feeling like me again – food allergy update

On January 2nd I woke up in the morning and the tips of my ears were INCREDIBLY itchy.  I don’t just mean a little tiny bit itchy.  I mean like I wanted to rip them off my head itchy.  They were really red and it took everything I had in me not to scratch them to death.

I put cortisone cream on them and there was no relief.

A couple of days later the itching was even worse (which I could not have imagined until it happened) and had spread to my entire ear, not just the tips.  They were swollen, itchy and burned like crazy.  I joked to my family that someone must have really been thinking about me because my ears were burning, but honestly it was just so uncomfortable.  Within a couple of days the itchiness spread to my head, neck and face.  I went to the pharmacist that weekend and was advised to take Benadryl at night and Zyrtec during the day.  She didn’t think the cortisone cream was helping because to her it seemed like it was probably a systemic reaction – to something I was putting in or on my body.  I did a mental checklist of all the products I was using – face cleansers, makeup, hair products, lotions, laundry detergents, etc. and tried to think of anything that might be new or different.  I had joined a new gym recently and thought maybe their shampoo and soap could have impacted me or possibly even the detergent they used to wash their towels.  About a month earlier I started a new face soap, so I stopped using it.  I also had switched my women’s multivitamin to the generic Whole Foods brand – I didn’t think it was much different from the one I’d taken before but I was helplessly trying to figure it out.  Nothing improved, and was actually getting worse, so I went to see my doctor after about a full week.  My doctor put me on a 7-day stretch of prednisone and told me to continue to take the allergy medicine and to stay away from the vitamin.  I also had a swollen lymph node under my left ear that was rather large, so she wanted to keep an eye on that.  She told me I would “feel like a brand new person” within 48 hours on the prednisone.

No such luck.

During the week on the prednisone I felt worse and worse every single day.  My itching spread to other parts of my body and was so intense that I could hardly stand it.  Taking hot showers killed my skin.  My joints felt puffy and stiff – especially in my fingers.  I was congested and so, so sleepy at times of the day that I usually had lots of energy.  And the swollen lymph node grew larger.

The day after I finished the prednisone I had a snack of apples with peanut butter (something I often eat) and later that day I had some peanut butter cups (another favorite treat).  That night I noticed my eyes were swelling up and were itchy.  I felt miserable and took two Benadryl before crawling into bed.  It honestly did not occur to me that the peanut butter was causing this.  It did not even cross my mind.

I had a horrible night sleep that night – itching like crazy, tossing and turning and feeling as though someone was gripping my neck and almost strangling me.  When I got out of bed at 4:30am I felt like I had been in a brawl.  My eyes were swollen and sore, my neck was tight and painful and the itching all around my head, neck and face was nearly unbearable.

i think i actually look better than i felt!

I went to the doctor first thing that morning.  She called in another doctor to take a look at me and together they determined that I should see an allergist as soon as possible.  They also took blood so they could run some tests related to my swollen lymph node.  It was over a cm in diameter and she said any node that size that is persistent over a period of time will need to be checked out.  I drove straight from their office to the allergist after getting my blood taken.

My allergist could not have been nicer.  We talked through what I had been eating and ingesting and putting on my body over the last several weeks.  She wanted to do testing but we had to wait because I had been taking antihistamines for a few weeks, and you need to be off them for a good 5 days to get accurate test results.  She put me on a food allergy elimination diet (basically I was to eat rice, carrots, beets and pears for a week and drink only water!), gave me some prescription steroid creams for my itchy skin and an Epi Pen prescription.  She told me that I was experiencing a food allergy reaction and that basically my system was really freaking out.  I have to admit I was sort of beside myself with all of this.  I was a severely asthmatic child and have tons of seasonal allergies, two of my three kids have asthma, one of my children has severe food allergies, many of my nieces have food allergies and my mom and two of my sisters also have bad allergies … but still for some reason this whole experience was really jarring me and stunning me!  I would do anything to feel better though – it had been weeks of going from bad to worse and feeling helpless and so uncomfortable.  I needed to get to the bottom of this and figure it out so that I could feel better.

swollen, itchy, helpless

So that week I followed the allergy elimination diet, used my creams and did NOT take any allergy medication.  Within less than 2 days I felt like me again.  I had some random itching here and there, but I was SO. MUCH. BETTER.

starting to feel like ME again – day 2 day of elimination diet

I knew then that the doctor was right.  Something that I had been eating on a regular basis was the culprit, but I didn’t know what yet.  I went back to the doctor 5 days later – free of any antihistamines in my system – and got my skin tested for food allergies.

