Tag Archives: Research

6 Years Ago & Grateful

This past weekend TJ had a moment of frustration about his allergies. It was the first time in 6.5 years of his life that he had spoken up and said that sometimes he gets frustrated. He is currently still allergic to dairy, eggs and peanuts. He went on to explain that he knows dairy is in a lot of foods. So he vented and we listened. Then we came up with a game plan for what new recipes we could try that were safe and yummy for all of us. That made him happy and so excited.

It was both heartbreaking and precious. But we also agreed we needed to continue to pray and believe that one day he would outgrow more, if not ALL of them. And trust me… we believe!

The next day as I was scrolling on my social media page, I saw a memory of TJ from 6 years ago. Those cozy, adorable pajamas were ones I could never forget. Instantly, I was brought back to that late afternoon. It was the last picture I had taken right before his first allergic and anaphylactic reaction…

6 years ago…

I remember it like it was yesterday …

It was a snowy, December evening when I gave him that tiny spoonful of yogurt for the first time.

I remember the highest level of fear I have ever felt. I remember the terrifying ride in the ambulance that had no epi-pen jr. in it. I remember holding an oxygen mask over his face, praying that he would continue to cry because… crying meant he was still breathing!

But I also remember 45 minutes later and being so thankful to have gotten there in time.

I remember the doctors in the emergency room being so comforting …

I also remember the triumph…

I also remember watching TJ’s resilience that those 21 food allergies could not erase. I remember his smile…

I remember his smile when he saw us standing there.

Back then I used to say, “I’ll be happy when …”

… all the allergies are gone …

Or

… when I have more money…

Or

… when I get to go to Disney World with my kids…

But then I see their smiles…

Then I saw his smile…

And I read God’s word more and more and I realized joy is not something we wait for.

Joy is a gift from the Lord.

So I celebrate the allergy count dropping from 21 food allergies to 3. I celebrate the here and the now because God is here and now. And He is always working!

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So I am grateful. I am joyful. I am hopeful.

Right here and right now.

A Ladybug & a Laptop

Deeply broken then made whole
beaten and weary
life knows how to take its toll.
And still there is truth
there is hope on even the darkest night
for there is a purpose
found in God’s light.

The world tugs
and tries to convince us to flee
to give up and in
but that’s not who God wants us to be.

The worries knock
and they pound to get in
but God’s word reminds us
this is a victory He will always win.

So as they shout
and even through each doubt
God has a purpose
greater than what the world says it’s about.
So don’t run from it
don’t hide or flee
for you are God’s handiwork
created so wonderfully.
So trust and become-
all God created you to be.

🐞 For a few days now, there’s been a ladybug in my bedroom. I noticed it first on a part of the ceiling where I can’t reach. Then the day started and online teaching began, and it was something I no longer noticed. Then the next morning I noticed it again but in a different spot. Once again I could not reach it so it was soon erased from my sight and mind. But then yesterday morning as I woke up and went to get up, I noticed that this lady bug was no longer on my ceiling. Instead it had landed right on my laptop on the decal “Just be Who God Made You to Be.”

🐞 And that moment hit me like it was a way to slow me down and bring me back to the basics… to who I am… to who God created me to be.

🐞 We are all created with a distinct purpose. We are all God’s handiwork. We are born that way and yet from an early start the world throws challenges and distractions at us that can make steer away from that purpose. It can make us think that we must be who the world wants and needs us to be. And in that, everything can become confusing.

🐞 But God’s word and purposes are true and clear. They do not bring confusion.
They bring clarity.


So we must pray to God for it.

🐞 We must pray for those God-given purposes to be revealed, sharpened and used. We must pray to stay aware, connected, and aligned with His wisdom, direction and strength with it. And we must stay aware that the reminders will come when we need them.

God knows what we need.

🐞 We must just be open and ready to see and more importantly, accept them, swallowing away the pride and making the changes we need to make. We must use the reminders to bring us back to reality… to bring us back to what God has created us to be.

