A Love Letter From a Food Allergy Mom *Updated*

A Love Letter From a Food Allergy Mom *Updated*

 

 

Dearest friend, 

 

I write to you today because I love you!  

 

You are kind and understanding. Yet I hesitate to write this because experience has taught me that even the kindest people sometimes struggle to fully grasp what I am about to share.

You see, I am not just a mom; I am a food allergy mom. 

And that comes with a tremendous amount of constant care you can’t truly understand until you hold the title. 

“Food allergy mom” was not a line item that I ever expected to add to my life’s resume … but here I am. 

 

Why does this matter?

 

How we treat each other matters. Without being aware that I live with food allergies and what that looks like, it might cause friction in our daily interactions. 

Sharing this part of my life with you will help us to strengthen our accord.

Your benefit: a deeper understanding of my life and an opportunity to act with compassion. 
My benefit: being fully seen and loved in a reality where simple food is life-threatening to my child. 

You can’t know what you don’t know. I get that … It would be unreasonable for me to expect you to be aware and understanding of food allergies when you have never truly been exposed to their reality. 

 

So here is a glimpse of reality … 

 

It is learning how to read labels … every single time you purchase a product. 

It is knowing that sometimes milk is not called milk or that a company doesn’t have to disclose sesame oil in a product as long as the ingredients say natural flavors. 

It is spending hours in a grocery store and coming out with no new food options 

It’s about learning all the places food proteins hide. Because they commonly exist in non-food products. That means hand soaps, art supplies, makeup, beard oil, house cleaner, toothpaste, to name a few. 

It is countless hours with doctors looking at test results that can’t tell you the severity of a potential reaction because the test only measures how likely it is that a reaction would occur.

It is scouring the internet at all hours of the night looking for answers. 

It is learning how to cook again and rethinking all your habits in the kitchen because a single mistake can lead to cross-contact making food unsafe, even life-threatening. 

It’s trying to inform your family, friends, co-workers, teachers what your needs are, making sure to be clear and accurate, without scaring them but without coming across as crazy and overbearing. 

It is about kindly speaking up to educate someone when all you want to do is scream, “what are you doing?! that could kill my child!” 

It is learning the many ways anaphylaxis looks and how to respond when the day comes that you see it. 

It is finding accessible and affordable epinephrine, the medication that saves lives.

It is praying that you never have to use it. 

It is about NEVER leaving home empty-handed. But instead with bags of stuff: auto-injectors, antihistamine, inhalers, wipes, extra clothes, and food!

It is about always mitigating risk. At the park, the library, the museum, the family picnic, the birthday party, the bus, the baseball game, the grocery store (literally everywhere)

It is about teaching my child to be aware of and respect his allergies. To advocate and speak up. Without making him scared, anxious, or feel less than and left out. 

It’s about finding people who understand food allergy life and cherishing them. 

It is about finding a place between fear and complacency so you can live life but maintain a level of protection.

It is about all of these things and SO MUCH MORE

 

I often operate in the space of fear and anxiety, which is why sometimes I come across as unreasonable, overprotective, and maybe even a little crazy. 

I spend a lot of energy pushing outside that fear because it is the only way to experience life. But some days it’s harder than others. 

I hope you can empathize with the care it takes and the anxiety that comes with managing food allergies.  

And maybe you value me enough to be mindful of your words and actions … 

 

Here are 2 simple ways to accomplish that:

Don’t assume …

 

That this is a lifestyle choice, it has changed our lifestyle, but it was not a choice.

 

That a small amount of the allergen is okay, it’s NOT. Even trace amounts of food protein can trigger anaphylaxis. 

 

That because you read a news headline you’re informed. Food allergies are multi-faceted. I promise it is more complicated than the headline. (I will know immediately if you actually read the body of the article) 

 

Food allergies are the same as an intolerance … they are not! 

 

That you need to suggest ideas to help. I know your desire to offer solutions is coming from a good place, but it just makes me feel more isolated. 

 

Ask questions … 

 

Can I do anything to make things safer for you? 

