December 31, 2005 at 6:47 am (Photos)



Originally uploaded by theyoush.

Couldn’t help but notice the subject matter of this book…notice in the lower left-hand corner of the photo…

“He’s allergic to airborne”

It’s from a novel called Transister Radio.


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Clubmom article has gone live, and a New Year’s Podcast

December 30, 2005 at 6:40 am (Allergy News Podcast. Listen free., Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Products, social issues)

This piece, which I submitted as part of my application, has the headline Aw, Nuts. If you read it on their site, would you give it a rating?

Here is the text:

Before my oldest son was born, I considered myself a very well-read and educated new parent. I took a few classes, read a few books, always listened to our pediatrician, and I wasn’t the slightest bit casual about the safety of our child.

Then, one day, in the midst of my perfectionist gleam of glory, I screwed up. Yes, it was all my fault. I did the deed that would seal my child’s fate for the rest of his life: I fed him peanut butter. At 13 months, my son’s digestive system was not developed well enough to handle peanut butter or other nut products.

He had a reaction to a very, very small amount of peanut butter, breaking out in hives and swelling up all over. We were in our doctor’s office in less than an hour, receiving a prescription for epi-pens and being lectured about peanut allergy and its deadly effects.To say we were “stunned” would be like calling Hurricane Katrina “a bit of rain.”

All my life, as long as I could remember, I had been so good at doing everything right. Reading up, following directions to the letter, planning out every conceivable facet of my life…then once I became responsible for another life, I blew it. We all make mistakes as parents, but most of the time they don’t result in a life-threatening medical condition that will follow our child for the rest of his life.

I felt extremely guilty. I made myself sick with grief and worry. Then, I got motivated and moved forward as a crusader to make the world safer for kids with peanut allergy. My child was made only that much more precious to me, and perhaps equally as important, I learned to forgive myself because of this major debacle.

Instead of kicking myself for not reading every conceivable book in the vast parenting library of today’s published works, I accepted (eventually) that what happened was due to a series of circumstances that was only partially under my control. Accepting that fact opened up an entirely new chapter in my life; the one where I made peace with my mistakes and gave up attempting to be perfect.

There’s still a place for hyper-vigilance in my life, and until my kids are grown that place will be an important one, but there are things more important than “getting it right, all the time.” I don’t know if I could have fully learned that without this event having happened like it did.

Also, I did a Happy New Year Allergy news show this morning!  (I apologize for hitting the mic a couple of times by accident!!!)

Podcast shownotes:

Car seat sticker

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Canned vegetables

December 29, 2005 at 6:48 am (Products)

Last night I bought a new brand of canned mixed southern greens.  I love me some greens and Chow Chow, now!

Usually I am 100% safe on my food, but this time, I slipped and forgot to read the label on the can.  I mean, how often have nuts gotten into my greens?  That’s just bizarre.

I got home last night, opened a can of greens, and while it was heating up, I casually and habitually looked at the label.  Contains: Wheat.  Okay.  May Contain Peanuts.  What the hell?

Who eats peanuts in their greens?  Greens.  As in, green, leafy vegetables.  Bizarre.

Anyway, I’ll be doing an allergy news podcast soon, I promise.  It has been a busy week around here, there was a death in the family, you name it.  Hope your holidays were safe and reaction free!

Send me your comments and questions, as always, to

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When was the last time you replaced your pillows?

December 22, 2005 at 6:04 am (Allergy News!)

If you’re an allergy sufferer, when was the last time you thoroughly laundered or replaced your pillows?

BBC News reports:

Pillows can harbour harmful fungi

A small thought to help you sleep when you next get your head down – a study shows the average pillow is home to a host of potentially-harmful fungi. A University of Manchester team found up to 16 types of fungi in pillows they analysed, the Allergy journal reported.

Researchers said feather pillows had fewer species than synthetic versions, particularly in the case of a fungus which exacerbates asthma.

Experts advise disinfecting pillows but say fungi occur in most environments.