🐞 So be ready for those those moments that stop us. No matter how big or small they are, you’ll know them when they come. Pray for the wisdom, acceptance and obedience to be renewed by them too. For God is trying to do such a great work in you.

🐞 And much like that ladybug who held on tight as I walked the laptop downstairs and outside to set her free…
we must hold on tight to God’s word…
for it too will set us free.

Fun Fact: l always assumed a ladybug was a beetle that got its name because of his polka dots. The polka dots leaned towards a female and thus it was a LADYbug. I was wrong in my assumption. Instead, ladybugs are named after one amazing lady, Jesus’ mother Mary. While it is unknown for sure why, many theories state it symbolizes the red cloak Mary is often seen wearing in paintings. There are other theories too related to Mary. Those theories all point to being a gift from God. I always thought ladybugs were pretty but now their beauty has taken a whole other beautiful meaning. 🐞


“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

Prayer:
Dear God,
You created it all for a purpose. Your purpose reigns above it all. Forgive us when we steer away from what you created us for. Empower us with the Holy Spirit and fill our lives with wisdom, direction and clarity on our purpose. I pray for the courage to be obedient to it today and every day. I pray for a world where more and more people learn to do this too, all for your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Watch it Spin

Could even our biggest challenges like food allergies and anxiety spin into something positive? Could our greatest hurdles turn into the type of strength and perseverance that can be used for future races, experience and life?

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“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Like Colossians 3:2 states, perspective is a major key to one’s happiness. Life was never promised to be easy, but also can see in scripture the promise of “beauty for ashes.” This was the promise for God’s people to be delivered from their plight. Though it was promised way back when, it can still give us hope and encouragement during the most difficult times and situations we experience now. Therefore, we must remember to embrace and accept the challenge as an opportunity to learn, to grow, to change, to be ultimately blessed for the troubles and pains. Like John Wooden’s quote, “Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out,” take the bad and find the good. We must teach ourselves to find the positive spin.

Since May is food allergy awareness month, let’s use our experience with food allergies as an example. So, let’s go back to that first reaction, an experience no one should have to experience

Saturday, December 13 was a typical snowy evening.   As I was setting up my son’s dinner, I was excited because it would be his first taste of yogurt. After two small spoonfuls, the verdict was in: he seemed to love it!

However, within a minute it all changed.

He started to fuss and rub at his face. Turning red, his lips and mouth swelled up as huge blotches formed all over his face, neck and chest. Although just an infant, fear was written all across his face.  After calling 911, an ambulance arrived after what felt like a lifetime.  In the ambulance, his state continued to get worse. I held an oxygen mask over his now slightly-blue lips.   As he started to zone out, I prayed that he did not lose his breath. Every time he cried, I felt a second of relief for he was breathing.

Asking the EMT repeatedly about his state, I now know that she too was worried.  Her silence spoke louder than any words could have. They did not have an EpiPen with them in the ambulance and called to meet up with another team on the way to the hospital. However, due to the snow, that did not happen. As the doors to the ambulance opened, they sprinted in holding my son as I ran behind them, helpless.

The hospital staff administered epinephrine, Benadryl, and a steroid then reassured me that everything would be okay.   It was 40 minutes after ingesting that tiny amount of yogurt and I now know that we were beyond lucky.  Not everyone gets those 40 minutes.

A moment of relief soon turned into the reality of what had happened. It mixed with guilt, throwing me into the most difficult place I had seen. That night, I slept on the floor next to his crib waking up every hour to check for breathing.  Yet, even in his sleep, TJ smiled on…

We soon learned that TJ was allergic to and needed to avoid milk, eggs, wheat, oats, barley, rye, peanuts, tree nuts, coconut, sesame, soy, peas, and tomatoes. At first, I spent those early months trying to defend myself to others as a good person who did not eat too many or too little peanuts or eggs during my pregnancy.  Or, explaining why I chose to continue breastfeeding despite these allergies.   I was explaining myself to everyone to try to prove that I did not cause this and I was not an awful mom.  However, I had no one to prove myself to. It was not my fault. I did not need to sit with the guilt either. It was unhealthy and I needed to shift my focus to best help myself so that I could best help TJ.