 

Where do you keep your auto-injector? Can you show me how to use it? 

 

Would you like to pick the restaurant? 

 

Do you have any treatment options? 

 

Where can I get useful information about food allergies?

 

Are you okay?

 

This is a lot to take in! It probably feels like too much … at least that’s how I felt when I found out I was a food allergy mom.

With time and practice, it feels more manageable.

Food allergies will always require extra care, but one day you will look up and realize you automatically account for them. With no cure at this time and anaphylactic episodes on the rise, your awareness and compassion are more important than I can express. 

 

I sincerely hope this has not scared you away. In fact, quite the opposite!

I shared this to provide perspective to empower you as you encounter food allergies and anaphylaxis. 

Now you have the information it’s your choice how to use it. 

 

 

With love and gratitude, 

An allergy mom 

 

 

 

When Planning Your Beach Trip Still Falls Short

When Planning Your Beach Trip Still Falls Short

 

What’s that saying about “the best-laid plans”…?

 

As an allergy momma, I understand this sentiment intimately. 

Vigilance and planning make it so Shaun can have happy, healthy experiences out in the world. But you see sometimes even our best-laid plans (the ones based on trial and error, research and our care plan), fall short and end with some type of reaction. 

Last week, we shared some ideas about How to Enjoy a Beach Day with Food Allergies. It seemed like a timely blog post as we were headed to our family cottage to enjoy the beach for a few days. 

 

 

The day after our post went up, my mom (Shaun’s Mimi) and I began to plan and pack to take Shaun down to the shore for the afternoon. 

Shaun safe food …. Check
Medication and care plan … Check
Blue Lizard Sunscreen … Check
Sand chair, sand toys & umbrella … Check 
Long sleeve rash guard shirt … Check
Full coverage beach hat … Check 
Extra 100% cotton, clean, dry clothes … Check 

 

Finally, we have the car packed up and we head down to the beach. 

We Arrive. Unpack the car, off to the sand to scope out a spot that seems open, close enough to the water, but not too far from the bathrooms and that will allow for easy egress should we need to head out in a hurry. 

My mom and Shaun headed down to the water’s edge as I set up our little space. I put in the umbrella, got some towels set up and put our medications and food cooler in the shade. 

 

 

I walked down to the water …  and I took a nice deep breath of ocean air! I enjoyed the interaction between Shaun and Mimi as they waded a little deeper into the waves. Feeling grateful and peaceful I returned to our spot on the sand, settled into my chair and grabbed my book. 

 

Not even one page of reading and Shaun was standing in front of me shivering. Bouncing up and down at his knees just a little bit … he was clearly uncomfortable. I suggested he lay in the sun, on the towel, so he could warm up and dry off a bit. But he continued to bounce and tell me “momma I can’t lay down.” 

Finally, after a few minutes of frustrating back and forth about laying down to warm up, he asked to go to the potty. Off we went back up the sand toward the bathhouse, used the potty and then back to the sand we marched. 

Hopeful that Shaun was now content, I planned on picking my book back up while he spent some time building in the sand! 

 

Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived back at our spot on the beach Shaun started itching. For Shaun itching happens often so there was no need to panic or pack up. 

 

Me: “Hey buddy, what’s going on?’ (I try to keep my questions open-ended so I am not giving him words he will just repeat back to me) 
Shaun: “My knee pits itch” 
Me: “I see that … any other spots itchy?”
Shaun: “No” 

 

But I could see he had already started scratching around his waistband and his crotch … 

 

I decided we needed to take off his clothes to get a look at all his skin. Mimi and I help him get off his wet shirt and hold up a blanket as we take off his bathing suit (we are trying to teach him he can’t just be naked anywhere he wants … ahhhh parenthood)

The creases of his knees were red and puffy with hives but the rest of his body seemed okay. I wrapped him in the towel, sat in the shade with him lying across me while Mimi got us some ice packs from the cooler in an attempt to calm down his hives. 

