Friday, August 30, 2013

Return of the Food Allergy Princess

I know that many people say that they get a once in a lifetime chance but I have truly been blessed with two. As you know, I had a super-secret away message on my Facebook page and it was killing me that I could not share with everyone right away. But, good things come to those who wait, right?


First, I would like to start this just like I did for the previous Mylan Blogger Summit- with a picture of the Empire State Building from the rooftop of The Strand Hotel on a balmy summer night. (Can you already feel the energy in the air?!) This trip was just as exciting but it was still full of mystery for me. I felt as if I was going to visit my extended family but I was unsure who would be there. I was nervous and excited but I knew this would provide so much information and I was ready for it.

I would also like to say that I am a big believer in the saying "Everything happens for a reason". I will say that I don't like to fly so when my flight was delayed due to weather conditions, I was silently panicking and arguing with myself in my head. Ok, so it will be fine but maybe I shouldn't go so maybe the flight will be canceled. No, wait, I HAVE to go- it's important. But my kids- what will happen if I crash?! Look at all of these people, are they thinking the same thing?? 

Just then, a woman started talking to me. She was a doctor form New Jersey (my home state). We caught a quick bite and it was comforting to me to relate on so many  topics. I have to say thanks Dr. Patty (I am waving but you can't see me). Oh, wait, here she is ----->  
Dr. Patty
Once on the flight, I started to tremble just a bit. We were delayed yet again. Stopped, on the plane, waiting...trapped. So, if I started to freak out now, I would pretty much be restrained, led off the plane in a nice cozy, white jacket and I would forever be labeled the food allergy blogger who went insane. This does not make for good business. It was then that I started to talk to the gentleman next to me (who, for the life of me, I cannot remember his name even though he told me several times. Sorry, it's a mom-thing). He asked what I did and I told him. And what does he do? He is working on a new food product and we wound up speaking the entire trip about ingredients and why some are better than others, etc. etc.... can you see how the universe works? Everything happens for a reason.

After a small snafu in unexpected flight departures, I got to dinner a little ruffled but this disappeared as the end of the table shouted "Tracy's here!" I was home. So I pulled up a chair next to George Dahlman of FARE (poor George, he had to put up with my loud, Jersey babbling), was spoiled with a delicious dinner and I had great conversations for the rest of the night with my fellow food allergy bloggers.

Judy & Lynda
The Gist of It (I would like to say that I actually Googled what "gist" means before I continued. I was curious, do you know what it means and why it's used? I didn't and I didn't want to sound silly.) What did Mylan bring us here for this trip? It was a collection of previous questions being answered as well as having some other great resources on hand to help put more pieces of the puzzle together. I was so thrilled to see Dr. Ruchi Gupta again as well as some new people such as Judy Morgitan (National Association of School Nurses), Lynda Mitchell (Kids with Food Allergies Foundation), Tonya Winders (Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics) and Liana Burns (Asthma and Allergy Foundation). My fellow bloggers and I got to pick their brains about facts, laws, correct procedures and just about anything else that came up. Mylan knew what we needed and they provided. What will they ask? Here are the answers and here are the resources to give you even more answers. Awesome! If you have ever been in a room full of bloggers, especially food allergy bloggers, we mean business and we won't back down until we get an answer that will be anything short of the answer to help. It was not all business- we had plenty of chuckles in between to keep our blood flowing. Something about a cat sitter and a possible teaching video that was urged several times but not able to be discussed (you all know what I mean and I hope you are grinning like I am).

Tonya, Liana & George
The Facts and Nothing But the Facts Anyone and everyone who lives with food allergies touching their life in some form knows that this is a never-ending journey. Knowledge and research is always being updated and just as you think you know what to do, it changes again. But change is good- change gives us even more hope and lets us all know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Many of the ideas that have been ingrained in our heads is now changed. I was torn- so what I was doing and saying and advocating has been wrong? Yes but I was not the only one. Are we bad people for not knowing the correct way? No, never. That is why we learn more, dedicate our time and what keeps us continuing to fight for the answers.

Dr. Ruchi Gupta
The newest research indicates that the proper protocol for an allergic reaction and/or ingestion is NOT to wait and see. Many of you, including myself have been told to give an antihistamine and watch carefully then proceed with epinephrine if symptoms start to change. This is no longer correct. If there has been a known ingestion of an allergen, proceed with epinephrine and do not stop at go. Is your head spinning and questioning all of those scenarios and doctors just as mine did? The reason- there have been a lot of recent allergic tragedies in the news which shows how important it is to respond quickly. Allergic reactions can relapse, even after a dose of epinephrine. An allergic reaction can also worsen so quickly that the time you waited in between the antihistamine and actually administering epinephrine could literally be a life or death situation. Time is of the essence. Everyone reacts differently. Worried that you may be using epinephrine unnecessarily? Fact- epinephrine will not kill someone but a life-threatening allergic reaction will. Are you scared? I am too but like I said, change is good so embrace it and use it.