It turns out that I am highly allergic to some foods that I was putting in my body on a constant basis – wheat and peanuts.  I almost fell off my chair in the allergist’s office.  I am also quite (but not as) allergic to sesame, soy and shellfish.  Usually doctors give you an allergy level of 1+ – 5+.  1+ being the lowest and 5+ being the most severe.  My wheat and peanut levels are both 4+ and my sesame, soy and shellfish allergies are 3+.  I also tested positive at 1+ and 2+ for some other foods – eggs, chocolate, almonds, hazlenuts, corn.  My lymph node was still just as swollen at this point and my doctor told me to just avoid anything I tested positive for until my system had a chance to totally calm down.

Last week I went back to my regular doctor because even though I am feeling SO MUCH BETTER, my lymph node has not shrunk.  My doctor thinks this could be due to my allergic reaction – she said my liver function numbers were elevated which basically indicated my body was fighting something and most likely it was the allergies we know at this point.  She thinks the node could just be stubborn and is having a hard time draining, but because it has been swollen like this for more than a month and because it is only on one side of my body she wants me now to see an ENT for further testing.  She told me they may want to do a CT scan and biopsy on it, to be thorough, but told me not to worry.

the node!

This morning I wen back to the allergist for more allergy testing and got to meet with the head of the practice.  He could not have been more kind or professional.  We did more skin testing and determined that I am not allergic to any MORE foods which is AWESOME.  He also told me that all those things I am a 1+ for I should absolutely be able to eat safely, which makes me extremely happy.  I have missed chocolate.  And I love almonds.

On Wednesday I go to the ENT to talk with them about my swollen lymph node.  I actually really think it is shrinking – like I really, really do! – and feel confident that they might not even think it’s necessary to do the CT scan or biopsy on it after all.  I will happily have them do it if they think it’s smart though, because being thorough with this kind of stuff is certainly important.

It’s been a crazy month and half, you guys!  I’m so thankful to be figuring out what was causing me to feel so awful and to now be able to move forward putting things in my body that make me feel GOOD and help me stay strong.  I’ll keep you posted on what happens with the ENT.

Onward and upward!!

Do you have any food allergies?  Have you ever dealt with a health “mystery” like this, and had to make changes to what you were putting in or on your body to feel better?

Easy Oatmeal Pancakes

When I was a little girl, I remember thinking that my mom’s pancake breakfasts were the most delicious, most exciting meal that she would make for us.  As we got older my younger sister Alissa and I loved helping out with the preparation, watching for the batter to bubble and timing the flip just right to make them the perfect shade of golden brown.  We lived at our house in Bethany Beach, Delaware every summer and pancake breakfasts there were especially wonderful.  Our little townhouse was full of guests staying with us, all summer long.  We were laid back, carefree, barefoot and happy.

The memories I have of growing up at the beach every summer are priceless to me.  Those years have so much to do with making me the person I am today.  I was taught to appreciate the simple things, to adore time with the people I love, to be flexible and easy going and just live in the very moment at hand.  I can’t think back to that time in my life without smiling and feeling completely grateful.  It is almost like warm sunshine washes over and through me whenever I think about it.  My lips automatically curl into a smile and I know that I am blessed and lucky.  I can close my eyes and take myself right back there, and taste all of the memories as if they were yesterday.  I feel the sand in my toes, the saltwater on my skin.  Hear the laughter of me and my sisters and our friends.  I am filled with the pure and simple joy that made up those summer days.  And I am thankful.

