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Showing posts from June, 2012

Could, Can, Will, Always: What's the Difference?

It's Summer Olympic time! So, consider these three young (theoretical) athletes:
Tanya has been involved in gymnastics since the age of 2. At age 8, she participated in her first Junior National Championship, and at age 11, she won Juniors for the first time. Now, at age 14, she has already competed in two National Championships and placed 2nd at the last one. Ashley started gymnastics at age 10. While she has a great deal of potential and has been selected for her local club team, she has not yet been to a national meet.Jordan likes gymnastics a lot and her parents think she'd be good at it. However, she has no history at all with gymnastics. Tanya, Ashley and Jordan's parents have all asked that their daughters be allowed to audition for the U.S. Olympic Team. Where should the coaches focus their efforts? 
Pretty obvious, right? We all know that this evaluation should definitely not depend on what parents think. While important, potential without results is also not enough…

Six Degrees of Botanical Separation

Why do allergic parents avoid way more than they need to avoid? If you hang around any of the chat boards for any length of time, it can seem like traumatized moms are looking for more stuff to take out of their child's diet.

I think the impulse is understandable. Something bad happens on your watch -- you never want it to happen again. So, locking down the hatches (and locking up the cupboards) seems sensible. But then, over time, more and more foods can get added to the list until the child's diet is far more limited than it needs to be.

Are you doing any of the following? Time for a gut check...

Avoiding foods because of sound-alike names.

CocoNUT. NUTmeg. Water chestNUTS. 

Coconut, despite the scary name (and the unfathomable FALPCA designation as a tree nut) is a drupe, essentially a fruit with a big seed. Coconut allergy is very rare; in addition, while possible, cross-reactivity with the seed storage proteins in tree nuts is also very rare (only two reported cases). Doctors

Show Me Your Allergy Papers!!

I listened in to the UKnow peanut test webinar at lunch today. (They have promised to post the presentation on their site later in the week.)

The information was mostly expected, but still very good. They had the research head of Thermo Fisher (the parent company) as well as a clinician who had implemented the testing in her practice with a great deal of success.

However, what struck me most were the questions once the initial presentation was over. The very first question asked was regarding Ara h 6. The inquirer didn't come right out and say he had heard the test wasn't reliable...but the question was clearly underneath. A couple questions later, we heard:
If my child is negative to Ara h 2 today, that doesn't mean he won't become allergic down the road, right? There's no guarantee? The doctor with the clinical practice laughed a little when she heard the question. And then, she went through the reassurance tap dance that I'm sure she's done hundreds of time…

An investigation into the care and treatment of Ms R

Ms R was an older woman who was subject to guardianship and had suspected cervical cancer. She died in 2011, after refusing treatment. This investigation looks at the care and treatment she received in the years leading up to her death.
Click here to read The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland's report.

Candycankillyouland: The Food Allergy Game

It's time to play CANDYCANKILLYOULAND: the (potentially) heart-stopping game for 1 out of 13 kids and their families!!!!!!!

Just choose a piece...doesn't matter which. They're all the same...although doctors all seem to have their favorites.

Ready to get started? Roll the genetic dice and take your first turn.

Oh, too bad! Tough first turn! Your kid's allergic and you're stuck here.

Well, gotta move on anyway.

Decide whether to make your house allergen free! But avoid the Swamp of Resentful Siblings...

Princess Frosting is having a party at the palace!'s Totally Toffee Tastic-themed... Go back 2 social squares

Wow! A mom who didn't turn white when you explained how to use the Epi-Pen! Stay on this square for a full 2-hour playdate!

OH NO! Reaction! Maybe...he's vomiting...but where are the hives? Did he EAT anything bad? Should you wait? Give Benedryl? Give an Epi-Pen? Call the doctor?
Make a only get 10 minutes on this square.

Enter the Gum…

Brief FAHF-2 Update

A couple of you have asked about the progress with my son's FAHF-2 clinical trial. I haven't written about it because there just isn't a lot to write!

