The Fairness of Food Allergies

This week is #FoodAllergyAwareness week. For those of us with food allergy kids it's one of those "get out the message" kind of weeks.

You know, just like last week. But this week we have a hashtag and official graphics and stuff like that.

A story came out in the past couple of weeks about Ghirardelli.You know, the company that makes amazing chocolates and such. It seems that recently the company made the rather incredible decision to cease using peanuts and peanut products in their production lines. This decision also affects their ice cream shops which means sundaes will no longer be served with peanut butter sauce.

Oh. My. GAWD.


No, that's not sarcasm. Those are the type of responses I'm seeing on Facebook and online about this "end of peanut butter sundaes as we know it" news.

Seriously. There are people out there who are BITCHING AND MOANING because they can't eat a goddamn peanut butter sundae on vacation.

And I want to say to them: Are. You. F**king. Kidding. Me?!?

You're going to complain because ONE ice cream shop has decided to stop selling a chocolate and peanut butter sundae? That's the biggest concern you have in your life? THAT'S what keeps you up at night? That's what drives you to place the blame on kids with peanut allergies?


As a mom of a child with a peanut allergy I commend Ghirardelli for their decision. I think it's a brave step to take. Lofthouse Cookies are now made in a peanut and tree nut free facility - a decision that was made to accommodate the growing number of people with peanut and tree nut allergies. No one threw a hissy fit about that.

But apparently the removal of peanut butter from an ice cream shop menu means the apocalypse is nigh.

Because what is life without a peanut butter sundae? How can you possibly go on without THAT? I mean it must be HORRIBLE to know that you'll never enjoy a Gold Rush Sundae at Ghirardelli ever again.

Kind of like knowing your child can't ever eat anything made with peanut butter because they might DIE.

Oh wait. That's right. It's NOTHING LIKE THAT.

You can't eat a sundae? Well guess what...my kid can't eat ANYTHING with peanut butter or peanuts in it. NOTHING. Because if she does she could get very sick. Or she could DIE.

So when I read all this horrible, hurtful, hateful comments about how kids with food allergies are "ruining it" for the "rest of us" and how parents of food allergy kids need to keep their kids out of places like Ghirardelli and how it's SO UNFAIR ... well it really pisses me off.

You know what's really unfair? Being 11 years old with numerous food allergies that could end your life or at least put you in the hospital. It's unfair that my child still can't go into Ghirardelli because they still serve tree nuts. It's unfair that my child has gone to birthday parties where she can't eat the cake because it isn't safe. It's unfair that there so many horrible assholes out there who think it's OK to bitch and moan about one goddamn bowl of ice cream that they can't eat when my child LIVES THAT EVERY DAMN DAY.

Just once I would like one of those idiots to walk in the shoes of a child with a food allergy for one day. These kids didn't ask to have these allergies. They didn't do anything wrong to make their bodies rebel against food. They don't deserve to be blamed for a decision that they had no control over.

No one asked this corporation to stop using peanuts and peanut butter. The company made a decision based on what they thought was right based on the reality that peanut allergies aren't going away. They're trying to do something good for a small population of people and quite frankly they should be commended for it.

Don't blame the peanut allergy kids for the fact that you can't have a stupid sundae. It's not their fault.

Just once look past the end of your stupid, selfish nose and realize there's a whole big world out there that needs a little compassion. Kids with food allergies have it hard enough - they don't need your hatred and narrowminded views.

Kids with food allergies need your support. And your compassion. And a hug. Just make sure it's a peanut-free hug.


So This Is What It's Come Down To....

....a blog post a month, eh?

Yeah. Take my blogger card away right now.

OK in my defense it has been a crazy month and the fact that it is May 12 has just raised my stress level a little bit.

This weekend is dance recital weekend, also known as Dance Mom Hell. Sure it's exciting for the kids with the hair and the makeup and the costumes. But for the moms it's excruciatingly painful with the hair and the makeup and the costumes.

Last week was the end of my patience with the kids' dance studio when one of the instructors told the parents (IN FRONT OF THE KIDS) that if they didn't get a "backstage mom" the girls wouldn't be allowed to dance. At all.

So basically it was a flat-out threat that the thousands of dollars paid by parents and grandparents would be a total waste unless someone "stepped up" and volunteered as tribute for the Dance Mom Hunger Games.

The part that pissed me off most? Telling us in front of the girls. Seven and eight-year-old kids who worked so hard all year to learn this dance. Emma told me that night how mad she was when the teacher said they might not dance.

And that is just ONE of the reasons we're leaving that dance studio at the end of this week. Forever.

