoids eating peanuts, peanut butter but will eat things processed around peanuts now. I can’t blame her for being careful since she has 33 total confirmed food allergies now, and Celiac disease. We have not been able to eat at a restaurant for years without her reacting unless it comes from my work kitchen. Many things pre-packaged are entirely off limits, and we have to scratch cook about 85% of her food.  

Since Kara has so many allergies, I won’t list or explain them all.  She can’t eat garlic, ginger, tree nuts, asparagus, pork, and chocolate, to name a few. I share the chocolate allergy with Kara; we are allergic to the bean, not the sulfites, or dairy in the chocolate. Kara’s worst allergy is to fish; she is so allergic to the proteins in fish, that when it is cooking, she will react.  She cannot be in the same room when it is cooking; it is hazardous for her. It limits where she can also meet people if they want to hang out, and even though she brings her food with her.

I get asked all the time, does it get better? Well yes and no is the truthful answer. You get used to food allergies, and different experiences now cause alarm. The first day of Kindergarten school problems looks small now compared to the impending first day of University, etc. So firstly  I always recommend you have an Allergist for the actual testing, and possible treatments.  Second, You will need a counselor for yourself, and maybe the kids. Thirdly, look at what you can eat, not what you can’t!

Kara’s a fantastic kid, and I am not just saying that because she is mine. (okay, maybe a little!) For everything, Kara has to go through daily to survive genuinely astonishing to me. She now when faced with an allergic reaction is calm, collected, and tells people what to do if she can. Kara still has great friends that look out for her, and assure her they will stab her with the EpiPen if needed. Kara is starting her first job this summer, she will be in grade 11 next school year and has such confidence in everything she does it is inspiring.

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Learning to relax

So on the page recently we have been discussing a lot about the effects of children’s food allergies on the parents mental health. Our well-being as parents is so important and making some time to nourish this is vital. After my daughter was found to have allergies I think I lived in adrenaline for most of the time constantly in fear mode and feeling on edge. CBT really helped but also I wanted to implement changes to my lifestyle to ensure I take take to feel calm and relaxed so that I can be positive for myself and my daughter. I didn’t want her to pick up on my anxieties around her eating. I have recently embraced finding ways to relax and have some “me time” and am really seeing lots of positive effects in my mindset and general. So I wanted to share some of the ways I am learning to relax with you

  1. Meditation, meditation, meditation

Meditation is a real buzz word right now and for the right reasons. Lots of research has been done proving the regular practice of meditation can have positive effects on our mindset and wellbeing. I started with a book called ‘The Art of Breathing’ and downloaded the Headspace app. Just a few minutes a day really helps to calm my mind. At first it was so hard to try and switch off but the Headspace app talks you through each step and allows thoughts to come and go. Initially, I was meditating first thing in the morning but now I do it whenever I can, when stuck in traffic I focus on the breath or if I find a nice spot during a walk I will allow a few minutes to breathe and relax. I am aiming to build this up but am not putting too much pressure on myself just ensuring that it can fit in well with my lifestyle.

2. Yoga

I have found a yoga class that I love! It’s once a week on a Wednesday evening and is very gentle with breathwork and relaxation at the end. I think that is my favourite part; lying with a blanket listening to some calming music! I always feel so much better afterwards and always sleep really well. I would love to try yoga at home too can anyone suggest any good videos?

Image result for yoga

3. Reading

This year some friends and I set up a Book Club. An informal meeting every month (usually involving food and a glass of wine) where we share our views on our book of the month. This has been great for so many reasons but mainly because reading is so meditative. I have read so many books this year and now read before bed rather than watching TV. It is a great form of escapism and have reading some inspirational stories such as Edith Eger’s ‘The Choice’

The Choice: A true story of hope by Edith Eger

4. Essential Oils

This has been quite new to me and was suggested by a friend who is a midwife who had been amazed at the positive effects of Essential Oils for labouring women. I bought the diffuser and am collecting a range of oils. My particular favourites and Frankincense and Lavender. I love the scent and find them really relaxing. Plus they make your house smell like a Spa!

It is said that the scent you like the best is the one that you need the most. I loved Frankincense instantly and then when I read up on it its a very comforting oil which is what I needed.

