Wednesday, September 4, 2013

School And Food Allergies

So many people ask me what precautions we take when sending Jay to school. The truth is that sending him anywhere is terrifying but I'm learning to relax a bit about preschool. This is what we do:
  • He wears his Epibelt, which has his EpiPens and benadryl inside. We got ours here. (They also sell medical ID bracelets for kids.) 
  • We pack his own snack in a lunch box and put it in the preschool's fridge. This is great because his preschool is from 11:30-2:30 and they don't feed them lunch. If he were left to what the other parents brought for snack, he'd be starving by the time he got home. I basically pack him a small lunch and I can put whatever fresh fruits or healthy stuff I want in it.
  • The teachers are trained on EpiPens. I bring a trainer EpiPen and demonstrate how to use it even if they have been "trained" before.
  • I make sure Jay is the most popular kid in Preschool. Every teacher knows his name and face. They also know that Jay is the kid that could die if they feed him. I like to freak them out a bit by telling them past ER stories. It helps build a healthy measure of paranoia.
  • Jay brings an allergy storybook to his first show and tell. This is the one we have:
    It's a story about a cow with milk allergies (strange but effective.) After this day, the kids start asking all sorts of questions about what things have milk in them... glue, water, etc. It's pretty cute.
  • I make posters. Here's this years version:

Those are the basics. It was really scary when I first sent Jay by himself into a classroom full of milk-consuming children. When your child has food allergies, you develop an unhealthy distrust of other people's kids. You start to view them as allergen-covered monsters with sticky hands and pockets full of anaphylaxis-inducing candy. Holidays become stressful, especially in the days following Halloween and Easter. You feel like the crazy lady when you have to read labels of art supplies and hand soap. And you learn to ask serious questions as casually as possible...
"So are you doing a counting activity with those marshmallows/M&Ms/squares of death?"

It's worth it though. For so much of Jay's life I have been his social life. I have been his teacher, his protector, his secret-keeper... his everything. Now he comes home talking about what Miss Mary-Ellen taught him, what his friend (and possible first crush), Brooklyn, told him, or what funny thing his buddy, Jake, did... It's adorable and I want to cry nearly everyday because I'm so happy. I'm happy that he's safe. I'm happy that he has friends. And I'm happy that, at least for a few hours, he's a normal 5 year-old boy.


The Meffords said...

Stealing your poster idea! It is awesome! Kaidyn is in daycare and we have the same measures for him. It is very stressful! We are finding out Kaidyn is allergic to more than we originally thought. I wish the world would take more time to be educated about the severity of food allergies. Thanks for the post! It is nice to know that I am not the only mom who struggles with this. Church is also stressful! If only our boys could be placed in an allergen free bubble and still have the same level of normalcy as other kids :)

The Meffords said...

Also.... does Ty have any food allergies? We just had our daughter tested for food allergies and they all came back negative. Looks like just one of our kids got the unlucky punnett square so far

rachel garber said...

I really like this - as a teacher for years now, I'd appreciate a mom like you prepping me and the class on what we need to be careful of. I mean, hello, it's your kid! Being cautious is the best way to stay safe.

Stacy Brady said...

No Ty is not allergic to anything that we know of. Although we've gone to some extreme measures to prevent them!

Mike and Alli said...

Wow, that's really helpful. I like your poster a lot. I'm sure this information would be helpful for lots of moms out there. Way to be braving preschool!

Shannon said...

(1) You are a really good mom.
(2) I am loving these posts. :)

Kade and Teann said...

Hey! I still read this! :) So allergies create quite a bit of extra work for you, my dear! Awesome job with your prep and bravery sending him. :)

Camille said...

I love all your ideas. Your amazing Stacie and the best advocate and friend for your son.