Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hummous on the Loose

I ended up bringing the marked hummous to work. Even though I'd marked each of the individual containers with thick black marker, I was uncomfortable even having it in the fridge. While DJ isn't really big enough to help himself to snacks, he often grabs things randomly while its open when I'm cooking dinner. The one thing that is still really bothering me is that the carton had 12 individual packs in it; I only have 11. My husband didn't eat one, and neither did I. I've looked around the kitchen, under the cabinets and in all of the usual nooks and cranny's and it still hasn't turned up. Maybe it fell out in the store cart, the parking lot or is still in the trunk. In any event, there is one loose and potentially dangerous mini tub of hummous out there. I don't think DJ would be able to open it, but I'm still extremely concerned about its whereabouts. ]

BTW...here's a link to our favourite donkey, Buddy, from the sanctuary. He managed to sneak up on me twice.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Another Slip

Yesterday, I dashed out to do the grocery shopping while DJ was taking a nap. Costco was overwhelmingly busy, so much so I was directed to park in the shipping dock! Anyways, I was tired and crabby and wishing I was home. I was also disorganized; I felt scattered and unsure of exactly what I needed to buy in order to avoid a second trip to the grocery store. I saw a snack pack size of hummous. Most of the time hummous has been a safe choice for us and DJ likes it. I dropped a box in my cart after quickly reading the label.

Clearly I didn't read it carefully enough. Even after I got home I glanced at the label and put the individual packets on the snack shelf in the fridge.

Today, with plans to go to the Donkey Sanctuary of Canada (in Guelph) I wanted to pack a picnic. I immediately thought of the hummous packs. I'm always cautious about giving DJ untried products in situations like that - unless they actually have a peanut free label. All of a sudden I felt unsure about the hummous and dug the packaging out of recycling. Under the ingredients, there is a clear warning about the product being processed in a manufacturing facility that uses nuts. I don't know how I could have missed that the first two times I looked at the package - but I did. Yikes.

It seems like lots of times that I buy a new product I find myself slipping. Grocery shopping entails looking literally dozens of labels and sometimes unsafe items slip through the cracks. Most often when its when I'm in a rush, or don't know exactly what I'm buying.

Still - no excuses. I've got to be more careful.

While we don't stock "may contain" items in our house, I'm also not going to throw out food that I've accidentally bought; it's just too wasteful. IN this case, I marked each package with a big "NO" in thick black marker and put them out of DJ's reach.

Friday, June 18, 2010

More Chilling Q's

Another section of the questionnaire we filled out for the peanut registry study at McGill really chilled me. The question was whether or not your child had suffered an allergy attack in the last year. If the answer was no, you skipped ahead, but if your answer was affirmative there was space allotted to describe at least three incidences. Three!

While DJ's peanut allergy is definitely a drag, I'm super grateful that we have managed to go the entire year, reaction free. With us slated to fill in the questionnaire every year until further notice, I hope every year is the same when it comes to that question and that we can skip ahead to the next.

Room for Improvement

After putting it off for a couple of weeks my husband and I finally got around to filling a questionnaire to participate in a study being conducted at McGill University to establish a registry of people with peanut allergy. Participating in a studies like these helps me feel better; sort of like doing the CIBC Walk for the Cure. Maybe I'm being naive, but I really believe that a cure for peanut allergy will be found and I want to do everything in our power to help the process along.

Still, I was really disappointed with a few of our answers. One question was how long our child had gone with an expired epi-pen. I felt embarrassed to admit the answer was 1-2 months. I realize now that we even went to London with two expired pens. How? Two of them expired in late March, 10 months after they were prescribed. Clearly, we did not receive fresh epi-pens from the pharmacy for the first prescription we had filled, which was on the way home from the emergency department immediately following DJ's first exposure. The second, which was filled just days later at a different pharmacy for keeping at DJ's daycare, had a longer shelf life of 12 months. However, when I checked the expiry dates, I clearly only looked at the newest batch and had made a mental note to have them ALL refilled in May. which we did, leaving the two pens we keep at home and carry with us on all outings unknowingly expired. I shudder to think about the number of times we grabbed snacks on the go or ate out with those expired pens in that time frame. Obviously, there's room for improvement in the way we are managing DJ's allergy. This time, I've put a reminder in my outlook that will 11 months from reminding me of the need for fresh pens.

None of our answers to the other questions really shamed me the way that one did. Still, others made me wonder how anyone could answer them honestly without feeling completely lacking. For example, one question asked where the participant's epi-pens were at that very moment. One potential answer was "I don't know." Another asked when you would administer the epi-pen if your child experienced a reaction. Again, one potential response was "I don't know."

Clearly, there are different interpretations and methods to handling allergies. My husband and I have tried to be proactive - to learn as much as we can and take the necessary precautions to keep DJ safe. This study made me realize that there are probably people out there who don't know where the epi-pen for their child is at the moment, and even people who haven't decided when they will administer an epi-pen if their child has a reaction. Maybe they haven't hammered out an emergency plan hoping they'll never need it.

I know for us, we're more comfortable coming down on the precautionary side. We've got an emergency plan in place and have decided who will administer the pen, and who will call 911. Of course, in the event of a real emergency things may change. I do know that there won't be any debate thought about when to inject DJ; it will be the moment we realize there's been an exposure. Still, I'm hoping we never need to.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Novel Approach

I've read alot of about the potential of immunotherapies to treat peanut allergy, or the possibility or developing a vaccine. But what about an allergy-free peanut? The US Department of Agriculture is working on it. While its a fantastic idea, my initial thought was how one would know the origin of any peanut in question. All of the research being done does give me hope that one day DJ's peanut allergy will be a distant bad memory. Even though we have managed over the last year very well, with no allergic reactions, there is no denying it has had a profound impact on all of our lives. It's created extreme stress and sadness and much anxiety. Its changed lots of aspects of our daily lives - from how much we eat out to what type of vacations we take. It's caused tension with friends that don't understand or can't appreciate the extent to which DJ's diet must be monitored. Most importantly, there is legitimate fear for DJ's long-term safety. Will my darling boy, who loves all things construction, make it to a ripe old age? I can't even think of the alternative; it's too painful to contemplate. Still, with peanut allergy there is a heightened risk. Hopefully the USDA, or some other researcher, can put an end to it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nut Free Gourmet

A couple of months ago, on the way back to work from a lunchtime appointment, I grabbed a grilled cheese sandwich from The Leslieville Cheese Market on Queen. I picked up a roll of Nut Free Gourmet chocolate chip cookie dough and threw it in the freezer at work, hoping to remember it on the way home. I didn't. Weekends in a row, I remembered the seemingly abandoned cookie dough while at home, wishing for a peanut and nut-free baked snack (and too lazy to whip up my own). Anyways, I finally remembered the dough last week in time for a neighborhood bbq. I baked them up Friday night; totally delicious! They never made it to the Bbq. I polished off half of them lazing on the couch, watching the tubie, while my hub ate the remainder after I went to bed. In any event, it looks like they've got lots of retail locations. I'll be sure to pick some up the next time I see it.