Monday, 25 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - N is for Nursery

Well it was always going to happen, I fell behind on my A to Z challenge. I was doing so well but then Monkey failed the egg ladder at the first step (that's a whole other blog post). At that point my time needed to be spent dealing with allergies rather than writing about them. My baby was suffering and she wanted her mummy.

She's much better now though. And while I'm never going to catch up and finish on time, I AM going to finish. The allergy theme is so important to me and the last week has reminded me how serious they can be.

So, I'm up to letter N.

N is for nursery. For any parent the decision to send your baby to nursery is a tough one. I think for an allergy parent it's even tougher. While your baby is at home with you, you can keep them safe. Trusting somebody else to take the same care of them and their diet is a very big step.

We first looked round Monkey's nursery three days after her big stay in hospital. I very nearly didn't go. I'd been wobbly about it before her diagnosis, now I was convinced that nobody would be able to look after her. I even thought they might not take her - I definitely expected to have to provide her meals or maybe pay slightly more. I'd read all kinds of horror stories in allergy groups about how nobody could care for allergies properly.

I really had to build myself up for the visit but as soon as I'd been I felt so much better. They were really reassuring about her allergies and the nursery looked like a fab place. I knew Monkey would be happy there.

Monkey started nursery in April 2015 when she was 9 months old. She settled really quickly and more or less picked her own keyworker who she loved to bits. Right from the start they were great with her allergies. They found safe foods for her that we didn't know about and always let us know what she was eating.

Monkey likes her food and she'd only been there a few weeks when she decided she liked the look of someone elses. She stole a sausage off somebody elses plate! She can't eat sausages -they have milk and wheat and sonetimes soya. In a way I'm glad it happened though as it reassured me about the way they dealt with things. She hardly swallowed any as they got it straight out of her mouth. They let me know straight away and asked what signs to look out for. They did have to give her medicine for tummy aches and green poos but other than that she was fine. I was kind of glad they saw a mild reaction as they didn't know us well at this time, I wondered if they thought I was just a fussy, over protective mum.

She's been at nursery a year now and has noved from babies to toddlers. She's with different staff and a new keyworker. They also have a new cook. I'm completely confident that whoever is caring for her will keep her safe though. They're even helping me to get things in place for when she starts school.

So to those of you with little babies with allergies, please don't believe the horror stories. There are wonderful places out there that will do a fantastic job of dealing with your child's allergies.

We've been so lucky to find one for Monkey. Her nursery are amazing and have made things so much easier for our whole family. If any of the staff read this I want to say a huge thank you. Monkey loves you all :-)

Friday, 15 April 2016

Hospital Update (Allergy Alphabet day 13)

Monkey's allergies are looked after by our local children's hospital. We have mainly seen our dietitian but today we met our allergy nurse for the first time.

We've been waiting for this appointment for a long time but we weren't really sure what to expect. We've had appointments in the past (before we were transferred to the children's hospital) where we have waited for ages only to come away feeling disappointed and having more questions than we went in with.

Today wasn't like that at all. We were in with the nurse for almost an hour and a half. I really felt like she listened to everything we had to say. And then she put a plan in place of how we are going to manage Monkey's allergies.

So today M is for management plans. We've been given written plans for allergy and asthma today, detailing exactly what should be done at what stage of a reaction/attack. They're going to be really helpful, not only for me but for anyone else who cares for Monkey. They've given me spare copies to take into nursery.

As well as looking at how to manage a reaction we also looked out how we were going to manage Monkey's allergies long term and how we were going to reintroduce any foods.

We've been given new medication. She now has a preventer inhaler as well as her reliver and her piriton has been replaced by cetirizine. We've also got new creams and ointments for her eczema.

We also appear to have got ourselves a new allergy. We've been advised to avoid sesame due to reactions to houmus.

We are going to try some food challenges though. Egg is the one I'm least worried about so we'll be starting the egg ladder at home tomorrow with some free from angel cake. I think she's going to like it - I just hope it likes her!

