Saturday, March 8, 2014

Is GirlyGirl Lactose Intolerant?

As I have discussed in previous posts ("My Tummy Hurts" and Going Dairy Free for GirlyGirl), GirlyGirl has struggled with tummy aches for as long as she's been alive.  Last fall we took her off milk to see if that was the culprit.  Her symptoms resolved and she was no longer taking any medications.

Ever since removing milk from her diet, she has begged to add it back in.  She just loves milk and cheese so much!  A few weeks ago I agreed to start gradually adding in a few items that contain milk, but not milk itself.  Within just 3 weeks of adding in only handful of items containing milk, her symptoms returned.  Without getting into too much detail, her tummy was aching again, and she was having some potty issues.

So I need to face facts that milk is a problem in her diet.  She doesn't have any allergic symptoms to milk.  From what I've read and heard from others, it sounds more like a lactose intolerance.  The good things is that this is not life-threatening.  But it does cause her discomfort and embarrassment.  So back to avoiding milk we go.

Since she does have a peanut allergy, we typically provide most of her food.  So this won't change much for us.  I will continue to pack her school lunch, bring cupcakes to birthday parties, and sack meals to restaurants.

I don't know much about lactose intolerance, so I have a new topic to research.  As I learn more about it, I will be happy to share information with you.  I also welcome any information you have to share.

I am so grateful for my food allergy community for the support and information we share.  We can learn and grow so much from interacting with each other.  This blog continues to be a great outlet for me as I continue to deal with food allergies and sensitivities on a daily basis.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Classroom Dentist Demo (with Peanut Butter!)

Recently GirlyGirl came home from school saying that the pediatric dentist office had visited her classroom for Dental Health Month. The only thing she told me about their visit was that they used peanut butter for a demonstration. She said all the kids got to participate in the demo except for the three kids in her class with a known peanut allergy. She didn't seem too upset by it, but she also didn't tell me anything else that happened that day. This moment stuck out in her mind.

I emailed the teacher to ask what happened. She responded that they did in fact use peanut butter for a demonstration (showing that sticky stuff can be hard to get off your teeth). The teacher immediately spoke up and mentioned that three kids have a peanut allergy. She made sure none of these kids participated in the demo.  She says now that she wishes she had just stopped the demonstration, but she was caught off guard and didn't react fast enough.

She told them afterwards that it would be a good idea to check with the teacher before using peanut butter or to find an alternative. She also told them that while none of her kids have an airborne allergy, some kids can't even be in the same room with peanuts. She told me that one of the boys with a peanut allergy was scared during this demo and had to sit with the her at her desk. 

I thanked the teacher for helping keep these kiddos safe during this visit. I wish teachers weren't put in this position in the first place.

Cutie had a dentist appointment today (at the same office that made the classroom visits), and one of the hygienists was talking about this demo with another parent (they went to multiple schools in town). I chimed in saying that two of my kids are allergic to peanuts. She kind of blew me off saying that they always ask the teacher first (which they didn't at our school) and that none of the kids actually participated in the demo (which may have true in the class she went to, but not in our classroom). I kindly suggested that maybe they could use something as an alternative. She didn't respond to that. So I offered some suggestions. She said those might be too hard to clean of the toothbrush they use for the demonstration.  She wasn't snotty or anything, just ignorant. 

A few minutes later, the other mom there said that her daughter also has a peanut allergy. She said they use almond butter as an alternative at their house. We shared some good ideas that we use at home. A different hygienist who was listening said that maybe they could use almond butter instead of peanut butter. I mentioned that other kids may have tree nut allergies. At least this gal was willing to think of alternatives. I also mentioned the airborne deal so they would think of that in the future as well.

I don't feel like I did a great job educating the staff, but hopefully I planted a seed for them to think about.  I may revisit this with the dentist who owns the clinic to see if there is anything I can do to help keep kids safe while they do their job of educating about dental health.

It seems so obvious to me that it is ridiculous to bring peanut butter into a school where there is an average of two kids per classroom with a food allergy.  Of course, I live and breath this reality.  I need to remember that not everyone is aware of this, and it is my job to help educate those around me who don't know.  I can only hope that those I am talking to listen.