Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference, May 10, 2014

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month…what better way to spend it than at a day dedicated to food allergies.

On Saturday, May 10, 2014,  that is just where you would have found me…attending Anaphylaxis Canada’s 7th Annual Community Conference in Markham, Ontario, Canada.

What a day! I hardly know where the time went…so fast, I even forgot to run out and grab my lunch from the car!

At the morning parent session…I think I may have been one of the oldest mom’s in the group with a son with multiple food allergies ready to graduate from high school.

My table of 6 parents, including myself, consisted of a couple of mom’s with a child with food allergies entering JK, a mom of a girl in Grade 3 and parents of another child who I think was also in Grade 3.

The morning was all about “Partnering And Planning With Your School”.

The registering of one’s child with anaphylaxis in the school system was a big topic. Understanding the law and responsibilities of the school, providing resources on your child with anaphylaxis’ allergy management, creating an Action Plan and effective communication tools for parents were all covered.

Complete with a very ‘Oscar worthy’ role-play example performance!

All the information regarding the morning session can be found at The Toronto Anaphylaxis Education Group (TAEG).  Click here.

I really liked the ‘electronic binder information’ they have all ready for one to download…  I wish I had that resource way back when!

The afternoon session, “Managing food allergies:  Working together for a safer future” also flew by.

Great speakers from Anaphylaxis CanadaKyle Dine and three members of the Youth Advisory Panel from Why Risk It? discussed and answered questions on bullying and Laurie Harada, Executive Director of Anaphylaxis Canada moderated a great discussion on food labelling.

Dr. Adelle Atkinson’s , MD, FRCPC talk on “A Buffet of truths and myths about food allergy” easily kept the attention of all with her wit and humour.

Many exhibitors waited in the hallway for us all to descend upon them during our morning and afternoon breaks and lunch.

Exhibitors…such as Allerject (I picked up some posters and an Allerject trainer for my boys’ high school), EpiPen (I picked up some posters and an EpiPen trainer for my boys’ high school), Allergic Living Magazine (I happily subscribed for another 2 years), Medic Alert, and SunButter (my favourite being the Organic SunButter I asked if they could please make a crunchy version!)...just to name a few.

So what did I learn at this event?

1)  I was inspired to pick up as much information as I could from the exhibitors to bring back to my boys’ high school to present at the School Council Meeting on May 14, 2014.

2)  It made me realize, my boys’ high school website needs to contain information about registering a student with anaphylaxis.  Adding such information would be a welcoming sight for parents registering a student with anaphylaxis…the Principal agreed.

My experience at the high school level has taught me that not all parents feel the need to inform their child’s high school of their anaphylaxis.  Shocking I know!

By including anaphylaxis information on my boys’ high school website, I hope to bring awareness and encourage all parents of high school children with anaphylaxis to notify the Principal of their child’s anaphylaxis.  Set up a meeting with the Principal, review and fill out an Action Plan and provide the high school with an auto-injector for the office.

Continuing to be advocates at the high school level sets a good example for our children with anaphylaxis…for in only 4 years, you will be passing the torch!

 

 

 

Tips For Parents And Students Who Are Contemplating Attending A Canadian University With Food Allergies

As you may know, my eldest son, Michael, is heading off to university in the fall of 2014.  The transition from high school to university is daunting for any parent, let alone a parent whose child has multiple food allergies.

Michael is allergic to dairy, egg, beef, lamb, fish, shellfish, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, mustard and raspberry.

I have put together some tips for parents and students with food allergies in Grade 11/12 contemplating a university degree to share. I hope you find them helpful.

My Top Tips

1) If your high school offers a ‘University Night’…I highly recommend attending when the allergenic student is in Grade 11 and then again in Grade 12.

In Grade 11, Michael was unsure about which university he was interested in…attending the ‘University Night’ a year in advance gave him some insight into what each university offered and the potential average needed to be accepted. Attending the year ahead, relieved some of the stress and pressure for both myself and Michael…it also gave Michael something to work towards.

Attending ‘University Night’ in Grade 11, prepared Michael for Grade 12. It gave him the opportunity to select his Grade 12 courses required for the university faculty of his choice.  It prepared him for what ‘University Night’ had to offer, he knew the universities he wanted information packages from and which 3 universities he was interested in listening to their university representatives brief lecture and question period.

