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So, we've reached the other side of the Easter Holidays, or at least we have in our neck of the woods!

How did it go for you?

We had high expectations for a fun filled couple of weeks, with family day trips here and there, arts and crafts, visiting friends and family, and more!

Sounds lovely, right?

Yep, so the law of sod reared its ugly head, and decided to shake things up a bit…. Well quite a lot actually!!

The day after school broke up, Chloe started to complain about a sore throat. Within 48hrs she was croupy and feeling utterly lousy. So the first 3 days of the holiday were a write off as she pretty much slept the whole time on the sofa, or moped about the house feeling understandably sorry for herself.

easter 2Once she started to feel a bit more human, we took a trip to Hastings for the day to see Gram, and visited the Blue Reef Aquarium which was a BIG hit! I thoroughly recommend it for young children. There’s a lot of different varieties of fish to see, with interactive talks on specific fish as well. Chloe and Callum had a great time!

The next day, we ventured out again, this time to Warwick Castle. You can’t beat fresh air to help make you feel better, along with lots of walking, and history!

easter 3I can’t recommend Warwick Castle enough! It’s a fantastic day out, with so much to see and do, we could easily have come back for a second day and would have had just as much fun! After a bit of reassurance for Chloe, we did the tour of the dungeons, which were fab. Jon even had his head ‘chopped off’ at one point, which Chloe and Callum weren’t too sure of! There were princess tales in one of the towers, walks to the top of other towers, the trebuchet, jousting, horrible histories, the time tower, and more!

There was only one thing I could find fault with…… the food! We struggled to find ‘safe’ food for Callum. The venue as a whole clearly understand the 14 allergens and labelling situation, and have very clear posters detailing the ingredients for each food offered.

Commendable stuff!

easter 4But, there were no ‘alternative’ foods available, anywhere! Eventually, we found the pub on site, at the front entrance, who were fantastic. The head chef came out to talk to me so I could explain the situation. Having realised that there was not a single food option that was safe, he put forward the suggestion of creating a bowl of chips from scratch, freshly peeled, chopped and fried in a frying pan (as the fryers couldn’t be used due to a very high risk of cross contamination). He also created a simple salad of cucumber and carrot for little dude. To say I was grateful is an understatement! And Callum was very happy with his ‘special’ lunch, which the chef personally came and delivered to him to ensure it remained totally safe at all times until it reached us.

So after a lovely couple of days, we thought we’d have a day at home catching up on house stuff, and letting Chloe and Callum recharge their batteries.

Good thing really, as then Jon came down with the cold that Chloe had…. Yup man flu struck! Which resulted in us cancelling plans for the first weekend as he was feeling pretty rubbish!

staph 1And then, little dude started to show signs of it….!

At first it seemed like it would be similar to Chloe and Jon, a high temperature, croupy style cough, and a nasty headache.

Unfortunately, poor little dude doesn’t do things the easy way, as regular readers will know.

A few days into this cold, Callum had angry looking eczema patches appearing all over his body, with some turning weepy, particularly around his nose.

I had a client meeting at the end of last week, 5 days into Callum’s cold, which meant I was away for half a day. When I got home, Callum clearly wasn’t himself, his nose looked all bruised, as well as his cheek, and there were new spots appearing that looked infected.

Having gone through something similar before, and knowing the signs, I wasn’t happy to leave Callum like this over the weekend and not have it checked. Managing to get a last minute appointment on Friday afternoon, his GP confirmed my suspicions…. The poor dude had staph, again!

mummy & callumHis nose was covered on the outside, the inside, and his cheek was now also affected! No wonder he had been in so much discomfort! Imagine, the whole of the inside of your nose covered in weeping, bloody scabs, and itchy to boot. It's like a form of mental torture!

A strong dose of antibiotics were prescribed for 5 days, which we are now half way through, and thankfully it appears as if they are slowly helping, although I suspect a second dose will be required to fully kick this to the kerb!

Having an allergic child, with severe eczema is most certainly not easy, and definitely keeps you on your toes!!

It’s a well known fact that most allergy parents tend to dread certain holidays. Christmas, and also, Easter, cause us all to be on even higher alert than normal due to the buying, selling and receiving of confectionary goods. With cows milk allergy, it poses a potentially difficult situation.

