My top 6 #Back2School items for an allergy kid!

So, Im one of those mums remember? (Eye roll as you see fit). As one of those mums back to school is a little bit harder, and a little bit more stressful. Whether you are new to the allergy / celiac game or an old timer, my list of must haves may help make your life a teeny bit easier. Aili was diagnosed as a baby, not yet 2 years old, now she is over 7, and making sure I have these allergy must haves around is totally routine.

  1. Gluten Free labels! I stick these on all our lunch box containers, these serve as a great reminder for any teacher or other adult approaching my child and hopefully reminds them to not touch my carefully prepared allergy safe meal. These are from Ladybug Labels and they ship internationally. The labels are dishwasher safe and stay on for a long time. Through the years I tried many different brands and these win hands down. The quality is superb and they are easy to peel off and stick. (http://www.ladybuglabels.com)
  2. Name labels. The last thing I need is for my kids to lose anything (they do, anyway obviously, especially my son, lol), but even worse would be their stuff getting mixed up with someone elses. All their lunch gear including cutlery has a name label. Again I tried many different ones from different companies and these are now my go to every year. Delivery is fast and cheap even for international delivery. I always get the plain label, it sticks well, peels off easily and is dishwasher safe. I still have some labels from when my son was 4 that are stuck on! He’s almost 10 now, thats value for money right there! These are from Easy2name and come in lots of different colours. (https://www.easy2name.com)
  3. Good lunch boxes! My kids bring lunch to school every day and I need something that lasts, is good value for money, and works! It needs to be able to keep my kids food hot or cold, and I need to be able to clean it easily as it goes in to a contaminated environment on a daily basis. We now use only Pottery Barn lunch boxes. The kids get to pick a new one every second September, so we have a few, the first ones we ever got are still alive and kicking (!). We use lunch boxes for every day outings as well, so even though the Pottery barn boxes aren’t exactly cheap, the fact that they are practically indestructible makes them value for money. I pop them in the washing machine regularly to clean them and so far, no problems! Pottery Barn also delivers internationally! (http://www.potterybarnkids.com)
  4. Good Thermoses! My son goes through anti cold food phases, especially in winter. Ive tried so many thermoses its unreal, many of the kids ones are actually good, but to small for my growing boy! I also found many are hard to open once the hot food is in and I prefer my kids to be able to open their own containers. Surprisingly, the best food thermoses I have found are the IKEA ones (or maybe not so surprising, it is SWEDISH after all, haha). They are a great size, easy to open, no flimsy silly seals that come off after 5 uses, and best of all, I can wash them in the dishwasher (they do say not to, but I do and so far no problems). As far as affordability goes they are amazing. The food stays nice and hot too which is obviously great as so many thermoses don’t keep their heat well. (http://www.ikea.com)

     

  5. Baby Wipes and hand wipes. Seriously, you cant get enough of these babies! I keep them in every school bag, in every handbag and each kid has some in school. The baby wipes are sometimes on special and you can get a box with it, cover the box in funky stickers and make it non babyish for school. Alco gel is of no use as it does not kill gluten or other allergens, allergens need to be washed / wiped off! You can get wipes in pretty much any shop. Not all wipes are gluten safe! Johnsons contain no gluten.
  6. A good freezer block. Again, I tried so many. Having had my kids in school in Dubai I may have gotten overly paranoid about the whole cooling issue, but unless you are sending a hot lunch you really do need to worry. These allergy / celiac kids are often more sensitive then others, and the last thing we want is to give our kids food poisoning. I have every size and shape imaginable, these ones are firm favourites as they are slimmer then others, come in pretty colours and stay frozen until lunch time even though they are slimmer. I got these particular ones in Jula. (Yup, another Swedish shop!) (http://www.jula.com)

Anyone want to add anything? Is there something you cant live without for sending your allergic or celiac kid to school? Id love to know 🙂

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Having a healthy child….

