Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to School with Food Allergies

I've been thinking a lot about the food allergy families out there that are currently in the midst of one of the most stressful times of year.  Back to school time.

While the Staples commercial that shows dad dancing through the isle picking up school supplies with wild enthusiasm is hilarious, it is far from the experience of allergy mamas and papas.  Sure we pick up all the supplies from the list the teacher sends us.  And then some.

Our commercial would show us frantically raiding the pharmacy, stocking up on epi-pens, fast acting antihistamine, and inhalers. (There is a wonderful new product out there to help your school nurse keep this easily accessible:  I wish I had thought of it! Be a dear and support a small business, don't make your own. Thanks.)

In addition, the paperwork that allows our allergic kiddos to have all of their medical supplies at school makes tax time seem breezy.  Three forms for the epi-pen: one to allow it to be present at school, one to allow your child to carry it on their body, one to detail when/how to use it and who is allowed to be trained.  Two forms for the inhaler.  One for the antihistamine.  One for the topical eczema cream. An allergy action plan, in duplicate, on fluorescent paper with child's school picture attached. The IHP, the 504. All signed by your doctor.  The good news? No form needed for wine. Go ahead and pour yourself a glass now.

While gathering medical supplies and forms can be frustrating and time consuming, most of us are confident in our ability to handle it.  Experience has given us a system, and we are on it.  More harrowing are the parts of the new year that we can not control, or even forecast.  Each new year brings a new teacher, which means a new person to train in allergy safety and precautions.  Will this teacher be receptive?  Will this teacher 'get it'?  Will the parents in the room be supportive or combative about food restrictions?  Do you have a new nurse? (Turnover is high in the school nursing field.) Will she work with you, or be a hurdle to get over? Aaaack.  And all you want is what every mom wants: to trust that your child will be safe while they are at school.

We haven't even gotten to the food part.  Where will your child eat? How will that space be kept safe? What will you pack for your child to eat? Will there be food in the classroom? How will it be checked for safety? What safe snacks will you leave at school in the event the celebration is not safe?  Is there emergency food in case of an extended shelter-in-place emergency?  Oh, the details.

Back to school can be stressful.  My wish for everyone is a smooth transition into their new grade, a healthy working relationship with the new teacher and classroom parents, and a chance to relax once that first week is behind you.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the tips on back-to-school, and for the link to Medpax! My son starts preschool this year and I've only begun to stress out about making sure his school is well equipped for an allergy emergency - ugh! Thankfully the school is nut/peanut free but mistakes happen. I'll be putting together my allergy action plan and buying my son's medpax this week! Thanks again!


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