2)  Check out Allergic Living Magazine’s ‘Comparing Universities Chart’. Click here.

Allergic Living Magazine compares the food allergy and celiac practices of 16 Canadian Universities. I found the chart very helpful. I was totally impressed that so many Canadian Universities recognized food allergy and celiac disease. It eased some of the anxiety I was feeling regarding the practices and policies of Canadian Universities in terms of food allergies.

Click here for the ‘U.S Colleges Comparison Chart’ of 25 Colleges.

3)  Definitely book a Campus Tour at each university the allergenic student is interested in attending.

It’s even better if you invite a friend along who is also interested in applying to that particular university. Michael was uninterested in campus tours until I discovered a friend of his wanted to go. Michael seemed to discuss university more openly when his friend was present than just with myself…well, that was my experience.

I just sat back, listened and learned.

The look on Michael’s face when he walked on to his first university campus was priceless. It was a real ‘eye-opener’.

I think it is safe to say, Michael was pleased he took in a few campus tours…he was super impressed with all that the universities had to offer.

4)  If you know of someone who has recently graduated from the particular university the allergenic student is interested in attending, invite them over to discuss their experiences and recommendations.

My niece graduated last year from a university Michael and his friend were thinking to apply…I invited her over the night before the ‘big tour’.  She was able to relay her experiences living in a suite-style residence, her take on ‘student life’ and the importance of engaging in some type of extra-curricular activity at the university. She got them ‘pumped’ for university, as well as, the tour.

5)  Some universities offer a ‘Preview Day’ /‘Open House’/’Campus Day’.

I highly recommend attending a Preview Day and /or Open House for at least one of your booked tours…ours was extremely informative.

6) Be sure to ask your tour guide about the universities specific food allergy policies.  It certainly helped to give both Michael and I a better idea of which universities would be a good fit for Michael and all his food allergies. Interesting to note which university tour guides were prepared for such questions, which universities had someone available to discuss specifics…basically, a university with a plan.

The strength of a university also depends on their ability to meet the needs of the allergenic student’s food allergies. Check out each university’s food allergy policies on their websites.

7)  Acceptance to some Canadian Universities may be based on the student’s Grade 11 average and their Grade 12 mid-term marks.

Michael received 2 conditional offers from 2 Canadian Universities during his final first semester exams.

Michael has some big decisions to make in the next few months.

I really think visiting the university campuses he applied to, learning about the faculty he is interested in taking at each of them and enquiring about their food allergy policies will better enable Michael to choose which university will be the best ‘fit’.

Once all Michael’s conditional offers from the 3 Canadian Universities he has applied to have arrived…he will make his decision.

 

Planning For University With Multiple Food Allergies…Allergic Living Magazine To The Rescue

Love the front page side bar on Allergic Living Magazine’s Fall 2013 edition it reads:

“Colleges Get Allergy Aware: Free-from meals and educated chefs are the new normal”

Perfect timing…my eldest son is in his last year of high school.

Planning for university next year is forefront of my mind…especially since he has multiple food allergies (dairy, egg, beef, lamb, peanut/tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberry).

Seems like Allergic Living Magazine is on the ‘same ‘page’.

I can hardly believe it is time for my oldest to head off to university. At the same time, I am coming to terms with ‘wrapping my head around’  all the multiple food allergy issues that will inevitably play a part of his decision-making process.

Allergic Living Magazine’s article titled, “Learning Curve” was just what I needed to put my mind at ease…included in the article is a university ‘to-do list’ to follow.

Another great piece of information…a chart that compares allergy practices in Canadian Universities. Click here for the link.

Michael and I are planning to visit a few Universities this fall…with all this great information, we will be prepared to ask informative questions. Not only does Michael need to choose a university to meet his educational pursuits…he needs to find a university that will accommodate his unique food allergies.

I would love to hear from anyone who has already been through this process or is at the same place as we are…any tips would be helpful.

I hope to keep you up-to-date on our progress…as Michael prepares to head off in a new chapter of his life.

Multiple Food Allergies…Our Visit To Moxie’s Grill & Bar At Yorkdale Shopping Centre

This past weekend, my nephew was in town for his teams first hockey tournament of the year. As the arena was a good 40 minute drive from our house…going home for lunch was not an option between games.