Not so long ago, it was impossible to find a safe alternative. Thanks to the wonderful companies such as No Muu, Moo Free, Choices, and Kinnerton, there are now viable options for anyone with a milk allergy (and more) to enjoy.

Now, it stands to reason that other companies are cottoning on to the fact that the allergy safe market is one to join. In fact, there has never been a better time to find safe products as companies realise there is a huge gap in the market and start to plug it.

I think it’s wonderful!

I really do!

The variety of choice is improving, and the quality of the products is constantly improving too.

The most important bit for me though, the world is waking up to the reality of allergies, understanding there is a serious need for safe products, and delivering them to us the consumer.

BUT!

If you are going to launch a product into the allergy world, you really need to do your homework! Don’t underestimate quite how much a safe product is wanted, and realise that if a new, potentially safe products arrives on the market, the allergy world will leap on it quicker than vultures to fresh meat.

A case in point…..

Hotel Chocolat recently launched their ‘Milk-free Milk Chocolate’ in the UK in time for Easter. The allergy world quite literally went bonkers for it.

A new product, from a highly reputable and upmarket chocolatier. It almost seemed too good to be true! A marketing coup for Hotel Chocolat, or was it?

Sadly, events have unfolded over the weekend, which has left Hotel Chocolat with egg on their face, and a large volume of very unhappy customers.

It all unfolded on Thursday evening, on social media, with the realisation dawning on a number of people that the ‘milk-free milk chocolate’ may not be as safe as initially believed. A lot of anger, understandably, has been vented over the fact that the products were found to be unsafe for milk allergy sufferers once the offices had closed for the bank holiday weekend, meaning little could be done until after the weekend. Too late for those using the products for Easter!

There have been stories pertaining to a child being hospitalised due to a severe reaction, but this is only alleged, and so far I have not seen any proof of this.

Hotel Chocolat have technically not done anything ‘wrong’, per say. The problem resolves around their labelling. There is a very strong insinuation that it should be ‘safe’ for allergy sufferers due to the language they use.

If they had mentioned ‘may contain milk due to manufacturing methods’ or even ‘not suitable for milk allergy sufferers due to manufacturing methods’ then there wouldn’t be so much hoohah as people could make an informed decision as to whether the chocolate was safe or not.

I was sent a screen shot of one of the chocolate products in question, and I have to say, it does hint that it should be safe:

photo

What do you think? Would you agree?

To give you an understanding of the seriousness of the situation, Callum has an immediate IgE mediated response to dairy. He will most likely have (and previously has had) an anaphylaxis response if he consumes any dairy. The product has been labelled in such a way, it appears to be safe for a milk allergy sufferer, when in actual fact it has a very high cross contamination risk. Even traces of milk can cause a severe reaction in Callum.

A complaint was made to Hotel Chocolat directly, which resulted in emails being sent out to all customers on their mailing list:

Hotel Chocolat email

A commendable reaction, I’m sure you will all agree.

But what about the customers who haven’t signed up to their mailing list? Those that bought in shops? Those receiving the chocolate as gifts?

Social media showed its strength over the course of Thursday night, Good Friday, and Saturday in the run up to Easter Sunday. Much of the allergy world jumped in to request assistance from the FSA and also Allergy UK to ensure the information got to as many people as possible.

It achieved such a high audience, many people who might otherwise have missed out on the vital information were able to see it and make informed decisions.

Eventually, the products in question were actually recalled due to fears over safety, and refunds are now being offered. More details can be found in the link below.

http://m.hotelchocolat.com/uk/about/milk-free-milk

I just hope that no-one suffered any adverse reactions if they have consumed the products in question, particularly innocent little ones just looking to enjoy some chocolate.

It’s a sad situation, but there are positives to come from this!

  • Credit to Hotel Chocolat for their quick reaction on realising there was a problem, and working with social media, the FSA and Allergy UK to ensure the situation was rectified as best as possible
  • Credit to the FSA for releasing the recall notification over the bank holiday
  • A big thank you to Allergy UK for their unwavering support for allergy sufferers, no matter what time of day or night! (Tweets were being sent at 11pm on Thursday night!)

Personally, I hope that Hotel Chocolat don’t give up on their quest for joining the allergy world. They have a wonderful selection of delicious products, it would be great to see them be able to offer their high quality goods to the allergy world as well, as long as they are labelled correctly and accurately!!