Her other food challenges are going to be done in hospital, starting with wheat. Apparently we should be seen as a priority case as her diet is so limited. I have no idea when it will be though. It's a scary time and I feel like I'm poisoning her but even if she can just tolerate a tiny amount of well cooked egg or wheat it will make such a big difference to her diet.

We see the nurse again in four months time but she's hopeful we will have been in for our wheat challenge by then.

Once again Monkey has taken this all in her stride and just enjoyed playing with the toys in the hospital. My little girl is amazing!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 12

When you go shopping how much time do you spend looking at labels? And how much stuff do you just chuck in your trolley without even looking.

Before I had Monkey my answers would be not much and most of it. But that all changes when you're dealing with allergies.

L is for label checking. Over the past nearly two years I have become an expert label checker. I check everything that Monkey is going to eat. I even check if she's had it before. I learnt the hard way that recipes can and do change.

Luckily the top 14 allergens have to be clearly identified in bold on food labels. The top 14 are

  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soya
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Celery
  • Mustard
  • Sesame
  • Sulphites
  • Lupin
  • Molluscs
Having these allergens clearly identified certainly makes label checking easier. However, people can be allergic to anything and whilst most of Monkey's allergens are on this list, there are some that aren't.

So, next time you're stuck in the supermarket behind someone who appears to be taking forever to read everything, please be patient. It could be me. And I promise I'm not trying to annoy you - I'm just trying to keep my Monkey safe.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 11

Welcome back to my allergy alphabet. K is for kit - or more specifically our allergy kit. This is a little bag of medication that comes everywhere with us that helps us to keep Monkey safer and more comfortable if she does come into contact with her allergens.

So what's in the kit?

Paracetamol is useful for less serious reactions where the main symptom seems to be tummy pain.

Piriton is used for reactions involving rashes, hives or swelling. Although you can't buy it over the counter for children under 1, Monkey has had a prescription since she was 5 months. Her allergy plan says if we don't see an almost immediate improvement in symptoms we should ring 999.

Inhaler, spacer and face mask
This is probably the bit of kit I dislike the most. Reactions that affect Monkey's breathing are really scary so it's hard to stay calm and make sure she takes her inhaler properly. She has to have two puffs which can be repeated after five minutes if necessary. If no improvement after the second lot of two puffs then we have to ring 999.

This is used to treat Monkey's eczema and can be applied when needed up to six times a day. It comes in a huge bottle so usually this bit of kit stays at home. If she is suffering badly with her eczema I will put some in a little pot to apply while we're out and about.

It can be a pain at times to carry all this kit around but we never leave home without it. It makes me feel slightly less worried, although the chances are if she ate the wrong food she would probably end up in hospital. At least I have something to try and help her.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 10

Most of my posts so far on this blogging challenge have been quite serious. That's kind of deliberate as I wanted to raise awareness and show just how much allergies affect Monkey and our family. It's not all doom and gloom though. Allergy kids still have fun and they still get treats. So with this in mind...

J is for Jelly Babies! Monkey loves them.

I discovered jelly babies completely by accident. I was doing some christmas shopping and having a complete strop that I couldn't get a selection box for Monkey. I had managed to get her a Moo Free one online but it was tiny and I'd seen lots of lovely christmas chocolate I wanted to buy. I was standing in the queue feeling very sorry for myself when I spotted a giant jelly baby.

I don't know why I picked it up. I think by this point I was in such a strop I was convinced she wouldn't be able to eat them. But they were Monkey-friendly! I bought them, took them home, wrapped them and forgot about them until christmas day.

Monkey was very excited when she opened them on christmas morning. Daddy gave her one to try and before we knew what was happening she had four in her mouth and two in each hand. I think it's safe to say they were a hit! I wish I'd got it on video but she was so quick.

I love the fact that she can have jelly babies as a treat for two main reasons.