The other big topic was advocating for your child. Not only in school but with friends and family as well. Food allergies have some really interesting effects on other people in the families as well, not just the person who has the allergies. Did you know that 28% of families with food allergies have a strained marriage? There is often a primary caregiver in each family and unless this is shared and fully understood by both parents, the repetition of not working together as a family can cause friction. Be kind to each other, believe in each other and work together to keep everyone safe and happy. Caregivers often reported hostility from others as well as feeling socially limited because of food allergies. Learn to speak up and share. Many may never fully understand but giving them some insight of what you and your family are going through may be what helps them become a part of your family rather than exclude it. Many people fear the unknown so make it known.

Kelly, Cybele & Jenny
Lisa, Keeley & Lindsey
Now What? The last time I left the Blogger Summit, I had a list of things that I felt I needed to work on or achieve and I feel just as strongly this time around. I have new ideas, new projects and I feel as if the universe is confirming that what I am doing is what I should be doing, absolutely. I want to thank my hosts who I am ever grateful too- Lauren Kashtan (Mylan Specialty L.P.) and Suzanne Eisenberg, Christina Liotti &  Marissa  Magnetti (Chandler Chicco Agency) for continuing to empower me and to motivate me to do better, always. There is no greater gift than feeling you are on the right path except to be lucky enough to be joined by so many others that feel the same way. Much love to all of you~

All of Us

The list of food allergy bloggers (besides me) included Caroline Moassessi (Gratefulfoodie), Cybele Pascal (CybelePascal.com), Elizabeth DiBurro (Easy Breezy Life), Heidi Bayer (Brooklyn Allergy Mom), Jenny Sprague (Multiple Food Allergy Help), Joanne LaSpine (Food Allergy Assistant), Keeley McGuire (Keeley McGuire), Kelly Rudnicki (Food Allergy Mama), Libby Ilson (The Allergic Kid), Lindsey Steffensen (Frugal Food Allergies), Lisa Rutter (No Nuts Mom Group), Ruth LovettSmith (Best Allergy Sites) and Sloane Miller (Allergic Girl).

I disclose in any communication made by me about EpiPen (epinephrine) Auto-Injector and/or the Mylan Specialty Blogger SUmmit that such communication is at my own discretion and based on my own opinion. I also disclose that my travel expenses were compensated by Mylan Specialty in exchange for evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mylan Extends the EpiPen4School Program!

I was very excited to hear this morning that Mylan Specialty (makers of EpiPen) have decided to extend their EpiPen4School Program another year. For many, there has been a deadline looming over our heads to push the schools to take advantage of this awesome program before the end of the year. Big breath out, relax and dig your heels in to keep pushing forward for the safety of all of our children and school staff, not just those who have allergies.
Why all? Allergic reactions can happen at any time to anyone at any age. Think about how you would feel if you found out your daughter was allergic to a food because she had her initial reaction at school but had no EpiPen prescribed for her. How terrifying would that be? And what else would be more life-changing for students if they had to watch their teacher go into anaphylactic shock because she unknowingly developed a food allergy and was not prepared? For most of us with allergies, we are prepared. We keep our EpiPens with us and we educate the people around us to know what to do if an allergic reaction occurs. But what about those who don't have their EpiPen with them that day? What about the people who wake up just like every other day but their day ends quite tragically just because of a food or a bee sting? We cannot ignore them and we cannot exclude them. Everyone deserves to have a backup plan and I feel that EpiPen4School will be, in the very least, a big part of that answer.

Mylan's press release read " Mylan Specialty L.P., the fully integrated specialty pharmaceutical business of Mylan Inc. (NASDAQ: MYL), today announced it is continuing the EpiPen4Schools™ program. In its first year, more than 20,000 schools across all 50 states participated in the program that offers four free EpiPen or EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine) Auto-Injectors to qualifying schools in the U.S. Qualifications include having a valid prescription.

Over the last year, there has been significant legislative movement across the country to improve access to epinephrine, which should encourage more schools to take advantage of the EpiPen4Schools program. The goal of the program is to help schools have ready access to epinephrine auto-injectors in case a person experiences a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) at school. People are encouraged to visit www.EpiPen4Schools.com for more information.

"Educating the public about anaphylaxis preparedness and working to improve access to treatment continues to be an important focus at Mylan, which is why we are pleased to be able to extend EpiPen4Schools," said Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan. "We hope all schools that have participated in the past will sign up again, and those that haven't yet enrolled in the EpiPen4Schools program will do so quickly, so that EpiPen Auto-Injectors are in place by the start of the 2013 school year."

