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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!

Happy New Year everyone, we hope you had the most wonderful Christmas break! We had a busy but lovely time, and will tell more in our next post!

As with most people at the start of a new year, thoughts turn to plans for the coming year. So, what will happen with Intolerant G in 2015? There are already a number of projects in the pipeline, but we thought we'd push ourselves even further.

Not being the sort to sit back and relax, we've come up with a challenge, a brand new shiny challenge, that we're not sure whether we'll completely achieve, but we'll give it a damn good go!

The challenge...all those recipes that no-one would even consider touching/ amending, to become dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, wheat-free as standard. You know the ones I mean, the ones you can only dream of, those amazing recipes that invoke lovely memories that you wish your little ones could also enjoy.

The idea came about from discussing a tradition in our family.

We have a lot of French influence, and one French tradition for the new year is to have the family over to enjoy a 'Galette des Rois' (Cake of Kings).

The cake is cut into slices, and the youngest member of the family has to hide their eyes, and decide who in the family gets which slice. Hidden inside a slice is a little toy/ figure, and whoever finds it is crowned the king for the day. It's a lovely tradition that holds many happy memories for me as a child, and one that I would love to pass on to Chloe and Callum.

The cake is traditionally made using dairy products, egg, ground almond and so on. It tastes absolutely divine, but is obviously totally unsuitable for the little dude due to his allergies.

Callum is always so good when I tell him a food isn't safe, and I always give him something else to make up for it. But this year, I've decided that 'making up for it' just isn't good enough. I want to be able to give him a totally safe version of everything that we eat, including the not so usual recipes. The harder the challenge, the more I want to be able to achieve it!

So, I have already managed to almost get a 'Galette des Rois' recipe to the point where I'm happy, and is a pretty good alternative.

My challenge to you, fab reader, what recipes would you love to see become totally safe? I'll add them to my list and work on creating a fab new recipe!

Thank you so much to all of our wonderful followers and supporters during our first year of blogging!

We couldn't do what we do without you and your feedback, you've all been fab and made this year amazing!

So, it's now time to say 'Happy New Year' one and all, here's to a fab, allergy safe, reaction free 2015!

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Merry Christmas from us all at Intolerant Gourmand!

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I can’t quite believe that it’s been 3 months since Callum’s repeat allergy testing back in September. I know I’ve said it before, but my goodness has this year flown by!!

So, 3 months after allergy testing can only mean one thing, yep, consultant time yet again.

I don’t mind these appointments, there’s nothing to be worrying about, getting concerned about or having sleepless nights compared to when they allergy test.

These appointments are actually fab, especially if you do your homework!

They’re the best opportunity to discuss observations, voice concerns, request advice, suggest possible addition/ alternative routes that the consultant may think is sensible to try.

Ultimately, to make a success of these appointments, you need to work as a team with the consultant. They should know your little ones history inside out, know what’s worked previously, be fully aware of other issues and concerns, and pre-empt any possible questions you have.

I’m well aware that sadly, it’s not always the norm, and that’s what Intolerant G was set up for!

We’re lucky though, Callum’s consultant is really good, one of the best. The fight for us was to get to see him in the first place, but once that happened, things really started to change for the better for us, as anyone who regularly follows this blog will tell you.

So, back to this latest appointment….

We have been trialling a wheat free diet on top of everything else that he has to avoid, due to blood in stools, severely distended tummy, very moody behaviour, and so on.

Well, after just 3 months, even the consultant agreed there was a substantial improvement. Callum’s tummy looks ‘normal’, there’s no more blood in his stools, he seems more comfortable, his shiners under the eyes have reduced even more – it’s all really positive.

We also had trialled baked egg in the form of a tiny bit of cake, but Callum reacted within an hour, with hives all over his body. Having taken photographic evidence, the consultant was able to make an informed decision. No eggs!! He clearly can’t cope with them at all!

Callum’s eczema seems mostly in control too, there’s a few patches that are stubborn to steroid creams, but on the whole, it’s fairly well managed.

