Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Trust and Food Allergies

This past Sunday, Brody "graduated" to the next class in the church learning center. This next step means new workers who do not know him, toddlers walking around with sippy cups of milk, and snacks that contain allergens. Plus, my son who wants what others are having and I can just see him grabbing another child's sippy cup of milk (we have done this before) or grabbing an allergen filled snack out of another child's hand. All of the scenarios run through my mind.

I was comfortable with the class that Brody had been in, they knew him, one of the workers was a nurse who knew how to administer an Epi Pen and they would give him his safe snack away from the other children. The children were younger and were held and strolled around during the service. It was the perfect situation for Brody because he was taken care of one on one. It also calmed my fears that a close friend of mine was in the class and really looked out for him.

We have had snow here in TN this month and church had been cancelled, I was actually excited because it delayed Brody moving up to the next class and last Sunday we had family in town so we had another excuse (at least in my mind). This Sunday, I had to suck it up and face my fear of leaving my child in a new environment. For me, it is the initial part; having to explain Brody's food allergies, showing the workers where the Benedryl and Epi Pen are and how to administer the Epi all while trying to convey in a positive way how life threatening his food allergies can be. Some people's idea of food allergies are a child with an upset stomach or a little rash on their face (oh how I wish this was the extent of his food allergies).

The director of the Learning Center, who knows about Brody and his food allergies went in with me to talk to one of the workers. As I was trying to talk quickly (because other children were being dropped off), but trying to be thorough, I saw toddlers with what I had been scared of, sippy cups of milk and allergen filled snacks. My heart dropped. I had to leave the room and trust that the workers were going to watch my son and protect him for the allergens that can potentially make him stop breathing. I know things happen quickly with little kids. I am his mom and understand the severity of his food allergies and it happened under my watch (now we do not have milk in our house).

I went to service and during worship, all my mind could think about was Brody, the cups of milk, and the snacks. I googled the ingredients of the snacks on my phone to see what was in them and there are two of his allergens (milk (whey) and eggs). My eyes watered up. I told my husband I had to go back and speak to the director one more time (I knew I wouldn't be able to listen to the message if I didn't). My biggest concern, since there were four workers in the room was that someone wouldn't know about the food allergies because I had talked to one worker and Brody would get a hold of something (under the circumstances with children being dropped off, it was impossible to speak to each of them personally). I spoke to the director and just had to go back to service and trust. Brody had a sticker on his back that the church provides that says food allergies, I left the food allergy action plan (on bright green paper and laminated) and the medication that could save his life if an accident happened.

Trust is so difficult. I had to rest in the fact that I had done everything that I could to communicate to the workers about Brody's food allergies, show them the Food Allergy Plan in case something happened and leave telling them, "I will never be mad at you for administering the Epi Pen, please call 911 before you contact me. It could save his life." I hate that those words even have to come out of my mouth.

Food is such a part of our lives. We eat for nourishment, we eat for social events, we eat. I love food. My perspective of food has dramatically changed. I never thought that food could kill. I know that what we eat can hurt us over time, clogged arteries, diabetes, etc. but to think that ONE bite or SIP of something can make a person stop breathing? That is mind boggling.

All of this to say, Trust; it is hard, but all we can do is put the right tools in the ones that are watching our children and trust that God will protect them. Or never go out :) Even as I write this, it is so difficult, my motherly instinct kicks in and I want to ENSURE that my child is safe since he cannot protect himself.

Trust and Food Allergies....so difficult, it makes me heart ache. Does it get easier?

For a Food Allergy Action Plan from FAAN click here

For church purposes, I retyped the Food Allergy Action Plan so I could add what to say when calling 911. Under stressful circumstances, I want the workers to know what to say so emergency personnel can get to my child quickly and bring additional epinephrine. The Food Allergy Action Plan signed by Brody's allergist is on the back.

If you want to a word document copy of what I did, email me and I will happy to send it to you. It was put on bright green paper and laminated. This stays in the room that Brody is in at church and is pulled out when he gets there.
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  1. This post was hard for me to read because I struggle with the same fears. I am so terrified of leaving my son anywhere because so many people think food allergies are a minor inconvenience. How do you manage to convince people that they truly are life-threatening?

  2. Juanita, I brought in a picture of Brody right after he had his reaction to milk and showed it to them. I think this is such a great visual to show people what actually happens, along with having the food allergy action plan, the benedryl and the epi pen. Also, showing them how to use the epi pen with the trainer is great proof to show them, "look this is for real." I know for me, if I was a child care worker and someone dropped their child off and showed me all of that...I would be kind of freaked out. I have had people tell me, "oh no, I do not want to adminster an Epi Pen" and pick Brody up and hold him the entire time :)

  3. Just catching up on posts and this one hit a nerve. This last weekend I left my allergic 2 y.o. with a church nursery for the first time ever. Now, she goes to daycare every day - but that is a controlled environment and the provider is thoroughly on board with our allergy plan... but the church situation was new and scary. I called during the week to talk with the director at the church, that helped. Then on Sunday morning I met her and the room volunteers and went over the action plan, talked about symptoms, showed them how to use the epi pen, reviewed snacks in the room, etc.

    They agreed to wash all the kids hands as they entered the room (with wipes) and would only serve ritz crackers (safe for Avery). They would only give water.

    I didn't see any kids with sippies of milk, or I might have had the same anxiety as you did. I was actually proud of myself for trusting as much as I did and that I am now at the point, over 1 year later, that I could leave her and let go and trust that everything would be okay. whew.

    I hope the next couple of weeks went better for you and that you are feeling more confident now.


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