 

 

For the next few minutes, I tried to settle him. He rolled this way and that. He squirmed. He began to itch his ears and eyes. So I stood him back up and opened the towel to look at him again … he had hives on his torso, behind his ears and in the creases of his thighs. So I scooped him up in the towel and quickly made my way to the bathhouse where they have freshwater showers. 

As soon as I turned the handle to rinse Shaun off he darted out of the water screaming “its ice-cold!!!”

 

Yes, it was time to go home … 

 

We had not even been there for 30 minutes. 

 

I knew with the way the hives were spreading that if we didn’t rinse him in freshwater and get his skin covered in clean dry clothes the hives were not going to calm down. 

 

 

So back to the sand we went to get Mimi and pack up all the stuff. I didn’t want to bring Shaun back onto the sand so I sat him at the entrance (that was in my view 100% of the time), with a lifeguard. 

Lugging Shaun and all our stuff back to the car as quickly as possible so we could return to the cottage to get his hives under control. 

When we arrived it was straight to the shower, a dose of hydroxyzine, ointment and cotton PJs (long pants / long sleeves) And within about 30 minutes he was finally more comfortable. 

 

Shaun stayed amazingly calm and happy despite the discomfort of the hives. 
Was it life-threatening? No, not this time, thank God! 

 

However, it was uncomfortable. It was stressful. It ended our afternoon at the beach before it even really began. It was disappointing and frustrating but it will not stop us from going back! 

What caused his hives? Almost impossible to answer. Often with Shaun’s hives, we don’t know the exact trigger: too hot, too cold, something in the ocean, the detergent residue on his bathing suit, the sand, something on the toilet seat that contacted his skin? And yes, this makes me crazy because without knowing the cause we can’t modify our plan to prevent it next time. 

See, allergy living can put you into a bubble if you let it. You must be relentless and determined to keep engaging even when, despite your careful, thoughtful preparation, you end up having a reaction. 

John and I feel it is critical to teach Shaun how to avoid becoming isolated! How to live a full safe life even though sometimes his beach trip will be cut short due to hives. 

 

Here is to a hive free beach trip next time, 

 

~ LC 

 

 

 

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How to Enjoy a Beach Day with Food Allergies

How to Enjoy a Beach Day with Food Allergies

With the summer here in full swing, many people find themselves at, or wanting to go to, a beach! Hot temperatures and refreshing ocean are a perfect combination, but this becomes a little less carefree when you have allergies. So here’s how to enjoy a beach day with food allergies.

 

Establish your “safe” zone

As with just about any other situation you will encounter with food allergies, going to the beach is no different. It always helps to plan (even scout the beach if you want to be super thorough). When you arrive, try to establish your safe space early on.

When our family goes to the beach, we tend to lay out our blankets, towels, umbrellas, etc. as soon as we get there. This gives us a well-defined area to spread out and sets up a perimeter around our safe zone.

When Shaun was younger, we used to bring our PlayPen with us to the beach. It was a perfect way to allow Shaun to be there with us and also have a wholly contained area to limit exposure for him.

 

Bring all food (plus backups)

Packing your food is almost always going to be the best option in general, but especially on a beach day. Granted, it does mean you have some extra stuff to carry, but the peace-of-mind that comes from knowing you have access to safe food is invaluable.

On top of bringing all our food, we generally bring backups/multiple options for food. Nothing worse than having a food-meltdown ruin the day, or force you to have to leave early.

 

Be aware of your surroundings

This also should be a given with any outing, but on a beach day, emergency resources may be slightly less accessible than in some other scenarios, so extra precautions/awareness are usually helpful.

 

Check for:
  • Food/Snack stands. (especially at state beaches, there are usually places that sell food)
  • Ice Cream Truck(s). Pretty much a given, but this means melty/dripping dairy allergens.
  • What have other people brought? The people on the towels nearby could have peanuts, seeds, PB&J sandwiches, or any number of other possible allergens. Pay attention when they pull out their food so that you can walk around/avoid potential risks.

 

Care plan

For those that also have eczema, the beach can have other potential challenges. Between the heat, moisture, sand, and others, something is likely to trigger some increased eczema response or rashing. 

