Macaroni and Peas has a great post on creating allergy kits to keep your allergic children safe. She followed the same thought process I did when my boy was first diagnosed with his severe food allergies. I guess this is a good time as any to revisit what got me to where I am today!
My boy was just a baby and he had a piece of an almond cookie. I'm sure most food allergy moms can relate to this... that first anaphylactic reaction! He threw up and starting getting hives all over his body, and swelling. We put him in footed pajamas and two layers of socks on his hands to keep him from tearing his skin off! Fortunately, at the E.R., the determined that his oxygen levels were okay. After the epinephrine shot and steroids, we went home. We had this family dinner thing so my husband went with our daughter and I stayed home with him. The hives had swelled into one big giant red ugly thing... he looked like a scarred burn victim. I felt so bad for him. And then I felt bad for myself... how was I going to keep him safe? And then, I got over myself and starting really thinking about it, right then!
How could he live a normal life while staying safe? I started to envision all the scenarios that he would have to be and want to be... preschool, camps, I don't know... Chuck E. Cheese! It seemed like the best way to keep him safe was to alert everyone to his food allergy and yet, not make it the defining element of his life. In the week or so following "the incident," I got online and tried to find allergy alert stuff for him. I was frustrated because none of them matched his specific trigger foods. There wasn't a shirt for peanuts, tree nuts, eggs AND milk. I wasn't happy with the options that were out there at the time.
So I came up with my own solution. I was creating my own allergy kit! I was a designer, after all!!! I started with the shirt, of course... that I could personalize with HIS trigger foods and also what to do in case he had another anaphylactic reaction... which I couldn't find in any other alert system. I wanted to find a way for this "alert" to stay on him SAFELY. He was a "put-everything-in-his-mouth" kinda kid. I couldn't imagine putting a bracelet on him! And then, he had eczema (still does) and I didn't need anything irritating his skin.
Then I came up with the med pouch that could store his EpiPen along with the forms that had more detailed information (that includes most of the information Sandie suggests in her post, btw.) It's a small bag that can hold his epinephrine and antihistamine, it has an Emergency Action Plan and Consent to Treat form that can both be personalized for your child, with a space to include a picture. You can also clearly mark the bag itself with your child's name, it can be clipped to a backpack or stored in a binder at school. I tried to cover all the bases!
You can download a FREE copies of the form here and use it with your own allergy kit!
I noticed how parents would just bring snacks for their kids to classrooms or at the babysitting room at the gym. I wasn't always there when someone walked in with a bag of chex mix. I included the door hanger in the kit too.
I knew at least three families in my immediate circle who had nut allergies so I wanted to be able to share my solution with them. And I knew that the only way to really keep my son safe was to raise awareness for the issue on a bigger level. So there you have it... the whole story of how Check My Tag came to be.
But it's really just the beginning. Food allergy management is a way of life and it's not just about medical alerts for toddlers. It's about teaching my son how to keep himself safe. It's about teaching both my kids how to eat healthy food. I find myself moving to the next level and partnering with complementary businesses, like Macaroni and Peas.
I'd love to hear how a food allergy has changed you or your children's lives too.