Life with food allergies

This morning I flipped on my computer to the discover the latest moment of internet outrage.  The Yahoo/Babble headline screamed “2-Year Old Suspended from Daycare over Cheese Sandwich.” Below the article a lengthy list of comments began with phrases like “When I was a kid, no-one had food allergies….” and “It’s just a sandwich.”

On the one hand, the school rules seem a bit extreme, allowing no outside food. I say this because I’m used to providing outside food for my child. The practice has been one of the easiest ways for me to keep her safe in a world where food can be lethal.

I wish some of the people calling out the absurdity of the policy and wondering why everyone has to suffer for the right of one person could spend a day in the place of a parent with a food allergy.  When my daughter was younger, we had to avoid three groups of allergens. Now, we are down to peanuts and tree nuts. My trips to the grocery store are longer. With produce, I have to consider where and how nuts are stored and if they are likely to contaminate produce one typically doesn’t peel.  I have to read the ingredient lists carefully and decide whether the brand is trustworthy in their description of “processed in a shared facility using good manufacturing practices.”   I wonder what their cart would look like if they did their normal shopping and then at the checkout line were asked to sort out products that cause an anaphylactic reaction.

Maybe, just maybe, if everyone did that, I wouldn’t be subjected to moans and groans when the flight attendant announces “This will be a peanut free flight” or the hateful looks from another parent when I ask if their child could please keep their peanut butter sandwich on the picnic table rather than smearing the contents all over the slide at the playground. Maybe more people would offer financial support to researching why food allergies are on the rise and what can be done to halt this epidemic. Maybe we could all enjoy a world where food doesn’t kill.

If you wish to make a change, consider a donation to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). Wouldn’t it be nice if no child were suspended for a sandwich? And nicer still if no one died from one?

End rant. Stepping off my soap box.


Why I’m not voting on Tuesday

Yes folks, you heard it here first. On Tuesday, November 6th, I will not be voting in the presidential election. Wow, do you have a loud gasp. The candidates do not want to hear this.  As a white, suburban woman raising children in a swing state, I realize I am a highly coveted voter. The non-stop TV, radio and mail ads remind me how important my vote is. Frequent phone calls from the two major parties beseech me to vote on Tuesday. The truth of the matter is, I will not be going to vote on Tuesday, but my uterus will.

My uterus is a bossy little thing, but I’ve got a lot of respect it. After all, my uterus carried my two healthy children to term.  Our relationship has not always been easy, plagued by painful cramps and a cancer scare. We’re good now.  Except when it comes to politics.

It’s not that my uterus entirely disagrees with my desire to vote for the third-party candidate most closely aligned with my views, but my uterus is scared. My uterus fears that the uterus of the girl who once lived inside its protective walls will not enjoy the same privileges my uterus does in terms of fertility and health care. My uterus remembers how women of previous generations fought for access to control our fertility and for the right to vote.  My uterus shudders at the thought that some gray-haired men think a pregnancy from rape is either impossible or a gift from God.  My uterus wants to know how many children of rape those men have personally adopted. Come to think of it, so do I.

Come Tuesday, my uterus will take charge of my body and march us to the polling place. I’ll show my voter ID, and receive the voting instructions. A worker will lead me to the designated voting booth. But, do us both a favor, don’t look behind the curtain. My uterus will vote for the candidate who respects women.

Who decides my health?

Yesterday, I received a letter from my health insurance provider regarding the future of one of my prescriptions.  Now I know health care in general is a touchy subject and there are a lot of opinions and controversy out there. I’m not trying to make an argument for or against universal health care or for other legislative matters. But I am questioning the validity of a letter that states “Please don’t think we’re giving you any specific advice about which drugs you should take.”

You see, for the third time in as many years, my insurance company has decided to change the coverage of my asthma inhaler.  I use my inhaler maybe six times a year because I have a mild form and I can by and large control it through lifestyle choices. You won’t catch me running a marathon or doing yard work on a hot, humid day.  But when I need my inhaler, wow, do I need it.

The inhaler I received last month when I filled my prescription will last me until it expires sometime in 2013.  Then I’ll have to get a new medicine or pay full price out-of-pocket to continue with the same type.  My co-pay was in the double digits and without insurance coverage it will hit three easily. The insurance provider suggested two alternatives, although one of them is in the highest co-pay category, the other is cheaper. But, according to them, they are not giving me any specific advice about which medicine I should take.

The insurance company also made decisions about how I should take my medicine.  I have another prescription for a 150mg dose of a medicine that comes in a 50 mg, 100 mg and 200 mg tablet.  My doctor wrote my prescription for three 50 mg tablets.  The insurance company decided I should get 45 100 mg tablets and have to cut fifteen of them in half to get my proper dose.  It’s inconvenient, but more worrisome to me is that when I cut the pills myself, I see the powdery residue piling up on the cutting surface and the blade.  Some of the pills split unevenly or a chunk cracks off the side.  It’s important to keep an even level of this drug in my system, but because of what I see while splitting the pills and feel in my body, I know I do not receive a consistent dose day after day.

Look, I’m grateful to have insurance but I wish they wouldn’t lie. They make a lot of decisions regarding my health, controlling certain aspects without having ever seen or spoken to me.  The same cannot be said of my doctor or even my own judgement.  I wish they’d let those who know me best decide what’s best.