Monday, January 16, 2017

Allergy Re-Testing Day

Today was the day - time for the every-18-months retesting for Liv's allergies. (Actually the original day was December 27 but we were dealing with hives and illness on that day so today was the new day).

First things first: ALWAYS ask what is going on at the allergist's office. They were only going to test her for the "seasonal" stuff today because they said her last skin test didn't show any positive food allergies (it did but I was armed with the results anyway). I pushed back and said "Here are her results from April 2015 and you can see that she's allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame seeds. You WILL be testing for food again today."

And they did test for food. And we have a few new items to add to our list.

Today the skin test results were positive for shellfish (totally new to us) and were once again positive for corn and soybeans (originally showed up on her first skin test back in 2011 but hasn't shown up again until today).

Liv's arms, halfway through the test

So...long story short: she eats corn products and items made with soy all the time with no issues so the allergist said to continue doing so unless we see an issue. The shellfish was a different story - we were told to avoid all shellfish. Which is fine, since Liv doesn't eat or like shellfish. Easy peasy.

Her positive reaction to almonds wasn't a complete surprise - we know she's allergic to almonds - but it's now a 4 out of 5 on the scale our allergist uses. Hazelnuts, peanuts, and sesame seeds were all still prevalent too.

[As an aside, I'm looking at her test results from 2015 and am seeing that at that appointment they didn't even run the tree nut panel - our results were from the blood test only! GAH! Another reason to always pay attention at an appointment].

The CNP today was great - she went down Liv's arm, one wheal (think: small hive) at a time making a determination by TOUCH of their severity. This had never been done at the office - except maybe back in 2011 at her very first visit. [In 2015 the nurse was hurried and didn't pay much attention at all, which is likely what lead to the miscommunication at today's visit.]

It was so nice to have someone take the time to discuss the new allergies and we even talked about the gluten sensitivity - and we're continuing the gluten free protocol because we're seeing positive (read: good) results with relation to the autoimmune diseases.

As always, we also did a blood screening for IgE levels for almond, brazil nuts, cashew, coconut, hazelnut, peanut, pecan, pistachio, walnut, sesame seed, soybean, and corn. Basically Liv spent 2 1/2 hours today getting poked by needles. 

Oh, and on the non-food side Liv is now allergic to horses and guinea pigs. Those are new to the list. Her "seasonal" allergies are getting better - so in 6 months we might be able to go to once-a-month allergy shots. At least we're making progress there. :)

And in the end we keep on keepin' on. Avoiding peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and now shellfish. Keeping an eye on corn and soybean. And Liv is never getting a horse. Or a guinea pig.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happy 13th Birthday

Olivia turned 13 earlier this week (!!!) and we celebrated with a night out at Georgio's, a high-end restaurant here in town.

We love Georgio's - and we try to go once a year (usually for Liv's birthday). It's really REALLY expensive but oh so worth it (and a gift certificate each year helps a lot).

In the past Georgio's has been great about Liv's allergies - we let the waitress know what needs to be avoided and the kitchen makes it happen. Of course, she's usually ordering steak so that's pretty easy.

This year we added "no gluten" to the mix and the kitchen was, once again, wonderful. Liv loves the sauteed Haloumi cheese ( need to order this!) and the kitchen used corn starch instead of flour to coat the cheese. She also ordered a steak dish that came with a red wine reduction and the kitchen made a roux WITHOUT FLOUR just for Liv.

And THAT my friends is how you deal with food allergies.

The only setback came when they brought out a slice of cake for her birthday - with candles and all - and the cake was a Macadamia Nut Bomb. The waitress felt horrible about her mistake and quickly returned with a bowl of vanilla ice cream AND chocolate creme brulee.

the cake with nuts! :(
If you're ever in Toledo and you're looking for a wonderful place for lunch or dinner, make the drive downtown for Georgio's. It'll be worth it.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year and Other Stuff we made it to 2017.

Life has been a bit crazy since the last time I blogged here.

Long story short...Liv was diagnosed with two autoimmune diseases in a span of 5 months last year. And then over the summer she broke a bone in her foot.
You're probably wondering how/why these two things might be related.

Well: at an ortho appointment the doctor noticed some sores on Liv's legs and asked if she had a gluten allergy. I said "not that we know of" but we had an allergist appointment the next week. At that appointment I mentioned the gluten thing to the doc and she ordered a blood test just to make sure.

Test came back with elevated IgE levels for gluten (but negative for celiac) and so the doc recommended a gluten cleanse.

Eight weeks later Liv's hair is growing back as quickly as she's losing it (and - knock on wood - she isn't losing much at all right now) and her skin has totally cleared up. No psoriasis plaques, no eczema, nothing. The pediatrician said if it seems to be working, stick with the no gluten diet.

[If you're wondering, yes...there is a link between gluten and autoimmune diseases].

As for Liv she's feeling better, she looks better, and she's handling the "no gluten" diet rather well.

Now, as I tend to do on this blog it's time to give some shout outs to local restaurants and their handling of food allergies, which now includes gluten.

A few weeks ago we dined at LaScola Italian Grill and they get a gold star for handling guests with gluten issues. The restaurant has a dedicated gluten-free menu - including rolls!!! - and they were amazing with Liv's allergies and gluten sensitivity. Also, her fettuccine alfredo was SO much better than the version with "regular" noodles.

We've dined at another favorite spot - Mancy's Italian - twice since Liv went gluten free and both times I've left with a not-so-happy feeling. Last week when we dined there I had made it a point to mention Liv's allergies in our OpenTable reservation and the waitress was aware of them when she came to our table (one point for Mancy's).

They also have a gluten free menu but (here's where points are deducted) they charge an extra $3 for gluten-free pasta dishes and an extra $7 (!!!) for gluten-free pizza. Seriously. 50 points deducted for Mancy's Italian.

Why in the world would you punish people for not being able to eat gluten? That's beyond ridiculous.

I will give our waitress a few points for giving Liv her own plate of olive oil (to reduce cross-contact), but the whole charging-extra-for-gluten-free negates any points.

Restaurants need to realize that food allergies are not a "fad" and they aren't going away - in fact they will likely continue to grow. As such, the industry as a whole needs to stop punishing diners for their food allergies and this includes putting and end to the "extra" charges for things like gluten-free pasta and pizza.

And with that I'll wish you all a Happy 2017! Here's to safe eating and allergy-friendly restaurants :)