With Easter quite literally just around the corner, thoughts are turning to chocolate! Everywhere you look, shops are full to the brim of colourful, bright and yummy looking chocolate Easter eggs and sweets!

That’s fab if you can eat them, but what about if you suffer with allergies? Going shopping with the little dude in tow over the past few weeks has been heart-breaking. Every time he sees any Easter eggs, his first comment:

‘mine can’t eat them, make me sick!’

My poor boy!!

So, I have trawled the local supermarkets (Tesco & Sainsbury's) to see what, if any, allergy safe alternatives are on offer. I did the same last year, and was very disappointed as any that were made specifically for the allergy market were in a boring and non-descript box.

Not very appealing for a toddler!

This year, I have been pleasantly surprised, as there is quite a large selection available. And even some of the more mainstream chocolate suppliers have some suitable options!

Some of the allergy specific options are pricier than the mainstream ones, but actually, to have a safe, tasty and available alternative is good enough for me!

The chocolate options:

After Eight - although young children may not be so keen on the mint! Callum quite liked it though!

photo 1 photo 16

Lindt - quite a dark chocolate, but not too bitter

photo 3 photo 4

Divine chocolate - only the dark chocolate version is suitable!

photo 7 photo 8 photo 14

Choices - one of Callum's all time favourites, he always asks for this if he sees it!

photo 9 photo 18  photo 26  photo 28     photo 30

Sainsbury's free from - not bad, but you don't want to be reminded that it's a 'free from' egg! More cheerful packaging would be far better!

photo 20 photo 21

Kinnerton - another of Callum's favourites, and one that I use a lot in recipes as it is very stable! Callum is a big fan of the chocolate lollipops, I really recommend them, and he does too!

photo 32photo 42

Moo Free - another firm favourite with Callum! Last year we found the honeycomb egg for him, and he thought it was fab! And the packaging is child friendly too, happy days!

photo 38 photo 39 photo 40

The sweets options:

If you're really not sure about the chocolate, there are some lovely sweet options available! We use these to fill plastic colourful eggs to create our own 'safe' Easter egg hunt that everyone can enjoy!

photo 33 photo 34 photo 35 photo 36

We hope this post helps you a bit in your search for the perfect Easter treat! :)

bread 1If there’s one thing that Callum always asks for, it’s bread! There’s nothing he loves more than a slice of bread with some homemade jam, or smothered in dairy-free butter to dunk in homemade soup.

The trouble is, when you need to be dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, it is really really hard to find bread that is tasty and that doesn’t cost the earth!!

The only one I have found so far is DS ciabatta rolls. Pretty much everything else has egg in it.

That is, until I found ‘Helen’s Brilliant Bread Mix’, which was on special offer when I went to do the weekly shop at the local supermarket. I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try!

The method does call for the use of 1 egg, so I chose to use Orgran egg replacer in the hope it would work.

Callum wanted to be a part of the experiment, so we got to work following the instructions on the packet, beating the Orgran, adding the vegetable oil and milk, and then the bread mix, stirring until well combined. Then turning out into a prepared loaf tin, and then putting in the oven to bake.

bread 2The whole process took a matter of minutes, unlike the usual baking process of mixing, kneading, proofing, kneading some more, and then proofing some more before baking.

It was really simple, and Callum had great fun!

35 minutes of baking later, and we had our bread.

bread 3It didn’t rise as much as I expected, but I’m guessing that had something to do with the fact that I couldn’t use actual egg. I will try it again with egg to see if it makes much difference, to cure my curiosity more than anything!

Callum wasn’t fussed, he was just really pleased to have actual ‘safe’ bread that tasted quite scrummy!

Overall I'm quite impressed! It really was a quick and simple process, and in under an hour you get bread that is edible and doesn't cost the earth! I just need to figure out how to make it rise more, to compensate for the lack of egg.

bread 4

Nat RNDWhat better excuse is there to create scrummy treats than to also make them to help raise lots of money for a great cause!

Red Nose Day 2015 is here, and I’m sure lots of you will be baking treats for your little ones to take to school for a cake stall at the end of the day! And, if you’re anything like me, as the theme is ‘funny faces’, I’ve also baked whilst trying to keep my ‘red nose’ on the whole way through. NOT easy!! But lots of fun! And it made Callum giggle, a LOT!