In other non-dance news...the kids have 16 days of school left (not counting weekends, obviously). And I'm reaching that end-of-the-school-year breaking point where I'm tempted to just throw Pop Tarts and bottled water in their lunch boxes and ignore the homework. (I said I was tempted. I'm not actually doing that.)

I'm one burned out mama. But we still have a 6th grade parent meeting this week (OMG!), Career Day next week (and I'm talking about Disney), Field Day, and the last day of school 5th grade party where I'm probably going to cry my eyes out.

And then?

Then we pack up the car and drive to the OBX and I sit on the beach for a week drinking fruity drinks and watching the waves. That's when I exhale.

Happy almost end of the school year to you!


Olivia's Allergy Adventures Continue

This week was Olivia's allergy re-test for food and seasonal allergens.

We had a scratch test for 35 items on Wednesday and then followed it up with blood tests for specific food items that didn't showcase well on the scratch test.

35 items on scratch/prick test

She's still allergic to sesame seeds, peanuts, and hazelnuts. And now we've added almonds and walnuts to the mix too. The numbers for her hazelnut allergy has almost doubled from what it was two years ago (8.25 up to 14.70 based on blood tests).

I will freely admit that these are not the results I was hoping for but it is what it is.

I will admit that for the last two days while we waited for the blood test results I allowed myself to think "what if?"

What if one or more of her food allergies had vanished?

What if Olivia could eat something she hasn't been allowed to eat for the last three years?

What if we could lose the "food allergy" label for at least one of the items. 

What. If.

But there is no "what if" today. There's just the reality that the food allergies are still here with two additional offenders added to the list.

The reality is that in the near future we'll likely have to do a food challenge with peanuts so we can know with 100 percent certainty just how dangerous they are. The reality is that for now we continue to avoid all peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame products.

It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't have a child with food allergies how totally helpless and guilty you feel as a parent.

You question things whether you should have fed your kid peanut butter earlier than you did. Or if you missed other "warning signs" of these food allergies. You think about the times your child ate one of the allergens before their diagnosis and how they were sick afterward and you think about all the things that could have happened. And then you force yourself to stop thinking like that.

When I told Olivia about her results she just looked sad.
I think she was hoping for some other news too.

As it is, we continue the "status quo" of avoiding the bad foods, keeping an EpiPen with us at all times, and we keep on keepin' on.

And on the non-food allergy front her numbers weren't so hot either. Her mold allergy is higher than ever before and the trees, pollen, and ragweed are about the same. We were hoping to move to once-a-month allergy shots but based on her numbers and the welts she gets on her arms after almost every shot, we're on the same every-other-week schedule for at least 6 more months.

On the bright side, her allergies to cats and dogs has gone down. ;)

I guess we'll take the small victories where we can find them.


Shame on Doctors for Fat Shaming

Here's a newsflash - I'm overweight.

There. Now the whole world (or the 5 people who read my blog) know that I weigh more than I should based on all those BMI charts and scales.

I also know how I got overweight - I have a love affair with sugar, ice cream, and other "bad" food. And I hate to exercise. So ice cream + sitting on my ass = Fat Traci.

Whatever. I'm working out now and I'm not eating crap at night and my goal is to get back down to my "wedding weight." I won't tell you what that number is, but let's just say it'll take a while to get there.

So I know that I'm overweight. I don't need anyone to tell me that I need to lose weight. And I certainly don't need to be handed a set of "how to lose weight instructions" like the one my friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) was handed at the end of her OB-Gyn appointment today:

First let's note that this "list of things to do to lose weight" states at the very top that the person holding the letter is OVERWEIGHT. 

Next, it's a list of "instructions" on how to lose weight. Because clearly FAT SHAMING YOUR PATIENT BY CALLING THEM OVERWEIGHT on a list of weight loss instructions isn't enough. You also have to make them feeling like a f***ing moron by giving them instructions to lose weight.

Because you know all fat people are also STUPID and they have NO F***ING CLUE HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT.

Because obviously being overweight means that your brain can't function like skinny people brains. All our fat sucks the intelligence right out of our brains and deposits it somewhere else - like my ass.

Of course if that's the case I must be a freaking genius based on the size of my ass.

If I had been handed this piece of paper with instruction on how to get skinny and not be labeled overweight I'm quite certain that I would have torn it up in little pieces RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE DOCTOR and then tossed those pieces of paper onto the exam table. Right where my big smart ass had been sitting naked just moments earlier.

There is NOTHING OK with this list for "fat folks."