I think all of us have pieces from our childhood that we hope to recreate for our own children when we become parents.  Moments and traditions that helped shape us into the people we are today.  Memories of the ones we love, especially our parents and our siblings, that we want to pass down for future generations.  For me, SUMMER is like a big box full of everything I hold dear.  I want to open it up, dive in and just SAVOR every second of it.  I could LIVE in that box of Summer, and I would not tire of the season one bit I promise you.  The idea of an “endless summer” totally works for me – I am a summertime girl and there is just no time of year that suits me better.  Some day I will live at the beach.  I don’t really care which one.  I just want to be close to the sea and the salt air and the sunshine.  Some day.

Anyway, this post is already all over the place.  Sorry about that.  I said it was about pancakes.  And it is!  I just digressed a little (or maybe a lot).  Because when I think of pancakes I think of my mother and when I think of my mother I think of the summer and our big pancake breakfasts and the fact that I want to be that kind of mom to my own kids.  To pass down the pancake breakfast tradition.  I’m not a fantastic cook – but pancakes – I can do those!  Thanks to my mother.

So four years ago when my son Will was diagnosed with life threatening food allergies to nearly every ingredient that is IN a pancake, my bubble was completely burst.  He can’t have eggs or dairy (among lots of other things) and up until he was 3 years old he also couldn’t have wheat or soy.  My husband and I were determined to figure out a way to make pancakes that our little guy could eat and that we all would enjoy.  We tried lots and lots of recipes and this one is so simple it almost can’t even be called a recipe.  I make these pancakes frequently for my family and everyone loves them.


quick oats
soy milk
canola oil

There are no measurements, I realize that.  It is great – very hard to mess up – and also really easy for the kids to help out with.

To make the batter, I fill a microwavable glass bowl about half full with the oats.  Then I add soy milk to get a consistency that would make very thick oatmeal.  I put a little bit of sugar (just depends how sweet you want it) and a little splash of canola oil in the bowl and stir it all up.  Then I microwave the bowl for about a minute and a half.  The oatmeal should be thick – not soupy.

While the oatmeal is cooking, I heat up a skillet and put a tiny bit of canola oil in the pan.  Not a lot at all – just a little to coat the pan.  You could also probably use canola oil spray.  You just don’t want the pancakes to stick to the pan.  Once the oatmeal is done, I plop spoonfuls of it onto the pan.  They aren’t going to ooze and spread the way normal pancake batter does so you don’t need to worry about them running together since the oatmeal is thick.  But you should leave maybe an inch or so between each pancake while they cook so you have room to flip them.

I smoosh them flat a little bit and let them cook for a few minutes before flipping them.  It depends how high you have the heat and how crispy you want them to be.  They are technically already cooked so again, you cannot mess these up!  I like them to be a golden brown and flip them usually after just a couple minutes on high heat.

I cook them for about the same amount of time on the other side, and then they are done.  It is insanely easy!

It is fun to play with this – I’ve added cinnamon, bananas, chocolate chips, blueberries.  I’m sure there’s so much else you could try.  They also refrigerate really well and make great leftovers the next morning.  Another bonus!

My family enjoys these so much.  Everyone is happy when we have an oatmeal pancake breakfast.  Will loves them stacked with syrup drizzled on top, Gus loves them broken up into pieces.  Abby loves them completely plain and simple.  As a mom, I love that they are totally easy, somewhat nutritious and really delicious.

This pancake breakfast may be totally different from the one my mom made for me and my sisters when I was a young girl, but I know the impact on my kids is absolutely one and the same.  I can see it in their eyes, hear it in their laughter.

We make good memories around our breakfast table.  Memories that will help shape and define us.  It’s so simple.  And so wonderful.

~ Picky Bars ~

One might venture to call me a picky eater.  I eat a mostly vegan diet and I have a sensitive stomach.  There are certain things that my body just won’t tolerate most days of the week (dairy and gluten, in particular).  When I’m getting ready for a run I have to be especially careful to avoid those foods otherwise my stomach will go into over-active mode and that just isn’t fun to have to deal with.  And when I’m done with a hard workout and need to eat something soon after to begin my recovery, I can be finicky and have very little appetite for a while.  Figuring out what works for me has been a long and ongoing process.