On top of that, it looks like the asthma is quite well controlled too. The consultant wants us to trial montelokast (think that’s how it’s spelt) to see if it helps Callum at all, especially due to him suffering with what the consultant described as a ‘multi system allergic response’. He did mention that it sometimes has an adverse reaction to behaviour/ moods….

So, my question to you lovely lot, do you have experience of using montelokast? Have you seen a change in behaviour/ mood? Is it worth doing?

I want to make absolutely sure it’s right for our brave soldier, before giving even more meds to deal with!

There is a real festive feeling starting to descend on our house this week! It's lovely!

The advent traditions have been going strong for almost 2 weeks now, but it's as the rest of the Christmassy things come together, that the festive glow starts to build.

It started with Jon's work christmas do last weekend, followed by the baking of Christmas goodies at the beginning of the week. Then came Chloe's nativity at school, and Christmas jumper day today!

But the one big event in any house is the decorating of the Christmas Tree!

We always have a real tree! To me, Christmas Day is all the more special when you're sat there with the smell of a real tree, with the fire going, whilst opening presents with your nearest and dearest!

I was worried about how it might affect Callum with his asthma, but thankfully it doesn't seem to be one of his triggers!

There's a nursery in the village next us, that we always go to.

So we rock up with the trailer hooked to the back of the car, über excited kiddos in tow!

Then comes the exciting 'run' to the Christmas trees, followed by the choosing of the 'perfect' one, before paying and heading home to decorate it!

I always say it, and this year is no exception, the tree is an absolute beauty this year! Evenly proportioned, perfect height, and lovely deep bluey green colour!

It's been the perfect afternoon and evening, with the whole family involved in decorating it!

I think it's safe to say that we're all getting a little but excited about Christmas now!

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Wow, how on earth is it 1st December already?! This year has absolutely flown by hasn’t it!!

If you’re anything like our house, today marks the beginning of a level of excitement in the kiddiwinks that the rest of the year simply can’t match.

And why?

The return of the advent calendars of course!

Now, if we were a regular house, and had no worries over allergies, advent calendars would be far simpler than they are. There are so many options on the shelves these days, Thomas the tank, One Direction, Barbie, Spiderman, Cadbury’s, Mars – there’s almost too many to choose from.

Trouble is, they are all totally unsuitable for Callum.

So, what’s an allergy mum to do?!

Well, this is where the special ‘make your own’ advent calendars really come into their own.

And ours are a little bit special.

Tree adventWhen Jon and I first started dating, many moons ago, we decided to get each other an advent calendar with a difference for our first Christmas together. I got him a ‘Father Christmas’ one, and filled it with his favourite Lindt chocolates. And he got me a ‘Christmas Tree’ one, and filled it with my favourite chocolates, also Lindt! For many years we kept the tradition going, until the kiddos came along!

Chloe now has my ‘Christmas Tree’ one, and Callum the ‘Father Christmas’ one.

They’re really special now, and the Christmas countdown just wouldn’t be the same without them!

The beauty of these calendars, is that we can fill them with whatever we want, and this is perfect for Callum.

Dairy-free chocolates here we come!!

They’re both none the wiser, and are so excited when they see them for the first time. This morning was no exception,Santa advent with the little dude exclaiming a ‘whoa look, loads of mine chocolate, amazing!’

Just makes your heart melt doesn’t it!

On top of the calendars, this year, we’re also doing the ‘book advent’.

I really love this idea. 24 books, individually wrapped, 1 a night right up to Christmas Eve, with the 24th book being ‘The Night Before Christmas’.

We always read a book to the children, every single night, no matter how late they get to bed. It’s a lovely chance for some extra cuddles with them before the end of the day!

When they saw the pile of wrapped books all ready to go this morning, they were in awe.

24 nights of special cuddles, reading special books, during the most special time of the year.

What more could a mummy ask for?! Book advent

One thing is for certain when living with allergies, you have to be totally aware of everything going on around you!

You literally have to know what is going to happen, almost before it happens, so that you can stay one step ahead of the game.

