Vomit was everywhere.
It was covering the counters, splattered on the floor, and pooled in the sink. Five year old me (Katie) and my little brother were sitting on our bathroom shower mat.
We bawled as we each took turns throwing up while my parents frantically tried to figure out where to even begin with the clean up process.
It was an absolute disaster, entirely of my own making. And unbeknownst to me, that childhood bathroom had just become ground zero for my future obsession with dinosaurs.
An hour prior to this messy event, my parents had put both of us to bed. Somehow, I had known they were about to watch a movie. So logically, I knew I needed to be involved in watching it too.
Quickly, a plan was formed in my little brain.
My bedroom was positioned on the second floor next to a railing. The wooden spools were conveniently wide enough for my brother and I to rest our heads on comfortably, but not wide enough for our heads to go through.
The living room had high vaulted ceilings above the television and the couch was pushed against the wall directly under the second floor railing. If my parents happened to look up, we could pull our heads back quickly to avoid detection.
In my defense, the entire set up of the home was perfect for my ornery intentions. 😂
Hence, I woke up my little brother to join in on the fun and we tiptoed out of bed to watch the movie too. The VHS rental was popped in and the timeless, creepy music of Jurassic Park was seared into my brain forever.
Long story short, we barely made it through the first scene of dinosaur carnage before I got so scared that I started throwing up. Once I started vomiting, my brother started gagging too and the gig was up. Though I had felt scared, I was also oddly fascinated with dinosaurs moving forward.
Mortified, my mom rearranged the living room furniture to keep history from repeating itself. She also introduced us to the kid show “Barney” in hopes that would ease some of my dinosaur interest.
I watched about 60 seconds of that oversized eggplant and knew he was a fraud. What decent, self respecting dinosaur smiled at little children without attempting to consume them? It was rubbish.
And that giant magic bag! Cretaceous era T-Rex would have been devastated to know that we portrayed him as a large, purple stuffie walking around with a craft bag full of random kid stuff.
As a child, I wrote off Barney and that sack of magical nonsense.
But now as a mom, especially being a food allergy mom, I think about that bag often.
Who do I need to speak to in order to score one of those?!
Seriously. I need that in my life since I feel like I pack up half of my house every time I leave with 2 food allergic toddlers in tow.
Besides the epipen, I carry around an assortment of much needed items. Need a bandaid? A water bottle? Medicine? Hand soap? Disposable plates, utensils, and table mats? A toy? I’ve got you covered.
Actually, I’m willing to bet most food allergy moms carry around more than just a few of those things I listed.
If you are a brand new food allergy momma, then this post if for you!
Unfortunately, we cannot give you a magical bag to fit all your needs, but we can tell you what we believe to be the most important items to always carry on you.
Whether we are headed to the park, the grocery, or even staying in the car to just drop something off, we ALWAYS bring our food allergy to-go bag.
So, without further ado, here is our list of must-have items!
5 Things Our Food Allergy Family Never Leaves Home Without
1. Epinephrine & Antihistamine
Hey everyone! Lauren here. I’m popping in to talk about the next few points.
My family always carries two Epipens (Auvi-Qs) in our family backpack. Additionally, per our allergist, we also carry antihistamine, such as Children’s Zyrtec. It is recommended that you speak with your child’s allergist about the role of of antihistamine in your child’s care plan.
We carry this in a family backpack that goes with us everywhere. We specifically carry 2 epinephrine injectors because serious allergic reactions sometimes require two injections to bring the symptoms under control.
Secondly, a second auto injector is vital in the rare event that the first epipen autoinjector device fails for some reason.
It is our family rule that we always carry our epinephrine with us. Katie’s family actually teaches their children that their epipens are an extension of their bodies. If we forgot the epipens, we turn around and go back home to get them.
Absolutely no exceptions.
Someday, our kids will need to be in charge of remembering their own epipen. We want to model to them from a young age to turn around and go back to get the epi if they forgot it. Every time.
However, we know that it can be easy to forget. We get distracted at times. If you are newly diagnosed, remembering the epipen has to be a habit that you practice daily.
Here are a few tips to remember the epipens:
- Put the epipens in one location (like hanging up inside a bag by the front door).
- Leave sticky note reminders on your front door or steering wheel in your car.
- Set reminders in your phone.
2. Emergency Care Plan
FARE works on behalf of the 32 million Americans with food allergies, including those at risk for life-threatening anaphylaxis, and they have an Emergency Care Plan from the FARE template. It provides clear instructions for managing an allergic reaction and is something you should review with your allergist during your initial appointment.
It is a detailed plan explaining what should occur during an allergic or suspected allergic reaction.
Although this was intimidating for me in the early days, it helped me to walk through what I would do if my child needed me to respond in an emergency situation. Ultimately, getting familiar with it and having it on hand has given me the confidence that I can manage an emergency should it arise.
My hope is that you will experience increased confidence too.
I keep a copy of this with each of my kids’ EpiPen bags. In an emergency, clear, actionable steps help you (or whoever is caring for your child) to stay calm and help your child get the proper care that he or she needs.
The chart highlights the different systems that can be affected when the body is experiencing an allergic reaction. It then shows what to look for when administering epinephrine.
Talk To Your Allergist. As always, consult with your allergist for the right emergency care plan for your child! If you didn’t get one from your allergist, call them back and ask to walk through a plan for your child.
3. Wipes OR Soap
Soap and water truly are the best way to remove allergen proteins. Some food allergy moms carry around a small spray bottle filled with a mixture of water and soap.
However, some type of wet wipe has also been proven to remove allergens. You can use them to wipe off little hands and to clean surfaces while out and about.
Remember, the proteins from allergens have to be removed since they cannot be “killed” like germs. This is also why hand sanitizer (or just water alone) is ineffective at removing food allergen proteins from hands.
Again, you cannot “kill” food allergen proteins. You can only remove them.
Note: I will say that I have used the wet Clorox wipes in a pinch to wipe down surfaces (not hands). I’m not using them to “kill” allergen proteins, but to remove the allergen proteins. Its just an added bonus that I’m killing germs at the same time.
I actually read a fantastic study about this subject and the different types of ways of removing allergens from surfaces and skin. You can read it HERE.
We always wash our hands before we eat. This is one of our family food allergy rules. Having soap and water easily accessible makes this so much easier and it is one of the reasons we love Suds2Go! We encourage you to check them out!
Lauren likes to joke that her family is a walking picnic. It’s so true! 😂
We literally bring snacks everywhere! We take a portable cooler bag with us filled with fresh fruit, vegetables, drinks, and safe brands of prepackaged snacks.
The goal is to always have enough food to replace a meal if needed. There were many times we were caught off guard while out doing things with our children. It’s miserable for both the kids and the adults if you are struggling to find safe foods in a pinch.
Also, having enough snacks packed is also handy to share with other people on play dates or when a food is unexpectedly offered as a treat somewhere.
Most of the time, offered food/treats are unsafe for my kids. It reduces the stress in that unexpected moment to have something on hand that they can enjoy so they don’t feel left out.
5. Phone Chargers
This one might seem random, but I cannot tell you how many times we ended up at a store, an appointment, or even at the ER and our phone batteries died.
We always carry phone chargers that can adapt to electric outlets, USB ports, and cigarette lighter ports.
Besides needing to be able to make emergency phone calls, I also keep a lot of medical information and lists of safe food brands on my phone.
It’s essential for our family to never lose access to phone chargers.
We Hope This Was Helpful
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We are in your corner, sweet friend. 💜
-Katie and Lauren