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Showing posts from March, 2013

Easter Treats, Love, and Food Allergies

We're having a good Easter. My kids are now 18 and 14, but my 14-year-old daughter likes her traditions and still insists on the full basket-and-egg hunt, even while she's announcing she's really too old for all this.

My son has refused to hunt, or even to get out of bed the last couple of years, so this year my husband put the rest of their school-year allowance in the eggs. $10 an egg. Suddenly, he's in there fervently hunting. (They're down to their last couple apparently-unfindable eggs and are busy snarking at each other, so it's a good time to write a post.)

Easters past have been all about the...Legos? I will just admit it. Throughout my son's childhood, I simply inserted toys in any slot where candy was supposed to show up. A Lego for Easter. A Lego for a difficult trip to the doctor/dentist. Multiple Legos for Halloween. Secret Legos, slipped to him surreptitiously, while all the other kids are eating cake and ice cream. Over the years, our basement …

Spring has sprung

...Well maybe only in a jar I have sitting on my table at home at the moment but the sun is starting to shine in the mornings, although it doesn't last very long, the days are longer and the birds are chirping happily just means its looming near.

What-Causes-Food-Allergies March Madness!

It's time to fill in your bracket and take your shot! (And, with 3 million kids in the US alone, that's an awfully big pool!)

Always in the Top 8. Maybe it’s the peanut oil, even though peanut oil carries miniscule amounts of protein, even when it’s not highly purified. The timing is suspicious, too. After all, kids get allergy shots at the same time they’re developing allergies… And the bracket winner is…

GMO Foods! GMO Foods!
Another perennial contender. After all, shouldn’t a food cause a food allergy? The timing is suspicious (early 90’s introduction for many GMO foods).  And God knows Monsanto and other big Agra are sleazy…maybe to the point of not caring about our kids?
A surprise contender, as many parents trust the J&J brand more than Disney. However, acetaminophen has been implicated in other inflammation-linked disorders, including asthma and eczema.  And the bracket winner is…

Tylenol! Breastfeeding!
Another entry in the category of…

The Not-Much-To-Update Update

I've waited to update you guys on my son's progress until I had some progress to report. I seem to be very unorganized and scatter-brained these days. True story: I called the allergist's office to get my son's RAST report.

ME: "Hi, I"m calling to see if you have my son's RAST test results back. It's been a couple of weeks since we were in."

NURSE: "Sure, let me check. Which lab did the blood draw?"

ME: "Um...what?"

NURSE: "We don't do blood draws here. Remember -- we gave you a lab order -- "

(She has to stop at this point because I've started laughing uncontrollably.)

NURSE: "Heidi? Is that you pimping me again? HEIDI?"

ME: "No, no, I'm sorry, I really am a parent. I just started laughing because I realized we never had the blood drawn. I'm so sorry!"

NURSE (long pause): "Um...o.k....I just thought it had to be the girl at the front desk again, teasing me. I mean, who calls for lab …

There's a Food Allergy Cure! Well, No, Maybe Not...

Haven't we all been here before?

There's a new professional cat fight in the food-allergy community this week, this one sparked by the New York Times story "Can A Radical New Treatment Save Children With Severe Allergies?"  (The NYT has a weird paywall thing going on where you only get to read so many stories a month, so hopefully the link will work for you.)

The therapy is new in that Dr. Nadeau has taken OIT therapy to the obvious next step and addressed all of a child's allergens at once, rather than the one-at-a-time approach that's not very helpful for those of us with MFA kids. Beyond that..not so much is new.

To give a little history, Dr. Nadeau first hit super-stardom at the 2011 AAAAI conference, where she presented a study of 11 milk-allergic kids who had been desensitized in a single day using Xolair®, a drug I just talked about in my Lord of the Rings manifesto that just about no one slogged through. To recap for all you readers who just hate fantasy…

How Do Food Allergy Treatments Work?

I've been thinking a lot lately about whether our experience with the FAHF-2 food allergy trial was worth all the time and hassle. In a sense, the jury is still out because we don't know yet what effect the medication may have had on my son's milk allergy. (The near impossibility of getting an almost 18-year-old to stay still in one place while consuming baked milk is a topic for another blog post.) However, I also grapple with what exactly the medication did.