It’s hard work, and a tiring, all consuming process, but one that ultimately keeps your little one safe as much as possible. Or at least it usually does!

I’ve written a post before about attending birthday parties, and how to cope with them when dealing with allergies.

You need eyes in the back of your head, especially with a fast little dude like Callum.

Callum is incredibly lucky, not only does he have me watching him wherever we go, but he also has Chloe, his fabulous big sister, who is always watching out for him! She’s simply fab!

Truth be told, she is an absolute godsend! To him, and to me!

She watches him like a hawk, tries to include him in all the party games she’s involved with, and also makes sure that he doesn’t eat anything he’s not meant to. To be fair to Callum, he’s very good, and doesn’t eat anything that I’ve not given him, but it’s incredibly reassuring to know that Chloe’s also watching to make sure he’s ok – especially if my back is turned for even just a moment.

Now, I like to think I’m fairly clued up when it comes to allergies and parties, or just going out in general. I write articles about how to cope, I coach on the top 10 things to look out for, how to deal with tricky situations, and I support other parents who’ve had bad experiences.

Well, here’s where I confess that even the best of us get caught out!

Yep, we really do!

A couple of weekends ago, we were at a party, and I had done my usual party lunch box for Callum, so that he could eat safe food.

I’d also checked out the party room, so I knew where the possible danger areas could be, and moved any dangerous foods (ie likely to cause a severe allergic reaction) out of his reach.

I even asked the parents to do an announcement to everyone in the room not to feed Callum, and the quick version of the reasons why.

I’d also made sure that the area where Callum would be sitting whilst he ate, was totally safe and had no residue on the table (a potential source of allergic reaction).

Brilliant, or so I thought. Everyone was aware of his situation, the dangerous foods were out of reach, and maybe I could actually relax a little bit after all….

Yep, that didn’t last long!

The entertainer had heard the announcement about not giving Callum ‘anything’ at all.

Sadly, it wasn’t taken on board.

Any allergy mum will tell you that you get a kind of sixth sense, you just know when you need to watch your little one closely. Thankfully my awareness radar was on full alert!

Once all the children had eaten, they went on to play party games with the entertainer. I was helping to clear up some of the party food, but then stopped and started to watch Callum closely.

Thank goodness I did!!

The entertainer had started a game of musical statues, and was tapping the ones doing well, and placing a large chocolate coin on their head.

Callum was chosen.

And had a chocolate coin placed on his head.

A chocolate coin.

A dairy filled, severe allergic reaction inducing chocolate coin…..

Oh god!!!

2 mothers either side of me, noticed my immediate sharp inhale of breath, and the rush of panic going through me.

Thankfully, Callum is very well trained by us, and so good at knowing what he can and can’t eat. I’ve never been more proud of him.

He looked at me, I shook my head to indicate ‘no’, and he came running to me straight away with his hand out, to give me the chocolate coin.

I always carry ‘safe’ sweets with me, so that he never misses out. I’m not ashamed to say, I gave him double the normal trade off, plus a big amount of cuddles!

There were no tears, no tantrums, no stamping of feet, no rage.

Just a calm acceptance.

We have always been totally honest with Callum, and as a result, he knows what makes him feel utterly rubbish, he knows what makes him sick, gives him nasty nappies, causes nasty eczema patches.

He knew to stay away.

For that, I am so incredibly proud!!

I may not have been able to prevent him from being given the contraband on this occasion, but by staying on the ball, a major crisis was averted.

When I first began to write this blog just over 9 months ago, it started off as a quiet, neutral place where I could note down the things that were playing on my mind. In fact, if truth be told, it’s probably how most people who write a blog started out.

Well, let me tell you, a blog is a wonderful thing, it really is!

  • It’s almost like a pet, in the way it needs to be fed information and nurtured to see it grow
  • It’s always there for you, even if you do occasionally neglect it a bit when life gets in the way
  • It listens, and lets you tell your thoughts and worries without interruption, or more importantly, argument!
  • It lets you voice your fears without reaction
  • It helps you to reach the answer you’ve been trying so desperately to find
  • It provides a full support group at the times when you really need it most

For me, this blog was a means to try to get my head around everything that happened to Callum and to us as a family.

