Back to the Food Allergies

I joke that I live in a zoo. It’s kind of literal, we do have a crapton of kids, pets, other people’s kids, etc. It’s also kind of a metaphor for the controlled chaos we have going here between work, kid activities, my activities, our hobbies, and just life in general. One of our underlying, longstanding issues is of course the life threatening food allergies that Dorothy still has, that she always will have. We have done our very best to keep everything she does as normal as possible but the undercurrent is always there. Because we have constructed many strategically placed barriers, sometimes we as a family, her friends and her teachers can almost forget. Almost. Well, until we have an issue.

I’ve talked a lot in the past about the 504 Plan in place at school. It has many classroom modifications in place and lunch room procedures that allow Dot to operate within school safely, and hopefully without fear of allergic reaction. This ADA plan is in place because the severity of her allergies is debilitating. It is a disability. She reacts violently not just to consumption of tree nuts, but has a long history of reactivity to proteins left behind on surfaces and particles in the air. 

Over the last couple of weeks something within the classroom has changed. We can’t pinpoint exactly what is going on, but my suspicion is that one of the students got some new hand lotion and has been touching things. Dorothy has been to the nurse 6 times for hives that start on her right arm. The hives obviously itch, and travel quickly. Within minutes they cover her upper body. She is given Benadryl, and once they subside she is sent back to class. The problem here is that the Benadryl is a Bandaid. It is reactive to a problem that she isn’t supposed to have to actively worry about at school. Her teachers continue teaching, she misses class work, misses material that she is responsible for, and then returns to class sleepy. This can’t continue. 

She has been moved to the front right of the room, she no longer shares supplies (we need to add this to her 504 for 6th grade, though why 5th graders are still sharing is beyond me), and has been given her own white board. The custodian is being reeducated on how to clean her desk. The white board is a bit of a problem because she can’t leave it in her shared locker, she is concerned that her locker mate will touch it. Now that I’ve written this out, I’m going to call and ask that she not have a shared locker, and also ask to modify her 504 to include the supplies and locker now. The students are all being reeducated along with the teachers on how to prevent allergic reactions, and mandatory handwashing upon classroom entry has been enacted. Dot is concerned that the other kids will resent her for the changes. She doesn’t want to be different. We are working on this. Right now, her safety is number 1, but I have to address the mental aspects as well. I don’t want this for her.

Every time we deal with the big Pink Elephant in the room I have a little cry, and then I put my brave mom face back on and deal with it head on. Right now I’m still having my little cry. I know that we all send our kids out the door everyday and hope they will return, freak things happen all the time though. The problem with my girl is that the “freak thing” could be a simple as a kid having honey nut cheerios for breakfast, or a granola bar, or having washed their hair with Tres’eme shampoo and then hugging her. At the end of the day though, I have to assure myself that I’ve done every.single.thing I can to keep her safe, if something breaks down and fails I though, I will have to deal with that too. I try not to go there very often, but when I let my guard down, when I stop being vigilant…ugh. I’m done with this train for now.

Anyway, education about food allergies is ongoing. I wish there was another name for the type of allergies we deal with, something that everyone would “get”. But there isn’t.

I’m emotional about this today. I’m looking for a presentation/video that can be shown to 5th graders to help them understand.

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Weighty issues

I’m getting a little nervous about my Team Beef photo shoot this weekend. I have run for Team Beef since spring 2010, and they sponsor many of the races I run. I’m seriously beyond flattered that I was one of only 4 team members selected to be highlighted by the magazine. After I read the copy of “my” story, had I not known it was about me I would have totally been inspired by it. I would have read the story and thought, wow, that could be about any mom who let her weight get out of control while taking care of back to back to back children. That could be any woman who just quit working out and quit focusing on her health. I would have seen myself in the story like I do in the stories I see on the Atkins site, People Magazine, and Nutri-system commercials. It’s like a series of events occurs over a decade or more and suddenly you have gone from size 6 to size 22, and you have a “Come to Jesus” moment and realize you have to do something. I can relate to that story…I guess that’s why this time around I AM the story. But I’m a little embarrassed by it.