A few months ago I started hearing about a new bar out there that was made with picky eaters (who are also athletes) in mind.  People with food allergies and sensitivities.  People who need to be careful and mindful about what they put in their bodies, whether they are getting ready for a workout, taking a rest day or recovering from a hard effort on the track.  Picky people who are not only picky about what is (or isn’t) in their food, but who also like yummy things and want their food to taste good.

People like me.

I had to know what they were all about.  So I placed an order to see for myself. 

I am SO glad that I did.

Picky Bars (http://www.pickybars.com/) are the perfect snack for me. They taste great.  They are packed with nutritional yummy goodness.  They are all completely dairy and gluten free.  I have tried all three flavors and my stomach has not been upset from them once. 

I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite flavor because I love them all, though the “Nutless Wonder” may win out because it is free of both peanuts and tree nuts (foods my 5 year old son Will is very allergic to).  Before letting Will have a taste of my new “Mommy Bar” as he calls it, I emailed the company to inquire about their manufacturing process and see what efforts were taken to avoid cross contamination.  I was so grateful and amazed with the response I received.  Lauren Fleshman (who is one of the creators of Picky Bars and who also happens to be an incredible professional runner who I really really admire) replied to my email with a very thorough, thoughtful and honest response.  They are extremely careful to avoid cross contamination but of course cannot guarantee it won’t happen (they are human), which was honestly what I expected her to say.  But Lauren took the time to go into a lot of detail for me so that I would feel very well informed about how the bars are made (right in their home kitchen) and I could make my decision about whether or not it would be safe to let Will have a taste of the Nutless Wonder.  I’m pretty certain the chances of him having an allergic reaction are pretty slim based on everything Lauren told me about how cautious they are.  I did let him try it and he does like it, but it is not something I will give to him regularly because I’m just really conservative about this kind of thing and feel it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to my son’s food allergies.

I enjoyed my first order of Picky Bars so much, that I placed a second order.  When more than a week went by without receiving my package I looked into it and realized that PayPal had somehow messed up the shipping information in my account and sent my order to an address I lived at more than three years ago.  I was so. very. bummed.  I knew it wasn’t the fault of Picky Bars, but I emailed them to let them know what happened and to see if they had any suggestions or ideas about how I might be able to get my order to arrive at my house.  I was so surprised to get another email from Lauren, this time giving me her cell phone number and asking me to give her a call ASAP so we could “get to the bottom of it.”  She was apparently at the airport and that moment would be a really good time to chat.

Ummmmm …. really?  Call Lauren Fleshman on the phone, like now?  Right this minute?  Ok.  I can do that.

I tried not to be a dork, but that was pretty much impossible. 

We talked about my order and got right to the bottom of it immediately (my old address is now completely deleted from that account, which it should have been anyway), and Lauren insisted they would send me my order again – this time making sure it would be delivered to my current address.  Then we talked about the food allergy thing and then I may have gushed a little (or a lot) about how inspiring I think she is, for her running but also for her companies (her other company is called Believe I Am (http://believeiam.com/) — you must check it out if you haven’t already!).  She was modest and sweet and cool and professional about it all.  Of course.

And then after we got off the phone, I decided I wanted to be a member of the Picky Club (which basically means I want to order Picky Bars regularly and have them sent to me every month).  The bars and the customer service have all just won me over.

I am stoked about what came in the mail today …

it’s official!

And, of course my tee-shirt:

the back says “picky eater.”  yepp, that’s me.

As a member of the Picky Club I will get a delivery of 18 bars each month (should be enough), will get to try out new sample flavors, have this awesome tee shirt and who knows what else they will come up with.

Being a picky eater has never been so much fun.