I also want to remind everyone to use the $0 copay EpiPen discount plan for personal prescriptions (Click here for the link). Our family took full advantage of this program and I do admit, not having the cost of three EpiPen Twin Paks was a huge relief. I know that they are absolutely necessary to have but back to school costs always add up to more than we are expecting. We also shared information with our local pharmacy Robinhood Family Pharmacy to make it even easier for our community to find out about the program. Make sure you share with your pharmacy and schools as well. Although the information is out there, many people still do not know what it is or how to utilize it. Sharing is caring so educate others to empower them.


I also want to personally thank Mylan Specialty for these programs. Budgeting can be tricky with prescriptions, foods, supplies, anything that an allergic child needs. I am grateful that Mylan is caring enough to understand that those who need their EpiPens also need extra help and support sometimes. Sometimes all we need to hear is "I understand, I can help".

For more information on the EpiPens, please visit their site at https://www.myepipen.com/.



Thursday, August 8, 2013

Freeling Friday Fundraiser for KWFA

Ok, say it fast three times-

Freeling Friday Fundraiser,
Freeling Friday Fundraiser,
FREELING FRIDAY FUNDRAISER!

What and when is this glorious event?



Tomorrow, Friday, August 9th Peanut Free Planet and Allerrific will be having a fundraiser for KWFA (Kids With Food Allergies). Both sites are donating 5% of their sales to Kids With Food Allergies AND they will even give you a special gift as well. How awesome is that?! Simply order from the site and you are on your way.

So how will it work and what can you get? If you decide to order on August 9th, you will receive a free gift bag with 12 different allergy-friendly items such as:
Worried about not being a part of the great deal, ordering too late and all of the goodies getting snatched up by everyone else? No problem- if they run out of gift bags, you will receive a $10 gift certificate with no expiration date that is redeemable on your next order.

Still not convinced that this is just a great deal? Everyone who orders on August 9th will also receive a special email with exclusive coupons on September 9th (coupons will be redeemable through October 9th, 2013). And you know I am a coupon-hoarder! For more information, please click here.
Make sure you take part in this event and get your order in on August 9th. Even though it's nice to get a gift for yourself, it's even nicer to give a gift to someone else.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Yet Another Funky Food Experiment

"I never get poison ivy" said me right before I got it from weeding my garden. Nothing says put your foot in your mouth like red, bumpy reptilian-looking lines of poison ivy spreading all over. Come on, who wouldn't want to hug this?

In my quest for different ways on how to use foods, I came across an article that listed several different foods that were supposed to stop the poison ivy from spreading or itching. I decided that I was up for the challenge. Of course I got strange looks from my husband during the process but I am used to that by now.

One of the foods that is supposed to help with the itching is banana peel. What luck- a snack and a natural medicine. I rubbed the inside of the peel on my bumpy areas and waited. I will say that initially, it did feel less itchy. However, as soon as I stopped rubbing, the itching quickly returned. So now I was itchy and I had smeared banana goop up and down my arm, which nobody would touch. I can just feel the love.
I also tried apple cider vinegar, which is suppose to remove the poisons. I poured it onto my arm, let it dry and waited. Honestly, the only thing that I did notice was that my arm was drippy and I smelled like a giant Easter egg. And, again, nobody would come near me. Gosh, it's just vinegar people!

Aloe vera- ok, good, I have that in the fridge. (yes, the fridge. See my Mom Tip from my Summer 2012 newsletter). Aloe is supposed to help with itching. Apply, rub, wait. Not bad. I did find some relief and it wasn't too messy or smelly. Aloe passes the test in my book.
Next was a concoction of baking soda and water (3 teaspoons to 1 teaspoon) but I found that I needed more than that. The original "recipe" left just a small, dry pile of unusable stuff. I mixed it, applied it and let it dry. I looked like I had a fight with a paper mache project. I also decided that since everyone was teasing me, I would tell me daughter that I saw some poison ivy on her and that she needed this on her as well. As you can see, this did not go over well.


The baking soda dried very quickly and then left white, chalky dust wherever I was. Did it help? Not quite sure. I was too busy rubbing off the dust but I did notice that the lack of itch was a bit longer than the other items I had tried.

The last food that I tried was lemon juice. Lemon juice is to stop the spread of the poison ivy which was not helpful to me since I applied it after I started to stem poison ivy on all of my limbs. Note to self- read articles thoroughly, do not skim. Luckily, the lemon juice smelled better than the vinegar and I was only met with the familiar odd looks.
Although this was done later, I think the best combination that stopped the itch and felt the best was the combination of lemon juice and the goopy baking soda mix. Not sure how I tasted by the end of the day but I was definitely feeling better. The moral of the story- always be willing to play with your food.