He started the meds after our challenge testing in mid-April. We've been back for a six week check-up that was uneventful. Other than that, the biggest challenge is simply getting him to remember to take the meds and take them fairly consistently. They're supposed to be done at the same time each day.

Any of you who have teen-age children can understand how difficult the "same time" requirement is, since waking time on a school or activity day might be 6:30, and waking time on a NON school or activity day is more like...1:00 in the afternoon. So, we've stretched the rules a bit (with their knowledge) and just ensured that he eats three times and takes the meds three times, at least 4 hours apart. Apparently this is an issue with just about all the trial participants... except the lone girl, who I'm su…

Are We Afraid to Let Go of Food Allergies?

I'm disheartened.

A couple of weeks ago, I sunk a lot of time into researching, and then explaining the value and limits of component testing. I was so excited at the end of my research because I realized this test has the potential to change the lives of thousands of families who believe their child has a food allergy when they really don't.

Think about it! 10% of kids test positive to peanuts, but only 1-2% have a demonstrable reaction. Why in the world aren't those families who have never experienced a reaction jumping up and down in joy and rushing out to get this test? 
I realize it's not cheap, so clearly money is a factor. But the reason I'm disheartened is that I saw the first of probably many "not ready for prime time" type messages make the rounds of the chat boards over the last couple of days. It involved one case where a child had a reaction to peanut despite a low Ara h 2 measurement
The boards were peppered with words like "disappointing…

Two New Free to Download .pdf Publications

The Avenue Guide to Wellbeing and Happiness by Neil Thompson is free to download from Go to the site and search for The Avenue Guide to Wellbeing and Happiness.

Beyond Belief: Alternative ways of working with delusions, obsessions and unusual experiences by Tamasin Knight is published by Peter Lehmann and is available to download at This 50pp booklet with a focus on practice should be a very valuable resource for students.

Re-Branding Food Allergies

So Monday's post got off into the absurd...probably because I got depressed while writing it. It started out as a serious post about polarizing issues and how they relate to food allergies, and veered into science fiction.

It's easier to talk about ray guns than solutions. I did do a little reading about de-polarizing hot topics, just to see what the experts say. All of them tend to start with the same point:

Acknowledge the concerns of the other
side and admit where they are right

It's pretty easy to sum up the thing that the disapproving, polarized 50% say about the food allergy community:
"Most of them make up allergies"
This is where things get hot, and where I really earn my bitch title because...for the most part...I agree.
I am frankly tired of making the rounds of the chat boards and seeing mothers say things like "my Susie gets a stomach ache and the sniffles every time she drinks milk. How do I get a ban at my school?" And I'm tired of re…

Stand Back, Everyone - Food Allergies Are Being Polarized!

I should have put two and two together. I should have thought about the possibility. After all, there have been hints...and portents.


It all makes perfect sense now. 

Surely you've heard of polarization! It's going on all around you! No? Think back in time...time...time...

Global warming. 20 years ago, it was just, well, science. We knew it was happening, that it was bad and that we'd have to change, or figure out a technical solution, or both.

Once that polarizing ray hit it, one's stand on global warming didn't have anything at all to do with the science. Instead, what you believed came down to what you wanted to believe.

George Zimmerman*@ZAP!$%The debt ceiling.*@ZAP!$%  Gay marriage.*@ZAP!$%

All polarized.

Do a search on the words "polarized issue" and you'll see what I mean. EVERYTHING is BEING polarized these days!

I never thought it could happen. I never thought a medical condition could fall under the bright beam. And yet...the…

Where Are The Food-Allergy Dads?

It's Father's Day, a day I count my blessings.

When it first became apparent our son was allergic, my husband was (and is) a pillar of strength. He was the one who told me things would be o.k., that it looked worse than it was, that medicine was so much better now than when he was a kid.

