Monday, November 28, 2011


My husband and I recently celebrated our anniversary.  16 years together, and going strong.
It led to the inevitable questions from the kids..."Where did you and Daddy meet?" (In school)  "Where did you go on your first date?" (Out for Ice Cream)  "Were you sad, Mommy?"
This is where the conversation gets tricky.
I was telling them the story of our first date, over a shared coffee and ice cream concoction (the ice cream was mint chocolate chip flavor, by the way), and my youngest's eyes were getting bigger and bigger.  I told them we ordered 2 straws.  And shared it.
"Mommy, you ate it, too?"
Uh huh.  Of course.
"Oh, no!  Did you die?"
This was said in all seriousness.  With a wave of fearful emotion behind it, and tears swimming in her eyes.  No, I quickly reassured her, I didn't die.  That was before we knew I was allergic to corn. 
This is a difficult concept to grasp.  There was a time when I didn't know I was allergic to corn, and could function.  There was a time when I might not have even reacted to the smaller derivatives.  But somewhere in there I did start reacting, and developed a love/hate relationship with food.
My husband recalled that when we first started dating, I almost exclusively wore empire waisted dresses.  And now we've known each other long enough for me to confess why.  Looking back, I remember how painfully bloated I would get during the day.  After lunch, especially.  Which isn't surprising, since I lived off corn chips my freshman year.  (I quit that in a hurry, and went to rice.  Or fries.  And chocolate bars.)   Anyways, those high waisted dresses accomodated my changing, tender belly.

It's funny how things change.  You don't even know why until you start looking backwards.
The kids asked what Daddy and I used to do when we went out.  The answers make me frown.  We went out to eat, although those restaurants are now pretty much off limits.  We went to the coffee shop, again, off limits.  We spent time in the discount movie theater.  About the only thing we 'used to do' that we still do is frequent the park. For different reasons, of course.

In many ways, life is much better now.  Mostly because I'm not constantly reciting "5 more minutes, I can make it through 5 more minutes".  But sometimes...sometimes I miss the ice cream parlor trips.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks...For Corn Free Meals

It's a hard year to be thankful, it seems.  Health care costs have skyrocketed, and making ends meet gets harder each month.
But we have amazing girls.  They're strong young women, with strong ideals.  We spent a few hours out walking, and playing at a local playground.
And then we came home to a corn free, gluten free, dairy free meal.  We all could consume almost everything on the table.  (I can't do green beans, but it's not Thanksgiving without them.  So I had to put them on the table.
What did we eat?  Well...let's see.
We roasted a chicken.  Maybe a bit too long, Mr. Violets couldn't carve it, the meat simply fell off the bones.  But it was good.
We made a mash of parsnips and carrots.  It was surprisingly good, and 3 out of 4 eaters agreed it should be made again.
We had chebe bread sticks.
Sweet potatoes, both fried into chips and cooked with a sweet apple juice/sugar and cinnamon mixture.  A small dish of the sweet version was topped with marshmallows and toasted.  Bumblebee approved.
We had green beans, too.

And there was an apple pie for dessert.  Not that there was much room for dessert, mind you.

All in all, it was a great meal...especially for all the allergies it had to accommodate.  I'm thankful that we didn't have to worry about accidentally poisoning anyone.  I'm thankful that I've stayed over a hundred pounds since April.  And I'm thankful that I'm surrounded by a loving family, that I have a husband who supports my food allergies, and that I have inherently good kids (they're not easy, but they're GOOD.)
I'm thankful that we're still making rent.  And groceries.
I'm thankful...I'm thankful that it's not impossible to eat organic on a budget.  And I'm thankful that I can go to sleep tonight and feel 90% sure that there's both going to be a tomorrow and that I'll be up for enjoying it.
I'm thankful that I can still feel thankful.  Life isn't always easy.  Especially when it comes to allergies.  But when there are family and friends to share it with, it makes things easier.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Taking the Fun out of Fundraising

No one really enjoys fundraising.  Well, there might be a few folk out there.  But the simple fact is that sometimes, you need to raise money for a project or a nonprofit.  And your own checking account simply isn't padded enough to do it yourself.
The key to fundraising, of course, is to find something people want and sell it for a profit.
And the most popular fundraising options?  Food.
No one wants overpriced wrapping paper and holiday cards.  People will sponsor kids to walk or read...but it's essentially asking for a hand out. 
People like candy.  And cookie dough.  People are willing to go to restaurants when they hold fundraising nights.  An afterschool popsicle, a slice of pizza at after school events, it all falls under 'fun' spending.
Unless, of course, you have food allergies.