1. It makes buying her a treat easier for friends and family.
Monkey is lucky to have lots of people who care about her and spoil her rotten. They want to buy her treats and are scared of getting her the wrong thing. The free from aisle can be a confusing place if you're not used to dealing with allergies. Many well meaning people have bought her dairy free chocolate only for her not to be able to eat it as it contains soya. I always feel awful having to explain especially when I know they've gone to extra effort to try and keep her safe.
Jelly babies are instantly recognisable and can be bought without going into any specialist aisles or shops. People are confident buying them so they are now my go-to recommendation if people want to buy her a treat.

2. It's 'normal' food and the same as her friends.
As Monkey gets older, she notices more and more if her food is different to her friends. Whilst she enjoys her free from biscuits, chocolate etc at home, when she's with her friends she wants the same as them. Jelly babies are a treat they can all enjoy together. And unlike free from treats they don't cost a fortune.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 9

When I tell people about Monkey's allergies they quite often tell me that they know someone who is intolerant to whatever. And whilst I'm sure that's horrible and can lead to them being very uncomfortable, it's not quite the same thing.

So today I is for intolerance. How is it different to an allergy? How do you know which you've got?

To understand the difference between an allergy and an intolerance, you really need to be clear about what an allergy actually is.

According to Allergy UK a true food allergy will always involve the immune system. There are two kinds of allergy and this is where it gets confusing.

IgE allergies happen when the immune system releases specific IgE antibodies in an attempt to defend the body from an allergen. Symptoms develop quickly and can be severe and life-threatening. Anaphylaxis is the most severe kind of IgE reaction and requires immediate hospital attention.

Non-IgE allergies are were the confusion occurs. These used to be referred to as intolerances and sometimes still are although this incorrect. They are now recognised as true allergies as whilst they don't release the specific antibodies they do involve the immune system. Symptoms are nore delayed - usually from an hour to three days. Non-IgE allergies are harder to diagnose as they don't show up on blood or skin prick tests.

Monkey has a mix of IgE and non-IgE reactions.

Intolerances do not involve the immune system. Symptoms are often delayed and usually gut type problems. They are not life-threatening but can lead to sufferers feeling very uncomfortable. Unlike allergies, many sufferers can eat problem foods in small amounts - it is when they get a build up that they have problems. Apart from lactose intolerance there is no test available for food intolerances.

Working out whether you have a food intolerance or allergy can be tricky. Many doctors suggest keeping a food and symptoms diary which is something that we still do with Monkey.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

Look in my letterbox #11

It's been another very quiet post week here at the Monkey House. But once again I'm linking up with Alice Megan for Look in my Letterbox.

I've had penpal letters from pals in Wakefield, Hereford and Canada. Anyone who knows me or reads this blog regularly will know that I'm slightly obsessed with cute writing sets so having these pop through my letterbox made me smile.

Monkey had a letter from one of her penpals from our facebook birth group. I love that if they keep it up as they get older they will have known each other right from the time they were born.

It's not very exciting but I've also had a set of plastic cups. Monkey has been using a Munchkin Miracle 360 Trainer Cup for a while now as I didn't want her drinking from a spout but didn't think she was ready for a cup yet. Monkey is always telling me that "Me big mummy!" and obviously had different ideas. I was about to put the top on her cup the other day when I turned round and saw this.

Apparently Mummy knows nowt and Monkey is absolutely ready for a cup! I got some IKEA ones from Amazon. I'm due an IKEA trip soon but wanted to get them quickly.

And that's it! We've had a few quiet weeks now. My postman will be thinking I'm ill. Wonder what next week will bring...

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 8

Well I'm now over a week into my A to Z blogging challenge. I'm well known for being useless at stuff like this so I'm very impressed with my little self. I think it helps that I could choose my own theme for the challenge and I really want people to understand more about Monkey's allergies. So on we go....

H is for Hospital, a place where no parent wants to see their children. We saw far too much of it with Monkey in her first few months. She was first sent in by the midwife at ten days old due to concerns about her weight.

In hospital at 10 days old
From then on our Health Visitor and GP sent us quite a few times to the Children's Observation and Assessment Unit. She always looked so tiny on those huge hospital beds.