Chloe’s school is hosting a cake stall this afternoon, and I thought I would do 2 different recipes, both of which are allergy safe – which means the little dude doesn’t miss out!

I also bought the cupcake cases from Sainsbury’s as part of their Red Nose Day merchandise as a large portion of the money spent goes direct to Comic Relief!

Happy days all round!

The first is the classic crispie cakes, a firm favourite for all the family, but given an allergy safe twist. And the second is another classic, a simple sponge fairy cake, with a cherry ‘red nose’, again, totally allergy safe!

DSC_0365Chocolate Crispie Cakes

You will need:

  • 200g dairy-free chocolate (I used Kinnerton)
  • 50g dairy-free spread (I used a stork bar)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 120g rice crispies

Add the chocolate, spread and maple syrup to a large bowl, and melt in 30 second bursts in the microwave until fully melted, taking care not to overcook!

Add the rice crispies and stir until well combined.

Using 2 spoons, place in cupcake cases, pressing down gently so that it becomes compact and sticks together when setting.

Leave to set (if you can wait that long!)

Enjoy!

DSC_0347

Funky Fairy Cakes

You will need:

  • 4oz golden caster sugar
  • 4oz dairy-free spread
  • 4oz gluten free self raising flour (I used Doves)
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 10ml vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs (I used orgran egg replacer)
  • 2-3 drops vanilla essence

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180c/360f and prepare a cupcake tray with cases.

Add all the ingredients to a large bowl, and mix until well combined and you have a smooth batter. Don’t over mix or the cupcakes won’t rise very well!

Fill the cupcake cases to 2/3 and then place in the oven.

Cook for 12-16 minutes, until the cupcakes are a golden brown and springy to touch.

Remove from the oven, place on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely before decorating.

We chose to decorate with glacé icing and a cherry for a ‘red nose’

Enjoy!

It has been a very interesting week for the allergy world!

News broke on Monday morning of the LEAP study into peanut allergy, and the ground-breaking development that the risk of peanut allergy could be significantly reduced by changing current methodologies.

640 patients aged 4-11 months were involved in the study, and were chosen as they were considered at ‘high-risk’ of developing peanut allergy due to suffering with severe eczema and/or egg allergy.

Patients were split into 2 groups, half of which were asked to eat peanut protein contained in 3 or more meals, each week. Whole nuts were not used, due to the risk of choking in small children. The other half of the group were asked to avoid nuts until the age of 5. Questionnaires were completed by all families involved on a regular basis.

The results of the study suggest that peanuts introduced to the diet of ‘at-risk’ babies from 4 months onwards significantly reduced the chances of them developing a peanut allergy by the age of 5. When they say significant, it really is. It is believed to reduce the chance by as much as 80%!

Seeing as peanut allergy is one of the most prevalent of allergies, and the number of people, particularly children, becoming affected is increasing significantly year on year, it’s almost too good to be true.

The method used during the study is portrayed as quite radical, but is it?

If something is suddenly introduced to a diet, where previously it hadn’t existed, there is always going to be a chance that the body will have an adverse reaction to it due to it being ‘foreign’. The thought processes behind it are that introducing to the diet early on, will most likely ensure there is little or no reaction.

It makes sense!

I said as much to my father-in-law, who immediately responded with:

‘Well I didn’t come into contact with peanuts until I was at least 8 due to the rationing after the war, and I’ve not become allergic, nor had any reaction when I tried it, nor did my older brother, cousins, or any of my school friends!’

I guess he has a point. But then again, it’s just as possible that he isn’t a person likely to develop allergies, so was never going to have a reaction.

There are some people that will always be more predisposed to allergies, just like Callum. No-one truly knows the reasons why, and that’s why studies like this are crucial to help us understand allergies more, and learn how to control them better, or even better, to pre-empt like this study suggests.

As the parent of a child with a severe nut and peanut allergy, and owner of an allergy focused business, I have read the details with much interest, and am very keen to see how this progresses!

For me, it’s definitely a step in the right direction, but for now, I do remain slightly sceptical, particularly because many other factors need to be taken into consideration such as in terms of other allergies already discovered in patients, family history and so on. It will be interesting to see how the patients progress in the coming years, and whether any do go on to present with allergic responses later on. I will keep everything crossed that they remain allergen free!!