When you are pregnant and people ask which sex you would like you happily answer that it doesn’t matter “as long as its healthy” you say. Because then and there, thats what you are supposed to say. It doesn’t matter if you wish for a girl or boy, the wish for health comes first.

Then fast forward a few years…… and the child, the child that was born with 5 fingers on each hand, 5 toes on each foot and an adorable heart shaped birth mark on her bum…. this absolutely perfect human being that you made. She is not healthy. Not even a little. And you know what…? It doesn’t matter even one tiny little bit. You don’t love her any less, you don’t secretly wish to return her for a refund and you wouldn’t change anything about her for the world.

You learn to live with the cards you have been dealt, you make the best of the situation you are in, learn everything you can about the diseases and issues you face, and life goes on. It goes on, and you live and you fight, and sometimes its hard, so very very hard, but its ok, because its your life, and everything you do is for your child, and it really doesn’t matter one little bit because to you she is perfect in every little way. 

Don’t feel sorry for us, don’t say oh poor you, don’t say it. Don’t say you are lucky that there is nothing wrong with your child. This health thing, its a tricky thing because it can come and go, instantly. Think instead, think for a moment, if you see me struggle, how can you maybe help…? There is so much you can do, really there is!

Spend time with us. Understand when we cancel for the 15th time. Forgive me for forgetting really simple things. Come for coffee. Ask if you can bring something – I will always say no, but its nice when you ask. Call or text, even when if I forgot to reply the last time. Send me a link to a funny or cute story, better yet, make me laugh.

Just be there, be our friend, be our equal, not someone who pities us. My child, my princess, she is perfect in every way, just like your child. Things sometimes aren’t as simple for us, just accept this. Accept us, this way, the way we are.

Things are a bit tricky for us lately. Don’t walk away, we need you now, more then ever.

(putting most our health updates on Facebook lately – go visit)

My child has an invisible illness…..

Its hard to explain to people. The questions, “why is she not in school”, well, she is sick a lot, “oh, so were mine at that age”…. yes, but not like this, she is different. I don’t want to explain, just leave us alone. We didn’t take her out of school for fun or for attention.

We cant come to your house, I don’t feel safe there, I don’t know how clean it is, or what allergens are lurking. We are not allowed to go to busy places…. I don’t want to explain.

Im sorry we cancelled on you again, we are not lazy, we do want to take part but its really hard for me, for us to stick to things we planned. We need to take each day as it comes.

Im sorry I park in the spot reserved for mother and baby or pregnant ladies with my 6 year old. There are days when she cant walk very far without getting out of breath, she is too big for her push chair and I don’t have the strength to carry her so far.

Im sorry I am sometimes unreliable or wont set things in stone, Im sorry Im sometimes so tired I can hardly spell my own name or listen to you when you talk to me.

I sit and watch over my child at night, measure oxygen levels and temperatures and give medications.

Im sorry she doesn’t look sick. Im sure if she did it would be easier for you to understand. Some of the sickest people you will ever meet don’t look sick in the slightest.

So the next time you ask and I try to explain, please don’t say “oh but she looks so well!” or “oh, she looks fine to me!”. You are not her doctor, you haven’t seen her paper work. You don’t know about the bone pain that sometimes makes her cry walking down the stairs or the nausea that sometimes hits her and is so overwhelming she has to lie down straight away. Or the breathing issues or the tiredness that comes from fighting. I know. I know. She has an invisible illness.

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Those darn celiac genes….

Yeah, I need to go on about those darn genes again. Im over it, I dont care, but maybe you guys do and you deserve to know.

Hubby has the gene too. Although it was expected, it just seemed far fetched….. well. He has it, which I guess now makes his DH diagnosis 100%. He has one of the genes only, but if I understand the result correctly he has both sides of it so would have gotten it from both his mum and his dad. Our poor kids really didn’t stand a chance eh?

Well, Ive said it before and I will say it again. Everything happens for a reason, this was obviously meant to be.

