NoPeanutsPlease is an independent blog.

All views, opinions and conclusions are solely those of the author and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by any other party.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That Cookie Tastes Like Peanut

I read a story tonight about a child who showed great allergy awareness despite not being allergic himself. (Though it is a Halloween-related story it just came out.)

Adam Waldusky is a 7 year old from Chippewa Falls, WI. At a Halloween party with (supposedly) safe treats the kids were eating cookies. Soon after the kids ate cookies, Adam's friend raised an alarm by telling Adam's Mom that he tasted peanut.

Thought it is not clear why Adam did not notice this himself, within minutes he began to swell. Adam's Mom was prepared and after administering an EpiPen she brought Adam to the hospital for the 4-6 hour observation period.

Thought it is great that story had a happy ending. I was also impressed that Adam's friend was the first one to recognize the danger and report it. It is impressive that at a young age he was thoughtful enough to think of Adam's allergy after tasting peanut.

One of the contributing factors to his awareness was the fact that Adam's Mom talks to the kids in Adam’s grade once per year, to promote allergy awareness.

It takes a village ...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Has anybody seen the movie Hitch? I had never seen it and was struck by the seen where Will Smith's character, Alex Hitchens, has an allergic reaction to shellfish. Though the movie found humour in the swelling reaction and showed him drinking enough Benadryl to appear intoxicated, it was very bizarre to see an allergic reaction played out in a movie.

Part of the comedy came through the distortions that the swelling reaction caused in his ears and face. The scary part though was that our daughter's anaphylactic reaction also had grotesque swelling in her neck, face and hands ... she was not even recognizable.

I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry while watching the movie ... it was both funny and terrifying. It was truly bizarre how the scene made me feel. While Will Smith's antics were truly comical, recalling the image of my daughter lying on the bathroom floor was the antidote to humour.

Ann Munoz Furlong of FAAN summed this up well with the following quote:

"We hope not only does Hitch "get the girl," but he also needs to go see an allergist. He shows many of signs a major food allergic reaction. The next one could be even worse." said Anne Munoz-Furlong, Founder & CEO of FAAN. "It can be funny to watch in a movie, but if you are ever with someone experiencing a food allergic reaction it can be quite frightening. For those with food allergies, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately and to carry their epinephrine at all times."

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sunbutter Returns

I know many of you are sitting at the edge of your seats just waiting for the latest update on my quest for Sunbutter. I was disappointed when Stongs no longer carried Sunbutter and I took to the Internet to find a new source. With a peanut allergy in our house Sunbutter is the closest thing I will get to my beloved organic peanut butter.

The issue locally is that only specialty stores carry Sunbutter and they charge way too much. Online I could get it for about $5/jar, landed cost.

But this weekend I was pleasantly surprised to find Sunbutter on the shelves at Stongs again! I was way more excited than I should have been. Stongs carries it for $3.99 so not only is it easier, it's cheaper.

For now I am back in action. Stay tuned ...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Anaphylaxis (sp?)

It always strikes me as funny that the word 'anaphylaxis' comes up as a spelling error in Blogger. It fits the current level of awareness for the disorder.

Villagers of Distinction: Sara & Mike Shannon

The Villager of the Month accolade has gone to a person or group that has done something interesting or special for those with allergies. It has honoured several people but as I award this accolade this evening I am struggling with the title.

Let me explain ...

Today I posted about how I thought I almost received a peanut cookie at a café. Though I do not have any food allergies, I seem to be vicariously allergic to peanut through my daughter. I react to peanut with an urgency that would suggest I am allergic myself. It is downright scary to think that I could accidentally consume something that would cause a possibly fatal physiological response. It is scarier still to imagine my daughter have that same reaction.

Tonight Gina Clowes of Allergy Moms emailed me. She reminded me that my Villager of the Month accolade was again due and her nominees are an obvious recipient for any and all allergy-related accolades. My concern was that a 'Villager of the Month' accolade just didn't seem appropriate given all that they have been through, and all they have done for the allergy community.

Many of you will know the story of their daughter Sabrina. The best summary of the Shannons' dedication to their daughter is summed up by Allergic Living, "On that terrible last day of September 30, 2003, Sara had made this promise to her daughter: she would do everything possible to prevent another child from dying of anaphylaxis. That promise has become her mission."

Sara has followed through on that promise.

For those who have children with anaphylaxis, Sara and Mike should serve as your inspiration. Collectively, our worst fear is that we might someday lose our child to a fatal allergic reaction. The Shannon's have turned their tragic loss into triumph and proved that all you can do in life is make the most of any situation, no matter how dire.