You want to do what is needed for your situation, but this does not mean you can’t go or have fun at the beach. Go through your typical care plan and make sure you have all your skin-care items with you.

Where is there fresh water nearby? Knowing this is important in case you need to wash off because of hives or eczema.

 

Although it’s not typical, packing a light cotton outfit (long sleeves and pants) will give you the option to clean your skin, apply any skin care treatment products and cover you skin with a soothing fabric to relive the flare up. This practice has saved us many times!

 

Medications

Having your medications close is always essential, but the heat and direct sunlight at the beach can be a problem, especially for Epinephrine. As we mentioned in a previous post, as well as on FARE’s website, Epinephrine has to remain within specific temperature limits to maintain its efficacy.

There are many ways to combat this issue, however. Chief among them being several insulated carrying bags that help maintain the temperature of the epinephrine or any other temperature-sensitive medications you might need to carry. We have used the ones made by Allermates. However, there is another one made by ParcMedic, which is also highly reviewed.

Additionally, there is a slightly different kind of bag made by Frio that people swear by. They have a unique technology that allows it to cool using evaporation, eliminating the need for ice packs or coolers to put your medications in. Most of these are advertised as insulin bags, but they are useful for Epinephrine auto-injectors as well, and many other allergy families and friends we know far prefer these to other carrying options for the beach or other hot, outdoor activities.

 

Sun protection

Sunscreen, swim shirts & hats are part of our beach routine. In general this is part of health skin care but it becomes even more critical with sensitive skin.

Sunscreen will get its own post in time but here are the two things to keep in mind. First, sunscreens may contain ingredients you are allergic to!! Always read the label! Secondly, if your skin is sensitive it might some trial and error before you find one that works well for your skin. We have had excellent luck with Blue Lizard.

 

Exit plan

As with any other outing, you want to go in with a plan to get out. This is not to say you want to leave early, but this also contributes to lowering everyone’s stress levels and allowing you to actually enjoy the day at the beach, rather than merely live through it.

 

 

 

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Food Challenges and What to Expect

Food Challenges and What to Expect

 

Food challenges are part of allergy living, and like most things in allergy life, it is stressful, nuanced, and rewarding all at the same time! A food challenge is considered “the gold standard” test to determine if a person is allergic or not to a specific food.

 

3 years ago this month, Shaun (at 19mo old) had his first food challenge (Soy) that ended in success! We left the allergy office that day with the OKAY to add soy products to his diet. (If you live with strict avoidance of soy, you know how huge this win was for us! Soy is in a tremendous amount of food.)   

 

 

Shaun has gone through 4 food challenges with a 75% success rate.

 

We have challenged:

Soy: Passed

Egg: Passed

Rice: Passed

Baked Cows Milk: Failed  (a post all its own)

Each time Shaun passes a food challenge, our menu opens up, and we feel a little lighter!

 

So what is a food challenge?

A food challenge is when an allergic person under the supervision of their allergist, in a highly controlled environment, eats food they have previously been diagnosed as allergic to and are strictly avoiding.

Our allergist looks at IEG blood work results along with results from skin tests to determine if a food MIGHT be successfully added to a person’s diet if it is challenged. The recommendations an allergist make varies depending on patient history, age, ability to communicate, etc.    

The entire food challenge process is very structured and highly monitored because although there is a chance that the outcome can be successful … there is also a chance that the challenge can end in hives, anaphylaxis, or anything in between.

For me, this was the part that elicited stress and strong emotions. How can I possibly bring Shaun into the doctor to feed him something that could send him into anaphylaxis? I had to rely on the controlled process and allow the reward of opening up his diet to outweigh the feelings of fear and the counter-intuitive nature of the food challenge.   

 

 

 

Here is what we have learned to expect with a food challenge:

 

They take a long time to schedule.

If your allergist recommends that you schedule one of these tests sometimes, it can take 6 months or more (we have waited 8 months) before there is an available appointment. Because these challenges take a minimum of 5 hours, there is a limited number of available appointments per day. Be ready to take what you can get and rearrange other plans.

 

You can’t be sick.