Now we are a family of 4 that are gluten free, no longer because we chose it, but because we have to be. All of us. Sons last profile was negative, but he only did 11 days of gluten. Those 11 days his rash came back and his tummy was bad and he didnt want to eat any more of it…. not putting him through 6 weeks of it, partly because its cruel, and partly because we cant as it will expose his very sensitive sister. So thats it, he will now be 100% gf out of the house also.

Shall I rename the blog now? GF & US? 😛

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Welcome to the family celiac genes, we are not pleased to have you!!

I have been quiet lately. I have my reasons. Those of you following the Facebook page will know why….

I have been UBER busy coming to terms with the reality of celiac genetics. The reality is, that me and my son, both have the genes. Yes, genes! We both have BOTH the celiac genes. Congratulations to us.

Its funny how after 4 years of joking with my celiac buddies that I am probably a “closet celiac’, and 2 of my favourite doctors agreeing its safe to assume I am celiac too, now that I have this paper, I am in TOTAL denial. And I mean total. I haven’t eaten gluten for over 4 years, but now that I have this result, all I want to do is run out and eat gluten…!

After over 4 years of being pretty sure that I have the gene (and not doing the test because I wasn’t emotionally ready – read chicken) I am now in total shock and denial. I keep re checking the paper to see if its really true, if I really have the bloody gene, I read it and re read it, and I keep laughing (rather hysterically mind) because this is us, and of course I have the gene!

(Did you watch Friends? The episode where Chandler and Monica are in bed and they are talking about who the father of the baby they are about to adopt may be, and Chandler says, this is us, ofcourse its the ax murderer. Well thats a bit like me and my family, and a constant joke between me and hubby.)

I keep saying to myself that fine, its just a gene, and obviously I don’t have celiac. Obviously right??? Never mind the bone pain, the migraines, the fact that until I cut gluten I was the skinniest girl in the world and that Ive had stomach issues pretty much my entire life…… All of a sudden in my head all this… – not gluten related at all! (Im in denial, didn’t I tell you?)

Never mind the fact that we just spent 11 days in Greece and that I ate gluten free but not contamination free and a week after getting back my tummy is still in absolute bits and I can hardly move its hurting so bad. Stress you know…. (told you I was in denial).

For my son, we stuffed him with as much gluten as we possibly could during holiday and did another celiac profile. His profile that was done at the same time as the genetic test was negative…. Im not sure why… the previous was inconclusive. I know he has a rash that is gluten connected and he himself says he feels confused and forgetful at times (when eating gluten) – could it be he is describing brain fog?

Clever 8 year old that he is though we have talked to him about the options, and he wants a positive test before cutting gluten, just so he can know for sure and be careful. I hope the next profile is positive so we can just be done with it, if not I will speak to our celiac professor and see if they can do a biopsy on him. If he had no symptoms I would just keep doing the profiles I guess, but there are symptoms, mild, but still symptoms. Some may argue we should just cut it and be done with it, but without a diagnosis I fear he will not be strict and continue to eat gluten at parties and play dates. This is not an option if he has celiac, so I do feel in his case its important to pursue a complete diagnosis. He agrees, and not because I talked him in to it. we listed his options and he picked “knowing for sure” and having a biopsy if needed. I am so so proud of him. SUPER proud.

For those of you who have no idea what Im talking about, heres the deal. There are two genes connected to celiac, one of them is pretty common and the other rare. You can have one or both genes and never ever develop celiac disease. However, if you do have one (or both) of the genes, its important to remember celiac can develop at any time – statistically its more likely that it wont though.

Usually a genetic test is used to rule out celiac, it is not used to diagnose, as it only tells you if you have the genes necessary to develop celiac, not if you actually have the disease. A positive celiac blood test (which looks for antibodies to gluten) and a positive biopsy of the small intestine is still the go to method for a celiac diagnosis. 

