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Allergies and bullying…

It’s a well-known fact that children with allergies tend to be the victim of bullying, no matter their age. It hurts my heart to write this, but sadly, through my own experiences with Callum, I know it’s true.

Life can be very cruel!

Just imagine, to even try to get through a day as a sufferer of allergies, eczema and asthma, you have to battle:

  • Extreme wheezing!
  • Needing an inhaler to help you breathe!
  • Trying not to cough as that can make things worse!
  • Itching all over, so bad that it makes you want to cry!
  • Trying to ignore the itch, failing miserably, and making yourself bleed through scratching so much, and still not being able to stop!
  • Figuring out what is actually safe for you to eat today, and getting fed up of the limited selection you have on offer!

And then, when you’re somehow, just about coping with all of this, and you then get the ‘kick in the teeth’ in terms of bullying, you can totally get why it becomes a bit much. Right?!

Most often, it’s through ignorance and sheer lack of understanding. Sometimes, it’s not.

I like to try and see the positives in things, and think that with better education and more understanding, these situations will become fewer and fewer.

So, you’re battling on behalf of your little, or you’re a sufferer yourself, you’ve learnt to deal with it. Life is what it is, there’s no use complaining. It’s better to get on with things.

There is no one with a bigger smile, and a happier disposition on the ‘outside’ than a sufferer, let me tell you! They may be crumbling on the inside, but on the outside, they are this ray of sunshine that just makes people want to spend time with their warmth and humour. Callum is no exception. He goes through utter hell constantly, but everyone will tell you that he’s this little ball of giggly and fun energy, and it’s a pleasure to be in his company.

Quite incredible when you think about what he goes through, how can he still be so chirpy….!

I’m all for keeping this happiness going, and some!

It’s half term here, so I thought as a treat, I would take the kids to the cinema. Popcorn and a good film, what’s not to love?

Boxtrolls, that’s what!

Seriously unimpressed, and very disappointed! It’s the first time ever that I can actually say I take offence to a film.

In fact it’s more than offence, I am incandescent with rage that this film was ever allowed to be passed through whatever channel it goes through to be shown to the general public.

Why?

To quote from the official description of the film:

There is action where the villain and his minions aggressively hunt and capture the boxtrolls. The villain has a severe lactose intolerance condition that makes him puff up grotesquely whenever he consumes dairy products’

I’m sorry, but I don’t think a severe allergic reaction is something to be laughed at. We nearly lost Callum twice due to severe allergic reactions! It’s utterly heart-breaking to witness, and you live in constant fear of it happening again, and at any time!

One of the top critics said about the film:

I can’t remember the last time I saw a family animation so visually rich, tightly scripted, charmingly performed which was also built on a sound and progressive message’

I’m sorry, what???!!!

The only message it’s giving, is that it’s ok to bully people with allergies to a humorous advantage! And I’m sorry, but that’s really NOT ok!

Chloe has had a few friends tell her the film is very funny, and she has asked to go and see it. I’ve had to explain to her, that I will never allow her to see it, nor will I spend any money on something which is so utterly irresponsible in its message about allergies.

Can you imagine, if I was sat in the cinema with her, and she watched this reaction happen? She’s so protective of her little brother all the time, never mind when he has a reaction. She would be totally beside herself. And as for the psychological damage it could do to her, and in fact all of the children affected by allergies…..

Makes you think twice doesn’t it!

I’m so disappointed, I usually love watching films with the kids, but this one leaves me feeling sick to the stomach!

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Halloween and allergies…

IMG_3534Almost unbelievably, it’s come round to autumn time. After a bit of a slow start, the leaves are now creating a carpet on the floor with abundance! It really is beautiful out there at the moment, with all the vibrant colours around.

But…….Is it just me, or has this year just quite literally flown by? It’s been one of those ‘blink and you miss it’ years!!

How is Callum now 3?! He’s still my little baby boy, he can’t be 3!

How is it ¾ of the way through the year?!

How can it be half term and Halloween next week?!

Callum and Chloe are very excited about Halloween! It’s a big thing in the village we live in, and a lot of kids and houses take part, which is lovely. Whether it’s hot, cold, wet or dry, they always have so much fun.

What they don’t know, is I’ve gone and bought them some new outfits for this year, which I will surprise them with on the morning of Halloween – and I can’t wait to see their faces! They’ll look great when they go trick or treating in the evening!

When Callum was at the start of his journey with allergies, Halloween and trick or treating used to absolutely terrify me. It is one of the biggest setting for contraband and cross contamination to breach the very careful barriers that have been put in place to keep him safe and well.

Over the past 2 years, I’ve taken a lot of time to explain to Callum and also to Chloe, the importance of not eating anything given to them during trick or treating, or in fact at any other time of the year! We ask them to leave their collection bags on the side when they get in, and their ‘special’ treat is that they can look through them the next morning, and choose 1 sweet to have with their breakfast.

