This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Rescufy. All opinions are my own.
When your child is diagnosed with a life-threatening food allergy, everything changes in an instant. In the beginning every meal, snack and drink is filled with anxiety. You hold your breath hoping and praying there won’t be a reaction. As time goes on, you slowly adjust to your new normal. Labels need to be checked constantly, friends and family have to talked to so they understand the absolute importance of this allergy. School and activities need to be notified so accommodations can be made. When even a tiny bite of food can sent your child into anaphylactic shock, you can’t take chances and keeping their food safe becomes your top priority.
When my son was diagnosed, it came as a complete shock. In the beginning, I never gave much thought to food allergies. There was not history of food allergies on our family and I didn’t think I had any reason to be alarmed. Our pediatrician advised us to stay away from peanut butter until he was older and we did no problem. When he was two, we took a little family trip to the aquarium. After fun day of exploring we headed home. My husband wanted a snack while I cooked dinner so he grabbed one of his favorite snacks – pre-packaged peanut butter cupcake. Of course, being a toddler who liked to eat, he was right there sitting on his lap begging for a bite.
At this point we didn’t think it would hurt to let him have a bite. He was older now and I thought “what’s the worse that can happen”? I figured if he was allergic he’d break out in hives and it was nothing a little benadryl couldn’t fix. Little did I know how wrong I was.
Within seconds of swallowing that little bite, he started vomiting everywhere. As I changed his shirt, I noticed the hives start to appear. Everywhere. Then he started struggling to breathe. I screamed for my husband to hurry with that new shirt and dialed his pediatrician. When the breathing started to get worse, we ran him to the car and drove right to the hospital. We didn’t have time to wait for an ambulance at this point.
By the time we got to the emergency room he was literally one giant hive. From his scalp down to his feet were covered. They immediately rushed us back bypassing check in and everything else. It was the scariest time of my life. Thankfully after a dose of epinephrine he started to improve. He was admitted and monitored over the next 24 hours and thankfully improved.
Our life was forever changed. His reaction happened in seconds and I never leave home without my epi-pens when we go anywhere with him. Over the years, we’ve learned to live with his allergy. He’s eleven now and even eat at at our favorite restaurants but we’re always on guard, especially when it comes to eating out.
If you’re facing a new food allergy diagnosis, it’s easy to become overwhelmed at your new normal but here a a few tips that helped me along the way.
ALWAYS BE PREPARED
Keep your epinephrine on you at all times and wherever your child goes. Make sure whoever is with your child has been trained in how to use the epinephrine and when to use it. Always keep a copy of the allergy action plan that is provided by your allergist along with the epinephrine wherever your child is.
When he was first diagnosed, it wasn’t just for peanuts. He was diagnosed with an allergy to shellfish, tree nuts, eggs, peanuts and soy. That means I’m always checking labels, even for products that I’ve bought in the past. Companies change their ingredients all the time and it’s not usually announced except on their labels. I found it handy to keep a little notebook in my purse so I could take notes on what he eats and if he had any type off reaction.
TEACH YOUR CHILD SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
Talk openly with your child about their food allergies. Have a conversation before playdates, parties and even school. Teach them how to check labels or how to ask an adult to check labels for them if they can’t read yet. Involve them in the process of asking restaurants, bakeries, etc. what’s in the food. Teach them how to ask their friend’s parents, coaches, teaches and family members for help if you’re not there and if they’re unsure something is safe.
We taught him to ask teachers for help reading labels at parties or events I couldn’t be at. He never ate anything, even if it was “safe” product without first asking an adult to double check. He remembers that day and knows just how important his allergy is. At restaurants we always notified the server of his allergy and what was safe on the menu. Ever since he learned to read, he started to do this on his own. He asks in every restaurants, checks labels on food products and more all by himself now.
FIND SUPPORT WITH OTHER ALLERGY PARENTS
Being able to talk to other parents who share the same concerns as you is priceless. You may need to vent, have questions or just want to talk to someone else who has been through it. Talk to parents at your child’s school, find groups online that offer support to allergy parents or even ask your allergist.
STAY UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST ALLERGY INFO
Staying up to date on the latest in the allergy world helps make your life as an allergy parent easier. I was recently introduce to Rescufy, an anaphylaxis emergency response app to help manage severe allergies and asthma.
The original Rescufy already helps you get fast, accurate help in the event of anaphylaxis. With the tap of one button:
- Rescufy sends a text message to first responders (recommended to be 9-1-1). This text includes your GPS location, the address associated with that GPS, and important medical information to help first responders react appropriately.
- Rescufy sends this same text message to your emergency contacts, so they know what the problem is and where it is happening so they also work to get help.
- Rescufy calls 9-1-1 so that you can speak to a 9-1-1 operator to get help as soon as possible.
- Rescufy provides a “View Patient Information” button that provides easy access to pertinent medical information for first responders and emergency room personnel.
The free Rescufy app launched over the summer and is successfully being used by thousands of people who either have severe allergies or asthma or parent or care for children with these serious conditions. Now they want to make it even better. They are running an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to add 2 really great upgrades to the functionality of the app – one will connect your phone to your EpiPen using bluetooth technology so you never leave your Epi behind at home or in the car again. If you get too far out of range, the app will notify you so you can go back and grab it. As I am sure you know, this is a true benefit – first because it is medically crucial always to keep your Epi close if you are at risk of anaphylaxis, but also because an EpiPen gets destroyed if left in extremely hot or cold weather. If you forget your Epi in your car, you may end up having to throw it away. A big deal when a replacement can cost $600+ depend on your insurance.
The second upgrade will allow parents to “hand off” the app to a babysitter or caregiver for a set period of time so that they have exactly what they need to respond to an anaphylaxis episode. Perfect for date night or a weekend away, and offers peace of mind for parents who have severely allergic children.
Both of these are features that I know would be a great benefit for me. I’ve left my EpiPens in the car before and almost forgot all about them. Having the ability to be notified that I left them behind is priceless for me. With the price of these today, I don’t ever want to leave them behind and ruin them.
I’m thrilled to be partnering with Rescufy to raise awareness of the Indiegogo campaign and to help them raise the funds needed for these new additions. Take a look at Rescufy and what they have to offer, share with your friends and contribute to the Indiegogo campaign if you are able. There’s even a special bonus for A New Dawnn readers!