There is a flip side to this study though, as is sadly always the case. For many years, the advice given to parents has been:

  • Avoid peanuts until at least the age of 2
  • Avoid consuming during pregnancy
  • Avoid consuming whilst breastfeeding

As a result of the news breaking of this study, I have seen numerous posts, tweets, and articles focusing on the guilt that parents the world over are now feeling, as well as anger and frustration. They have diligently listened to advice given by GPs/ Consultants/ Health Visitors to keep their little ones safe and away from any potential danger to nut exposure/ ingestion, and now the advice could be about to change, advising people to do the exact opposite.

It’s conflicting for sure, and an alien concept to get your head around when you’ve become so used to doing the opposite it’s second nature!

The articles currently in circulation have been part of many people’s discussions, unsurprisingly, and they are bringing up a whole host of emotions for many!

Parents who have children suffering with allergies, particularly peanut mustn’t beat themselves up. It’s very new information, and there’s much more research to be done. They most certainly haven’t done anything ‘wrong’. Life with an allergic child is tough, bloody tough. Blaming yourself for not ‘protecting’ your little one following the information that is coming out with this study is not going to help anyone!

Importantly, parents mustn’t start changing the way they wean their children, particularly if they suffer with eczema and/ or egg allergy. They should seek medical advice before applying this sort of introduction to their little ones diet. The study was conducted in a safe and controlled way, with medical assistance available in case of reaction.

We as allergy parents battle the odds daily, and ultimately, as long as our children are safe, happy and not reacting, then surely we’re doing something right!

Articles covering details such as this study do tend to arm ill-equipped people with information. Unfortunately it does mean that some people then want to give you suggestions, when perhaps they have little or no experience on the subject, which can prove challenging!

I have, myself, been on the receiving end of unhelpful ‘advice’ from people who simply don’t get what it is like to have a child with severe allergies and the daily battle you face to keep them well. The advice is given with the best of intentions, for sure, but when you get told:

‘maybe Callum would be better if you’d given him a little bit of nut when you were weaning him, and not been so strict with his diet with the other stuff…’

Quite frankly, it takes all my will power not to hit them, and I am not a violent person by nature!

It was when we were in the midst of trying to figure out the allergies that were making Callum so very poorly, that we gave him a chocolate roulade at a year old, with sweetened chestnut purée in it (not knowing what we know now with regards to his allergies, and still very naïve) and he suffered an instant severe reaction. He now has an epi-pen as a result!

Callum looks much better today than he did before, because of being so strict and careful with his diet, and getting rid of the very things that were making him ill. So, people (not medically trained!) suggesting after months and months of elimination, trial, error, tears, frustration, despair and more, that giving him exactly what makes him so severely ill would have made him better, does take the biscuit somewhat!

That aside, the study does give hope to future generations, that maybe just maybe, the battle against peanut allergy could be about to improve. I for one think George du Toit and his colleagues have certainly set the benchmark for how allergies are managed in years to come and I’m excited to see what more will be found out in the future!

And who knows, perhaps other allergies may have ground-breaking developments like this too.

This allergy mum is definitely hoping so!!

 

Liebster Award Logo

This is a post that is somewhat different to what we usually do – let us explain more!

There are some days that just plod along as normal, nothing major happens, and you get to the end of the day, and bam something lovely happens.

This happened to us last week!

So, there we were, checking the blog and comments received during the day, as we always do, and we see a link to a fab blog that we follow After the rain where we find out they have nominated us for a Liebster Award.

I’d not heard of a Liebster Award before, and after a bit of research found out that it’s given to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers. Liebster derives from German and translates as sweetest, nicest, beloved, pleasant, cute, kind, welcome. How lovely is that!

A very big *thank you* is now winging its way to Tara! :)

I started to write this blog post straight away, but I must confess that I found it harder than I first imagined, and I like that, because it made me step out of my comfort zone!

