As anyone dealing with allergies will tell you, there are certain times of the year that you really wish didn’t happen. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that you wish you had a fast forward button so that you could skip them!
As regular readers will know, the past few weeks have been geared to preparing for, and then attending the Allergy Show. It’s been a hectic few weeks, and a couple of weekends ago saw the biggest Allergy Show to date at Olympia.
Callum and I attended on 2 out of the 3 days it was running, and understandably were rather exhausted by the Sunday. It should have set alarm bells ringing for me, when Callum gets really tired, he is more susceptible to things happening.
I wasn’t on the ball! In fact, I was so far off the ball, and I’m still feeling so incredibly guilty!
On the Friday of the show, Callum had started to complain that he had sore hands – nothing new there. He suffers with severe eczema, and one of the first places it hits is his hands because they are understandably constantly in use!
By the Sunday, his hands weren't looking too great! An hour of playing in the garden saw them looking even worse!
Come mid afternoon, things started to go horribly wrong!!
When Callum gets ill, he plummets really quickly, usually within a matter of hours!
Sadly, this was no exception.
Within the space of just 2hrs, his hands went from raw, to covered in green blisters, accompanied with a honeycomb crust....., and he was running a high fever, had become lethargic and was difficult to wake!
All the classic symptoms of a nasty staph infection, which if we don't control quickly, in his case, usually progresses to a blood infection.
I immediately called 111 to ask for advice, and based on the notes held on Callum and his condition, we were given an immediate appointment! (He becomes severely ill so very fast, they want to see him as soon as I mention that I'm unable to control any infected eczema).
It turns out my gut instinct was sadly very right!
It was indeed staph, and spreading fast!
His fingers were a deep red colour, oozing and weeping pus in every crack of skin.
They were so swollen they looked as if they'd been bound by twine!
Callum was in so much pain, it was all he could do not to whimper permanently, and this was after as much antihistamine, calpol and ibuprofen as he was allowed!
The poor kid!
He was immediately prescribed a strong course of antibiotics to try and combat the infection.
They weren't strong enough!
Within 24hrs, we were referred to A&E, where they wanted to admit him for iv antibiotics. They were at the point of putting in the canular, when a senior consultant advised they had no beds, doubled his dose of antibiotics and sent us home.
I was concerned and nervous to say the least, but home is a far nicer place to be when feeling poorly, so off we went!
By the end of the next day, it was clear the drugs were working, thank goodness!
Callum was on strong antibiotics for 2 weeks to clear the infection, and all looked well before we went on holiday!
The antibiotics were completed 2 days before we left, and we were all hopeful the infection wouldn't return!
Fast forward to today, just 1 week later....
Callum has spent the last 5 days playing in sea water on and off, never longer than 10-20 minutes so his skin doesn't dry out.
The dreaded infection is returning! There are little green spots appearing on his little fingers, along with the honeycomb crust!
Can you bloody believe it?!
I could literally cry!
We're on holiday, the poor kid deserves a break!
I deserve a break!
I really hate eczema!
And I feel so much damn guilt that inspite of everything I know, all the drugs we have, I am still powerless at times to be able to help!
After a very busy few months, the hubby decided a couple of weeks ago that we needed some time away to recharge our very depleted batteries!
I have to say, he is right!
I feel utterly worn out, and in serious need of some r & r!
The past few weeks in particular have certainly taken their toll. Don't get me wrong, the way the company is growing is absolutely fantastic, you just can't sustain it when lacking in energy, especially when in and out of hospital with an ill allergic child.
So, earlier this week, hubby confirmd he'd booked the cutest cottage in Cornwall.
Amazing and scary in equal measure!
Any allergy parent will tell you, it's not just a simple case of going away when allergies are involved! Going abroad was out of the question because little dude just isn't stable enough.
Having a 'stay cation' still brings its own challenges:
Ok, so I jest with the last point, but you get where I'm coming from!
Gone are the days where you pack a bag, jump in the car and see how the day pans out. Everything is meticulously planned, hopefully with nothing missed out, and with no nasty surprises!
Ok, that's enough of the harder side of it, onto the nice stuff now!
Cornwall is a stunning part of the world. I'm really looking forward to coastal walks, days on the beach (weather permitting), breathing clean fresh sea air, and more!
We're staying really close to Padstow, so being a foodie, I'm hoping we can visit Rick Stein's restaurant! In fact, scrap that, we WILL be visiting! Although I'm not too sure whether they'll be able to accommodate the little dude.... seafood, dairy, egg, wheat, tomato all being big no no's, along with the rest....!
The past few days have been filled with non stop working, completing deadlines early (to cater for being away), putting together ideas for new clients, washing endless piles of clothes, collecting back up meds for little dude just in case anything happens while we're away, oh and occasionally trying to remember to breathe!