Have you tried them?  If not, you should!!

and tomorrow he turns 4…

my little buddy turns 4 tomorrow.  i cannot believe it!  the time has just passed by so quickly and ever since he was born our lives have been overflowing with love, adventure and sheer happiness.  i love my little guy so much and am grateful each and every day that he is in my life.  i can’t wait to celebrate his birthday tomorrow!  i have always loved birthdays and admittedly go nuts over them but as soon as i had kids my excitement went to a whole new level.

i have breakfast muffins in the oven (pumpkin, his favorite this time of year), made a giant “4” out of cardboard and glitter to hang from the ceiling above his seat at the breakfast table, am decorating the kitchen with birthday banners, lights and streamers and tonight while he is sleeping we are filling his room with a slew of helium-filled balloons in every color of the rainbow (a family tradition we started when his older sister turned 2) so he will wake to a happy celebration.  i’m not sure who is more excited…me or him!!

backing up a bit, part of the reason i have been bad about the blogging is that we had a big scare this weekend with will’s health.  we were in va beach at my in-laws’ for a close friend’s wedding.  robert and i left for the wedding saturday evening along with his parents and a babysitter who has watched my kids many times (and who we know well and all really adore) came over to watch the kids for us.  the babysitter is very familiar with will’s allergies and is trained to give epi and handle anaphylactic reactions if she needs to.  my point here is that we completely did (and still do) trust her with our children.  i prepared the kids’ dinner before we left and made sure it was all “safe” for him and that the sitter had the emergency kit with benadryl/epi just in case.  anyway, despite all of that we got a phone call just after the wedding ceremony — when the sitter was feeding the kids dinner he asked for some milk (he meant soy milk, that is all he knows) but she reached in my in-laws fridge and poured him a glass of cow’s milk without thinking.  as soon as will took one sip he immediately said his throat was hurting and that he was itchy and actually asked her if it was cow’s milk!  she called me right away as she realized her mistake and how dangerous it was (my son has several life-threatening food allergies and milk is at THE TOP of the list).  we were 40 minutes away.  it was agony.  long story short she gave him 2 tsp of benadryl right away and then when she was getting ready to give him epi (at this point his whole face and his top lip were very swollen and he was bright red all over and was having difficulty breathing…although he was acting ok telling her he wanted to go play on the beach!) he began to vomit violently so i just told her to CALL 911 right away and hung up the phone.  robert and i hopped in the car with his parents and we sped to the hospital.  i was beyond scared and upset and we had TOO FAR to drive to get to my baby.  the ambulance came right away and took care of him and rushed him to the hospital.  he had to go in the ambulance all by himself though, which i was so upset about – my kid hates even going to the doctor! – and i was imagining him feeling so scared and traumatized the whole way there.  the babysitter gave me one of the paramedic’s phone numbers and it was great to talk with him on the way.  he assured me will was going to be ok and that he was not scared.  we got to the hospital just as will did (thanks to my father-in-law driving 90mph on the way there!) and it was so wonderful to see my baby boy.  i could not stop crying and was just so grateful he was ok.  i hopped right on the hospital bed with him and snuggled him and he looked at me and said “mamma, why are you crying?” which only made me cry more.  he was so brave.  his face was still red and puffy and his big brown eyes were all blood shot from such violent vomiting (he even had popped little capillaries in his cheeks) but he looked so sweet and calm.  when i asked him if it was scary in the ambulance he said “actually, it was kind of exciting” and went on to tell me that it was not scary and that the guys who took care of him were so nice.  the paramedics loved him and you could tell…they even gave him fist bumps when they had to say goodbye!  it was a terrifying experience for all of us and i feel like in a lot of ways i’m still recovering from it emotionally.  i have known about will’s allergies and the severity of them since he was 9 months old…and we really have a good handle on things i believe.  but that was a wakeup call.  i try to make sure he knows about his allergies and that he is careful and self-aware but i also want him to feel free to be a kid like every other kid out there.  just the day before i brought him to one of his classmate’s birthday parties at chuck e. cheese’s.  what do they serve there?  pizza.  covered in drippy cheese which would be deadly for him.  but i was NOT going to let him miss out!  and he had a great time!  i packed his lunch, made him special cupcakes, and was there to watch closely to make sure he was safe and he had just as much fun (if not more!) as every other kid there.  i guess you can never be too careful and can’t let your guard down.