So why is there a creepy Orc over there, you ask? Because it seems to me that, up until this point, food allergy treatments have used a Lord of the Rings strategy. Think of the cast of characters this way:

The allergen is the Orc. Maybe he's completely misunderstood, but bad things seem to occur as soon as he hits the kingdom so, as soon as they see even one Orc, the  mast cells go all nutty and light the signal fires. This starts a cascade of chemical messages throughout the body.

Histamines and other chemical mess…

Soil Student Blogs Feature SAGE!

We love having OSU Soil students help out at the garden.  Each term we usually get a couple of groups of students who put in 4 hours of service helping at SAGE, learning about soil hands-on!  At the end of each term, students meld their new soil knowledge with their SAGE experience and share it on-line.  Interested in seeing SAGE with a slant toward soil?  Then take a look at the student created blogs from this term...

Dear Readers . . .

Dear Readers,
This is Robert Rendo, your cartoonist and commentator.
To readers who largely identify themselves in these cartoons and basically agree with the politics herein, I consider you all to be my friends, brothers and sisters, colleagues, and heros.  
I wax a bit maudlin, but it's true. 
The fight against this corporate reform in public education has forged bonds - cyber and real - that I've never dreamed of or thought to be important. But they're here, and they're real. 
Among a variety of activism that I participate in, I produce these images because I'm, well, in the mood for a good old fashioned, take-it-outside fight. I'm looking to put on the boxer gloves and fight the injustices our state and federal governments and private sector have launched upon education in an increasingly successful attempt to remove it as a public trust. We know by now about the devastating consequences to children, society, and democracy if this attack continues to progress. 

Are Food-Allergy Parents At War With Their Doctors?

My husband and I have often questioned whether our son has the best allergy doctor. Our son sees one of the noted specialists in our urban area. By everyone's assessment, the man is brilliant. He specialized in pediatric food allergies and is clearly knowledgeable in that area.

At the same time, he gives really bad advice. He's very absent-minded. We spend much of every appointment reiterating our son's allergens, past testing, etc. He's fairly conservative and doesn't (so far) support any of the clinical research treatment options. And, he can be very casual about food challenges, telling us to "go ahead and try it at home", something we were not at all comfortable with when our son was younger.

Should we have shopped for a new doctor? So many other FA parents we know doctor shop — some seem to do so constantly. I know people who have been through four or five doctors and who still conclude that the issue is with the doctors and not their expectations. Are…

The Rise of Food Allergy Hate Advocacy

What will the future of food advocacy organizations look like in 10 years?

I've thought about the NickMom controversy a lot this week. I've also continued to read the controversy on the site (and the inevitable backlash from people who think food allergy parents are over the top) and I've come to a conclusion:

At least some food allergy parents want the
opportunity to fight hate with hate

Over the last year or two, the food allergy community has seen the rise of small, but growing, advocacy groups that use confrontation of "food allergy enemies" as a means of bringing in new members. When the NickMom controversy popped up, these groups all immediately jumped on the bandwagon, insisting that they were in it to BRING JUSTICE TO ALL OF YOU! They were going to CALL and WRITE until the WRONG was RIGHTED!

Do they do any good? Probably not (though they ALL take credit afterward for getting the video or commercial or comments pulled). Like it or not, the only voice in our co…

Under the Knife

Milk Allergy Cure: Glass Half Empty, or Half Full?

So there's been a lot of press coverage coming out of the AAAAI meeting about how OIT is not ready for prime time. Of course, it's nowhere near the volume of THERE'S A CURE FOR PEANUT ALLERGY headlines that hit when they started the therapy several years back, and it will probably take another 10 years before acquaintances stop coming up to me with printout off the internet that seem to imply I'm just not trying hard enough to cure my kid's allergies...but I digress.

One of the best summaries I saw was from Science News (love those guys!). The article led with the bad news:
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University report that many children have seen their allergy return several years after completing a similar regimen of what allergists call oral immunotherapy. “I think they’re not as protected as we were led to believe,” says Robert Wood, an allergist at Johns Hopkins who reported follow-up data on 32 patients. However, the next paragraph gives the stats for all milk …