An article in the Allergic Living Magazine Summer 2013 edition…”Hit the Road! Allergic Living’s guide to eating out safely on the family vacation” by Patrick Bennett and Alisa Fleming…gave me an idea. 

The article outlined “Hot Tips For Travel”, “Dining Do’s” and listed their “current top picks for nationwide restaurant chains that ‘get it’ when it comes to food allergies.”

Perhaps this was a chance to try eating out at another restaurant with multiple food allergies.

One of the restaurants on the Allergic Living Magazine’s Allergy- & Gluten-Aware Restaurants list happened to be Moxie’s Grill & Bar located just down the road from the arena at the Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Click here for the article and here for the full list.

The article explains that the “chain’s founder has children with severe food allergies and understands the desire for families to safely eat out.”  It goes on to say, “Moxies encourages people with food allergies to dine at its restaurants and the company expresses pride in its allergy awareness and guest protection procedures.”

My eldest son has multiple food allergies…dairy, egg, beef, lamb, peanut/tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberry...my youngest…peanut/tree nuts.

Upon our arrival at Moxie’s Bar & Grill, I informed the hostess that we had food allergies…she assured us that we would be accommodated and that the manager would be alerted.

Once seated, I informed our waitress that we had food allergies. She wrote down the list of food allergies along with my boys’ menu requests (chicken tenders with fries and a hamburger with fries) and took it back for the chef to review.

The manager came to our table…Matthew was fine to order the hamburger and fries (the buns were not made in house…as there was not a peanut/tree nut allergy warning on the package, he had the bun) but Michael’s request of chicken tenders and fries could not be accommodated due to the fryer being contaminated with ‘seafood’.

It turned out, there really was nothing on the menu that Michael could order…therefore, the manager asked him to create something he might make at home. The end result…Penne pasta, chicken, a mixture of vegetables in a tomato sauce.

Michael loved it! It was delicious…I know because gobbled up the remaining veggies!

I was impressed that Moxie’s Bar & Grill was willing to go ‘off the menu’ to provide my son with his very own allergy friendly meal.  However, even though the chain’s founder has children with ‘severe’ food allergies…I was a little taken aback when I looked at their allergy menu guide which is titled, “common mild allergen guide’. Click here to view.

It states:

“IF YOU HAVE A SEVERE FOOD ALLERGY, please inform your server and ensure that a manager handles your order personally, to confirm your food is prepared safely.

“If your allergy or intolerance is not severe – you are comfortable eating foods that contain very small amounts of the identified allergen – then please use this guide along with our main menu to make your selection.”

I am always reluctant to measure my sons’ food allergies as mild, moderate or severe.  How does one truly know how severe an allergic reaction one will have until it actually happens…hindsight is too late.

Also, I don’t know anyone with a food allergy that would be comfortable eating any food that contains even the tiniest bit of their identified food allergen…do you?

An article by Allergic Living Magazine touches on this very subject.

Click here to read about a very tragic story about thirteen-year-old Natalie Giorgi in the article, “Lessons From A Teen Food Allergy Tragedy”, written by Jennifer Van Evra for Allergic Living Magazine. Natalie was camping with a group of families in Sacramento, California. She took a bite of a Rice Krispie Square and immediately spat it out…she recognized the taste of peanuts.

Natalie’s mother gave her a dose of antihistamine even though she was not experiencing any symptoms…20 minutes later the systemic reaction began. Her father, a physician, gave her 3 doses of epinephrine…but it was not enough to stop the chain of events…vomiting, her throat swelled to the point she could not breathe and then she went into cardiac arrest. She died in her father’s arms.

The article is followed by interviews with Dr. Robert Wood , the director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the John Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore and Dr. Susan Waserman, an allergist and professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada.

Both experts answer questions on “What to do in case of an accidental allergen ingestion.”…very much worth reading.

Personally, when people question me whether my boys’ food allergies are severe or not I always say yes…both have asthma, both have had reactions to their food allergens, both have a peanut/tree nut allergy (according to Dr. Brown peanut/tree nut allergy have the most fatal reactions increasing the potential for a severe reaction) and both are in their teens. Therefore, I believe both have the potential to have a severe anaphylactic reaction if they were to ingest one of their food allergens.

I am not willing to play Russian Roulette with my boys lives.

Overall, I felt the experience at Moxie’s Grill & Bar was a positive one. As my boys travel through the teenaged years…learning to navigate eating out with food allergies is a life lesson worth teaching on the road to independence.