a few things i learned from the experience:

1) always go with your gut when it comes to your kids.  i knew in my heart what had to be done that night…but every bone in my body did not want to do it!  i had to go with it though and am so glad that i did.
2) even when you cover all your bases…things can go wrong…and you need to be prepared for that JUST IN CASE.
3) my son is amazing amazing amazing. that little boy is the strongest, bravest, smartest, most self-aware person i have ever known.  i am so proud of him every day and am so grateful to be blessed to be his mother.  we have so much to learn from our children.
4) my 5 year old daughter is completely incredible.  she looks out for her brother and steps up when she needs to (and when she is not expected to).  the paramedics (and the sitter) told me that she was calm and comforting to will the whole time.  she was very worried about him though and the next morning and for a day or two after she would not let him out of her site, even if he wanted her to leave him alone!

i am going to celebrate will’s birthday with extra zing and gratitude tomorrow.  and to top it all off, on saturday we have a spider man birthday party happening at our house in honor of him.  i can’t wait.

Will’s Story

When my little buddy Will was born almost 4 years ago he spent his first week of life in the NICU at Georgetown University Hospital because of the threat of bacterial infection.  He was only a week early but when I went into labor I came down with a high fever and the doctors were concerned about infection.  They gave him a spinal tap quickly after I held him in my arms (that was scary) and then he stayed in the NICU all week so they could give him antibiotics and make sure he was strong enough to go home.  They decorated his isolet with a polka-dotted sign with his name on it and did an amazing job of welcoming my sweet baby into this world while caring for babies who were seriously fighting for their lives.  The nurses called Will the “little line backer” in the NICU (at just over 7 pounds) and they said they loved holding him and snuggling with him because so many of the babies that were there were not able to be disconnected from their tubing or taken out of their isolets for more than a minute or two.  It was an amazing experience and I was so very grateful for the angels who cared for him and for the fact that my baby was home in just one week.  I met a lot of moms who had been visiting their babies there for months and still had a long road ahead of them before they could bring them home.  These women were incredibly strong and so supportive of me which I simply could not believe given all they were facing compared to me.

After we brought Will home from the hospital we started to notice his skin was incredibly red and itchy.  He had awful eczema all over his face and body.  We had to put tiny socks on his hands so he wouldn’t scratch himself during his sleep.  We had to slather him in Aquafor a few times a day (he was always pretty greasy looking!) to protect his skin.  He developed a horrible skin infection at just a few months old and this recurred every couple of months during the first two years of his life.  He was on a LOT of antibiotics.  Will also was the “spit up king” and seemed to have really bad reflux.  Despite all of the discomfort I was sure he was in, he was a trooper.  Always smiling, always chill.

When he was around 8 months old I began to feed him solid foods.  I immediately noticed that something was not agreeing with him…he would get hives all over his face and vomit.  I called the pediatrician and he told me they don’t like to test babies for allergies before they are one year old and just to avoid giving him foods that caused any kind of reaction.  The problem was, almost every food I gave him seemed to make him uncomfortable in some way!  When I went in for his 9 month check-up my doctor took one look at him and said “wow, he has a lot of bug bites”…um no those are hives and he has them daily I replied.  So my pediatrician broke his rule and ordered a blood test right away.  Turned out Will was severely allergic (life-theatening levels) to 7 of the top 8 allergens (dairy, egg, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish) so we were referred to an allergist and tested further to find out that in addition to these 7 he was also very allergic to peas, garlic, bananas, beef and tomatoes.  Yikes.  It was tough.  I was nursing him so had to take all these things out of my diet as well.  I kept a food journal for both of us so we could figure out what he was reacting to.  When he was one and it was time to introduce him to milk we switched to rice milk instead since we was so allergic to dairy and soy.