5. Acupuncture

This is a new one for me. In fact last night was my first session. The lady was really knowledgeable and informative. It did feel strange having the needles but didn’t hurt apart from my wrist! I feel a lot calmer today and am going to continue to have some sessions as a form of relaxation!

Image result for acupuncture

So there’s my top 5 relaxation tips I am trying, If you would like to share yours please get in touch

xx

Starting School

Allergy Stars

So proud!

Starting school is a huge milestone and mixture of emotions for every child and parent. When your child has an allergy/allergies these feelings can be coupled with anxiety and apprehension. I certainly felt that way when M started school two years ago. She was leaving pre school where we knew all the staff so well and they had been amazing with their care and understanding of allergies and she was also going to be at school 5 days a week meaning I would see her less and have less ‘control’ of her care. I was worried about this and as I have previously spoken about my anxiety this definitely became worse around this time. I will be honest and say on my days off work I would watch the clock waiting until I could pick her up and I checked my phone constantly to ensure the school hadn’t…

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Elmer’s Allergy Story

When Elmer was born, the hospital staff picked up on a milk allergy right away. She came out in an awful rash after her first feed, she screamed a lot! She was put on to a different formula on a trial. After five weeks she started reacting again, we were sent to hospital and the formula was changed to Neocate. Again, after five weeks she started reacting again. They changed her formula to SMA Alfomino. Those ten weeks were so hard, we already had a seventeen month old with medical conditions and suddenly we had Elmer who screamed pretty much 90% of the time. She threw up on me and countless times and had bleeding sores from rashes. I remember the time she vomited all over me, her sister, the dog and the sofa. I broke and phoned my parents for help. There’s no shame in asking for help. It sunk in how hard it was having a baby with an allergy even though she was only on formula. I have lost count of the amount of times I’ve said “I never thought an allergy baby would be this hard”.

So fast forward and the Alfomino worked a treat. We were doing very well until her sisters birthday. We didn’t know anything about touch allergies at this point until Elmer started reacting after someone kissed her after they had just eaten cake. She came out covered in hives! We had many further incidents of touch allergies so going out became a horrible thought. I suffered with anxiety attacks when asked to go out for a family meal or a birthday party. My absolute worst fear! One day I went out with my Mother in Law and both my daughters. We went to a cafe and got the highchairs. I asked the staff to wipe down the highchairs again due to allergies. This was done albeit reluctantly as they argued they had just cleaned them. It looked clean. We put Elmer in it and within thirty seconds she had an allergic reaction. We had Piriton to calm it down. We wondered what did she react to ? The person who had cleaned the highchairs used a dirty cloth that had milk on it even though we had stressed heavily about her allergies. Once again, we never knew how hard taking an allergy baby out was!

The pictures above show her reactions after some one kissed her and after eating blueberries.

When the time came to start weaning, it was my biggest nightmare. We had Piriton ready in case of any issues. We had a food diary to keep track of all foods plus it made it so much easier at dietitian appointments as I could hand them the book and they could see everything. I would highly recommend keeping a food diary. We started with parsnips three days of the same food , no reaction and after 72 hours she passed the item. Then we moved on to spinach but as soon as the food touched her mouth she was covered in hives then hours later swelling of her eyes, screaming, back arching and the lovely allergy poop that looks like snot! We stopped the food to trial it again in 6 months time. We then went back to a safe food. We got to the point where she had more unsafe than safe foods. At the time we wanted to give up and just give her safe food but this was getting boring for her. Only sixteen safe foods, the same foods every day! No thank you! As horrible as it was seeing her have a reaction it was made easier when we tried a new food she didnt react to , her face was pure happiness! That made it worth it. By October we had eighteen safe foods whereas in July we had only ten.

We just kept going and going with her, it was persistent.Sometimes we took a break from new foods and allowed her to enjoy what she had, bring in free from foods. That was a big help in mixing foods up a bit! She is now nearly 2! She still can’t have dairy, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, orange, white potato, peanuts, pork and blueberries. It now seems weird having a smaller list of can’t haves compared to can have!