There are some simple rules to follow when accepting the award:

  • You have to post the award on your blog
  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog
  • Write 11 random facts about yourself
  • Nominate 11 bloggers who you feel deserve this award and have less than 200 followers
  • Answer 11 questions posted by the presenter and ask your nominees a set of 11 new questions

11 Random Facts About Me:

  1. I’m half French, hence the ‘h’ in my name (Nathalie)
  2. I can speak French fluently, although a little rusty with some words!
  3. My business is based on allergies due to my son and his multiple allergies, but I myself am allergic to pineapples – they make me violently sick
  4. I can’t eat too many tomatoes, they give me chronic stomach pains
  5. I hate the volume on the TV or car radio to be set at an odd number, if it is I feel compelled to change it to an even number!
  6. I have family dotted all over the world, and am thankful for social media which makes it much easier to stay in touch with them all!
  7. Ever since I watched ‘Witches of Eastwick’ I’ve not been able to eat cherries in any form, I literally can’t stand them!
  8. I fess up to being ‘one of those shoppers’ who takes ages to put things in their trolley, checking every single label, and sighing/ getting cross if it contains something the little dude can’t have, or if the ingredients on a previously safe product have changed and become unsafe, and wistfully remember when food shopping was much simpler (boy did I take it for granted!)
  9. I wish that I had magic powers to get rid of allergies the world over, and I sometimes have to pinch myself when I’m asked about the business, and meet people who tell me how it has helped them!
  10. I have written a number of books (cookbooks, children’s books, chick lit) based on allergies and the journey of the past 3 years, and working hard to find a publisher for them all
  11. I find these sorts of things really difficult to write, but I’ve actually quite enjoyed doing this one!

Q&A (fab questions Tara):

What is the story behind your blog name (even if it’s your name)?

It is based on my little boy who is allergic to lots, but still loves his food! There are many business and blog names using ‘allergy’ or ‘allergies’ or ‘allergic’, so I wanted something that would still convey that, but also be a bit different. It’s also a play on the initials GI (gastro intestinal) due to the tummy troubles he has as a result of his allergies.

Is there one particular post you are most proud of? (Please link it)

Yes there is, and it’s actually a very recent one which received an incredible amount of hits and shares. It depicts what life is really like when dealing with allergies and a little one, and many readers could relate!

https://intolerantgourmand.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/you-know-youre-an-allergy-mum-when

Has anything surprised you about blogging?

Most definitely! I love writing, I always have done, and find it very enjoyable, so I knew that I shouldn’t run out of content for the blog, although at first I was a little concerned. It’s amazing where you find your inspiration though, just a random conversation can lead to 2 or 3 blog posts, which in turn lead to more. I have a notebook with me where-ever I go, so that if an idea pops into my head, I can write it down before I forget about it!

What has really taken me by surprise is the many different countries that the blog has reached – that has truly blown me away! The blog started as a means to get thoughts and fears out there, so that what we were going through didn’t seem quite so overwhelming. As it evolved and reached more people, helping them with what we have learnt along the way it has humbled me. We receive emails all the time, thanking us for supporting and providing answers in an often bleak area, and I am so proud we have been able to achieve this! It has been an amazing journey so far, which I hope can continue for a long time yet!

What do you do when you procrastinate?

The hubby will immediately say that I grab my phone and jump on the social media networks! But I call that work, when it’s structured! For me, it’s more likely to be to write a new recipe, or to bake. Baking a cake is the best way of ‘wasting time’! And you get to eat the end result…. Happy days! :)

Do you have a favourite quote? (I’m collecting them for a quote wall in my office, which is actually my bedroom).

If it’s meant to be, it will be!

I’m a big believer in fate. If something is meant to happen, it will do. We might not always get there by the simplest of means, or we may ignore the first time it calls, but if we are meant to do something, or meant to have something, it will find us!

If you had an entirely free day to spend on your own doing something for your own pleasure what would you do?

Oh wow, now this is something that I think all working mums dream of!! I’d start the day by having a lie-in, an obvious choice maybe, but my god it’s a must! Then I’d book into a spa for the day with the besties and have a day of girly catch up and pamper sessions, followed by a late afternoon tea, where I would actually get to finish a cup of tea/coffee while it is still hot!!

Do you prefer city, country or coast?

Country or coast in equal measure, as long as the coast isn’t part of a city. I really don’t like the hustle and bustle, noise and dirt of the city. I worked in the centre of London for a few years, and it really took the shine away when you had to battle to catch the tube and jostle along overcrowded pavements.

We live in the middle of the countryside with rolling hills around, the back garden backs on to fields with horses, cows, sheep etc. Sounds idyllic and it really is! The kids love it! I grew up in the country myself, and I’m so glad they are getting the same opportunity. Callum’s first word was ‘tractor’, says it all really!

Do you have a favourite book?