I am appalled that (1) the doctor felt it was appropriate for the nurse to hand this piece of paper to my friend rather than actually doing her job as a DOCTOR and having a discussion about health and weight, and (2) I'm equally appalled that the corporation that runs this doctor's office (cough-ProMedica-cough) thinks fat shaming like this and calling patients overweight on a list of weight loss "instructions" is acceptable.

Let me tell you a little secret - people who are overweight already KNOW THAT THEY'RE OVERWEIGHT. They sure as shit don't need to be handed a piece of paper with the word OVERWEIGHT at the top followed by a list of "tips" to help us not be overweight.

Tips like: keep a food journal, write down why you ate, eat only when you're hungry, blah blah blah. Honestly my 7 year old could write a better and less condescending list than this. 

Overweight people aren't stupid and we sure as hell don't deserved to be shamed at our doctor's office or anywhere else. We're all struggling to get healthy and stay healthy. So maybe you doctors should pull your heads out of your asses and remember that.


When I Want Your Opinion I'll Ask for It. (Alternate title: Shut Up Already)

I'm beginning to hate Facebook.

Normally the "social media" site tends to just be annoying and full of humlebragging but the thing that is turning me off lately is the overwhelming trend of posting your contrary opinion on a post when NO ONE ASKED FOR IT.

Look, I get it. Everyone likes to post status updated on Facebook. But guess what? You don't need to post your opinion on every status update. If I say "I'm so sick and tired of all this snow and cold weather!" you don't need to post "but you live in Ohio!" or "If you don't like the weather, move!"

I know I live in Ohio.
I can still hate winter.
And I'm not moving anytime soon.

And when I post about how annoyed I am that we have yet ANOTHER SNOW DAY (number 9 or 10 ... I've lost count) there's no reason to yell at me about the dangers of having my kids on the school bus in freezing rain.

Because (1) there's NO freezing rain, and (2) it's only snowing outside right now and then kids would already be at school.

Here's the thing - if I want your opinion I'll ask for it. As in "Hey guys what color is this dress? It totally looks white and gold to me."

But if I'm posting a status about how I can't wait to see 'Fifty Shades of Grey' don't post something about how I'm a bad person and I'm supporting abuse. It's a freaking movie. If you don't like it, don't go see it. If I post a status about another snow day and my overall annoyance about winter in general don't try to start a debate with me about the safety of traveling in the snow.

I'm not going to play your stupid game.
And I'll just end up blogging about it.

I see status updates every single day on Facebook where I think "wow, I could really say something here" but I don't. You want to know why? Because I freaking have self control and I know that no good will come from me voicing my opinion when no one asked for it.

And yeah, I'm annoyed right now.

A good rule of thumb - if you wouldn't say it to someone in person then perhaps you shouldn't post it on Facebook. And if you would say it to someone in person perhaps you need to rethink how you interact with people.



Winter - The Halfway Mark

I read that today is the halfway point of winter - it's been winter for 45 days and there are 45 days until the first day of spring.

I'm currently sitting in my home office freezing. The furnace is set to 71. There is a foot of snow outside. And I'm sitting inside wearing a scarf and fuzzy socks. (This is in addition to my normal "work clothes - yoga pants and a shirt. I didn't want anyone to think I was just sitting here in a scarf and socks - because quite frankly that would be dumb. And horrible.)

I may have mentioned before that I hate winter?
I still do.

Winter Storm Linus visited us on Sunday. (Thank you to The Weather Channel for their increasingly stupid list of winter storm names). When it was all said and done we had about a foot of snow on the ground.

Yesterday the city was under a Level 3 snow emergency until noon - which means NO ONE could drive unless it was an emergency. The kids had yet another snow day. Today they had a 2-hour delay.

Tonight we're going to get MORE SNOW.
I'm anticipating at least a delay again tomorrow.

It should be noted that since the kids went back to school on January 5, they haven't had one full week of school. Not one.

And to add insult to injury, that stupid rodent in Pennsylvania predicted six more weeks of winter. Not that he's reliable AT ALL but it would have been nice to hear that an early spring was at least possible. Even if that news was delivered via a nasty rodent.

On the upside there are just 121 days until I'm once again in my second favorite place in the entire world - the OBX. In 121 days I'll be sipping frozen tropical drinks poolside while soaking up a crap ton of sun.

So...45 more days until the first 'official' day of spring?
I can do this. 


An Ode to January, Chapter 2: Seriously?

And here we are...January 21..and it's yet another snow day for the kids.

This is what it looks like outside today:

Scary stuff, right?
Yeah it's blowing and snowing and drifting and ....

No. It's not.
In fact I can still see the grass in my yard under ALL THE SNOW that isn't there.

We have maybe (MAYBE) 3/4 of an inch of new snow on the ground.