What have your experiences been at Moxie’s Grill & Bar with food allergies?

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Caramelized Peach Ice Cream

Ontario peaches have hit the stores…time to try a new allergen friendly ice cream.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Caramelized Peach Ice Cream.

A dish of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Caramelized Peach Ice Cream

Creamy, rich with the sweetness of summer’s best peaches…oh my!

The idea sprung from the July/August edition of Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine. Click here for the recipe.

I followed the recipe for caramelizing the peaches and then just added the cooled mixture to my cooled mixture for Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Ice Cream from the recipe in the Summer 2013 edition of Allergic Living Magazine by Senior Editor Alisa Fleming. Click here for my post.

Caramelizing Peaches

2-3 medium peaches
3/4 cup granulated sugar

Cover peaches in boiling water and let sit for 5-10 minutes.
Submerge peaches in cold water and peel the outer skin.
Slice and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Combine peaches and sugar in a pan and cook over medium heat until caramelized…stirring constantly.
Let cool completely before adding mixture in at the last 5 minutes of making the Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Ice Cream base in an ice cream maker.
I poured my completed Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Caramelized Peach Ice Cream in a loaf pan that had been placed in the freezer to cool. Cover and replace in the freezer until you are ready to enjoy a bowl.

The possibilities seem to be endless… so dig in.

Enjoying a bowl of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Caramelized Peach Ice Cream

Enjoy!

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream

Michael chose Mint as his second flavour to try in the ice cream machine.

Scooping Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream

He originally chose Mint Chocolate Chip, but changed his mind just as I was about to add in the chocolate chips in the last 5 minutes of ‘churning’.

I think Michael preferred to enjoy the creamy minty texture all on its own.

A bowl of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream

I don’t blame him…rich, creamy and oh so minty…Andy, my mother, nephew Lukas and I can all attest to loving this flavour.

I think crushed candy canes would be a perfect addition…my favourite flavour at Howard Johnson’s was always Peppermint Stick Ice Cream.

One can easily turn a bowl of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream into Mint Chocolate Chip…

A bowl of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream sprinkles with chocolate chips

…just sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top or mix them in to the softened ice cream.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream

Follow Allergic Living Magazine’s Senior Editor Alisa Fleming’s Summer 2013 Edition recipe for Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Vanilla Ice Cream.
Omit the vanilla and replace it with 1 tsp peppermint extract. Add in with the 1/4 tsp salt in the recipe.
Click here for the recipe on my post on Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Vanilla Ice Cream.

A Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Brownie topped with Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream drizzled in Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Mint Ice Cream a top a Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Brownie and drizzled with Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce

Mmmmm…pure decadence!

Click here for a recipe for Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce and here for Dairy, Egg, Soy and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Brownies.

P.S. Next up…Michael wants to try Butterscotch…this could take some figuring out.

Dairy, Egg, and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Coconut Ice Cream Drizzled in Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce

I scream…you scream…we all scream for ice cream!

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Coconut Ice Cream made in an ice cream maker

Dairy, Egg, Peanut/Tree Nut Free Ice Cream to be exact.

I was super excited when I purchased our very first ice cream maker…now I am over the top excited to discover how easy it is to whip up a batch of one’s own Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Ice Cream.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Coconut Ice Cream in the ice cream maker

Not as convenient perhaps as popping by the grocery store to purchase a carton…but certainly worth the time it takes to make it so one can enjoy the childhood treat that every child should experience come summer time.

I decided to try one of Allergic Living Magazine’s Senior Editor Alisa Fleming’s recipes from the Summer 2013 Edition.

Michael’s favourite flavour is vanillaso vanilla was our first attempt.  However, as we used coconut milk in the base…the ice cream had more of a coconut flavour…but it was oh so creamy!

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Coconut Ice Cream

4 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup plus 1 1/4 cups Natur-a Soy Beverage or any plain non-dairy beverage
1 1/2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 inches of a vanilla bean…scrape the seeds from inside the vanilla bean

Instructions for making the ice cream base:

In a small bowl, whisk the 1/4 cup of non-dairy beverage of choice with the cornstarch…set aside.
In a saucepan, whisk together the remaining non-dairy beverage, coconut milk, sugar and honey.
Bring to a boil over medium heat…let boil for 3 minutes.
Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue to boil for another 2 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken slightly to resemble cream.
Remover from heat and stir in the salt and scraped vanilla bean seeds.
Let cool 10 minutes.
Pour into a liquid measuring cup…easier to pour into the ice cream machine.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Follow the directions of the ice cream maker to create your batch.

Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Coconut Ice Cream was delicious covered in Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce!

A bowl of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Coconut Ice Cream drizzled in Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce

Reminded me of a Bounty Chocolate Bar…love the speckles of vanilla bean in the ice cream.

My boys love the Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce I make from Anne Lindsay’s Smart Cooking CookbookI like to replace the corn syrup with honey.

Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce

1 cup cocoa (make sure it is free of dairy)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp pure vanilla

In a saucepan, combine the cocoa and sugar.
Whisk in the water and honey.
Bring to a full boil on medium high heat.
Stir constantly for 2 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator.
Sauce will thicken as it cools.

If you love coconut…then this is the recipe for you. Unfortunately, my two nephews and Matthew were not fans…although, John and Matthew gobbled it up when they stirred in the Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce.

Michael, on the other hand, loved the texture…”I like this better than the Natur-a”. Well, thank goodness for that…as it is no longer available!

Michael thoroughly enjoyed his bowl of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Coconut Ice Cream with Dairy Free Chocolate Sauce…I am elated!

Next up…’churning’ a batch of Dairy, Egg and Peanut/Tree Nut Free Pure Vanilla Ice Cream!

Have you tried ‘churning’ an allergy friendly version of ice cream in an ice cream maker?

Food Allergies And The Classroom: Tips for Parents

My two teenaged boys with multiple food allergies (dairy, egg, beef, lamb, sesame, peanut/tree nuts, fish, shellfish, mustard and raspberries) are both in high school…grades 9 and 11.

Adapting to food allergies in the classroom has been a learning experience for myself and both their primary school and high school.

Patience, team work and tons of communication have been the key ingredients to the success of my boys’ journey thus far.

My focus has always been about building a support team to ensure the safety of my boys within the school. My boys’ support team includes…students, classmates, teachers, secretaries, principals, vice-principals, custodians, supply teachers, and parents.

How does one successfully build a support team for their child with food allergies?

I think Tip #15 for parents with allergic youth by Anaphylaxis Canada’s Youth Advisory Panel makes a good point. It states, ” Make sure the information you give is 100 % accurate and not exaggerated to appear more serious. This information will stay with us for a long time and influence our thoughts and actions.”

I think this not only applies to our children with food allergies but also to anyone that we educate on their behalf.

If you come on too strongly or appear ‘wishy washy’…you risk not being taken seriously. Finding that ‘happy medium’, in my experience, will garner you a better chance of building the team you will need to ensure the safety of your child within their school.

Having worked within the school system, I gained experience dealing with overprotective parents of children with special needs. Ironically, I found myself ‘sitting in the other seat’...my two children with food allergies set them apart from the norm.

As a parent with children with food allergies, I say to myself, “What do I know?…What do I want/need?…What is the bottom line?”

“I know that my boys have life threatening food allergies, I know Sabrina’s Law (in Ontario) has been passed to protect my children with anaphylaxis, I know there is an Individual Student Plan (in Ontario) to fill out to protect students with anaphylaxis, I know I need the support from the school to keep my boys safe…I know I need the school on my team.

“I want to work with the school, I want the school on my team, I want the school backing me, I want the school to take me seriously, I want all teachers, substitute teachers and school staff trained in the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and the administration of an auto-injector (EpiPen, Twinject or Allerject)…I want all these things so my children will be safe at school.”

The bottom line:   I want the entire school staff and students to know that if they see one of my boys with food allergies showing any signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis they will all know to get the auto-injector, administer it and call 911.

