Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Disneyland Has A New Princess

Let me start by saying that all of my life, I have always hated my ears...until now. They stick out, I was teased horribly and until a few weeks ago, I was awfully embarrassed to show them to anyone, ever. But now, I am proud to show them to everyone because now, there is a fruitful meaning behind these special ears of mine. They stick out for a reason- to listen, to hear and to wait for what I will hear about in the future as well. Behold, Disney's newest princess- a Food Allergy Princess!

(In case you missed it, that means me.) I started using the term Food Allergy Princess in 2013 when I was invited to the first Mylan Bloggers Summit (makers of EpiPen) and it's just kind of stuck. Each year since then, myself and several other bloggers have been honored to be pieces of the puzzle on how to continue to educate the public on the importance of always being prepared for an allergic reaction. Mylan's slogan "Life Happens. Be Prepared." is true to life- an allergic reaction can happen anywhere, anytime, at any given moment and the best course of action is to be prepared, always.

How Do Mylan Summits Help Everyone, Not Just Bloggers

Photo courtesy of Mylan

As much as it may seem like I am being a bit spoiled and pampered, I can honestly say that this is not why I accept these invitations (please see my disclosure information below for full details). These summits are for one purpose and one purpose only- to gather bloggers, each with a slightly different expertise, and to learn from each other. Not only do we get information as bloggers but we give information as well since all of us are also food allergy mothers. I am grateful to be a part of an event that strives to bring safety to our food allergy community as much as they can. The fact that Mylan will take extra measures to listen to our personal scenarios, questions, concerns or even complaints to make us better equipped and have less of a chance of allergic tragedies is something that is priceless to me. They are not just spitting out reports and numbers to us- they are engaging us, asking for our input and trying to figure out ways to make access to EpiPens easier at all times to everyone, not just those who already know they may need it but even for those that won't know until something happens.

EpiPen location marker in Disneyland
Making the Happiest Place on Earth One of the Safest Places on Earth In case you hadn't heard the recent news, Mylan and Walt Disney Parks & Resorts have agreed to work together to make vacationing safer (more safety means less stress and more access for families to be together). The November 2014 announcement told of several EpiPen locations through Walt Disney Parks, Resorts and even on their cruise ships (info HERE). This announcement had a ton of food allergy families jumping for joy and breathing a sigh of relief. Vacation, Disney, additional safety...this is a trio of happiness that cannot even be explained. But what was not mentioned (and that we found out at the Disney Summit) was this is even taken one step further. Presented by Chef Bill Orton, myself and the other bloggers were given a copy of Disney's Allergy-Friendly Dinner Menu. We also got to critique, ask the chef questions and give him our opinions on what food allergy families look for to avoid allergens when dining away from home. Disney is off to a great start to improve their food and beverage experience but I feel this too will be a work in progress. That is one of the reasons we were there- to help, to improve and (hopefully) to perfect.

Updates, Meetings and Bonding With the combination of delicious meals and great conversation, there was also the added bonus of hearing what Mylan was able to collect about the Epipen4Schools campaign. Presented by Dr. Martha White, the information consisted of

  • Methodology for Study- Between May 21, 2014 - July 9, 2014 a recorded 32,387 schools were invited to participate in a fifteen question survey.
  • Characteristics of Responding Schools- 6,019 surveys were submitted (far less than how many could have) the highest being Pre-K to Fifth Grade and the majority being completed by school nurses
  • Epinephrine Auto-Injector Stocks- 5,713 schools reported epinephrine auto-injector stocks. Of these, 57% reported that they stocked two or more epinephrine auto-injectors and only 4% did not stock any at all. 59% also showed that they were allowed to have stock epinephrine on campus.
  • Anaphylactic Triggers- Food still ranks as the highest known cause of an allergic reaction. What was also noted is that food-triggered allergic reactions had a higher percentage in the Northwest whereas most reactions in the West were primarily insect bites/stings and unknown triggers. Allergic reactions also seem to be less during the winter months but food was always the highest cause of these reactions. 
  • Treatment of Anaphylactic Events- Studies show that 75% of those who had a reaction were treated with an epinephrine auto-injector, 9% of which also received a second dose. 80% of those who were treated were transported to the hospital and almost half of these treatments utilized the school's stock epinephrine. 
The outcome of EpiPen4Schools: Despite being the first-line of treatment for an allergic reaction, epinephrine is still underused. To me, this solidifies that allergy awareness and preparedness have and continue to improve but more vigilance is necessary. Luckily, Mylan is already on the ball and has added even more help to show that being prepared is necessary in all walks of life. From fashion icon Nina Garcia to chef Amanda Freitag to actor Auggie Maturo, the announcement of the newest spokespeople touches on how food allergy action plans are necessary for everyone, not just the family next door. Myself and the other guest bloggers had a surprise visit from none other than Auggie Maturo and his mother. This was one of the most heart-warming moments for me- not only is Auggie a sweet, highly intelligent little man who was nothing less than professional yet absolutely charming but his mother openly showed her concerns for Auggie. It's just another reminder how the constant fear of our children not being prepared for an allergic reaction is so much more than just a thought- it's a paralyzing fear that no parent ever wants to see come to fruition - EVER. I think I can safely say that just listening to Auggie's allergic reaction experience immediately made each of us think about our child's first reaction and what we felt. The positive outcome is that having this immediate closeness to these people that we have never even met before gives us even more strength to stay educated, stay prepared and stay connected.