And now, we're en route, the kids are fasto in the back of the car, the hubby is happy as the sun is shining, and I'm happy because we've successfully managed to feed Callum at a wetherspoons pub on the seafront at Burnham-on-Sea.
Actually, I can't just leave it at that.
They were fantastic!
The team were extremely accommodating when Callum's allergies were explained, and bent over backwards to do everything possible to keep him safe!
The only option available to him was grilled chicken breast, jacket potato and corn on the cob.
He scoffed pretty much the whole lot!
That tells me everything!
Thank you wetherspoons for having friendly, helpful and kind staff who are willing to stop and give you 5 minutes of their time to understand the situation and offer a really good solution!
It's been a great start to what I hope will be a wonderful family holiday!
This weekend saw the return of the Allergy & Free From Show to Olympia in London. It is Europe’s largest free-from event, and this year saw its largest attendance to date, with 221 exhibitors all keen to show their wares. As allergies become more and more prevalent, companies are finally beginning to tap into this huge market, and when looking past the gluten free trend and lifestyle choice, are realising there are many more allergies out there that need to be catered for.
If you were at the show, did you spot Callum and myself in our special blue t-shirts?
We'll also be writing up our review of this years show this week, packed full of information, new products, exciting developments within the allergy world, and more!
Regular readers will know that Callum battles with multiple severe allergies on a daily basis. But did you know that he also suffers with asthma and severe eczema too? Yep, he really does get a lot chucked at him!
We have a fairly good routine when it comes to controlling and maintaining Callum’s skin, and trying to keep the eczema as calm as possible. It involves using a vast amount of moisturising emollient cream, and various different steroids, according to the state of the eczema. Sometimes, we can get away with no steroids/ very little steroids if the eczema is being well controlled!
At the moment we’re doing battle with the very high pollen counts.
The pollen causes havoc for hayfever sufferers – you can count Callum and myself into this mix! Our eyes look awful at the moment, we have permanently streaming noses, and we’ve lost our voices a few times over the past month or so.
But, did you know that pollen can also unbalance eczema?
It gets into the already sore skin, and literally causes havoc!
Callum loves playing in the garden – what kid doesn’t! But it doesn’t like him, or at least his eczema prone hands!
For weeks now, we’ve had a vicious circle of sore, splitting, weeping, bleeding palms of his hands. No matter what steroid we use, and we have a pretty potent collection, nothing seems to be helping. It probably doesn’t help that Callum loves to push his cars around in the grass, and pull up clumps of grass at a time……
A few weeks ago I got in touch with Dermatique via twitter. They were looking for eczema sufferers to test one of their products, and see if it helped.
Dermatique Recuperating Cream was created by a parents desperate search for a solution to eczema after seeing their little one go through the agony of itchy, sore, broken, weepy skin. Any parent who witnesses their child go through severe eczema without a means to fix it will tell you that they will do absolutely anything in their power to fix it!
To quote directly from them, they:
‘combine the latest scientific research with the best raw minerals and plant extracts nature has to offer, our products moisturise, nourish and protect skin. We keep harsh ingredients out of our products, and balance them so that they can benefit people of all ages from babies like Princess Patricia to men and women in their golden years.’
Normally I tend to ignore requests where people are reaching out to sufferers, as more often than not the products will contain ingredients that Callum is allergic to. However, this product was made by parents desperate to find a cure.
I’ve been there! I’ve begged for some other cream to help Callum, tried to find lotions and potions to make it better for him! We’ve found some sort of happy medium, but there’s always room for improvement with anything!
Something made me get in touch with Dermatique, and a week later a sample arrived for Callum to try.
I had to do a patch test for 24hrs (testing a tiny area of Callum’s skin) to see if it would cause a reaction. We got lucky, no reaction!
So, I decided to use the cream on Callum’s hands, let’s face it, they needed all the help they could get, and some! In fact, the day I started to test the product out, his hands were so very sore, he was literally holding them up in the air so that nothing could touch them and cause him more pain than he was already in.
Can you imagine, a 3 year old, with such painful hands, all he wanted to do was hold them up in the air.
No scrubbing about on the floor with his toy cars!
No running around and mucking about in the garden!
Just horrible, painful, weepy, sore hands….
Something had to give, so for the past 3 weeks now, I have been using the Dermatique Rejuvenating Cream on his hands, wrists and arms, whilst keeping up with his normal routine elsewhere.
It’s not been easy, the pollen has really thrown a lot of curveballs and has been quite frankly, an utter pain to overcome!
BUT! Check out the before and after photos. You can see for yourself that the skin looks far less angry, and red. It appears soothed, calmer and less irritated. I tried to take photos of both hands, but Callum was not playing ball!
All in all, I would say that this product is definitely one to consider for mild to moderate eczema sufferers. It does exactly what is described, and certainly promotes healthier skin, with a sensitive skincare solution.
