Tag Archives: charity

Best. Week. Ever.

Back at the end of March, G was lucky enough to attend the amazing Over The Wall sibling camp and had the experience of a lifetime. I knew just how much of a success that week away from home had been almost the minute she stepped off the bus as she asked with fervour if we could apply for her to go again next year. The last few weeks have been filled with a mix of emotions as M was thrilled to learn that he had been offered a place on the OTW Health Challenges camp this August, but the ongoing drama with his broken leg left us questioning whether he’d actually be able to go (of course he would, it’s a camp for kids with health challenges after all), and take part  (well as best as his leg and determination would allow), and get from it as much as his sister had (we could only hope). Fortunately, the final fracture clinic appointment that saw M being given the all-clear and discharged from the care of the orthopaedic team fell on the Friday before IMG_0791[1]he was due to head off to camp on the Monday and the assurance of the consultant that his leg was at long last fully healed gave M the confidence he needed that he could fully participate in all the activities on offer during the week.

It was a major event in our household. It’s the first time that M has been able to go away from home without being with family; he’s never even had a sleepover because of his bowel problems and sleep issues and so it was unsurprising that our car journey to Dorset was eerily quiet as he struggled to get his anxieties under some semblance of control. It was a very pensive boy who clung to my hand as we found our way to the welcome desk to sign him in, although by the time I left around 2 hours later, with medicines handed over to the Beach Hut medical team and clothes unpacked and safely put away, he was starting to warm a little to his surroundings and had already enjoyed a hysterical couple of games of Guess Who? with 2 of the volunteers. Seeing the other children chatting and laughing as they arrived on-site, it was easy, even for me, to forget that these are children living with serious illnesses. Illnesses which are sometimes life-limiting and are always life-impacting. My child was one of them. IMG_0792[1]And when M commented on how comfortable his bed was compared to the ones in hospital I could see the volunteers in the room with us, both of whom were new this year, take a deep breath, unexpectedly shaken just a little by this vivid reminder that every child there is facing a chronic illness that is not always obvious at first glance. I was not immune to the pathos of that situation and my heart broke a little that this was his first thought, his opening response to this new experience.

Knowing he was settled and in safe hands meant that I could leave the site almost without a backwards glance. I could see he was torn between wanting to give me a hug and kiss goodbye and not wanting to show affection in front of his new room-mates, so I offered a quick hug and a kiss on the head before heading back to my car, not giving him opportunity to wobble. Despite concerns to the contrary from other people, this Mummy was fine with leaving her boy there because I had absolute confidence that they would take care of him and support him and make sure he had a week where the medical implications of his everyday world were not at the forefront of his mind. The lack of communication during the week could easily have worried me senseless, but instead I knew that it really was a case of “no news is good news” as camp would only get in touch if things were going wrong. I was also confident that they were more than able to meet his dietary requirements and would make the effort to give him meals that were more than just simple rice and chicken. Not long after the end of G’s sibling camp, I menuhad been sent a draft menu for M that one of the camp chefs had devised based on his safe foods at the time and we were all drooling at the sound of some of the dishes. In the 2 weeks leading up to camp, OTW contacted me again to check whether there had been any changes to his diet and to reassure me that they were prepared for the challenge of feeding him whilst he was there.

I can’t even begin to describe how I felt when I picked him up the following Saturday. G joined me for the drive to Dorset and was able to share so many precious memories of her own as we went through the gates and along the drive towards the house. We pulled up to the grassed area which was ablaze with colour as the various groups gathered to wave goodbye to all the campers as they started their journey home. M was the last Orange Boy standing and the farewell given to him by the team volunteers saw more than one of us with tears in our eyes. Seeing this group of wonderful adults, who had become his family for the week, surround him and sing “M, we love you, deep down in our hearts…deep down….” to him with genuine affection brought a definite lump to my throat, not least because M was equally overcome by his emotions and obviously struggling not to give into them in public.

IMG_0812[1]As they lined up outside the car and waved us off, the atmosphere inside was in stark contrast to when we arrived as M sat smiling bravely, with tears rolling down his cheeks because he wasn’t ready to leave camp and go back home. He was emotionally and physically exhausted, but refused to let sleep overcome him, instead spending the entirety of our homeward journey sharing every tiny aspect of the week he’d just enjoyed. As M told us about camp, he was worried that he would hurt my feelings when he said that the chef cooked some delicious meals that were, in the most part, “..even better than yours Mummy!”, but I didn’t mind a bit. His close new friendship with one of the other boys in his team, who also had food allergies, meant that neither of them felt isolated as they sat next to each other as their food was served at each meal. And my heart swelled when he said he hadn’t really missed us or thought of us that much because he had been having such a good time as I understand that that was so much more than I could ever have wanted for his first experience away from home.