The following are tips I have used to help me build a support team for a safe environment for my children at their school:

1)  Approach the school with an open mind…a demanding stance will only put the school in a defensive mode.
2)  Be prepared to volunteer your time in the classroom, on field trips or whenever volunteers are required…this is the perfect opportunity to spread food allergy awareness and to meet other parents, students and school staff.
3)  Maintain an approachable nature…be open to questions from parents, students and staff…great opportunity for food allergy awareness.
4)  Understand that not everyone understands anaphylaxis…some comments you may hear should be taken with ‘a grain of salt’…count to ten, then use your discretion to gently educate them.
5)  Offer great sites for information and educational material…Anaphylaxis Canada, Allergy/Asthma Information Association, Medic-AlertAllergic Living Magazine and Why Risk It?  Click here for more resources from Anaphylaxis Canada.
6)  Our children with food allergies are their best advocates…in the words of an allergic youth from Tip #17, “Encourage us to tell others about our allergies, try not to always be the one telling our story.”
7)  Change takes time, patience, and persistence…as trailblazers ourselves, I know only too well the ‘deer in headlights’ look when I mention my eldest son’s list of food allergies. As overwhelming as the situation may be…taking it one step at a time…change will come.

I believe working with schools as a team, giving our children with food allergies the opportunity to advocate on behalf of themselves and supplying as many resources as possible providing food allergy awareness to my boys’ schools has given me the piece of mind that I need to send my boys with multiple food allergies off to school every day. This has been my norm.

Questions:  What are some of your tips for navigating the school system with your child/children’s food allergies? What has worked for you? What are your stories?

Thank You Evan and Eric Edwards…My Boys Have Their Allerjects

In 1998, my eldest son, Michael was 2 years old…suffering from severe eczema, multiple food allergies, sensitivities and asthma. At the end of the year, I gave birth to my second son, Matthew…only to discover, years later, he also had food allergies, eczema and asthma.

Who knew, that same year, 18 year old twin brothers, Evan and Eric Edwards, (allergies include peanut/tree nuts, shellfish, fish and antibiotics), had sketched on a napkin...a design for an auto-injector that would fit inside their blue jeans pocket.

An activity that ultimately…determined the brothers’ educational paths (pharmaceutical science/medicine and engineering)…career paths (founded a specialty pharmaceutical company named Intelliject)…business decision (Sanofi bought the North American licensing rights to the new auto-injector)…and created, some 15 years later, the first voice-prompted auto-injectorAllerject.

The boys' first Allerject auto-injector

Click here for a link to their site. Take note of their offer for a free Allerject trainer and Allerject carrying case per household.

I first learned of Allerject from my Winter 2013 Allergic Living Magazinethere was an Allerject advertisement plus…a fantastic article written by Mary Esselman titled, “The Auto-Injector That Talks”. (The information for this post derives mostly from this article.)

I received my copy (December 2012) just days before heading out for the boys’ annual allergy testing at the allergist…I brought it along. My allergist was surprised to see that Allerject was almost ready to ‘hit the shelves’…at this point, Allerject was awaiting approval from Health Canada…hopefully becoming available in early 2013.

The allergist wrote a prescription for both the boys for Epi Pens and Allerjects…thus becoming the allergist’s very first written prescription for Allerject.

As the boys’ Epi Pens expired this month…I was eager to get to the pharmacy to fill their prescriptions for Allerject. I was pleased to discover…not only was Allerject available but the pharmacy had an Allerject trainer.

I have to say…I think the pharmacist and her assistant were just as eager to try out the Allerject trainer as I was…it was very cool.

My favourite quote from Mary Esselman’s article:

” ‘When I see it come in front of me in a pharmacy bag, that’s when reality will set in,’ said Eric. ‘Wow, we finally did something. We did something that we originally set out to do that one day when we were sketching a credit card thing with a retractable needle on a napkin. That’s when I think I’ll be most excited.’ “

Surprising my boys with the Edward twins ‘dream come true’…their very own Allerject…priceless!

Allerject fits in the palm of your hand.

Allerject fits in the palm of your hand

Michael just loves it…perfect for a teen that is uncomfortable carrying around a bulky auto-injector. Allerject has fit into his life at an ideal time.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Thank you for dreaming big…thank you for following your dream…thank you for proving that taking what you know (I need to carry an auto-injector because I have anaphylaxis) to solve that which you don’t know (how can I improve this auto-injector so it is easy to carry around, easy to use and teen friendly) is do-able…that dreams really can come true no matter how big.

P.S. I have just received my free Allerject trainer to practice with my boys, family members, friends and staff at my boys’ high school. Yippee!

Allerject trainer to the left and an actual Allerject auto-injector

The Allerject trainer is well marked and a totally different colour than the actual Allerject.