The researchers took samples from 10 pillows – five feather and five synthetic – which had been used for between 18 months and 20 years.

The fungal spores found in the pillows fed off human skins scales and dust mite faeces.

Fungal contamination of bedding was first uncovered by studies carried out in the 1930s, but few studies have been done since then.

  I think it is still advisable to disinfect pillows and buy feather ones to help reduce the exposure in the home
Dr Geoffrey Scott, of the Fungal Research Trust
Researchers found that all 10 pillows had a “substantial fungal load” with between four to 16 different species being identified on each, Allergy reported on its website.

The microscopic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus was particularly evident in synthetic pillows.

This fungus commonly invades the lungs and sinuses and can worsen asthma. It is also known to cause infection in leukaemia and bone marrow transplant patients.

The team also found pillows which contained fungi as diverse as bread and vine moulds. Some also had fungi which would usually be found on damp walls.

Lead researcher Professor Ashley Woodcock said the findings showed there was a “miniature ecosystem” operating inside pillows.


He added: “Since people spend a third of their life sleeping and breathing close to a potentially large and varied source of fungi, these findings certainly have important implications for patients with respiratory disease – especially asthma and sinusitis.”

Dr Geoffrey Scott, chairman of the Fungal Research Trust, which funded the study, said the findings were interesting.

“I think particularly for asthma patients this is relevant. These fungi are found in the environment, so we are exposed to them everywhere.

“But I think it is still advisable to disinfect pillows and buy feather ones to help reduce the exposure in the home.”

A spokesperson for the charity Asthma UK said: “We are aware that patients at the severe end of the spectrum of asthma are more likely to be hypersensitive to fungi than others with asthma.

“If you think that fungi could be a trigger for you, you should consult your GP or asthma nurse for advice.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2005/10/14 23:58:46 GMT


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Latest podcast is out

December 21, 2005 at 10:55 am (Allergy News Podcast. Listen free., Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, Products, social issues)

This week’s Allergy News is a longie!

Topics include:

  1. Music provided by the Podsafe Music Network
  2. The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Newsletters (the adult version and the kid version)
  3. Divvies
  4. A big Food Allergy News Thumbs Down to Wilton
  6. POFAK
  7. And a story from the Kalamazoo Gazette on the sale of pseudoephedrine
  8. New products were added to this week, and I am working on a new design that I will reveal here as soon as it is done.

Oh, also, I don’t know if this is updating through iTunes correctly.  I am working on that (purchased some decent software), and I hope to have an iTunes-working feed very soon.  There is a bug in the software and I am waiting on the developer to fix it for me.  Hopefully I won’t be waiting too long!

In the meantime, if you are an iTunes Allergy News listener, then please listen through my page on Podcast Pickle, or your alternate podcast catcher.

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If the podcast disappears from iTunes, look for it again later

December 16, 2005 at 5:20 am (Allergy News Podcast. Listen free.)

I give up trying to fix the feed.  I’m asking them to take it off the directory so I can re-submit the feed.  Maybe then it will update.  In the meantime, please use the RSS feed links listed below to listen through an alternative podcatcher, or use Podcast Pickle (I really like that site), or just click the mp3 links below.

There are now three episodes of Allergy News.

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New Allergy News Podcast Episode today

December 15, 2005 at 12:27 pm (Allergy News Podcast. Listen free., Allergy News!)

This morning I posted another new segment in the Allergy News podcast feed.  I’m having a little trouble right now understanding the finicky whims of RSS, so if you notice there are not three episodes showing up in the feed, just bear with me.  This morning’s episode is about a child having a reaction at school (in the news recently), and an article about allergy shots.

I will make an effort to get back here and post those exact links ASAP, but the schedule lately is beyond hectic, and with the RSS issues (still not updating through iTunes, for example), I’m a little harried and frazzled…

Anyway, the link to Allergy News on Podcast Pickle is in the entry below this one, have a listen there if your podcast-catcher software isn’t downloading the latest episodes.