Some people are saying it's a bit slick outside on the roads thanks to "freezing drizzle" -- which I should mention isn't even showing up on the local radar. So I'm thinking the weather guy (who goes by the moniker "Blizzard Bill" ...no joke) is making it up.

Either way...less than an inch of new snow and temps forecast to be nearly above freezing today and once again the kids are at home, instead of at school. Last time I checked we still lived IN OHIO where snow isn't a shock in January. When I was a kid (and we walked three miles to school uphill both ways) school wasn't canceled unless there was at least a foot of snow and blizzard conditions.

But today? We cancel school for a dusting of snow presumably because the superintendents of the closed districts are attempting to maneuver snowy roads in a Yugo circa 1985.

As it is, I'm watching all the cars drive through my neighborhood with no trouble at all. And I'm also watching the passive aggressive comments appear on Facebook like "Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going to enjoy the day with my kids" as if to imply that I'm not going to enjoy the day with my own kids.

Guess what? I will enjoy having the kids home today but I would MUCH RATHER see them at school, learning. Especially since Olivia has a very important Common Core BS statewide test coming up. And as of right now they are at least FIVE DAYS behind with school work thanks to all these snow days.

The point of my rambling is this (yes Virginia, there is a point): A two-hour delay would have been sufficient. The local weather guys have been over-hyping winter since December. Less than an inch of snow should not = school closed. And we live in Ohio...so if they are calling for snow the city snow plow crews should get out there and pre-treat the roads and then plow the roads so that our kids can go to school.

Also, January...suck it.


An Ode to January: Why Do You Have to Be Such a Jerk?

If it wasn't for the fact that January is the birth month of BOTH of my kids (yay, good planning!), I would hate the entire 31 days that make up this frigid, snowy, b*tch of a month.

As it is, I ONLY love two days in January - the 9th and the 24th. Other than that the month of January can suck it.

Today is January 6.
It was supposed to be the kids' second day back to school after winter break.

I say "supposed to be" because after receiving a paltry 1 to 1 1/2 inches of snow last night (that's all you've got Mother Nature?) THEY CANCELLED SCHOOL TODAY.

Seriously folks.

We live in freaking NORTHWEST OHIO. It snows from NOW UNTIL JUNE and you're going to close schools around the area because there's a little snow on the ground???

I. Just. Can't.

It's not like this snow was unexpected. They've been forecasting it for days - the weather guys have been practically giddy with excitement about the prospect of SNOW! And yet, the city plows are nowhere to be seen.

Nary a plow has cleared my neighborhood all morning.
And yet, the roads are NOT impassable.
It's literally an inch of snow.
The sun is shining.
Sure, it's COLD outside.
But it's WINTER.
Put on a freaking snowsuit and clear the roads.

And now we have just 4 more snow days for the entire year.
Way to go school system.
Way. To. Go.

Dear January: Suck it.


There ARE Still Good People in the World

As a mom of a kid with food allergies I spend a lot of my time bemoaning the fact that there are A LOT of really stupid, insensitive JERKS out there who can't see past the end of their noses when it comes to keeping kids with food allergies safe while still INCLUDING THEM in events.

(Wow. LONG sentence there. Sorry.)

But sometimes - just sometimes - there are people who go out of their way to INCLUDE Olivia (and other food allergy kids) and I think it's VERY important to give those folks a very loud shout out.

Case in point: Tonight Olivia is going to her friend's house for a cookie decorating and pizza eating party. The friend's mom (who is also someone I consider a friend) always ALWAYS A.L.W.A.Y.S. makes it a point to ask me what is safe and what isn't safe when she's planning a party. Even if the food is something they always eat at this friend's house, my friend always double checks.

Today (when I told her she was awesome) she told me she feels very protective of Olivia and always wants her to be able to be included and not have to worry about her allergies when she should be having fun with her friends.

You guys.
To hear another mom say she is protective of my kid?
Holy Toledo.
There is so much awesome in that statement.
You. Have. No. Idea.

See, the holidays are a tough time for kids with food allergies. For Olivia the difficulty comes from the fact that the are nuts and peanuts EVERYWHERE. Some are out in the open and some are hidden but still present in cookies, candy, desserts, everywhere. It's frustrating for me as a parent to see her face when she realizes she can't have desserts. And it makes me sad when I have to say "no you can't eat that" like I did at her classroom party when an unknown parent sent in homemade cookies (I had no guarantee that they were safe, so they were off limits.)

Last night we went to the holiday dinner at my parents' country club and she couldn't eat ANY of the desserts - some had nuts in the or on them, but others (like chocolate covered Oreos) were off limits because the "chef" threw out the packaging on the chocolate so I couldn't see if there was an allergy warning. (Seriously "chef"? WTH.).