I will be heading to the high-school today with a letter outlining the boys’ new auto-injector…Allerject. I will be speaking to the Vice-Principal to discuss the best method of training for the administration of the Allerject to the boys’ immediate teachers and overall high-school staff. I hope they are excited about this opportunity as I am!

P.P.S. The United States equivalent to the Allerject is called the Auvi-Q. Click here for a link to their site.

Will you be choosing the Allerject/Auvi-Q for your next auto-injector for yourself or your child? How will the Allerject/Auvi-Q make a difference in your life? If you have one already…what do you think?

My Boys New MedicAlert ID’s Arrived…Have You Heard Of Allerject?

The boys were in desperate need of new MedicAlert ID’s…Matthew had lost his MedicAlert bracelet and Michael had outgrown his MedicAlert bracelet.

What is MedicAlert Canada?

As stated on their website…MedicAlert Canada is for anyone with “a medical condition, allergies, chronic disease or special needs that should be known in an emergency.”

Also, MedicAlert Canada’s “24-Hour Emergency Hotline ensures your critical medical information is available to paramedics in just 5 seconds. The right information, at the right time – crucial to saving your life when seconds count.”

Click here for a link to MedicAlert Canada to learn more about the association and how to become a member.

I feel better knowing that my boys’ medical history follows them around…especially, as teenagers, when their time is not always spent in my presence.

Nana to the rescue! MedicAlert ID’s became the perfect birthday gift idea.

Michael decided to switch from a MedicAlert bracelet to a necklace…he chose The London Dog Tag with Silver Chain-Brushed on a 20 inch chain. Click here to view at MedicAlert Canada.

Matthew chose The Figaro Silver Bracelet. Click here to view at MedicAlert. Matthew liked the pattern on the chain…I liked the clasp. It seemed similar to the clasp on Michael’s MedicAlert bracelet…which, incidentally, never came undone.

The clasp on his previous MedicAlert bracelet (it was the one Matthew received from the No Child Without Program) was not very secure…it kept coming undone. Hence, his MedicAlert bracelet would continue to fall off which eventually led to it becoming permanently lost. Click here to see the type of clasp.

The No Child Without Program by the Canadian MedicAlert Foundation, is a fabulous program. Matthew was fortunate that his school was selected for the program. Select schools are offered a free membership for children aged 4 to their 14th birthday. The Government of Canada and Lions Club financially support the program. Click here for a link to the No Child Without Program. Just be careful/aware of the clasp.

Michael chose his MedicAlert necklace way back in August…my procrastination led it to being ordered along with Matthew’s MedicAlert bracelet. Sorry Michael. So it happened that both the boys’ MedicAlert ID’s arrived in the mail on the very same day…this past Monday.

Oh happy day…the boys were thrilled when their MedicAlert Id’s arrived! The timing was perfect as Nana was still visiting.

The boys quickly tried them on…below is Michael wearing his MedicAlert ‘dog tag’.

Very cool!

Below is Matthew wearing his MedicAlert bracelet.

He loves it = he will wear it!

One cannot put a price on a ‘peace of mind’!

I have to say, my boys have never objected to wearing their MedicAlert ID’s. Explaining the importance of its presence on their body gave them no doubt that wearing a MedicAlert ID was a ‘smart choice’.

P.S. I just received my 2013 Winter Edition of Allergic Living Magazine. Inside I spied an advertisement for a new epinephrine auto-injector…Allerject. 

Allerject is a new device to administer epinephrine. It fits in the palm of your hand and has audio instructions. Click here for more information.

Allergic Living Magazine’s 2013 Winter Edition also has an article written by Mary Esselman, “The Auto-Injector That Talks”. The article discusses the 15 year journey that it took for a pair of 18-year-old allergic twin brothers conception of a small auto-injector that would fit inside a jeans pocket became a reality.

I showed the advertisement to the boys’ allergist on Monday…he was quite shocked that the Allerject was already being advertised. The Allergic Living Magazine article states, “The new auto-injector will be available for prescription in early 2013.”

Click here for an overview of the issues covered in the Winter 2013 Allergic Living Magazine.

My boys, liked the idea that the Allerject could fit inside their pant pocket…much more convenient and likely for them to have their epinephrine auto-injector at hand.

As the boys’ epi pens expire in April 2013…they became the first prescription that our allergist has written for the Allerject.

Have you heard of Allerject? What do you think of this new device?