It’s hard to encapsulate just why this week was such a significant one for M, but it really has been an incredible and life-changing experience. For once he felt normal and not the exception in the group, and that alone is priceless to me.  M’s confidence has soared as he pushed himself, and his body, to the limit and tried new activities that would have scared him before and his honesty impressed me as he relayed just how terrifying some of those new experiences had been until he had a go and conquered those fears. He has developed more independence and an even greater awareness of other people that reflects more maturity than he had before. Yesterday he took responsibility for making his own breakfast and even asked G and me what we wanted to eat so he could make our breakfasts too. That may seem like nothing much, but for a child where the world really has revolved around his needs over the last decade, it was a huge shift in attitude.

My words cannot do justice to the time he had at OTW camp, but I know how fantastic it was as he is already asking if he can go back again – not just next year, but every year until he’s too old to be a camper any more. What’s more, his aim is to become a volunteer at camp eventually if he can. M expressed it best when he told me it had been the Best. Week. Ever.

 

And the money kept rolling in…

Every year when National Eosinophil Awareness Week rolls around, we start thinking about how we’re going to raise more awareness about EGID, particularly in the public eye. During that first year, our focus was all about our awareness as a family and understanding more about how his diagnosis with this rare condition was impacting on M’s everyday life. As time has passed, we’ve looked for different ways to spread the word, reaching out into the wider community and have found that our efforts have naturally evolved to encompass an element of fundraising as well. Whilst the focus of NEAW is rightly about otwmaking sure more people know about this condition and what it means to be living with it, and donations of time are as valuable, if not more so than those of money, we know that any money we can raise will make a difference to the charities we choose to support.

This year we wanted to show our appreciation for the amazing work done by Over The Wall in running camps for children with serious health challenges, their siblings and their families. The truly fantastic week away that G enjoyed at Easter made an incredible difference to her, perhaps even more than we realised at the time. During a recent conversation with G and M about the Allergy UK Hero awards, we got to discussing the reasons why we might nominate each other for an award. To my surprise G stated that my efforts at finding out about and then sorting out her week away at camp was the best example of how I had made a significant difference to her life as an allergy-sufferer and sibling to a chronically ill child. That comment, for me, sums up just how significant the opportunity to have time away from the stresses and strains of life at home with M and to just be a child really was to her.

IMG_3019

During May, I started to document how our fundraising efforts were going and the different opportunities I had found to raise even more for our chosen charity. We had fantastic support from M’s school, who helped him raise an incredible £81 for OTW and through stalls at local community events and generous friends and family members, we raised another £172. Even better, we still have two fundraising plans in the pipeline, both of which came as something of a surprise to me, albeit a wonderful one. The first came when we were part-way through NEAW16, when I received an unexpected phone-call from the Head of Year 7 at G’s secondary school. Thanks to the continued support from our local press and a well-timed article in the local paper, she had a proposition that overwhelmed me and almost rendered me speechless. Year 7 had an enrichment week coming up after May half-term and, as a lead-in to their week of activities, the year group would be having a non-uniform day on the previous Friday. Her suggestion was that the school would use the day to help us raise awareness of EGID and that the money collected on the day itself would be donated to OTW. indexThe reasoning behind this plan was simple and easy to understand: G and M. They wanted to show support to G as one of their own and, knowing how much she had benefitted from her week away and recognising her commitment to supporting M during NEAW, believed that this was the perfect opportunity to do it.

I was more than happy to agree to this proposal and G was soon on board too. She was asked to write a small piece about EGID, NEAW and OTW that would be shared during tutor time on the Friday morning and each tutor was asked to show their group the short film G and M had created for the week. A well-researched, well-written and fully comprehensive letter was sent out by the school to all families explaining EGID and the charity that the money given on the day would be going to.