At three months old we ended up in A&E who once again sent us down to the Children's Observation and Assessment Unit. Things were worse this time though and they decided to admit her to the main children's ward.

We spent five days in the hospital. It was awful. She cried constantly, she was in so much pain. We had a private room which was good in some ways but also meant I spent a lot of time on my own, in a small space with a screaming baby.

On the children's ward aged 3 months
Although those five days were awful, they were also the start of things getting better for Monkey. We got a diagnosis at last. The nurse looking after us was amazing, her son had allergies so she told us lots of things to look out for and things that helped.

Since then we've had lots of trips to the hospital but none so scary. They've all been appointments - no A&E visits or being sent there by the doctor. I still don't like it but Monkey seems to love it.

All her care now is with the Allergy Team at the Children's Hospital. Obviously I'd rather not be at hospital at all but if I have to then this place is amazing. We deal mainly with the dietitian, but we also have a consultant and specialist allergy nurse (we're waiting for appointments with these at the moment).

After a long time feeling like nobody was it's so nice to feel listened to at our appointments. I can be in for over an hour discussing Monkey's diet, any symptoms and the next steps for her. I never feel rushed or like I'm asking a silly question. I know I can ring whenever and someone will get back to me.

And Monkey? Well she just likes the waiting room...

Waiting at the hospital

Friday, 8 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 7

Today I want to talk about guilt. I know as a parent it's part of the territory but a lot of my parenting guilt seems to be centred around Monkey's allergies.

So G is for guilt and I'm going to share with you some of the things I feel guilty about.

At ten days old Monkey was in hospital due to concerns about her weight. They were making me pump milk for her so they could see exactly how much she was taking (plenty as it happens - but not from a bottle!). Somebody decided that whilst I was attatched to this machine would be the perfect time to take blood from my tiny ten day old baby.

Now really there were two sensible options here - take her away so I didn't have to see it or let me hold her, cuddle her and let her feed if she wanted to. None of these happened. Instead they put her on the bed, just out of reach while I was still attatched to their machine and told me we'd both feel better if we could see each other.

I didn't feel better. And neither did Monkey. I still remember her looking up at me with these big innocent eyes. They struggled to get the blood. It must have hurt her and scared her and she was all on her own. I still feel guilty that I let it happen. I was a new mum and overwhelmed with everything that was happening. She will never be on her own for any tests again though.

At about two months after weeks of crying and terrible nappies the Health Visitor sent me to the GP and the GP sent me straight to the hospital. More guilt! I just thought all babies cried and pooed but they were worried about her. I should have known, I should have took her sooner.

Monkey's first allergy was dairy - diagnosed at three months. Nobody seemed to have a reason why but I was convinced it was something I had done (or not done) during pregnancy or those first few months that had caused it. During pregnancy my craving was cheese flavoured things and I practically lived in Hollands cheese and onion pies and Walkers cheese and onion crisps and I still think that had something to do with it. I've lost count of the experts who've told me it doesn't but it doesn't take away the guilt.

After we knew about Monkey's allergies I was advised that long term it would be best to carry on breastfeeding but that it would take up to six weeks for the dairy to leave my system. This was probably the time when I felt most guilty. Every time I fed her I felt like I was poisoning her, she would be ill after every feed.

I feel like this post could get very long so I'm just going to list a few of the things I feel guilty about.

  • Eating things she can't have in front of her
  • Her not getting a choice of food when we eat out
  • She has to take a packed lunch when she goes to parties
  • She might not get invited to parties as people are worried about feeding her (we have wonderful friends though so this one is probably just in my head)
  • She was never allowed to any of the Messy Play sessions at our Children's Centre
  • She won't be able to take Communion at church
  • She is different to her friends
  • She hates having her height and weight done at the hospital
  • She still struggles with wheezing at night and I don't know how to make it better 
I don't want this post to be all doom and gloom though so as well as all the guilt I'm also super proud that we've come through the worst of it and have a happy smiley Monkey.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 6

Monkey is taking part in a Free From Feast this year to raise money for Allergy UK. Last year she raised £200 and this year we want to do even better. So when I started this challenge today was obvious - F was for fundraising!