Ah, now this is a difficult question to answer I have been a book worm since I was a little girl, and have read many fabulous books over the years so it's really hard for me to pick just one!

Are you a morning person?

No! I struggle in the mornings, and find I’m much happier and more productive the more the day progresses! That probably stems from not getting a good night’s sleep, and then resorting to drinking copious amounts of coffee to help me through the day!

Did you have a favourite television programme as a child?

Yes, but it will show my age if I say any more!

*whispers quietly* ‘button moon’, ‘raggy dolls’, ‘rainbow’, ‘puddle lane’ and ‘sooty’ – all firm favourites!

What is the one thing you would tell your younger self?

Not to be frightened of change or doing something different to everyone else, and to always believe in yourself!

When I was at school, and trying to get into uni, a teacher of mine told me I’d never get far because I had no idea what I wanted to do or be. It really dented my confidence. I’m sure most 18 year olds don’t really know what they want to do with their life, and go to uni or start working to find what is right for them. When the time is right, the answer will come, and they will end up doing what is right for them!

 

I would like to present my awards to the following bloggers:

The pie patch

Free2Bake

The Stripy Bear Tales

Feeding my intolerant child

Pinkiebag

Baked potato mummy

Growing Trends

Dairy Free Switzerland

Just fooling around with Bee

Dairy Free kids

Alpha Beata

And if you accept the award I would like you to answer the following:

  1. Why do you blog/ what made you start blogging?
  2. Do you have a favourite place where you like to write your blog posts?
  3. What would you like to achieve with your blogging (if you haven’t already)?
  4. What is your most memorable blog post and why (please post the link)?
  5. Tea or coffee?
  6. Sweet or savoury?
  7. What is your favourite meal and why? (I’m writing an article on people’s favourite meals and how it influences us/ makes us feel)
  8. What did you want to be when you were younger?
  9. What is your favourite time of the day?
  10. What would your dream job be and why?
  11. What one bit of advice would you give to someone just starting out in the blogging world?

As anyone who follows this blog knows, we are determined to change the way allergies are dealt with, how they are diagnosed, and how to manage them.

Our passion and determination has been as a direct result of the difficult, and often harrowing journey our little dude Callum has gone through from just 10 weeks of age.

Just imagine, a tiny baby with the following:

  • covered with weeping sore eczema all over their little body
  • unable to feed properly
  • writhing around in severe pain
  • colicky
  • filling a ridiculous amount of nappies on a daily basis with frothy, mucous filled, blood flecked, horrible smelling stuff that doesn’t look anything like baby poo should do
  • projectile reflux type sickness where you can’t quite believe something so small could contain so much fluid in their little tummy
  • wheeziness all the time
  • dark circles under their eyes all the time
  • swollen eyes
  • swollen fingers/ hands/wrists

Now, imagine having to fight for months, and yes you read that right, months, to get a diagnosis and finally have the chance to get your child well.

It has been a journey of despair, fear, disbelief, anger, frustration, and more. The journey is not over yet, and we still face a long battle ahead of us to keep little dude safe and well.

This is why we are so passionate, and why we are unwavering in our constant work:

  • To share our knowledge
  • To bring allergies to the forefront of people’s minds
  • To make the health care professionals sit up and take note
  • To train the health care professionals on the benefits of early diagnosis, so that suffering is kept to an absolute minimum
  • To support parents as they navigate the long and difficult path to improvement
  • To give parents the tools they need to improve their situation

I won’t lie, it’s been an incredibly hard road to travel, and it’s by no means over. Every single day, you live in fear of receiving a call to let you know there’s been a really bad reaction, or they can’t breathe very well and are in serious need of medical intervention. Just writing that gives me shivers.

We’ve experienced both scenarios, on more than one occasion, and it literally makes your heart split in two, and your stomach drop to the floor, filling you with pure fear.

It’s because of this we will not stop or give up until diagnosis is much improved, treatment pathways aren’t hit and hope, and survival rates of severe allergic reactions are vastly improved.

We are making great waves with our various clients, and for this we are immensely proud. The work currently undertaken has made a huge difference for the better already, and we’re thankful and hopeful that this can continue for years to come.

On top of this work, by sharing Callum’s journey with the press, we are able to make people aware that the problem they are dealing with, is real and it can be fixed, it really does get better, and to provide hope (where possible) that there is an end to the horrible journey anyone going through this has to deal with.