Take care and be safe!


PS  If you really need a direct access link, the latest podcast is here.  (I prefer that you use a podcast catcher and subscribe to the feed, or use Podcast Pickle and the like so I can see how many actual plays the episode gets.)  🙂

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iTunes is going hooey, new products added to

December 14, 2005 at 5:34 am (Allergy News Podcast. Listen free., Blog & Websites, Products)

I don’t know what the problem is, but iTunes isn’t picking up the latest edition of Allergy News. You can listen to it through any other podcast catcher.

As a matter of fact, you can hear it through Podcast Pickle’s website without even downloading a player. Click here to listen at the Pickle.

It’s a little disheartening that iTunes hasn’t fixed this yet, but I guess they’ve got thousands of podcasts to fix on any given day. I’ve noticed that from time-to-time other podcasts (big, professional, robust podcasts) are also showing up as “broken” through iTunes.

Oh, well.

Give it a listen!

Also, yesterday I added a boatload of new shirts to the best-selling shops on Where there had only been three products w/ one design, now there are twenty. That was only in three or four shops (it was taking some time to do), but I will probably keep expanding and doing more.

I still take requests, and my turn-around time should be better now (I’ve worked out a schedule to have set time to work on these). Thanks for your continued support. I continue to only break even on this project–it’s a labor of love, not a money maker.

Have a great day!

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Confessions of a former Food Allergy Jerk

December 10, 2005 at 7:58 pm (Allergy News!, Blog & Websites, social issues)

(originally submitted to for January 2006 publication)

Since the November 2005 well-publicized death of a teenaged girl in Canada due to second-hand nut exposure, my inbox has been overflowing with emails from friends, family, and online acquaintances who want to make sure we heard the news. For the most part, these emailers are waking up to the very real danger that food allergies pose every day for those afflicted by anaphylactic reactions, and they’re eager to let us know that they now understand the seriousness of peanut and other food allergies.

On the one hand, I’m glad that the news is getting out there, so that people will get it—this is a real problem, our family didn’t invent it, and we’re not the only ones that deal with it. I confess that there have been times when our zeal for protecting our son has translated our behavior in the eyes of others as, well…Food Allergy Jerkiness. I don’t know how else to label it. We didn’t want to be spoil sports or party-poopers, but in some circumstances we were presented with a clear choice: cause an inconvenience for others or a possible death for our oldest son. We were firm about which wasn’t going to happen on our watch, and that wasn’t always understood – mostly, I believe, because the specifics we provided of food allergy reactions weren’t believed.

The news of that poor girl’s death in Canada has certainly opened some eyes in that regard.

On the other hand, the publicity around this tragedy brings to light an issue that lies in wait in my family’s future: how to deal with a teenager who has life-threatening food allergies. To be honest, I don’t know if I am ready to tackle that thought just yet.

I have known and loved many a teenager in my short life, and sometimes I even remember being one myself. I was very rebellious & passionate. I met my now-husband when I was but a child of fourteen (and he seventeen), and my goodness, how in love with him I was. I wonder, if I had had peanut allergy and he’d have eaten a piece of peanut butter candy, would I have known to not kiss him? Would I have known and done it, anyway?

I listen to my four year old son and his current list of rebellious incendiary phrases, and I wonder where this is heading, a decade from now. Will he be strong and brave enough to express his dietary needs when he’s in a group? Will he be smart enough to pick friends who listen, understand, and care? Will he be too cool? Too eagerly affectionate, and not ask his teenaged girlfriends if they’ve eaten peanut butter, before he goes in for a kiss?

My plan for now centers around keeping an open dialogue. Listening. Taking nothing for granted. Maybe I’ll be able to get my child’s friends involved, and their parents, too, if possible. I don’t want to be a Food Allergy Jerk. I just don’t want to drop the ball.

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the Christina Desforges, of Saguenay, Quebec. As a mom, I will do whatever I can to make sure her fate is not repeated.