Gina Clowes was one of the first people to ever comment on NoPeanutsPlease. She counseled me to think of those with allergy to things other than peanut, and highlighted the story of Sabrina and her parents. After Gina's post I lay awake at night for about a month and wondered if I would have the courage to follow in the Shannons' footsteps. In those initial days after our daughter's diagnosis the possibility of a fatal reaction were of course exaggerated in my mind.

Madeleine would cough at night and my immediate response was to rush in and make sure she was not having an allergic reaction. It sounds crazy ... and it was.

Over the ensuing year my thoughts have returned many times to the Shannons.

My pittance of an accolade cannot begin to demonstrate my respect and gratitude for what they have done. We live in Vancouver and when Madeleine goes to school in three years she will be safer than she would be if she entered school today. Because of the Shannons' support for bill M210 here in British Columbia there are new anaphylaxis policies in our schools. Though we did not secure a west coast version of Sabrina's law, the support of the Shannons gave credibility to the efforts of PACT.

Though I hope to never follow in their footsteps, I am deeply moved by their response to the tragic loss of their daughter. Though I cannot even fathom the loss of Madeleine, I would hope that I could have a fraction of the Shannons' courage.

In honour of Sara and Mike Shannon I have renamed my 'Village of the Month' award. Henceforth the accolade will be called 'Villagers of Distinction'. The word 'month' connotes a point in time. The Shannons have given so much to the allergy community that any accolade, no matter how small, requires an element of permanence. It is not melodramatic to say their through their efforts they have undoubtedly saved the lives of multiple children.

Their efforts in BC may even someday save Madeleine's life and that possibility alone makes me forever grateful for their courage and their contribution to the allergy community.

Thank you Sara and Mike. You are truly an inspiration.

Friday, November 23, 2007

No! No! Not The Peanut Cookie!

On several occasions I have blogged about the fact that it is impossible to completely avoid an allergen. If you have a peanut allergy it is likely that at some point you will inadvertently encounter surprise peanut protein, perhaps just when you least expect it. It is critical to be prepared for an emergency response should that be required.

Today we experienced this first hand

We were at a Vancouver café
and my wife ordered an oatmeal cookie to go with her latté. (... how Vancouver is that?). I was watching as the café owner reached for the cookie and I said, "No! No! Not that cookie. We can't have peanuts!" I was slightly amused at the 'peanut conditioning' I have undergone. though I am not even allergic to peanut, (our daughter has the peanut allergy), I often react with an urgency that should be reserved for those who are actually allergic! It is very interesting.

The scare today was that I thought that the caf
é owner had reached for the peanut cookies, and not the oatmeal cookies. When I looked closer I realized that he did indeed pick up an oatmeal cookie but their cookie label signs were in front of the wrong cookies. The peanut cookies were labeled as oatmeal and vice versa.

Let this be a lesson that even when you carefully read ingredients, signs, etc. you could still pick up a mislabeled food item and unknowingly consume an allergen.

This is just a fact of life for those living with food allergy. Though it is important practice safety and avoidance, it is critical that you carry an epinephrine auto-injector, such as an EpiPen or TwinJect at all times.

You cannot be too prepared and you just never know when anaphylaxis might be triggered.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

It's The Leash You Can Do

This week we went to the allergist and our daughter's dog allergy was confirmed. Though it is not likely anaphylactic it is a serious allergy and does appear to have been the culprit in our daughter's scary swelling and skin reaction that resulted in my wife administering an EpiPen. The reaction appears to be in response to dog saliva. Hypo-allergenic dogs do trigger the allergy.

Given the severity of the reaction you can appreciate our concern when we are walking down our block and somebody is coming the other way with a dog that is off-leash. It also scares our daughter into our arms.

I urge dog owners to consider this the next time they are out for a walk. It is common for dogs to be up to 50 feet or more away from their owners when off-leash. We avoid designated off-leash areas as they are a concern. Outside of designated areas it is inconsiderate to have your dog off-leash.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sunbutter Eclipse

Back in June I was so excited to find Sunbutter at my local grocer. Unfortunately they just took it off the shelves! The same distributor that sells Sunbutter also sells PeaButter. Apparently they are only going to carry one and Sunbutter is the odd butter out. Based on my PeaButter review I think you know how I feel!

Alas I am now searching for sub-$8 Sunbutter again. I think I'll check the Internet as suggested by a reader.

Peanut Free Baseball

In June I posted about how sports teams were beginning to take peanut allergy more seriously. I came across this article tonight which gives a first hand perspective of a father and son who attended a Washington Nationals game on a night where a peanut-free skybox was offered for allergic kids. Note that the young boy in question developed hives despite all of the cleaning and precautions. I suspect that peanuts are just 'in the walls' of a ballpark, just like eggs seem to be 'in the grill' at diners.