The last article Callum was featured in went viral, which is beyond what we could have hoped for.

His story is featured in this weeks ‘That’s Life’ with their own unique interpretation of his story. It is on the shelves now (see picture below), and we really hope to have a similar response so that many more little ones can be helped!

If just one little one doesn’t suffer or go through the lengths we had and still have to, to get them better, then all of this hard work will have been worth it!

To help us spread the word, and help others in a similar situation to us, please share this post, so they can get the help they need too!

As always, thank you lovely reader for your support, as it helps us to do what we’re doing, making the allergy world a safer and kinder place than it has been!

Callum - That's Life article

I see many posts all over the internet about allergies, how to cope with them, and the classic, ‘you know you’re an allergy mum when….’

It is true, there’s some sort of kinship! And relief, that you’re not the only one in the whole universe that’s experienced hell in a league beyond anything you’ve ever witnessed before, when talking with a fellow allergy survivor – and yes I do mean survivor!

The months of sleepless nights, the 24hr fear and worry over what the hell is actually wrong with your child.

The endless conversations around poo, and no I don’t mean the usual ones that take place when you become a parent. I mean the ones where you’re discussing green, orange, red, frothy, up to 20 times a day ones! The ones where you feel as if you’re single handedly keeping pampers/ huggies/supermarket own brand ones in business!!

The 10 times a day impromptu outfit changes and bath times to hose everything off! And the futile attempt that comes with it of holding your breath, and trying to soothe your inconsolable little one, whilst trying desperately not to gag, or worse, puke due to the seriously bad assault on your nostrils that hits the back of your throat and pulls your stomach contents up quicker than a shot of Jägermeister used to as a student!

The constant writing down of food and drink consumed, in the vain hope of finding some sort of connection to the snivelling, snotty, ill, unhappy, eczema encrusted, puke filled, poo machine, sorry mess of a child in front of you.

The despair of never truly knowing the answer of what is going on.

The teeny tiny bit of hope that one day your child may just grow out of whatever freaky thing is going on, or that there’ll be a miracle cure found, or that it will become acceptable to wrap your child up in cotton wool/ bubble wrap, because let’s face it, nothing else seems to be working!

The sheer bloody awe that you yourself haven’t become some quivering wreck in the corner. I came scary close at one point, when on 2hrs broken sleep a night. And my good god, sleep deprivation doesn’t half make things worse! It’s like the world, his wife and his dog is totally against you, right?! Stupid little things, like a tissue not being pulled out the box right can induce you to a fit of rage that the Incredible Hulk would have been proud of!

Yep, we’ve all been there! (stop laughing!)

That my friends, is a true depiction of ‘you know you’re an allergy mum when….!!’

We’ve had a ‘good run of it’ recently. Callum has seemed fairly stable, a few days where you question if something would happen, but on the whole, he’s been doing really well. That usually means something will happen sooner rather than later.

And boy did it!

We got some magic straws for Chloe and Callum to enjoy on Chloe’s birthday (Christmas Eve!), so as a special treat, as it was Christmas, we let them have them for breakfast! Chloe had the strawberry one, and Callum the chocolate one. The labelling suggested that all was safe, although the ‘chocolate flavouring’ left some unanswered questions….

A voice in the back of my head questioned whether it was wise, but we kept it to a small amount, and crossed our fingers and hoped for the best! *Note to self, don’t ever ignore that little voice!*

You can guess what happened…..

Yep, it backfired spectacularly on us!!

As soon as breakfast was finished, and everyone was washed and dressed and ready for the day, Chloe wanted to open her birthday presents.

So picture the scene, Chloe getting all excited over her big pile of presents, and starting to open them. Me, sat with pen and paper trying to write down who gave what, to make the thank you cards easier to do.

Mid-way through comes this mournful ‘mummy mine feel sick….’ Followed with a splat, splat ‘uh-oh’ splat, splat…….

Running, I find Callum surrounded by sick, and it was still coming thick and fast….

Those bloody straws!!!!

Not quite the chilled out, happy Christmas Eve we were planning!! Instead, Chloe was opening presents, whilst I mopped the floor, and Callum curled up in a ball on the sofa in the playroom, feeling very sorry for himself!

In the end, it took until the afternoon for poor Callum to start to feel more human again!

Always, always trust your instincts peeps, it usually isn’t wrong!

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