This week a cheque was presented to G during the weekly Year 7 assembly for an amazing £280, or thereabouts. The Year 7 Head told me that there were several donations made that exceeded the suggested £1 because the funds are going to a charity that have already helped G and M – something I can’t thank my fellow parents for enough. This money will make a difference to Over The Wall and it’s great to feel that we’re giving a little back. It means that so far we’ve raised an astonishing £530, or thereabouts, which covers half the cost for a child to attend the OTW sibling camp. I don’t know what our final fundraising total for this year will be as there is still one event left to go in August, but I’m glad that we have been able to make such a success of our efforts so far.otw

Merlin’s Magic Wand

Most of you will know the company Merlin Entertainments, who own and run attractions around the UK such as Alton Towers, the London Eye, Warwick Castle and Madame Tussauds, to name but a few; but how many are aware of their linked charity, Merlin’s Magic Wand? It’s certainly not an organisation I’d ever heard of and knew nothing about until the start of 2015. This charitable organisation was set up in 2008 by Merlin Entertainments to “…deliver magical experiences to seriously ill, disabled and disadvantaged children across the world…” and focus their work in 2 main areas:

  • Magical Days Out at Merlin attractions – over 170, 000 children and their families have been able to enjoy a memorable day out through the provision of entrance tickets and, where necessary, travel grants
  • Taking the Magic to the children – recognising that some children are unable to visit due to the nature of their illnesses or disabilities, Merlin has provided areas such as a “Fantastical Castle play area” in the CHASE Hospice, Guildford and a “Legoland play area” at the Kolding Sygehus Children’s Hospital in Billund, Denmark.

At the start of this year, not long after we’d arrived back home following M’s stay in GOSH for his NG-tube and elemental diet, I heard about Merlin’s Magic Wand and decided to investigate a little further. I wasn’t confident whether M would even be eligible for tickets or not, but thanks to their incredibly informative and easy to navigate website, 20150831_073635I decided to give it a go, working on the principle of nothing ventured, nothing gained. Both children are massive fans of Legoland Windsor and had been clamouring for a visit this year, so I selected that as our number 1 choice and, without saying a word to either of them, sent back the form and sat back to wait and see.

Within a couple of weeks of submitting my application form on-line, I had an e-mail to tell me we had been successful and that 4 entrance tickets would soon be winging their way to me. Unfortunately, a slight delay in their arrival meant we couldn’t use them for our Star Wars trip on May 4th, but the problems were soon resolved, the tickets arrived and I pinned them to our kitchen noticeboard, waiting for the right time to put them to good use. A busy summer has meant that finding that right time to go proved more challenging than we expected and we finally settled on the August bank holiday Monday as something of a “last hurrah” for our summer holidays and before G started her new venture of secondary school.

We set off early on that Monday morning, driving through the pouring rain, confident that, if nothing else, the park would not be too busy, or, at least, not as busy as it might have been if there’d been glorious sunshine. Our travels to Florida last year alerted us to the existence of ride access passes and we were delighted that the same exist at Legoland Windsor. Armed with a letter from our GP confirming the reasons we needed this pass, we headed to guest services as soon as we entered the park. 20150831_114557This is a “benefit” that has obviously been subject to some abuse over the years and Legoland Windsor has stringent checks in place to ensure that only those who genuinely need this assistance receive it.

Our day there was as fantastic as ever and we enjoyed all of our favourite rides (some of them twice!) as well as trying out the brand new Mia’s Riding Adventure, one that G was desperate to go on. This isn’t one for the faint-hearted and there was a slightly panicked moment when we discovered that M’s body-weight wasn’t quite enough to keep the seat back in a comfortable, but secure position for him ride. With some excellent help from the staff manning the ride, we managed to get M settled in a position that allowed him to breathe before the ride started and the screams from my excited duo began. 20150831_100610Mike watched from the sidelines as he and spinning rides really don’t get along and waved merrily to us, slightly misconstruing my attempts to flag a staff member down to help as an unusual display of my own excitement about the ride.

Disappointingly we are no longer able to eat on-site as we’ve found that the cross-contamination is too much for M’s sensitive digestive system to cope with and instead we enjoyed a rather soggy packed lunch, whilst watching both shows – the Pirates of Skeleton Bay and Lego Friends to the Rescue. The children were also able to be part of the audience volunteers at the start of each show, which they loved and which has become an integral part of any day we spend at Legoland Windsor. All in all, we had an amazing day out thanks to the generosity of Merlin’s Magic Wand. The charity depends on donations to help make these tickets available to those children who benefit from them and if you want to find out more about how you can help or show support, please visit their website:

merlin

Here’s to 2015

That’s another year done, more adventures experienced and new lessons learned.  We’re starting 2015 with a positive outlook – the switch to NG-tube and elemental feeding has already started to see some health improvements for M and we finally have a plan for moving forward that will be looking for the root cause for some of his health problems.  Both children are happy and settled at school and G is looking ahead to moving into secondary school in September. We’ve met and made friends with several of the lovely FABED families and have been able to help raise funds and awareness for this charity and the condition it supports.  I’m not sure what 2015 holds for us all, but, if nothing else, I’ve learned to hold tightly to my hat as it’s certain to be a bumpy ride!