Because food allergies are auto-immune based, it is essential that your immune system is not already taxed at the time of your food challenge. This means a cold, virus, or infection just before or at the time of your scheduled test will require you to reschedule.

3 of our 4 food challenges have needed to be rescheduled. Yes, it is beyond frustrating but also an important reality. First, because an already burdened immune system will increase the risk of a reaction occurring, and secondly because if you were to carry out the challenge in this state, you could fail the test only because your immune system is already working so hard; leaving you with inaccurate results.   

 

Pass or fail it will be a long day in the office.

Because the doctors monitor you for any symptoms (from hives to anaphylaxis), you’ll be in the office for several hours. Plan to be out of work or school all day.

You will want to pack a few things to keep yourself busy!

With Shaun at such a young age, both John and I have always attended the food challenges together. This allows us to take turns distracting him in the small exam room and step out without leaving him alone if we need to use the bathroom or take a break.

We have read books, built puzzles, written postcards, played dinosaurs, colored, raced matchbox cars, and in really desperate moments watched movies. I try to pack one bag with varied activities that we can spend the day exploring. It is hard to be cooped up in a small room, but these activities help so much!

Also, it can be frigid in doctors offices, dressing in layers is crucial so you can add or remove layers as needed.

 

Skin Test

You most likely had a blood test, skin test or both to determine that you are in a position to schedule a food challenge, but the day you go in for the test they will repeat the skin test to verify that there have not been any changes that would increase the risk.

Skin test are, no doubt, unpleasant (we always have tears). Going through this just before the food challenge is another way the process is set up to lower the risk of anaphylaxis.  

 

 

Signing the release form.

As with any medical procedure, the food challenge includes a release form explaining all the things that could go wrong as a result of ingesting the food you are about to test. It is always a scary moment acknowledging the risk involved. However, it’s important to remember that THIS is the safest way to carry out a food challenge to increase dietary options!

 

 

Do not try to do this at home, without proper medical supervision and emergency personnel ready to assist!    

 

 

Dosing & Waiting

When you get the all clear to start the challenge, you will be given a precise dose of the food you are testing. Then you wait … 20 minutes … if you have no symptoms, a second dose (larger than the first) will be delivered.

This cycle will continue until you pass the test or have symptoms that end it.   

Pass or fail; there is hope in this process! Hope that you may be able to open up your diet.

Work closely with your allergist, push through the fear. Food challenges have been life-changing for us, and they might be for you too!  

 

 

 

 

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A Letter to My Food Allergy Child’s First School Teacher

A Letter to My Food Allergy Child’s First School Teacher

 

 

Ms. Jackson,

 

A year ago today Shaun’s name was 5th on the waiting list to get into your school, CREC Montessori Magnet. He was 3.5 years old and had a list of 8 food allergies. Unlike other parents, I did not obsessively check the progress on the waiting list throughout the summer because I was secretly hoping that Shaun’s name would not make it to the top of the list. This momma’s heart was not ready to let anyone else manage Shaun’s care and learning.

 

I prayed that if we were supposed to send Shaun to school, he would get a spot. That if Shaun’s name made it to the top of the list, I would trust God’s plan and know that Shaun would be safe and genuinely cared for.

 

Well, September rolled around, and we had not received notification that Shaun had been placed. John and I were okay with that; Shaun would spend another year with me, and we would reevaluate our next steps in the new year.

 

A few weeks into September the call came. Shaun had a spot in your primary classroom …

 

I wish I could say I was ecstatic. I wish I could say I ran down to the school to sign him up that very day. But the reality was I felt stunned, overwhelmed, and scared. We had only a few short days to make an ENORMOUS decision, that would lead our little family into new and unknown territory.

 

Even though John & I took the weekend to talk through the pros, cons, and logistics of accepting Shaun’s spot, I couldn’t forget the prayer I had prayed. I knew I needed to find the courage to trust God’s plan unfolding in front of us.