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Allergy Parents Who Start Out Strong Need to Go Long, Not Wrong

December 10, 2005 at 7:56 pm (Blog & Websites)

Originally submitted to (if approved, will appear in January)

Living in our house is not very conducive to routine cleaning, or routines of any kind. Three kids in less than four years, two careers, various entrepreneurial exploits, & numerous creative pursuits add up a busy place full of vitality and energy. We’re progressive, adventurous, exploratory. The last thing we like to do is stop and do anything remedial, but when it comes to environmental allergies, sometimes that’s the very thing we need to do.

When our oldest was first diagnosed (then tested and confirmed to have) nearly every allergy on the 64-item environmental allergy test sheet, my husband Steve and I went overboard removing sources of allergens from our environment. Sure, we kept the cats, but we vowed to wash them frequently, we invested in an air ionizer, we bought mattress covers, got rid of the shades, gave away stuffed animals, the works. We did it all.

Facing our first bout of the Winter Snifflies this year, I started doing a mental inventory of all those allergen-free-home tactics we’d adapted so long ago. No one had come around to issue a report card on our Allergen-Free Home Compliance—so how we were doing? Our middle child’s nose was running, and I knew from experience that if it wasn’t attended to quickly, his clear sinus drainage would turn cloudy, then there would be fevers, sleepless nights, and one very uncomfortable child kicking and screaming when it was time for medicine, leading to one frustrated mom and dad. No, thanks!

Here’s a list of methods we’ve employed in the past three years to get us through the winters with as few allergy-related winter colds as possible. Maybe this will be a reminder for you, as well:

1.) Change that air filter in the furnace. Yes, you really did just change it last month, and it’s possible that your relatives or parents don’t need to change theirs as often, but so what? If it’s dirty, then change it.
2.) Try out an air ionizer. Since these can be pricey, shop around for features and opinions. Some emit an ozone smell that you may find intolerable. Others may be smell-free but require daily cleaning that you might find hard to fit into your busy schedule. Before you buy, think about whether or not this product will really help you, and if so, whether you will maintain it properly. (We’ve personally had great success with our ionizer, but, alas, it is currently broken, thus, this tip!)
3.) If you use a humidifier to soothe your child’s cold or cough, inspect the room for any new growth of mold. Mold spores left unchecked can quickly repeat the cycle of allergic reaction, then sinus infection, then weakened immune system, then another cold or the dreaded flu. It goes without saying that you’ve cleaned the humidifier prior to and following its use, of course.
4.) Don’t just use your vacuum for spilled Cheerios–take care of those window blinds and shades. Dust the ceiling fans and inspect the air returns. While you’re at it, change your shower curtain and that mat in the bottom of the tub. Anywhere there’s water, there will be mold growing, and that stuff is going into your kid’s lungs. Maybe you could set a date on your monthly calendar to do this every single month, so you don’t forget.
5.) Keep your eyes peeled at your child’s school or daycare. I’ve personally eyed inch-thick dust on the air returns of public buildings like churches, community centers, health clubs, and libraries. Duct-cleaning services can take care of this sort of problem in relatively short order. Remember to remain gracious when you bring this subject up with the administration.
6.) Wash your pets regularly, or at least wipe them down with a damp cloth to remove dander. If you’re really busy, your animals might even mistake this for affection and learn to like it!
7.) If the medication your child is taking no longer seems to be working, and you’ve tried all of the above, then don’t be afraid to take it up with your doctor. You might need to switch brands, have an increased dosage, stop the medication altogether and try something else, like allergy shots. Maybe your child is already taking shots and the serum needs to be re-formulated. It’s your doctor’s responsibility to diagnose and prescribe treatment, but it’s your responsibility to keep track of the results, so don’t be remiss in reporting them.

By no means is this intended to be an exhaustive list of fail-safe cures for the Winter Snifflies, but it should give you a few action items to add to your Cold Prevention to-do list. I certainly will be adding them to mine, again, and again, I’m sure.

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