My husband has asthma. Back in the  — well, I won't "out" him age-wise  — but a while ago, his parents had two choices:
Drive him around in the car, head hanging out the window like a dog, until his lips looked less blueTake him to the hospital where they would put him in an oxygen tentThat was it. When my son was also diagnosed early on with asthma, my husband was amazed by the masks, nebulizers and meds that are now available and quickly developed the knowledge and awareness needed to keep our son out of the ER. 
When my son started school, it because apparent we were going to need someone there A LOT. My husband argued that he was the better choice. He knew what it meant to not be…

SAGE Soils!

Those of us in the farming and gardening world can be big dorks.  We like to geek out over seed catalogs, get really excited about tools like broadforks (a recent obsession of mine, I'll admit), and sometimes we compulsively check the weather forecast.  One of the biggest subjects of geeky contemplation is soil.  What type of soil do you have?  How does it retain water?  What do it's nutrients look like?  Flora/fauna?  pH? Those are just some of the big, broad questions about soil.....true soil dorks can get giddy over seemingly minute, mundane details that makes others worry we've been in the sun too long....

This spring (and fall 2011) SAGE was visited by some potential soil geeks in the making.  They were hard working soils students from OSU's Soil Science class (CSS 205).  Part of their project was creating a blog not only with soil info, but also information they learned out at SAGE.....I've been meaning to post it up here for months, so here it finally is! Che…

Next Week 18th-24th June is Dementia Awareness Week so despite it having been around for a while I'm adding "Promoting Excellence: Informed about Dementia: Improving practice" and asking "How aware are you?"

Promoting Excellence is a knowledge and skills framework developed by NHS Education for Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council to support delivery of the aspirations and change actions outlined in the Dementia Strategy. The Framework was launched on the 6 June 2011.
These videos support all staff working with people with dementia their families and carers

Chapter 1: Promoting Excellence: Informed about Dementia: Improving practice
Chapter 2: Promoting Excellence: Informed about Dementia: Improving practice
Chapter 3: Promoting Excellence: Informed about Dementia: Improving practice
Chapter 4:Promoting Excellence: Informed about Dementia: Improving practice
Chapter 5:Promoting Excellence: Informed about Dementia: Improving practice
Chapter 6: Promoting Excellence:Informed about Dementia: Improving practice

Keep up to date by joining the Dementia Managed Knowledge Network at

Introducing GG&C New Homeless Mental Health Service

Following GG&C NHS review of Homelessness Health services the Homeless Mental Health Team will work with people with both severe and enduring and mild to moderate mental health problems.  The team is a merge of the previous Homeless Mental Health and Primary Care Mental Health Teams and will be in place from the 2nd July.
Referral criteria are as follows: Currently homeless: rough sleeping; destitute; in emergency accommodation; in Bed & Breakfast accommodation; in short term accommodation; in temporary furnished flat for less than 3 months; or have a history of repeat homelessness and complex needsand Person aged 16 or over   and Person with known or suspected mental illness  or    Person with mild to moderate mental health problem
Contact details:
Shivali Fifield Homelessness Service Manager Homelessness Health and Resources Services 55 Hunter St Glasgow G4 0UP
0141 553 2801

Scotland's Suicide Rate

Food Allergy Incidents & Accidents, Hints and Allegations

A post on one of the chat boards today caught my eye. The writer was recounting a situation we've all been through: her son had experienced a possible allergic reaction after eating. The thing was...she didn't really know if it had been a reaction. He ate the food, he threw up 20 minutes later and life went on.

The writer in this particular case had avoided Burger King ever since "the incident", even though the ingredients of the food in question were safe and there were few chances of cross-contamination. Her child had eaten the food, gotten sick, and an association — whether true or not — was formed.

The post caught my eye because the experience was so familiar. To be blunt, my son was a barfer. The littlest thing could set him off. We were NEVER sure what was really going on. Was it a food reaction from cross contamination where the amount just wasn't enough to tip him over into a big reaction? Was his stomach just sensitive, perhaps as a result of whatever dama…