What I did not know at the time was that I was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder afterwards as well. It was a time of great fear and challenges. Not only did he have these food allergies, he had also developed viral-induced asthma and seemed to be sick all the time, needing breathing treatments daily. Events with family and friends became difficult for so many reasons so I just avoided them. It appeared to be one hurdle after another during that time. Then, mix in a miscarriage, the loss of my close friend’s baby, postpartum anxiety and some medical issues plus a lifetime of anxiety… those mountains seemed way too high to climb.

That’s where the spin comes in… I seemed to be spinning out of control but that did not mean I could not learn to spin it the other way. My perspective had to change before my situation did.

Therefore against the intense anxiety, guilt, exhaustion and pain, I turned to reading scripture, praying and writing. I had always been good at seeing the good in other people but it was a challenge to do this for myself, my own experiences, my own life. I had to teach myself to find the positive or else I would never break the cycle… I had to reverse the spin.

Despite the fact that food allergies, anxiety and health issues are all incredible challenges, there is also a lot of good all around, waiting to be discovered or even seen through these rocky journeys.

Spinning forward and ahead…

1) Allergies have taught us to eat much healthier. It has opened our eyes and thus our mouths to a much more nutritious, organic and wholesome cuisine. It shined light on many misconceptions regarding health, food sources and fat, by allowing us to find great resources like Robin O’Brien. I still remember how I was pumping breast milk during my break at work when I got the message from an amazing nurse Kathy who sent me a video on her. I have not stopped following her since. Through the years, we have also found many companies and brands to trust. We have learned a lot.

2) Companies aren’t the only sources of great information. We have also met and/or spoken to so many other allergy families. We have shared ideas, joys and challenges. A support system is key and food allergies have allowed for that. They are all around. Sign up, join or boldly start your own.

3) We have been given a platform to teach to the ignorance and shine empathy on so many. In being able to educate others even our own family members and friends, relationships have taken on a whole new perspective and level.

4) Thinking outside the box – Having food allergies has really allowed us to get creative and go beyond the typical to ensure TJ, Madison and all of those with allergies are included. Why cry over the spilled milk and sheet cakes you can’t buy for birthday parties, when you have so many great alternative milks out there to purchase and so many cakes and recipes to experiment with and love! As we continue to add to our allergy-safe cookbook, we have fun with it.

5) It continues to teach us to appreciate the little things in life a bit more. We celebrate and praise God at the alter every time another food item is added back into our diets. Heck, we have even celebrated peas … shhh don’t tell my kids I’m not really a fan. Still, we are grateful for each blessing.

6) It develops self advocacy in children at a young age. A few weeks ago at a church class, teachers were switched without us knowing and the message about TJ’s allergies was not relayed. However, TJ spoke up for himself when they tried to give him goldfish which have dairy. Strong advocates with brave hearts will continue to make a difference in this world. I know I want to raise that type of child.

7) And the greatest blessing of all is the testimonies we have of God’s work. We were told TJ would have asthma until at least eight if not his whole life. – TJ no longer has asthma. He stopped daily treatments before he was 2.5. He hasn’t needed a breathing treatment since before he was 4. At 5 now, he is allergic to only dairy, eggs, and peanuts. Three allergies is a huge improvement from 21! While he used to be sick a lot, he has barely been sick this entire year and doesn’t even need an asthma care plan for kindergarten. We have a lot to be thankful for.

And when you ask TJ who took away the stomach bug he had in December, the breathing treatments, the other 18 allergies… His testimony is simply perfect. God!

Since beginning this journey, I have already learned to smile differently because:

1)      Special kinds of people wear these shoes.  Wear the label often thrown at you with pride. For you are special.

2)      Make the most of it, don’t let challenges like food allergies define you. Only YOU can define yourself.

3)      Ignorance is not bliss and needs to be educated. Let’s help share awareness with an open mind and heart.