We got used to removing all these foods from our diets, to keeping them out of our home, and to not going out to eat as a family.  I’m not going to say it wasn’t hard – because it WAS – but we eventually got used to it and became vigilant, but relaxed.  I made it my mission to learn to bake without butter, milk and eggs and got tons of excellent cook books and great advice so that my kids could enjoy food the way kids who don’t have any allergies enjoy it.  My husband is an AMAZING cook and he came up with lots of great creative recipes – even made rice milk ice cream that we all loved! – and he continues to do so.

When Will was about 20 months old we were in a groove and felt really good about how we were handling everything.  On Abby’s third birthday we had a few close friends and family over to celebrate.  All the food in our home was “Will safe”…to our knowledge.  But during the party my little baby developed horrible hives and was irritable.  I gave him Benadryl right away and took off his clothes so I could see what was happening with the hives.  I did not see any signs of difficulty breathing but we were all watching him closely to make sure the Benadryl was working.  A few minutes later I was holding him in my arms and he began to vomit – violently – and it terrified me.  Then he started to pass out in my arms and we called 911.  The ambulance came right away and my baby would not wake up.  It was so scary and I could not believe it was happening.  Once we were in the ambulance they gave him a shot of Epinephren and he immediately came to consciousness screaming and terrified.  My mom stayed at our house with my sweet Abby while Robert and I headed to the hospital with Will.  He was fine – but had experienced an anaphylactic reaction to something IN OUR HOME and we had NO IDEA what it could be.  After visiting the allergist and doing more testing we discovered that in addition to all the allergies we were aware of, he was also severely allergic to both mustard and sesame.  That day Robert had made a vinaigrette that had mustard in it.  Will didn’t even eat the salad, but he was picking food off of my plate and must have gotten some that way.  In retrospect I should have given him the Epi pen as soon as he started to vomit, but I was looking for distress with his breathing and didn’t see any so I thought he was ok.  Now I know that if more than one system is reacting (hives, vomiting, loss of consciousness, swelling lips/mouth, breathing distress….), whether it is involving his breathing or not, that is a sign of an anaphylactic reaction…so if there ever is a “next time” I now KNOW what to do.

That was two years ago and thank God we have not had any other scares even close to that.  I don’t even think he has had hives worth mentioning since then.  We see an incredible allergist (Dr. Robert Wood at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore) and test him each year and monitor things very closely.  Last summer Will outgrew his wheat and soy allergies and we had a big celebration at our house!  Our world completely changed when we could add those foods to our diet!!!  All the other allergies still seem to be trending worse, but we are used to this lifestyle and as long as we’re not adding new ones to our list I am OK with that.

I know this post has nothing to do with my running really, but I wanted to share.  And actually, I will say that I hear all the time from friends and family that they admire how calm I am about everything and I feel that I owe a lot of that to my running.  It keeps me cool…helps me put everything into perspective.

I am SO PROUD of my little buddy.  He is strong.  He is happy and secure and silly and fun. I’m also so proud of his big sister, who looks out for him and gets excited about recipes that are “Will safe.”  When we go to a friend’s birthday party and I have to bring Will his own cupcake, Abby wants me to bring one for her too.  She wants one that is safe for her brother.  She could not be a more sensitive or supportive big sister.

So this morning I made some delish “Will safe” vegan banana chocolate chip muffins and I thought I would share the recipe with you guys.  It is EASY and they are so yummy!!  Another great thing about baking this way is that since there are no raw eggs my kids can lick that bowl like crazy without me worrying about salmonella or any other gross things that could happen when eating raw eggs.


Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup canola oil
4 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup nondairy semisweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is our favorite)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Lightly grease muffin tins or use muffin papers.  In a medium size bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of your electric mixer, beat the sugar and oil, then add the mashed bananas.  Stir in the water and vanilla and mix well.  Add the flour mixture and the chocolate chips and mix.  Fill each muffin tin and bake for 20-30 minutes, until they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Makes about 12 muffins.