Then, there was the bonding. At the end of the summit, at the end of our lunch and learning I was thankful to relax just a bit. It's surreal to me when I sit back and think about all of the wonderful people (both bloggers as well as Mylan peeps) that I am connected to now. I am forever grateful to be a part of this experience and although I am not a paid spoke person for Mylan, I do appreciate that my time and passion to continue to help other people is sponsored in the form of travel (after all, this is time away from my family). I'm not going to lie- for a food allergy mom who cooks A LOT, it is pure heaven for someone else to cook for me. No cooking, no dishes, nobody asking if they can have a bite of my food so I may be selfish in that aspect but I am ok with that.

Missy Berggren, Jenny Sprague
Caroline Moassessi & Me

In the End, Even a Princess Needs a Reminder Being so busy during the year, even I forget to reshare sometimes. So, with a recap during the Mylan Summit, I wanted to make sure that I provided helpful information (again) to all of you and your families:

EpiPenOnLocation- A great chance to educate others by sharing a video about your family's personal story of food allergies and preparedness (but also, by sharing, you are entered for a chance to win a vacation to Walt Disney World Resort- woo hoo!).

$0 Copay Offer- Unbelievably, there are still many people who do not know about this amazing offer! One $0 copay card offers the possibility of 3 EpiPen 2-paks for nothing- NOTHING! Restrictions do apply so I do recommend checking the eligibility requirements.

My EpiPlan App- A convenient way to keep track of EpiPen expiration dates, where they are and even receive useful tips. In this day and age of everyone being app-happy, this is just one way of integrating EpiPen into your everyday life.

Register Your EpiPen- Not only is there a cool, updated EpiPen pack that you will receive but when you register your EpiPen you get even more updates and information. And, it's free (free is always good but free and helpful gets extra kuddos).

Order an EpiPen Training Device- Each time you fill your EpiPen prescription, you automatically get one trainer included. But did you know that you can also order additional training devices for school staff, support groups or just teaching friends and family how to be prepared if an allergic reaction occurs?

In the End, Food Allergy Princess Says In the past thirteen years (the age of my son with multiple food allergies), I think I can sum it up in three words- "Everyone Personally Involved"- Nutrimom - Food Allergy Liason
Through this journey, through meeting all of these people and going through the process of food allergy reactions, diagnosis, eating safely and just dealing with day-to-day rituals, having food allergies does involve everyone. It's a life process and needs to be supported in any shape and form that is can be. The more support, the better the chance we all have to stay safe.

I have said it again and I will continue to repeat it until the day I die- please, PLEASE always carry two doses of epinephrine! Yes- it can be bulky and cumbersome and it may not match your bathing suit or even be considered a great way to introduce yourself on a date but you know what's even worse than all of that? Not having it- not being able to get to it- not being able to save yourself or someone that you love (or even those who unexpectedly need it). Nothing can replace a lost life but we can replace our chances to live each and every day.

"Life Happens. Be Prepared."

Mylan sums it up for us

A special thank you to my contacts at Mylan Specialty as well as the awesome ladies that worked with them to make sure all of us were taken care of (virtual hugs). 

*Disclosure - I attended the Mylan Blogger Summit meeting. Mylan paid for all of my travel expenses and for my Disneyland Resort park ticket in exchange for my evaluation and feedback on information presented during the meeting. All comments made by me about EpiPen (epinephrine injection) Auto-Injector, Mylan, and/or the Mylan Blogger Summit are at my own discretion and based on my own opinion.

#MylanEvent  #Sponsored

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