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Day 1- Why I write about the allergy triad – allergies, asthma and eczema

As part of WEGO Health’s 2013 Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge, #HAWMC, I am going to take you on our journey over the next 30 days on how to deal and support those who fall within the allergy triad – or what I affectionately call the triple threat.

When I gave birth to my daughter, a passion to write and tweet @theallergymama about her health condition came to life. She developed eczema as a baby and around the age of two, we discovered she had food allergies. After her first bite of a fish flake she turned into a blowfish with swollen eyes and cried about itching. Not a good sign.  Then came spring and so did her wheezing. Welcome Asthma!
After she was seen by her pediatrician and allergist, we were educated about the allergy triad – allergies, asthma and eczema. Our daughter’s journey to live with the risk of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction that can become fatal) and allergy-related conditions has driven me to become a health activist.  We’re managing asthma through every season, dealing with potentially life-threatening food allergies and eczema has recently become less of a problem.  I’m grateful my doctor warned me to about the ‘triad’ of allergy-related conditions. But, I never imagined it would be so life-changing. While no one can walk around in bubble and I would love to shield my daughter from every type of nut, seafood, grass and tree pollens – I cannot. But what I can do is help her on this journey by creating understanding about the seriousness of allergy-related conditions, managing it, and hopefully help others along the way. 
I am a newbie to #HAWMC, but not the health activist journey. I welcome you to join me on this journey and support others who deal with any allergy-related condition.

The nutty hunt for safe chocolates

For over four years, I’ve been going nuts to find safe over-the-counter (OTC) chocolate products in a local convenience store. I love chocolate, all kinds with and without nuts. My daughter loves chocolate too, but without nuts.  A bite could prove fatal with her food allergies. This time of year we all go nuts about chocolate and buy heart-filled boxes with mysterious chocolate treats for our sweethearts. It is those mysterious chocolates that make me nuts every Valentine’s Day.
It’s easy to order chocolate, nut-free products from online stores like Indie Candy , Divvie’s and Vermont Nut Free Chocolates before the magical love day.  How many of us live in Vermont or even plan in advance for Valentine’s Day? Most of us just get some grab and go chocolates at an old fashioned brick and mortar store like a CVS or Target, especially if you are not allergic to nuts. While I used to be one of those grab and go people, this still drives me beyond nuts. As much as I would love to put my 6-year old in a nut-free chocolate bubble, I know it’s impossible. So, I’ve been a hunt to find safe OTC chocolates that anyone can share any time without a bit of nutty guilt.
The fact is most OTC nut-free chocolates are still manufactured in a facility that processes tree nuts or peanuts. And this still presents a risk for our nut allergic sweethearts. A simple bite could lead to a reaction of hives or more serious, such as difficulty breathing. This kind of anaphylactic reaction requires the life-saving device of an epi-pen. How many of us who are not allergic to nuts have an epi-pen handy? There is still a national debate about making epi-pens available in all schools who, typically host Valentine’s Day parties in the classrooms.  
In knowing we all love chocolate, Dove Chocolate started spreading some responsible love for us grab and go folks. It recently began using dedicated nut-free facilities for milk and dark chocolate products. I bought a few bars from our local CVS and tested the chocolate treats over the weekend during our waffle preps over breakfast. The smooth, silky milk chocolate melted with sweet flavor in our waffles, but it mostly melted my heart to treat my daughter with chocolate without going nuts. We’ll indulge in the white and chocolate milk swirl bar this Valentine’s Day, but I’m still on the hunt for safe OTC snack size versions for her entire class and for grab and go folks.