 People with food allergies don't necessarily buy that type of food "anyways".  And it's remarkably difficult to sell something you don't believe in.  The conversation goes something like this:
"Hi, would you like to buy XXX?"
"Oh, I just love XXX, don't you?"
"Not really.  I'm not allowed to eat it 'cause I have allergies."
"That's too bad.  You must be disappointed."
"No, there's artificial colors and GMOs and lots of corn syrup, so it's not very good for you anyways."
"I mean, it looks really good, but Mommy makes cookies so I don't feel left out, and they taste even better."
"That's nice..."
"I probably wouldn't eat XXX even if I could cause it's so bad for you."
"But I think you'd like some, it looks good!"
"Maybe next year..."

Sometimes there's some discussion about preservatives and allergies and the Standard American Diet.  Really, it's hard to sell something you don't believe in.  So, this year we are taking a stand.  We don't buy certain food items, so we won't sell them either.  The exception being Girl Scout Cookies (which I might actually buy, if our goals were just health and environmentally motivated.)  We might advocate restaurant nights.  We'll work the popsicle booth, since they sometimes sell fruit juice pops.
But we won't sell candy or popcorn.  Or cookie dough, or more candy.  We'll buy and sell scrip, we'll walk in the Walk-a-Thon.  We'll attend bookfairs.
But somewhere, we have to draw the line.  I wouldn't be concerned if it really were once in awhile, but it's not.  And now candy takes precedence over other fundraisers, since more kids apparently participate.  Someone has to draw the line.
Now, the only question left are we going to pay for Science Camp?
*sigh*  We'll manage.  I think this one, small issue is worth standing strong on.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pharmacy Stress...Still?

After dealing with a corn allergy for nearly 8 years, it's hard to believe that getting appropriate medication is still stressful.  Or even challenging.  After all, it's been established that I react to the premade formularies.  My allergy information is in my medical file.  I always have a list of derivatives with me, along with the contact info for my compounding pharmacy.
And yet, when I developed another UTI earlier this week, there was still very little I could do but watch drama unfold.  I started by calling the doctor's office.  Stated the problem, left sample, ascertained the correct antibiotic.  Gave them my pharmacy phone number and fax over and over.  Finally they ask what exactly I want from them.  I tell them I need the prescription faxed in or I can pick it up in person.  They ask which med I want, then.
I tell them whatever is most appropriate, of course!
And then...then the woman huffs and says "Ma'am, you're the one being unreasonable."
Apparently it's unreasonable to want to be healthy.  To be willing to pay extra and jump through hoops, and patiently try to untangle red tape in order to be healthy and function properly.  It's unreasonable to want to avoid an allergic reaction.  Unreasonable to request that a doctor use a fax machine instead of a computer, or, horror of horrors, write an old fashioned paper prescription and leave it at the front desk.
I'm unreasonable.
I'm not a dr.  I can't diagnose myself, or prescribe medication for myself.  I can't order tests.  I'm also lacking the funds to have my choice of healthcare providers.  I'm lucky to have the privilege of paying (an exorbitant fee) for health insurance, but I'm limited in those options.  I'm stuck with the providers that are covered.  (and I pay them on top of the insurance company, so I'm limited in how much time I can afford to spend face to face.)  But as an individual, I think that for the privilege of paying for healthcare, I deserve to at least be treated respectfully and given safe options in a timely manner.  I want to be included in the healthcare process, because I am the expert on my body.
In a health care provider, I want them to be aware and respectful of my unique health condition.  I need someone who actually cares about keeping me healthy, not someone who would rather stick to their checklist.
I'm not asking them to make a housecall.  I just want them to use a different pharmacy than most people do.
Is that really so much to ask?
I suppose the extra 36 hours or so it took to get a compounded prescription wasn't a lot.  But if they'd waited much longer, I'd have needed a $500 trip to the ER for an injection, and risked a multithousand dollar hospitalization.  Just a few hours makes a huge difference when you need an antibiotic compounded.  Maybe it's just stress, but I don't think I should have to work twice as hard to pay twice as much and still be called 'unreasonable'.
But then I'm an idealist.  Maybe that's where the 'unreasonable' part comes in.