 

You see, since Shaun was tiny, we have researched, planned, and strategized to reduce the risk of an anaphylactic reaction. We have spent countless hours teaching him how to keep himself safe while maintaining a close hold on his environment. So although I am a momma of deep faith, more than I would like to admit, I rely on the illusion of control I have over Shaun’s environment to quell the anxiety I feel.

Giving that control to you, finding the strength in my heart to trust you with my most precious gift is the hardest trust I have ever had to give away.

 

We accepted Shaun’s placement.

 

 

And I spent the next few days preparing everything Shaun needed to start school …

Paperwork
Medications
Backpack
Allergy Bracelet
Wipes
Snacks

I also spent the next few nights awake, playing out every scenario you can imagine in my head.

 

The day after a failed milk challenge that ended with an anaphylactic reaction (a story for another day), I drove Shaun to school and watched him walk in the doors and prayed you would take care of him!

 

 

Over the last nine months you, Ms. Jackson, have proven to be the most incredible teacher we could have ever imagined working with!

 

You showed us great kindness and patience as we shared with you Shaun’s history and the many things we felt we needed to keep him safe in school.

You truly listened to us, never once dismissing a concern or accommodation we brought to you.

You maintained excellent communication to ease our hearts in the first few weeks of this transition.

You asked questions! Questions that were thoughtful and relevant that would lead to a safer and fuller experience for Shaun in your classroom.

You gracefully accepted my frustration and fear when Shaun had an unsafe candy bar in his backpack, and you took responsibility.

You engaged in the development of Shaun’s 504, helping to build a robust plan to keep Shaun safe so he can focus on learning.

You melted my heart at our Mother’s Day tea when you found cupcakes, clearly labeled and free of all of his allergens.

You fostered a classroom in which Shaun’s peers would be aware and compassionate towards him!

 

 

You became Shaun’s advocate in my absence! You spoke up in meetings when others tried to deny his rights. Making sure that all the staff in your school are aware of who Shaun is and what his needs are! You allowed Shaun to expand his world. Yes, through the classroom lessons he was given, but also through the safety he felt with you.

 

Today, as Shaun heads off to his last day of school before the summer break, I am overwhelmed by all the experiences Shaun has had because of you!

 

Gratitude doesn’t adequately express the emotion I feel. However, it’s the best I can convey at the moment …

 

For the hours you have spent working with us.
For the research you did on your own time.
For the love you put into your work.
For watching over Shaun as if he were your own.

 

 

Thank you … with every part of me, thank you!

 

~ LC

 

 

 

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How to Plan a Trip to the Ballpark

How to Plan a Trip to the Ballpark

 

“ Take me out to the ball game, take me out to the crowd, I’m allergic to peanuts and cracker jacks … “

 

 

Ahhhhh baseball, the great American pastime!!

 

I never dreamed I would be afraid to take my child to a ballpark.  But then again, I never imagined that my child would have a list of 12 food allergies by 9 months old.

 

That first summer, as we re-learned the basics of living to accommodate Shaun’s allergies, I truly believed that taking him to a baseball game would be impossible. Thoughts of peanuts and peanut hulls littering the concrete, sunflower seeds being shelled and tossed aside, sticky ice cream dripping everywhere …. Frightening.

 

Too many allergens + too many people × a highly unpredictable environment = a RISK I was not willing to take!  

 

BUT I was wrong.

 

In time, I found myself more comfortable with how food allergies looked for Shaun (example, he gets severe hives upon contact but is not anaphylactic unless he ingests the food protein he is allergic to). Knowing things like this helped me to make a plan of action that would allow us to keep him safe. I had become more confident in assessing where the risks might be and finding ways to reduce their possible impact on our experience. (Don’t misunderstand, there is still always a risk)

 

So at 3.5 years old (with 7 food allergies) we successfully took Shaun to a Hartford Yard Goats baseball game! Little man even got a game ball!

 

 

Here is how we made it happen!

 

Gather information on the ballpark:  

Start with the park website (look for a stadium reference guide) or a phone call to the stadium’s office. (MLB Offices)

  • Do they have a peanut free game or section in their stadium?
  • What is their entrance and carry in policy? How should you handle bringing your food? Is there a special entrance that is set up to check bags with food and medication?
  • Where are their first aid locations in the stadium? (It may influence where you choose to sit)
  • Can you leave a notification with the medical team of the game that you will be attending and the location of your seats once you have your tickets?