In other cases, the genetic profile may be done to gather information when you cant do the celiac profile, like my case. I am not eating gluten, so the celiac blood test would show a negative. You need to be eating gluten for a celiac blood test to be accurate. 6-8 weeks of daily gluten, minimum! Going back on gluten is usually called a gluten challenge or a gluten force. 

In some countries they say to test first degree relatives for celiac every 1-2 years, others say if there are symptoms only. Of course, if you have a negative genetic result, further testing would be unnecessary. I wish more countries would make genetic testing easier to get. Here in Poland its relatively cheap and we just walk in to a private lab and request it. 

Ho hum, so thats us all up to date. This closet celiac is still in the closet and now also in denial. I cant do a gluten challenge as it would make me to ill.

I also dragged hubby to the lab and had him do the genetic profile, he already has his DH diagnosis and a positive blood result under his belt, but he too is in denial, for a long time now, haha, what can you do.

I guess the name for the blog, Gluten Free & ME, is just so much more fitting now.

-Linda

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Germs, school rooms and dreaming of a farm!

Not feeling very “bloggy” lately. I can honestly saw we are all exhausted.

End of May, I finally went to the hospital and handed all our papers in. So many hospitals working together on our case. I just wasnt ready to hand it in sooner. It looks like they will still want us to go to Warsaw to check something there. We have the unexplained signs of autoimmune activity and bla bla bla. Bla bla bla may seem a bit blasé, but I just cant manage more then that right now. Im tired of “it” constantly being what our life revolves around. Waiting now to see how often we need to re test her igg’s also.

On a very positive note, she has not had pneumonia since she was taken out of school. TOUCH WOOD (as she sits downstairs with a big wheeze and a cold). She even had the same 48 hour cold / virus that here brother had a few weeks back, and hers ALSO lasted 48 hours. I almost cried with relief. I had no idea her immune system knew how to do that!!

The doctors are hopeful that this break is all that we need, but lets see, only time will tell.

On the school front, we have our plan, and our back up plan. She will have tutoring in school 3 times per week without germy other kids around. Hopefully she will still be ok with this once flu season starts, if not we will have to take her out fully. Im ok with all of this, I have gone over the plan in my head a million times!

New house is looking fab, and thanks to my Pinterest research, our school room eats other peoples school rooms for breakfast! We LOVE the school room, its probably our favourite room! A couple of more things to do, then its all ready.

We had Celiac kiddos birthday party just a few days after moving in, and it was fab! I thought the preparations would send me in to a stress fit, but it really wasn’t so bad! Guess Im becoming a pro at catering to people the gluten free way. Even the corn free and egg free is getting a tad easier, although I do miss being able to buy bread!

Our biggest enemy lately is not gluten anyway, its those pesky germs that everyone carries around, the stuff that lives in peoples noses, the stuff that little kids sneeze out and cough out and touch and then attack celiac kiddo with. Ok, fine, nobody is attacking, but sometimes it really feels like it. Its SO hard keeping her safe without going overboard.

I go to the supermarket early in the mornings now when its not so busy, that way she wont need a mask, more times then one Ive changed checkout after seeing a snotty cashier sneeze / cough in her hand and then carry on moving peoples groceries to bags. I don’t even want to start thinking about the stuff we don’t see!

Im telling you, the only safe way to live is in a house in the country, where you grow and raise your own food! It used to be a sort of joke I told, but I am more and more serious about it as time goes by! haha (any excuse to wear wellies full time really).

So, thats us! 3 more days of school, then maybe, hopefully, we can all re gain some energy! Which might mean more blog posts. Lucky you 😉

-Linda

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The image is of a big scary germ. Obviously. Just incase you didn’t get it 😛

Myths and facts and insensitive bas***ds (FAQ about Celiac)

Why is your house gluten free? I mean common, its just gluten right? 

Because Celiac disease kills. Yup, it kills. Only it does it slowly without huge obvious signs. Would you keep nut dust around in a nut allergy home?

Oh common, just one bite wont hurt? 