4)      Let your faith be bigger than your fear.  Two thoughts cannot exist at the same time. A fearful one cannot remain when a faith-filled one butts in and takes charge. Trust your instinct but always be prepared and hopeful.

5)      Educating means advocating. Never apologize for it. Your child’s life, your life never requires an apology.

Last, but definitely not least, people with food allergies, old and young, continue to inspire us each and every day. They radiate so much strength, courage, and goodness. Don’t get me wrong, food allergies stink. However, we must keep focusing on the blessings while we keep safe, praying and believing God is continuing to use all of this as a testimony of his amazing love and healing power.

 

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So if it means having a house that’s a little messier and some challenges we know we will rise above, we’ll take it. We’ll use it all to continue to do our part to teach the merry-go-round of life to see the good all around and learn to spin the other way.

EpiPens in Maine

Lawmakers in Maine are considering a bill all states should pass: “to allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense EpiPens at no cost to the patient.”

See the article here:

MAINE LAWMAKER’S PROPOSAL TO MAKE EPIPEN MORE ACCESSIBLE

Every six months we have to shell out sooooo much money to purchase two sets of the generic version. (4 sets total: 2 for each child – one for school and one for home) While we feel thankful to be reimbursed for more than 3/4th of each set, that’s still a ridiculous amount of money!

Whenever I pick them up at the pharmacy, I always think about how many people… kids… babies don’t have the necessary protection that these devices bring because of the insanely high, immoral cost!

But like always, we must reflect on how blessed we are…

on how much TJ has improved since his first anaphylactic reaction …

and how we truly believe his body as well as Madi’s will be restored from all of these allergies.

But in the meantime, we stay prepared, always with two sets on hand.

Go Maine, let’s get more states on board!

For the First Time – Study Proves Eczema is an Autoimmune Disease

In our house, my almost 20 month old son has eczema.   While it is under control for the most part, he experiences periods of flare ups and has certain problem areas almost always.   During breastfeeding, I myself developed what I was told by a dermatologist was mild eczema on my lips and hands.   The flare ups went away after I stopped breastfeeding unless I am battling a sickness of some kind.  In addition to this, my husband battled horrible eczema as a young child until the age of 8.  Therefore, eczema is an area we are all too familiar with.   With that being said, we found the following article interesting and wanted to share as we smile on this beautiful Saturday…

 

For the First Time – Study Proves Eczema is an Autoimmune Disease

Source: http://www.healthline.com/

Dr James R. Baker’s Food Allergy Year in Review

Dr. James R. Baker’s following article reviewing the past year and the important advancements in the world of food allergies gives us hope to smile on…

Food Allergy Year in Review – Collaborating for Change

Source: http://allergicliving.com/

Food Allergy Study

The following is an interesting research study  at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/service/c/clinical-trials/search-studies/allergy/food-allergies-study-01802015/

Smiling on to more answers and a cure…

 

Handing Down Food Allergies

Because this is something always on my mind if indeed I am blessed to have any more little cuties, I wanted to share the following article.   Wishing everyone an amazing weekend, we smile on…

Food Allergies May Not Always Be Handed Down Between Siblings

Source: http://www.medicaldaily.com/

tj cartoon

 

Egg-free – We Smile On

When reading through some blogs this morning, I came across someone asking, “Can a person who is allergic to eggs eat chicken?”   Great question!

While my son has an allergy to eggs, he is not allergic to chicken and eats it all the time.  However, I was curious to see if there are times when these two allergies are related.  During my researching, I found the following excellent resource for egg allergies.   It also includes a brief answer to this question.   Egg-free…we smile on…

Egg Allergy Information

Source: http://www.aaia.ca/en/index.htm

eggs

Elephant Genes Hold Clues for Fight Against

Although this is not related to food allergies or eczema, I heard about this over the radio yesterday.  Since I found it fascinating and hopeful, I wanted to share and smile on… to finding out more clues and maybe one day a cure…

Elephants Cancer Clues

Source: http://www.cnn.com/

ELEPHANT