 

Pick your game & seats:

Here are two elements you have control over:

Game date and seats are a personal decision that you can make to ease some of your worries!

 

Pick a game …

  • revisit the dates of the possible “peanut free games.”  
  • Reflect on when other conditions connected to food allergies (such as seasonal allergies, asthma, eczema or chronic hives) typically flare up.

For example, if you know your hives and asthma are bad during May & June because of springtime seasonal allergies, then maybe choose a game mid-summer. This way you’re feeling your best before you even enter the ballpark.

 

As for your seats …

  • consider the information you gathered about the stadium
  • the rate of reaction and the sensitivity level of the food allergy at hand
  • your anxiety about attending the game.

From these thoughts, find a location that allows you to minimize anxiety leading to a better overall experience.

 

For us, we wanted to sit at the end of a row in case we needed to move quickly. We also didn’t attend a major league game but rather a double-A game which is played in a much smaller stadium. Therefore I was not as concerned about the proximity of our seats to the first aid location.

 

** If you are attending with a larger size group, consider a seating option that would allow you to surround the person with the food allergies. Rather than all sitting in the same row pick a block of seats in consecutive rows! It creates a bit of a buffer.

 

Thoughts for Game Day:

  • Pack a bag, with safe foods!
    • If your allergies allow for you to find safe food in the ballpark, fantastic! For our family, it is most reliable (at this point) to pack Shaun’s food!

 

 

  • Pack all needed medication! And it never hurts to keep a copy of the emergency action care plan on hand.
  • Pack lots of wipes!!
    • These can be used to wipe down surfaces before sitting or eating at them.
  • Consider wearing long pants, long sleeves, or closed toed shoes.  
    • For those who have more intense contact reactions, this option adds another layer of physical protection between you and the allergens. You can wipe your seat, but you can’t control the wind. (This might not be ideal for scorching August games – another possible thing to consider when you plan and purchase your game tickets)
  • Be ready and confident to advocate if you need to!
    • Most places are very understanding when it comes to food allergies, but you never know when someone will question you showing up with food and medication! Learn your rights and speak up … even if it is as simple as “I am allowed under the Americans with Disabilities Act to have this with me.”

 

**The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) applies to those with food allergies! The actual document is VERY legal (for good reason), so I have also included two resources that might help you learn about your rights under this federal law.

 

Enjoy the game!! It is a milestone moment!! You have planned and worked hard to make a trip to the ballpark a reality!

 

We enjoyed every moment with Shaun at his first game, and have gone back several times since.

 

A note about Dunkin’ Donuts Park, home to the Hartford Yard Goats:

In February 2019, “The Hartford Yard Goats Baseball Club, the Double-A Eastern League Affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, announced it would no longer sell shelled peanuts and Cracker Jack at Dunkin’ Donuts Park in an effort to make the venue more accessible for those with peanut and tree nut allergies.” See the full announcement here

 

As it seems to be with most things in the world right now, many people are agitated the Yard Goats Ball Club adopted a policy that will restrict them from eating the traditional peanuts and cracker jacks.

 

 

 

This allergy momma is filled with gratitude!

 

Now I know this seems obvious, but I would like to breakdown the “why?” of my gratitude.

If you recall, we face more than just a peanut allergy with Shaun. So why would I feel gratitude for this new policy?

  • Because with this policy, I know that this organization will help me develop (at the very minimum) reasonable accommodations so we can participate.
  • It is bringing awareness to the public that the food allergy community desperately needs
  • The policy stands as a model to other ballparks & stadiums that the allergy community matters!  
  • That accommodation can be made while remaining hugely successful!

 

 

It is a tremendous gesture of compassion to those fans living with food allergies!

 

I extend a sincere thank you to Tim Restall, the Yard Goats President and the entire Yard Goats Organization for being amazing Food Allergy Ambassadors!  

 

 

 

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