For severe eczema sufferers, it’s a little more difficult as you do need to still use your steroids, which is what we resorted to. It is a fantastic moisturiser though, and Callum thought so too!
Thank you Dermatique for sending us a sample to try, we give you a big thumbs up for your great product!
(NB: No payment was received for this blog post)
The allergy world is waking up to articles all over the news, focusing on a report titled 'Making Sense of Allergies' released by Sense About Science today.
The report focuses on how allergies need to be accurately diagnosed, with proven scientific based testing. The risk of not doing this, can result in malnourishment in supposed allergy sufferers. Allergists, consultants and allergy charities have worked with Sense About Science to bring the report together.
Bogus home testing kits are being blamed as the root cause of the issue, as they have no scientific basis.
The supposed outcomes from these kits are resulting in major food groups being cut out of diets, causing the serious issue of malnutrition.
ITV's 'Good Morning Britain', The Guardian, and The Telegraph are the key articles doing the rounds this morning, with the article from The Telegraph seeming to ruffle the most feathers within the allergy world.
The tone of the article suggests that allergies are nowhere near as prevalent as believed, due to:
'40% of people claim to have a food allergy, only 5% actually do'
and follows swiftly with:
'Cutting out entire food groups because of needless concerns about allergies'
This has understandably caused a fairly substantial wave of anger for true allergy sufferers.
In just a few short hours I have received numerous emails and texts asking what my views are, and whether it is a 'fair' representation.
Any allergy parent will tell you that concerns about allergies are most certainly not 'needless'. Watching your little ones suffer a reaction is the hardest thing to witness. Hives, wheezing, vomiting, extreme diarrhoea, eczema are all symptoms of a reaction, and not to be taken lightly. Add the struggle to breathe if entering anaphylaxis territory and it becomes terrifying.
The Guardian on the other hand has got a much more balanced and fairer handle of the situation:
'It's probably the biggest mess for science communication, where myths, misinterpreted studies and quackery collide with under-and over - diagnosis. The costs are huge - unnecessary actions for some and not enough action for those whose lives depend on it' (Tracey Brown, Director of Sense About Science)
although their comment of:
'A child who can't eat wheat or drink milk can't go to parties'
is totally inaccurate! Why on earth would true allergies to wheat and dairy result in being unable to attend parties? If sensible, and you plan ahead, of course a child can still attend parties, as I describe how to achieve successfully here!
The article also mentions how eating out has become much more difficult. Chefs find it much harder to cater easily for allergy sufferers due to the fact that many people claim to have an allergy, when actually it is a life style choice.
This was a very hot topic a couple of months ago with the 'Top 100 chefs'. Living first hand with allergies, I can see both sides. It's not easy for restaurants to cater for allergies, but training and understanding helps enormously. Equally, it's not easy to eat out without worrying where the next reaction will come from.
Fuel has been added to the already raging allergy fire following the comments made by Dr Hilary Jones during Good Morning Britain:
'Don't assume that your symptoms are due to allergy or intolerance. You can go and talk to your doctor, and if there is a clinical reason, have a blood test on the NHS. Don't restrict or withdraw all kinds of food groups'
Oh dear, if only it was that easy!
The NHS will not give blood tests just by asking, believe me, I tried for 16 months before I was able to get them done for Callum.
As to restricting/ withdrawing food groups - when you first see your doctor and query allergies/ intolerance, the first thing you are asked to do is keep a food diary. If a pattern starts to show, you are then asked to remove from your diet. At no point is a blood test agreed to - nor any allergy testing!
Unfortunately, this whole sorry situation is most likely due to the lack of understanding, and also sadly budget, within the NHS.
It is the result of desperate parents, who are battling to get listened to! They describe their children's symptoms, to no avail, attending doctor appointment after doctor appointment, presenting in secondary care (often as an emergency) and still don't get anywhere.
Groupon regularly advertise 'food intolerance testing' at a supposed massive reduction. If a desperate parent, sleep deprived, and worried beyond belief for their little one, the chances are they will resort to anything to find some sort of solution!
The key to turning all of this around, as I have said many many times before, is to provide the NHS with the tools to fix this situation.
They need to have a bigger budget so that correct, accurate and scientifically proven testing can take place. The doctors, consultants, dieticians, nutritionists, health visitors all need to have extra training provided to them so that they recognise the symptoms associated with allergies.
I applaud the release of this report from Sense About Science. It is much needed, and gives a true depiction of what is happening within the allergy world.
I really hope that the situation can now be improved, and that the NHS gets the support it needs to support the allergy world where it needs it most!
Some of the larger supermarket outlets or health food shops will sometimes stock the specialist chocolates such as Kinnerton, Plamil or Moo Free. However, I have found it increasingly difficult to source, particularly over the past few weeks.
I’ve been trying to find an alternative that doesn’t cost the earth so that Callum doesn’t miss out, and came across a wonderful company a couple of weeks ago, on twitter!