But in the end, Olivia ended up with a huge bowl of safe vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup so I think she made out better than the rest of us. Even still, she was once again singled out because of what she can't eat. And that sucks.

So when a parent makes it a point to include Liv....it's a big freaking deal.

[That was the point I was trying to make at this month's PTA meeting - that we need to INCLUDE ALL KIDS not EXCLUDE just a few. But that fell on deaf ears as was apparent when I was told I need to "step up" as a mom.]

Anyway....to everyone out there who makes it a point to include Olivia (and all the other food allergy kids in your life) THANK YOU. A million billion times - thank you.

And if your child wants to invite a friend over to your house and that friend has food allergies, be kind. Call the parents and ask what you can do to make that play date or birthday party fun and safe for all the kids.

Because sometimes, it really does take a village.


Back to My Regularly Scheduled Program

So I know it's ONLY December 15 (yeah, only) but I'm already making a New Year's resolution - I need to blog more.

I go to bed each night with all these bloggy ideas running through my head but since my JOB that pays me REAL MONEY is all about the writing of many, many words every day the last thing I think about at the end of the day is this blog. (I'm sorry blog. It's not you, it's me.)

So I'll try to do better next year. Hell, maybe I'll even do the NaBloPoMo in January where I write a post every single day. We'll see how I feel on January 1.


Here's what's happening in my fishbowl lately.

First, I have to say this: I am so sick and freaking tired of people who are assholes about food allergies.

I said it.

And I'll say it again, this time with feeling:
Stop being an asshole when it comes to food allergies.

Don't tell me that I need to "step it up" and bring my own food to school events. Because if there's one thing food allergy parents do EVERY SINGLE DAY it's step up. We spend our days worrying about our kids and what they're eating and what their friends are eating at the lunchroom table and if we're going to get THAT CALL from the school telling us our kid is having an allergic reaction.

So don't freaking tell me to step up. And don't tell me that the note sent to all the room moms at school with a "safe snack" list isn't relevant to you because your kid doesn't have a classmate with food allergies. It's called food allergy education you cold-hearted dimwit so maybe you need to educate yourself on just how serious (and deadly) food allergies are because I guarantee one of these years your kid WILL have a classmate with food allergies and if you're educated you won't seem like such an asshole.

And when I post something on my Facebook page about peanut butter and how I think it should be banned in classrooms with peanut allergy kids, don't tell me I'm wrong. Because you know what? I'm not wrong. I'm 1000% right and it isn't something that is up for debate. Your kid won't die if they don't eat peanut butter but my kid could die if she does. So shut the hell up already.

[Wow. I feel like a million times better right about now. I guess I needed that mini-rant.]

Next, today was one of those days where I wasn't sure how things were going to end up.

See, I got a phone call last week telling me that my annual mammogram had "differences" when compared to last year's scan and I needed to come back for a second diagnostic mammogram. Not the phone call any woman wants to hear if I'm being totally honest.

And so I spent the better part of the past week wondering what the hell was going on. And I will admit I did a few self exams in the process just to make sure I didn't feel anything weird. I Googled "follow-up mammogram" and "second mammogram" and various other search terms. I WedMD'd it. (I also just made WedMD a verb but whatever). And I tried to keep telling myself to stop worrying so much already.

Today was my "diagnostic screening." I took my mom with me.

After sitting in a tiny little nook wearing only a pink "cape" and my jeans for nearly 30 minutes, I was finally called into a screening room. (While I'm on the subject...let's talk about this pink cape. Seriously people. Can you give a girl a little dignity please? "Take off everything from the waist up and put on this pink cape that ONLY ties at the neck and flies open at the slightest movement so that you have to cross your arms in front of you lest you flash the next person who walks by." Yeah. So totally awesome. They could at least toss us Mardi Gras beads as they walk by.)

Anyway....I had an awesome tech (is that what they're called?) doing the screening. She explained what they were looking for (HELLO??? Why can't they tell you that when they call you???? Would have saved a lot of anxiety!!) and she even showed me the two scans so I could compare them.

Long story short: calcifications were the issue and they were microscopic (and actually had to be magnified in the scans). And from last week to this week a few of them even seemed to disappear. The radiologist said I need to come back in six months for another mammogram but that it wasn't anything to worry about.

Huge. Exhale. Here.

So my takeaway is this: get your mammogram ladies. NOW.

And that my friend is what's happening in my fishbowl right now. Only 10 more days 'til Christmas and for the first time in forever I'm not feeling totally overwhelmed or stressed about the holiday. I'm sure that will change soon.