But the more I've been thinking about Monkey's allergies the more I've realised that there's another F that is a big part of every allergy parents life - FEAR!

They may not always look frightened. They'll be used to fighting for their kids and they'll have become experts in their allergies. I can guarantee you they'll still be scared.

They'll feel the fear pre-diagnosis when they know there's something wrong with their baby but nobody can tell them what.

They'll feel the fear when their baby isn't even on the chart for weight. The fear will get worse when they hear the words 'failure to thrive'. They'll come to realise that is just medical talk for poor growth but in that moment, along with everything else they're worrying about, they will think people are saying they're not looking after their baby properly.

Weaning will bring even more fear. With each new food they'll feel like they're potentially poisoning their child.

There will be fear when the baby starts nursery. How can anybody possibly keep their baby as safe as they do? Will everybody know about their allergies? What if they get another child's food?

There'll be fear about doing tests and giving medication. There'll be more fear about not.

Soft play centres and playgrounds are scary places. What if another child drops something? There's that fear again!

Most of all they fear seeing their baby in hospital again. They fear feeling helpless.

I've had all of these fears (and more!) with Monkey but I don't want her to feel scared. As she gets older I will need to teach her about her allergies. She needs to know how serious they can be. But I don't want her wrapped up in cotton wool. I don't want her thinking she can't do things. I don't want her feeling the fear.

I'll do that for her...

Monkey is raising money for Allergy UK

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 5

Welcome back to our allergy alphabet. Today we are up to letter E.

E is for egg, another of Monkey's allergies. This allergy came later. As far as I'm aware she didn't react to egg through breast milk but as we introduced solids she began to have more reactions and we were advised to avoid egg.

Whilst Monkey is less sensitive to egg than some of her other allergens her egg allergy is still quite serious. Allergy UK say that 70-80% of children with egg allergy can tolerate it well baked in the form of biscuits or cakes. At the moment the hospital are still advising that Monkey avoids egg in any form.

Egg will be the first of the major allergen that we try to reintroduce although this will still not be for some time.  Allergy UK say that most children with egg allergy outgrow it so I am feeling hopeful for the future. Even just being able to tolerate baked egg would make such a big difference.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 4

Day 4 of the April A to Z blogging challenge and it's time to talk about the first of Monkey's allergens.

D is for dairy which is the first allergy of Monkey's that we knew about. People often think she is lactose intolerant when I say she is allergic to dairy but what she actually has is Cow's Milk Protein Allergy.

Poor Monkey had every single one of the symptoms mentioned in the video. Her main problems were the crying, terrible nappies and poor growth. But I just told myself that babies cried and babies pooed.

I did take her to the doctors various times with the different symptoms but nobody seemed to join all the symptoms together and look at allergies. It was my health visitor who first suggested an issue with dairy. At first the doctors said she couldn't possibly have an allergy as she was still exclusively breast fed at that point. After seeing a different doctor due to terrible nappies we were advised to go dairy free. About a week later Monkey was admitted to hospital due to wheezing and swelling and concerns about her growth. At this point she'd been having problems for three months and was only just going into newborn clothes. While we were in hospital she was officially diagnosed with Cow's Milk Protein Allergy.

I thought dairy free would be easy. I hate milk. I have the tiniest little bit in my coffee and that's about it. But going dairy free means a lot more than drinking black coffee. Cheese is out, and yoghurt but I suppose they're still quite obviously dairy.

Chocolate was a difficult one for me to give up. But what was really upsetting was to find I couldn't even have crisps instead. Yes, crisps have milk in! In fact I pretty quickly discovered everything has milk in. Giving up dairy was going to be a lot harder than I thought.

I had to learn a whole load of other names that milk could be called. Luckily there are new laws in place now that mean the top 14 allergens have to be declared in food so any of these should clearly state that they're milk. That wasn't the case when we first went dairy free though and I spent a lot of time checking labels against this list.