Anyone who reads this blog knows we have been to hell and back, on a journey I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, to try to get Callum as well as possible in spite of the daily challenges he faces.

Tears, frustration, anger, despair, depression, fear…. None of this truly depicts the tough challenge we have faced as individuals and as a family.

The battles have most definitely left their scars, but we’re still standing, and fighting as a unit to keep Callum well.

As the blog has grown over the past few months, it’s started to reach people who need the support and advice on here the most. And for this I am both proud, and thankful. I promise to keep being there, for everyone, and anyone who needs it. Just knowing someone can relate to what you are going through helps more than words can ever describe!

I was desperate to have this information out there when we were at the beginning of our journey, and knowing this blog can offer the very information that is crucial to help people going through the same journey, is just amazing!

Out of intrigue, I checked the blog’s ranking on Tots 100 at the beginning of the week. I don’t usually, it’s a new blog, and is only just starting to get somewhere in the world of blogging. So imagine my surprise and delight when I found out it’s currently ranked 474 out of 1000’s!

I’m so proud of this! It won’t mean much to many people, but to me, it means my hints, tips, advice, recipes and support is reaching the very people that need it most, the ones that are living the hell we have. And, hopefully, it’s helping them, even just a little bit!

On top of that, this blog was entered into the UK Blog Awards 2015 just to test the water, I never expected it to be accepted, and for that I am truly blown away.

To help us continue spreading the word about allergies and eczema, I would be so grateful if you would vote for us using this link:

http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/the-intolerant-gourmand/

On a personal note, thank you so so much for the support shown to this blog. I promised a year ago to make a difference in the allergy and eczema world, and strive to make diagnosis, support and advice better. Slowly but surely, since setting up The Intolerant Gourmand as a business, we’re starting to make a difference, and we won’t stop until we’ve transformed the way allergies and eczema are managed!

Now we’re approaching winter, it’s come round to that time of year when mention of the flu jab returns. For at risk/ vulnerable people with conditions that predispose them to a higher chance of suffering badly if they caught flu, it’s a great opportunity to protect themselves.

It is offered to the over 65s, people with comorbidities, and front line NHS workers amongst others.

The idea behind the flu jab is to get enough people to take up the offer, so that not only people who need the protection have it, the people who can’t have it will be more protected during the flu season.

Callum has been offered the chance to have the nasal spray for the past 2 years. Unfortunately, as it is egg based it would cause him a reaction. The added problem Callum has, is that even a simple cold can cause major problems for him, so it simply isn’t worth putting him through so much pain and discomfort in the hope he will get some protection.

Jon and I are both offered the flu jab through our work, so to give Callum the best possible chance of being protected, we both get it.

Anything to help our brave boy!

Jon never really gets any reaction, a day of sniffles a few days after having the jab, and that’s it.

Me on the other hand….. a whole different kettle of fish!!

This is the 4th year running that I have had the flu jab, and whilst I’m assured by my work colleagues that there’s no active flu ingredient in the jab, it floors me every single blooming year!

Literally!

Exactly a week to the day after having the jab, I get a sore throat, which progresses to a nasty cough, aching limbs, blocked nose, the shivers and so on. And after a week of this, I lose my voice and all the other symptoms still continue!

It’s almost like my body makes me go through a mild version of flu symptoms whilst trying to ‘accept’ the jab.

It does leave me feeling utterly lousy, and I’m currently on the 2nd week since having the jab, so this week has been somewhat of a struggle, I have to say!!

BUT!

When I consider everything Callum goes through, what he puts up with, and the challenges he faces on a daily basis, I kind of have to man up and just deal with it.

Me having to deal with minor symptoms is far better than the other far more terrifying alternative of Callum actually catching flu. It would undoubtedly result in a hospital admission and leave him very very poorly.

And that, quite simply can’t happen!

If you have it offered to you, please do take up the chance of having the flu jab, you just never know who you might be helping!

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