All of the above foods we have to wait 4-6 months to retry some of these due to recently trying them and having reactions. But we started the milk ladder on Monday and she had half a malted milk biscuit with no reaction! We are in utter shock and relief to think that this nightmare could be slowly coming to an end for us and Elmer.

We still have a long way to go but it’s positive! She is due to start Preschool in September. Currently, I am still saying she isn’t going due to her allergies. But that may change if she continues with the progress she is showing.

This blog is to show that even at your darkest times with an allergy child, things can get better. You will get through it. Even when people don’t understand or just call your child fussy. You know best. You are strong and so are your babaies.

Top Tips for travelling with an allergy

Top Tips for Travel

It can be really common to feel anxious about travelling with a child with allergies. It has certainly been a source of anxiety for myself but I want to show my daughter the world and for her to have a desire to travel and understand she can do this safely by managing her allergies. I have looked into the advice regarding travel and have spoken to many of you about your top tips. Below are the top tips for travel , please add any in the comments below that you wish to share.

  1. Plan ahead! This is key to any trip or holiday. Before booking your holiday speak to travel companies and do your research on your chosen destination and their understanding of allergies. If you’re staying in a hotel check that there will be options suitable for your child and that they understand the risk of cross contamination. Consider a meet with your GP to discuss travelling with your child and gain further advice about their specific needs. Check the nearest medical services to where you plan to stay and ensure you know how to dial the emergency services. Plan to take non perishable food items with you so that you can have safe food with you at all times. Remember safe foods here can be different in different countries with how they are produced so always check the labels thoroughly.
  2. Communication, Communication, Communication! This is so important. Communicate your child’s needs with the travel company and airline before you fly. Ask if you are allowed to board the plane early to wipe down the seats and trays etc. What measure will they put in place to ensure safety on the flight? Think about communication when you arrive ad are out and about. Allergy UK produce travel translation cards for a small cost that can be posted out to you. This is a great option for explaining your child’s allergy in another country. BCASI also have a travel plan that you can print and edit to take with you. Carry your care plan with you at all times.
  3. Check and prepare medication. Check all medication and expiry dates before you travel leaving enough time to order more if needed. Make sure you have more than enough. A great tip that was shared by another allergy parent was to pre fill the medicine administration syringes with antihistamines for quick and easy access. Remember to store medicine in cool dry place and keep within the correct temperature.
  4. Wet wipes are your friend! Always have wet wipes handy to wipe down airline seats, seats, trays in restaurants etc
  5. Finally, try to relax and enjoy! I know this can often be easier said than done but you all deserve to have an amazing time and having good measures in place can help ease your worries and ensure you have a great time.

Navigating our new journey. She stood in the storm and when they wind did not blow her way , she adjusted the sails

Welcome and thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I am so grateful for all of your support with Allergy Stars. It means so much to know we are not alone on this new journey. Our allergy journey began almost three years ago on a spring day which had been filled with laughter and sunshine and playing in the garden. That evening I prepared dinner for the family. Little did I know this one dinner would reveal a life changing allergy and ultimately change and impact our lives so hugely. I’m not quite ready to go over that evening again just yet but I will, one day. A carefree attitude to food disappeared and in its place came anxiety, guilt, sadness and anger. It’s only in the last year I’ve tried to use these feelings into doing something productive and positive. Last summer I began fundraising for Allergy UK and ran the Great North Run to raise funds for this fantastic charity. From this came Allergy Stars; I wasn’t really sure of what I wanted to create other than a space for parents in similar situations to know they are not alone. From this the sharing of the star began and our beautiful, brave children share their allergies and stories. This is what motivates me to raise awareness as until that eventful night three years ago I’ll admit I didn’t know much about food allergies and the risks of cross contamination. Three years on at times I feel like I’m navigating a stormy sea as we have entered the world of schooling , birthday parties and more independence. But as a family we have become stronger. My daughter is my inspiration she is amazing with how she deals with her allergies and has adapted so well. I wish I had some of her strength. I’m not ashamed to say I recently reached a pit of anxiety and recognised I needed some help to come to terms with everything and to give my daughter the independence and freedom she deserves . CBT and counselling have helped me hugely and I am thankful for that. I want other parents and carers to know they are not alone it will get easier and you can navigate these new , stormy seas. We can stand in the storm and adjust our sails.