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Monday, March 31, 2008

Allergic Barbie

Our 3 year old daughter is severely allergic to peanuts and, to a lesser extent is allergic to egg. One of the challenges of managing an allergy in a young child is to ensure that she knows that peanuts can 'make her sick' while not causing her to have overly heightened anxiety.

Recently I tried to get the point across by telling her that her Barbie was allergic to peanuts and eggs. I wanted her to understand that her 'allergic Barbie' could do all the things her other Barbies could do as long as she did not eat peanuts or eggs. Not surprisingly our daughter has latched onto the 'allergic Barbie' and become somewhat protective.

Tonight she took the game to a whole new level.

Apparently at 6:25 PM this evening 'Allergic Barbie' ate a peanut. Our daughter surprised me by playing out an entire emergency situation. She did not panic and dealt with emergency swiftly. First she took down Barbie's pants and used a needle in her doctor's kit to give Barbie an 'EpiPen'. She then used her Elmo phone to call the 'ambuhlance' and had Mommy open the front door to let the paramedics in. The paramedics helped make Barbie safe and everybody went to the 'hostibal' together.

I was very impressed. Since our daughter is three, she would not likely have full comprehension of the seriousness of an emergency. She simply knows that Barbie is 'sick' after eating a peanut, and she wants to help make her better. That being said, the emergency game clearly demonstrates that she knows to act fast, use an auto-injector and call an ambulance. Understanding the basics of an allergy emergency will make her safer.

In this month's issue of Allergic Living there is an article about children developing heightened anxiety as a result of managing their severe food allergy. The Barbie games we are playing in our home seem to be a healthy way to deal with a serious health issue without shocking our daughter.

It will be interesting to see how this develops over time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Villager of Distinction: Trace Adkins

The Villager of Distinction accolade goes to a person or group that has done something remarkable or special for those with severe allergies. The latest recipient of this accolade is Trace Adkins, the renowned country music star. Let me explain ...

Tonight my wife and I watched the finale of Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice. We have watched the Apprentice occasionally during its run. At first I have to admit that the celebrity version of the show seemed to be ill-conceived, yet for some reason I was drawn in.

The basic premise was that celebrities would play the game in the normal fashion, but instead of getting 'hired' by Mr. Trump, they would win $250,000 for the charity of their choice.

Over the course of the game I was struck by the way Trace Adkins carried himself. The man of few words seldom spoke but when he did it was often very insightful and noteworthy.

It was only in the last few episodes that I realized that Trace was supporting FAAN!

Trace has a six year old daughter with severe food allergies. In the finale Trace told Mr. Trump that he was playing for the "3 million fathers" who send their children to school living in the fear that they may not come home. He spoke with a passion that was seldom seen from him during the game. Being one of those fathers I was deeply moved by the emotion behind his words.

Trace is receiving this accolade for two reasons. As you can see from the enclosed Google Trends chart, there was a significant spike in Google searches for 'food allergy' after the March 6 episode of the Apprentice. It was in that episode where Trace was project manager and was able to talk about about FAAN.

I am also acknowledging Trace for the way in which he carried himself as an ambassador for the allergy community. He played hard but always with integrity, and he never lost sight of his motivation for playing in the first place ... his six year old daughter who suffers from severe food allergies. Very touching.

Well done Trace!

Please note: You can support Trace and FAAN by purchasing "You're Gonna Miss This - Single" at iTunes ... all proceeds go to FAAN and the charity single is only on sale for two weeks!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Eggs Still Here!

What a scare we had on Friday night.

For the second time in only three birthdays Daddy again triggered an egg reaction. As many of you know, we recently received word that our daughter's egg allergy disappeared. What we have since realized is that it is gone as long as the eggs are even moderately cooked, e.g. boiled, fried or in baked goods.

On Friday Daddy was baking Madeleine a cake. (Yes, that's right ... Daddy was baking!) As a kid I always enjoyed relieving the mixer's beaters of their cake batter. Madeleine was helping me make the cakes and she asked to lick the beaters. Now that we were free of the egg allergy I thought it would be great fun.

It was fun until she developed at least a dozen large wheals and hives on her face and hands. She then became short of breath and her voice turned raspy and faint. We were very scared but remained calm. This exact scenario plays out in our minds multiple times each day.

We started with Benadryl ... 1 tsp, 2 tsp ... okay, 3 tsp ... finally the reaction stopped advancing.

The scary thing was not the hives but the fact that Madeleine's voice faded and became very raspy. She could not yell, though she could talk quietly. Once we saw the laboured breathing we reached for the autoinjector but the third tsp of Benadryl halted the reaction and over the next hour the wheals and red patches subsided.

The good news is that once the cake was baked, Madeleine was able to eat it without incident.

It seems that the threshold for an egg reaction has increased. In the past, anything short of commercially baked pasta resulted in a reaction. Now it seems that even the smallest amount of heat, such as boiling an egg, is sufficient to prevent reaction.

The batter that she ate contained 8 eggs. Turns out that raw egg is still an issue for our daughter but at least now we know!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

An Anaphylaxis Mystery

In December I wrote about the six cases of anaphylaxis that were apparently related to a Merck Frosst vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella.

This story has taken a strange twist.

Merck's vaccine has been cleared of having caused the allergic reactions. Health care providers will continue to investigate what exactly did cause the reactions.