Wishing you all a happy, ssuccessful and peaceful 2015.  May your wishes and dreams be fulfilled. 

 

 

The Message from “My Man” at the BBC

Three weeks on from that episode of the BBC’s hospital drama, Holby City and I’m still reeling from the amazing response to my blog post and the unexpected bonus of two phone-calls with series producer, Simon Harper.  When I penned my heartfelt response to what Mike and I had watched on-screen, I expected to reach a few more than my usual readership and dared to hope that I might beat my previous “top score” of 186 readers in a 24-hour period with my letter to our local hospital.  I never dreamed that over 2,000 people across the world would read, comment on and share that plea for responsible portrayal of chronic illness in the mainstream media.  As well as sharing my thoughts through my blog, I made a formal complaint to the BBC and, through the wonder of Google, managed to track down Simon Harper and sent him an e-mail, expressing my concerns about the inaccuracies about EGID portrayed in that episode.

Courtesy of bbc.co.uk

Courtesy of bbc.co.uk

I didn’t expect to hear anything back, so you can only imagine my surprise and absolute delight when Simon not only replied to my e-mail, but also offered to pick up the phone and discuss the matter with me.  We agreed a day and time to talk and I spent the week making notes and talking to fellow EGID parents through FABED and other on-line forums to get their points of view on what I needed to raise in my conversation.  That first phone-call lasted for around 30 minutes and at no point did I feel that Simon was keen to close down the conversation and finish the call,  He was genuinely interested in learning more about EGID and understanding why this episode had caused such distress in the on-line community. We spent a long time discussing the difference between “intention” – what the program was trying to portray – and “perception” – what the viewing public understood – when it comes to producing a drama for television viewing and here Simon explains it in his own words:

The intention: “the guest character’s general allergies were a dramatic smoke screen to the actual underlying cause of his pain, neuralgia – but that in no way were those allergies supposed to suggest a condition as specific and, as I now know from talking to you, severe as EGID.  In no way was the story supposed to say that EGID was in fact just neuralgia!“.

The perception:I think it comes down to one scene where Zosia (the doctor) mentions that Nigel’s eosinophils are up –  due to his general allergies – and she then goes on to mention “his eosinophilic gastro-enteritis”.  What I can see maybe wasn’t clear was that Zosia, excitedly bandying round theories and possible prognoses at this stage of the story, is in fact supposed only to be raising EGID at a possibility at that moment.  perceptionA possibility that, in fact, turns out not to be the case.  But I can see that the phrasing “his” – combined with the fact that dramatically speaking, we never see Zosia rule out EGID (a moment we assume happens off-screen) – could have given the wrong impression.  It’s a tough call with medical drama – you never play on-screen every single beat of medical treatment that would happen in real life, choosing the moments which best serve the story,  and sometimes rely on the audience’s imagination to assume and deduce. It’s a delicate balance, and there is definitely a lesson to be learned here, because evidently, missing out that moment has in this case given the wrong impression.

I also mentioned my concerns that a range of inflammatory bowel diseases had appeared to be ruled out through a simple ultrasound, whilst those of us living with this family of illnesses know, from our first-hand experiences, that endoscopies, colonoscopies and biopsies are the only reliable ways to confirm a final diagnosis.  The conversation ended with an agreement that Simon would spend time investigating what research was done, talking to the consultant concerned and checking out the ultrasound situation before phoning me back a week later to talk some more.  I was struck by his commitment to unpicking where and how things went so wrong and have to confess to being cheeky enough to send another e-mail, thanking him for his honest discussion with me and pointing him in the direction of various EGID websites, so that he could truly understand what our families deal with on a daily basis.

A week later and that second phone-call happened.  Another 30 minutes valuably spent clearing up those outstanding points, including his agreement that the discussion regarding the ultrasound came across as far more definitive than was their intention.  I have to say I’m impressed with the research into EGID he had done during that week and appreciate that he took the time to properly review the research done originally for the program.  Finally, and definitely most importantly, he has sent a huge apology to our EGID family and I truly believe it is a heartfelt one.

apology

Courtesy of psmag.com

I repeat,  I  am absolutely aware that despite all this, an upsetting impression was given due to the way EGID was referenced and never ruled out on-screen and there is absolutely a lesson to be learned there for the future.  I can’t undo any upset caused, I realise, but do so hope I have been able to reassure you that we take the medical research aspect of HOLBY with the utmost seriousness and that in this instance, it truly was not an instance of inaccuracy, but, I think, a point of clarity that had an unforeseen impact on how the story came across.