The following contain, or may contain milk:

Nisin (may)CurdsWhey
LactuloseWhey and casein hydrolysatesLacalbumin
LactoglobulinLactate starterAmmonium caseinate
Artificial butter flavour (not always)    Butter solids/fatCalcium caseinate
Caramel colour (not always)Caramel flavouring (not always)    Caseinate
Delactosed wheyDemineralized wheyDried milk
High protine flour (not always)High protine flourHydrolzed casein
LactabumLactabum phosphateLactate
LactroferrinLactogloblinMagnesium caseinate
milkderivativeMilk fatopta (fat replacer)
Potassium caseinateSolidsSour cream solids
Sour solidsSour milk solidsWhey protine concentrate
Enriched flour(not always)Formage fraisSodium Steatoyal(not aways)
Sherbert(not always)Nougothydrolized vegtable protein
tagatose / NaturoseRecaldentPROSPEC MI (At dentist)
I breast fed until Monkey self-weaned at about 15 months so I was strictly dairy free all that time. Monkey has never eaten any dairy directly. All her reactions were through my milk. Being dairy free wasn't easy but it was worth it. We saw a difference in her almost straight away although it took six weeks for the dairy to completely clear.

Many children can sucessfully start to gradually reintroduce dairy to their diets at around 12 months old. Monkey is 21 months old but has still never eaten dairy even in it's most baked form. We have been advised by the hospital not to do any reintroduction yet. We've not got any dates set for food challenges yet but we've been told that they will be done in hospital. I'm really not looking forward to that day but for now we'll just keep on doing what we're doing and keeping Monkey safe.

A Very Busy Book Club

Monkey loves books. And she loves crafts. And she loves playing with her friends.

Last summer we decided to combine the three by setting up a baby and toddler book club with friends. The first one took place at my house. We read The Gruffalo then ate foods from the story, got busy with play dough and designed our own terrible creatures.

We all had lots of fun but it quickly became clear that my house wasn't big enough. We were able to get use of a room at our local children's centre but that meant it wouldn't just be our little group of friends anymore, we would have to open it up to everyone.

So thats what we did! We put posters up locally and more people joined us.

Then the original group of babies got bigger and more and more mums went back to work. I'd already returned to work when book club started so Monday worked for me me but unfortunately not everyone could make it. We kept in going though and seemed to settle for a long time at 5 regulars who were there everytime.

Our local children's centre is changing management and we were a bit worried that being such a small group they might not let us have the room any more. We stepped up the advertising slightly, but only slightly as we wanted to grow slowly and make sure we had enough things for everybody to do. And at first we did grow slowly with one or two new people each time - some came back and some only came for one session.

And then came yesterday! I have no idea what happened but it suddenly exploded. Book Club starts at two but when I got there at quarter to to set up there were already people waiting. We ended up with 15 babies/toddlers in the club and staff said they had to turn others away due to fire regulations.

It was great to see so many people there but it was a little bit overwhelming. I'd only prepared enough things for eight so we had to do some quick prep for the others. I was slightly stressed but everybody seemed to enjoy it. Lots of people said they'd be back and we've had some really great feedback on our facebook page.

This term we are looking at the books that were the mums, dads, grandparents, whoevers favourites when they were small. This weeks book was Peter Rabbit chosen by Mummy Hercules. It was a popular choice with me as I loved the books as a child and Monkey's Granny is slowly buying her the entire Beatrix Potter collection with a book for every event.

We started by reading the story all together and then went on to our activities. I'm a bit bunnyed out after Easter so I decided to go more on the theme of Mr McGregor's garden. I stuck pictures of Mr McGregor onto sugar paper and the children created their gardens by printing with vegetables. We also recreated a garden in the sand pit, planting lots of fruit and veg.

I didn't manage to get many photos as it was so busy but here is Monkey enjoying the paint.

Painting Mr McGregor's garden

Next book club is my book choice and we're reading Dogger by Shirley Hughes.

Nobody else at book club seems to have heard of it but I loved it when I was little. I need to show them what they're missing!

What was your favourite book when you were a child and why?  Maybe we could include it at book club!

