Life can be so funny sometimes. Two years ago our trip home left me feeling like I couldn't wait to leave and get back to the Midwest. This summer's trip left me feeling like all I wanted to do is be home again for good. Izzy's food allergies have been a very similar circle as well. Two years ago we were certain of celiacs, then another allergist introduced a another possibility(FPIES) as well as another food allergy (egg), now on our way home from Florida we had an appointment with a pediatric GI specialist that brought us right back to celiacs. The auto-immune affects that go along with that were suddenly overwhelming me all over again as if we had a new diagnosis. Suddenly my writers block of the last year or more is free flowing again. It's as if I was waiting on confirmation of something I already knew. All in all, my sweet angel who seemed so tiny when I started this blog for her and Lana, is starting school on Friday and that just introduces a whole other set of crazy emotions. My oldest graduated high school as my youngest graduated preschool and heads to a whole new world in a whole new school. It reminds me of all the hidden dangers for her, new people to train on her allergies and not wanting her to feel different. It hit me today, my best defense is a good offense so just as I did 13 years ago with Lana, I'm writing the teacher a letter to educate her a little more on Izzy's allergies and what it means to have her in her class. It occurred to me there are a lot of us dealing with the back to school blues (or celebrations;)) right now and I have a few tips to keep yourself organized and keep our allergy kids safe.
First off, the letter. The teacher is just as overwhelmed at meeting all the new kids as well as parents as we are sending them off. She doesn't really have time to listen to all you have to say about the allergies while you are in orientation or on the first day. So a letter is perfect. She'll know exactly the hidden dangers in the classroom and can ask you questions via email as needed. Secondly, ask her for a list of the kids birthdays in the class so that you can send in a safe treat for your child and they don't feel left out. Keep "safe snacks" in the classroom as a back up, labeled with your child's name. Find out the schools policy for lunchtime on where your child sits (allergy table or in classroom, etc) and prepare your child so they aren't surprised the first day. As with celiacs, Izzy can't even play with playdough so the teacher needs to be aware of that and I'll either make a batch of safe playdough or send in moon sand for her to be able to manipulate in the classroom safely. Forming a relationship and partnership with the teacher as well as the school nurse and other school administrators is key. The best thing though is preparing your child. "No food sharing/trading" should be a rule no matter where you are but especially in the school setting.
Prep breakfasts and freeze extras for easy mornings (muffins, pancakes, breakfast sandwiches or wraps are all easy to freeze and reheat). Look for fun alternatives for lunch boxes so not only does everyone else want what they have but they don't get bored with the same old thing.
These are just a few tips, as the week progresses I'll post more and some recipes too.