When I got out of the Army i was pregnant and had quit smoking, I stopped all forms of exercise. On Friday I went to step aerobics for an hour, then to PT, then ran a couple miles. On Monday, I went to college classes and that was it. I didn’t run, not even to the fridge for another 11 years. So, from August 1998 – October 2009 I lived a sedentary life. I was busy raising kids, getting divorced & remarried, working at an office, starting my own business, cooking, cleaning, but spending a lot of time holding down a couch, eating comfort food. At first, i just never lost the 65+ pounds I gained during my first pregnancy, then I was pregnant again and gained back the minimal amount I’d lost. I delivered both of my first two children at about 217lbs. That’s a lot considering I’m only 5’2.

I somehow convinced myself that size 14, then 16, then 18, then 20 was just fine. It’s just a number, right? I’m still me. Well, the problem was that somewhere in there “ME” got a little lost. Two more babies, both pregnancies riddled with insulin dependence, zoloft, and depression led me to where? I don’t know. I tried to do everything to be the best mom in the world, but I wasn’t taking care of myself at all. I went to a 1 year postpartum check up and I weighed 215, had an A1C of 6.5 – this is considered the first number that indicates diabetes, and my cholesterol was 242. That’s when I started walking, that’s when I started taking control of my health, and that’s the moment I realized that I had to take care of me in order to take care of everyone else.

I shouldn’t be embarrassed to have lost 75 lbs, to have maintained the loss, or to continue working towards an even healthier me. I should be proud of this, and the fact that despite having started at morbid obesity I was able to dig my way out to a healthy (barely) weight, and pick up running along the way. I think the reason I hang my medals prominently in our dining room is to remind me of my accomplishments. All of these things should make me proud, but then the self-doubter creeps in and tells me that I should have never, ever gotten to that point. I’m still not where I completely want to be. I’m training for my 11 & 12th half marathons right now and the logical me says that had I stayed the course, had I not gained all that weight, I probably would have never really gotten serious about my health, but who knows.

So this coming Sunday, I am going to have my picture taken next to an elite marathoner, an ultra marathoner, and another team member who has an awesome story to tell as well (I don’t know who she is). I’m seriously worried i’m going to look fat.

I don’t know how to stop hating myself. I don’t know how to forgive myself.

Until then, I’ll just stay the course and keep running because it makes me feel good.

Freedom and running

I love the feeling of the wind whipping my pony tail behind me. I love the smells of trees, the breeze, and rotting leaves. I love seeing icicles along the roots of trees dipping into the edges of a lake. I love the freedom I feel when I lace up my shoes, pop in my Yurbuds and just run. I feel amazing, I feel 16, I feel like I can run forever.

All runs don’t feel great. Some of them I just push through and put in the miles because I know I have a race coming up. Some runs I struggle to get started. When I first got started, I instituted a 10 minute rule. I would push through for 10 minutes and if I didn’t feel like continuing, I could stop at that time. I can’t think of more than a couple runs when I was sick that I stopped. Most of the time, after 10 minutes I know I can finish, even if I modify my original goal.

Saturday I met a friend I’ve run with a few times in a group. She and I have a very close pace and she isn’t real chatty during running. I like that. I like to talk for a mile or two, but after that? I like to just run. It’s nice to have someone on your flank because it keeps you honest and keeps you safe. We picked a location nearby that has paved trails around a lake where the forest has been allowed to grow. It’s peaceful, somewhat busy, so you are alone, but not really. We ran 7.5 miles and I could have easily run 7 more. When we were finished I was actually a little sad. My blood was pumping and I was pouring sweat, despite the chilly temperatures. I think she would have run more, but we both needed to pick our kids up – and I’m glad she understood that. I have another friend I run with, not so much anymore, who doesn’t have children and she can lolly gag about, get coffee, and then grab lunch too if she wants.

Anyway, I think I’ve found a new running buddy. We seem to gel well together and our last 3 miles we didn’t speak a word, but picked up our pace to a 5K race pace, but we weren’t racing, we just felt like running. It felt great.