Read With Me

Monday, 4 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 3

Welcome back to my allergy alphabet. I have to warn you this one could get a little ranty.

C is for Cost. Or rather the ridiculously high cost of many free from foods. I've written about the cost of free from living once before. And I'm surprised it's only once. It's one of my favourite rants.

I don't actually buy a lot of food from the free from ranges. We enjoy cooking so most things are made fresh and with the combination of Monkey's allergies it's hard to find suitable products even within the free from ranges.

Sometimes though, I want to treat her and this is when I get annoyed. I understand that free from food costs more to produce but I really don't think they cost so much more. Digestive biscuits are four times the price, a single yoghurt can cost me £2.

What's even more annoying is when a food that is naturally free from allergens and they still stick a free from label on it and double the price. Tesco's healthy eating pasta sauce and free from pasta sauce have almost identical ingredients - guess which one costs more?

I honestly don't think there is any reason for these foods to be so expensive. I think they are taking advantage of people with allergies and allergy parents who just want their children to feel the same as everyone else. It's not fair and it's not right. And it annoys me.

Rant over (for now!)

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Look in my Letterbox #10

I'm a bit late this week but here I am ready to join in with my favourite linky.

It's been a pretty quiet week post wise at the Monkey House. We've got quite a few replies to send out which could explain it. I've had four penpal letters though from Essex, Dorchester, London and Blackpool and Monkey had a letter from her penpal in York.

Monkey also received a toucan box this week. They're a subscription box of crafts for kids. They're aimed at children aged 3-8 so she's still a bit young really but she loves the painting and sticking. They're great for a rainy day, and living in Manchester we have plenty of those. Yesterday was definitely a Toucan Box kind of day and we had lots of fun making a dream catcher and a wind sock.

Toucan Box Fun

I'm off now to reply to some letters so hopefully we'll have more to tell you about next week.

Have you had any nice post this week? I'd love to hear about it.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 2

It's day two of my blogging A to Z challenge and in the world of allergies.... for breathing.

There are many different things that can happen to Monkey when she has an allergic reaction - rashes, vomiting, tummy ache, swelling, allergy shiners, generally being upset, strange poo (sorry!) - but for me the most scary reactions are those which involve her breathing.

The main way in which her breathing is affected is that she gets a wheeze. She's had an inhaler since she was five months old. The first time I had to give it her was awful - we were both in a panic, she was fighting me and I was so upset. These days she is much better at taking it and just lets me get on with it, it's almost like she knows it will help her. I still hate giving it to her but I just have to tell myself it's horrible but less horrible than it could be if I didn't give it to her.

Monkey's breathing definitely gets worse if she eats one of her allergens but she also almost always has a slight wheeze and a bad cough at night. Everybody involved in caring for Monkey has said this sounds like asthma although she is still too young to be tested. Allergies, eczema and asthma are known to be linked so it wouldn't be unusual for Monkey to have all three. The question is does she have asthma as a symptom of her allergies, as a condition on its own or a combination of the two? At the moment nobody seems to know.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Allergy Alphabet - Blogging A to Z day 1

Yes, I know the last time I joined a blog challenge it ended in disaster with me not writing anything for six months but still...

I've joined another one! The blogging from A to Z challenge. I think this one should be easier to stick to though - no more taking strange prompts and trying to make them fit my blog. The only rule with this one is that I have to work through the alphabet with a blog post for each letter. Lots of people are choosing a theme for their alphabet so I thought I would do an allergy alphabet to explain more about Monkey's allergies - what they are and how they affect her and us as a family.

So let's get started!

A is for Allergies

I mention Monkey's allergies quite a lot on this blog.  But what exactly are allergies? Who has them? What do they do? 

Allergy UK say an allergy is a response by the immune system to an usually harmless substance it sees as a threat. In Monkey's case it is certain foods that are seen as harmful.

There is so much to allergies that I couldn't possibly fit it all into one blog post. I'm hoping that with this challenge I'll be able to talk about all the different aspects in much more detail.

I'll be back tomorrow with letter B.