All posts by TheAllergyMama

A PR pro, health comm expert and mom who has a daughter managing multiple food allergies, asthma and eczema. I'm on a journey to raise awareness, increase education and provide services to address communication needs for those who serve and support the allergy community.

A tribute to Allergy Mamas this Mother’s Day

“Mama, why do I have allergies?” That’s a question most of us allergy mamas will hear at some point as little ones grow and learn how to manage multiple types of allergies, especially food allergies. It is not an easy question to answer, particularly when the question is posed during events with nut-threatening cupcakes or crab claw cracking summer cookouts.  As an allergy mama, you are given special gifts to help ease anxiety, carry special treats and create a sense of connection during times when your child could feel isolated. Many could argue that is the gift of any mama. But being an allergy mama is the dairy-free icing on a nut-free cake.
On this Mother’s Day, I’m reminded of the gift of motherhood and want to take a moment to give special thanks to all of the allergy mamas and supporters who seek understanding the complex answers to one simple question, “Why do I have allergies?” Many of you are on a mission to find answers on how to best protect those you love, just like me – with an epi-pen in one hand and a phone in the other hand with doctors, caregivers and schools on speed dial.
As I reflect on a food allergy conference hosted by FAAN I recently attended a few weeks ago, it was clear that mothers are the conduit to create change and understanding. Now, there were many papas there too who are doing great work, but more on them around Father’s Day or future posts. I met many mothers, including a few Twitter followers, who shared personal experiences and have gone through great steps to get schools, caregivers, friends and relatives to understand and manage their children’s food allergies and other related conditions. One mother even paid for her child’s preschool teachers to attend the conference.  Allergy mamas have to truly go the extra mile to protect their children and educate others.
While I’ve been fortunate to work closely in partnership with my daughter’s school in managing her nasal allergies, food allergies and asthma, I know it’s not that easy as we unfortunately witnessed at Edgewater Elementary School in Volusia County, Florida. There are many other hurdles I understand you face while managing allergies in your children, including those that are life threatening.  It’s only appropriate that Food Allergy Awareness Week starts on Mother’s Day, May 8, through May 14. I’ll be on a mission to help increase understanding this week, but I hope you’ll join me on this lifelong journey by following The Allergy Mamas blog.
Through my experience and the shared experiences of others, I hope you’ll gain further insight and support our work to help businesses, communities and schools understand multiple allergies and related conditions.  There are many mamas on this journey, but I hope all mamas and mother figures take a moment to rest today and celebrate the impact you make in the lives of others.   
Happy Mother’s Day!
-Tia Howard, 
@theallergymama

Spring allergies drop a lesson of patience

Spring has sprung with beauty, but the allergy meds for my five year old are in full bloom unlike any other season since she was first diagnosed with multiple allergies and asthma.  After reading to my daughter’s class, The Princess and the Peanut Allergy, my daughter came up to me with swollen, bumpy eyelids and said she wanted to go home.   I was relieved to hear many kindergartners joyfully share knowledge about food allergies. I was even amazed at how one could describe his own nut allergies and properly pronounce a big juicy word like macadamia. Allergies have truly expanded our vocabulary at a young age.

 

One of many thank you notes from the class during Reader Day
But I knew my reminder lesson for the day would be more about my daughter’s spring allergies and not about her food allergies. Swollen, itchy eyelids are just the prelude response to pollen, which is the known culprit to trigger asthma attacks during this time of year. So, we made a quick visit to the school nurse for temporary eye wash relief and headed to the pediatrician.
The doctor listened to her lungs and heard no sounds of wheezing. Then she looked at the bumps around her puffy eyes and the eczema around her neck that suddenly reappeared after being dormant for months.   This is when she pulled out the prescription pad, tapped the screen of the electronic medical record and started typing away. Now, we’ve been through the spring song and dance of inhalers, hydrocortisone creams and antihistamines for two years. But, somehow we never needed the tune of allergy eye drops until this day.
Our doctor recommended an over-the-counter eye drop like, Zaditor, and prescribed another type of ophthalmic solution made by Alcon. Relieved to provide my daughter with some relief before the weekend filled with activities, I was ready to sprinkle a few drops of comfort only to my own discomfort and a true test of patience. 
Have you ever tried to give eye drops to a five year old? The maneuvers and tactics are unlike any other.
“Look this way. Tilt your head. Oops, open your eye. Let’s lay down. Okay, just imagine rain drops falling in your eyes. It’s like splashing in a pool.  Oh, I forgot you always wear goggles in the pool.” After many failed blinking attempts, we finally succeeded to get a drop in each eye. 
Within minutes she was smiling again. We made the best of her early dismissal day and went out for a late lunch. A day well spent in more ways than one after leaving the pharmacy. Four days later, her eyes are clear just in time for School Picture Day today. I’m relieved we’ve steered clear of any asthma issues thanks to understanding the trigger of pollen, but I’m still on high alert.
Today is World Asthma Day and this experience is a great reminder that pollen is one of many triggers for asthma attacks. You can control asthma and thrive through all seasons. Spring allergies are only for a season, but the will of a mama’s patience is a lifetime.

-Tia Howard

Follow me @theallergymama