Some may say I’m a meanie…..!

I say, I’m a mum of a severely allergic child, and I’m merely keeping my boy safe!

Once they’ve gone to bed, I will go through the bags, and swap the things that are safe for Callum, with the ones that aren’t. Chloe tends to do really well out of it, and gets a lot of chocolate!! For anything I’m unable to swap, I have a stash of safe sweets that I replace the unsafe ones with.

Both kids are none the wiser, Callum stays safe, both children are happy with their hoard, and I’m a mummy breathing easy, knowing my baby boy hasn’t missed out on the fun of Halloween and has stayed safe for another year!

I found out last week there is currently a new project that has started in the US this year, which I absolutely love! And it would be beyond amazing if the same idea could be adopted next year in the UK – Allergy UK maybe this is something you would be happy to work with me to achieve?!

It’s called the ‘teal pumpkin project’. Participants paint their pumpkin a teal colour, so that other children know they will get non-food treats at their house, thus making it completely safe for them! No risk of foods containing allergens, no cross contamination, and no having to swap something out – which any parent to an allergic child will tell you, is utterly heart-breaking to watch when you see your little one’s face fall when they realise they can’t have something!IMG_6373

Next year, I’m going to see if I can get our village to buy into this concept. And, if I can find some suitable paint, I may even try to paint Callum’s pumpkin next week to show our support! Glow stick bracelets, little foam plane kits etc, all are just as much, if not more fun than sweets, and can be bought at a similar price.

For the look on my little boys face, knowing he’s completely safe and not having to get me to swap or check anything first, to me, it’s worth absolutely everything!

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Special dairy-free, wheat-free pizzas…

Following on from my post on Callum’s birthday party, I’ve had a few queries on how to make some of the food I listed.

So I thought I’d give you my recipe for the dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free and tomato-free pizzas. It’s based on a recipe from Jamie Oliver, that I have updated and adapted to cater for Callum’s allergies. They are really simple to make, and taste amazing. It is also something children can help you to make as well, and with half term coming up, why not give it a go yourself and let me know how you get on!

You will need:

1 cup wheat-free self-raising flour (such as Doves)

¾ cup vegetable oil

½ cup warm water

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 cup ‘nomato’ sauce

Toppings – handful of chopped salami/ peppers/ mushroom/ sweetcorn/ onion

- grated dairy-free cheese

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200c and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a food processor, add the self-raising flour, vegetable oil, water, salt and pepper and blitz until well combined.

Turn out onto a well floured surface, sprinkle some more flour over the top and knead gently for a couple of minutes.

Cut the dough in half, and roll out to make two pizza bases.

Place the pizza bases on the prepared baking tray, and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the bases from the oven after the 10 minutes, spread the ‘nomato’ sauce, sprinkle over the toppings and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Take out of the oven, leave to cool slightly before serving.

Enjoy!

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Multiple allergies and birthdays…

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Birthday parties and allergies, sounds like a total nightmare doesn’t it! Just those 2 words in the same sentence…. Birthday party…….allergies……..

It’s one thing dealing with a single food allergy, add a whole load of allergies, and it becomes a bit of a nightmare. This year, it became even more difficult as Callum is now not able to have wheat either.

So, imagine, birthday party time rocks up. Usually, you’d go to the supermarket, keep things simple and easy for yourself, pick up some ready-made sausage rolls, quiches, pizzas, make some sandwiches, maybe pick up some fun cake treats, ice cream and some sweets. Perfect party food, right?

Wrong!

None of the above foods tend to be safe for the little dude. We could just about get away with it before, but now wheat is also part of the mix, most things are now out of bounds! I know, it almost seems cruel.

As a result, with Callum’s party fast approaching last week, I needed to make sure that I made all the food for him in the run up to the party. On top of all that, my mission was to make sure that every single bit of food that was available for the party was totally safe for him – I refused to have any foods on the table that he couldn’t eat, that would be just downright unfair!

I always do food for the adults as well as the kids. So, on the children’s menu for the party was:

  • Mini pizzas
  • Sausage rolls
  • Cocktail sausages
  • Cucumber and carrot sticks
  • Crisps – poppadoms, bacon rashers, swirls
  • Popcorn
  • Chocolate crispy cakes
  • Chocolate squares with buttercream
  • Fruit salad
  • Sweets
  • Birthday cake

And for the adults:

When you look at the list, it doesn’t seem all that different from what you would aim to get when you go shopping. And all of the children’s menu was dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, tomato-free, and wheat-free!

I’m not going to lie, it was an awful lot of work to get it all together, with some forward planning for things like the ‘nomato sauce’ for the pizzas, but it worked!

For anyone reading this and wondering/ worrying about how you could possibly make food that covers multiple allergies, birthday cake included (!!), it actually can be done, nothing is impossible!!