Hell yes it will. It will hurt, ALOT. In some you cant see it, in some the effects are felt and heard, for a long time. The last contamination we had the effects lasted almost 3 months (and that wasn’t a bite, it was contamination!)

Oh yeah, Im allergic to gluten too.

No you are not. You either have Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity (NCGS) or Celiac disease. Celiac disease is not an allergy, its an autoimmune disease.

You are just being difficult / embarrassing. 

HELL YES, Im trying to save my kids life here. Did you know Celiacs who are not gluten free or are repeatedly exposed to gluten have a much larger chance of premature death then the general population? There is also a higher chance of developing another autoimmune disease, as well as the risk of malnourishment and everything that comes with it, to name just a few of reasons I am being difficult / embarrassing.

Do you really have to wipe the darn table when we go out for coffee (insert eye-roll)

Yup, I do, if you cant deal with it you cant be my friend. An 8th of a breadcrumb can be enough for a reaction, thats my kid touching the table all over and then forgetting about it and popping a finger in her mouth or touching her lip then accidentally licking it. If you are my friend, you will help me wipe and give evil looks to anyone that stares!

Its Christmas, let her have one, it wont hurt her

Sorry, Celiac disease doesn’t take holidays.

Gluten is killed off / burnt off in high temperatures

If this logic was correct we would be able to eat a loaf of bread, its baked in the oven…. or an onion ring thats deep fried…? No… not so much? Didn’t think so.

So if you can write a list of what she can and can’t eat….

Yes, because that would be so easy, why didn’t I think of that earlier! THANK YOU!

If you leave bread out overnight the gluten will evaporate.

You really must have had a really special kind of education….. like …. say what?

Don’t worry, she will grow out of it.

What part of THIS. IS. NOT. AN. ALLERGY. Did you not understand? Autoimmune diseases are like very special gifts, they are for life.

Cant you just scrape the filling out of the bread and eat that? / PEEL the KFC chicken? /Pick the croutons out / Scrape the breading off?

Yeah, sure, lets sprinkle nuts all over this donut and then scrape it off a bit with a spoon and feed it to your nut allergy anaphylactic kid! No? Didn’t think so.

Oh gluten? Thats only in pasta and bread, not that hard.

hahahahahahaha. Thats is all. Really, hahahahaha.

Its SOUP, there is no gluten in SOUP!!

SO glad you told me, so AWESOME to have met an expert on this. THANKS! Assume you checked the thickener and the stock cubes? Oh yes, those can have gluten too. Never mind the small bits of pasta / croutons / barley / whatever floating in it…..

If I threw a crumb in her mouth what would happen?

You may very well end up dead thats what would happen

I got this for me and the kids – I couldn’t find anything you/she/he could eat

Yes, because picking up some sliced melon, bananas, fruit, plain yogurt, berries, cheese slices or anything cleverly labelled (!!) gluten free would have been too difficult. I understand.

You really are fussy aren’t you.

Yes, extra specially fussy in a very special kind of way 🙂

But, she’s not going to EAT glue / playdough / waterpaint 

No, but she’s 5. How many 5 year olds do you know who are impeccably clean after playing with stuff like that? Actually, scrap that. YES, she might eat it.


Might have to edit this one and add more later. Thanks to the awesome gluten free people in the Facebook group called Gluten Free and Me (not mine) for helping some with some of theirs. The lady who was told she was only Celiac because of her pregnancy must have been the best one. Or the gluten evaporates one. Heck, some of the stuff some of these people have been told, often by close friends and relatives ASTOUND me. Surely people who know someone with Celiac would take their time to do a quick google on actual facts?

I actually meant to put proper answers explaining very carefully, until I realised just how much bottled up gluten rage I held inside! Go ahead, add yours in the comments below or on my facebook page!

For those of you with a sense of humour failure, this kind of stuff is the stuff families like ours hears on an almost daily basis, while we smile sweetly and answer politely for the 5th time at the same dinner party, these are the answers in our heads. Or at least mine.

-Linda

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