 I truly have enjoyed our conversations, as not only did I get an education on the condition that  your son,  you, your family and many others are so courageously living with, but, as a producer, it is always absolutely invaluable to get insights on how our story intentions actually translate to an audience member –  that gives us great help in the way we tell our stories for the better to make HOLBY an entertaining but hopefully also stress-free hour!  And I do hope that you will continue to watch and enjoy the show.

A big thank you to Simon Harper for his willingness to be open and honest about the research done for this storyline, the errors of judgement made in the production, to talk to me not just once, but twice and his apology for the upset unintentionally caused.  As one of my fellow EGID Mums asked (and I wholeheartedly agree):

Any chance they’ll get Mr Allergy (grrrrrr) back and do a proper episode on EGID?

Simon, I wait for your answer!

A Grand Day Out

granddayoutIf you’re a sports fan, then last weekend was the weekend for you:  Wimbledon finals, the Tour de France in Yorkshire, World Cup quarter-finals and the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.  Under normal circumstances, I’d be trying to grab glimpses of the tennis whilst dealing with the never-ending demands of homework and food, admist the cries of “Do we have to watch the tennis?” from G and M.  This year however, saw a break from the norm and instead Saturday found me browsing the shelves of Milton Keynes’ library on my own as Mike and the children spent the day at Silverstone.

20140705_164656This amazing opportunity to watch the qualifying races for the British Grand Prix was thanks to the GOSH events and charity team, who work with Bernie Ecclestone and his team at Silverstone to fundraise for the hospital.  They have been working together to raise much needed money for 10 years, raising a whopping £4million for the hospital.  Each year they offer 30 GOSH patients and their families the chance to visit the race track over the 3 days of the Grand Prix event.

I first heard about the event on Twitter, where 140 characters offered parents and family of GOSH patients the opportunity to contact the charity’s office and apply for tickets for the event.  I wasn’t convinced we’d get the tickets given there must be hundreds of children who’d love to attend, but I came to the conclusion that there was nothing to be lost in making the application.  I filled the form in, contacted M’s gastro team to ask for an email supporting our request and confirming that he was fit and well enough to attend the day and emailed the completed form back in with my fingers tightly crossed.  I hoped we might have a good chance as M said he wanted to go on the Saturday as 1) he wouldn’t miss school on the Friday and 2) he didn’t want to go on race day itself as we weren’t sure whether there’d be as much to do during the day.

20140705_161022

20140705_105949We didn’t have long to wait and were delighted when Mike got the phone-call to say the application had been successful and 3 tickets for the Saturday were ours.  M was very excited to be going and the opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time for him as he’s been struggling with some big flare-ups from the EGID recently as well as the introduction of 3 new medicines to his daily regime, which has been challenging for us all.  The day had become a real focus for him and he was determined to have a great time there.  It was also fantastic to be able to include G in the day out as she rarely benefits from M’s illness and is frequently relegated to second place as we try to deal with him.  She was as excited as the boys and I hoped she would enjoy herself as much as I knew Mike would!

20140705_112530So, whilst my lucky trio spent their day meeting the likes of Eddie Jordan, exploring the Paddocks and the garages, polishing a F1 car and experiencing everything that Silverstone had to offer, I spent a quiet day on my own in Milton Keynes.  I explored the shops, enjoyed lunch at John Lewis and spent a few idyllic hours peacefully writing my blog and reading in the library.  The children have hardly stopped for breath since Saturday, telling me tale after tale about their grand day out and it’s all thanks to the hard work and generosity of those at both Silverstone and GOSH.

20140705_113143

 

The best laid plans…

Cupcake anyone?

Today is the penultimate day in National Eosinophil Awareness Week and our plans were to raise awareness and funds for FABED at school.  I had approached M and G’s headteacher last week to ask if we could hold a cake sale – and yes, I do realise the irony in that choice – during today’s Sports Day.  He readily agreed and the call went out, letting parents know about our cause and asking for donations of cake, and cash, for the day itself.  However, at around 2am this morning, when I heard the rain pounding down outside the bedroom window, I realised with a sinking heart that there was no chance of Sports Day happening and I would need to agree an alternate plan with the school to get rid of the 100 M-friendly cupcakes that were littering our kitchen. 20140523_152824 Fortunately, school have been fantastically supportive of our fundraising efforts this week and we were able to hold the cake sale at the end of the school day instead. Despite the last minute change to our plans, we raised an amazing £87 for FABED and even managed to hand out some information flyers about EGID to interested parents.  I was encouraged to be told by one parent that she had never heard of EGID before receiving the e-mail about the sale and so had gone on-line to find out more about the condition.  That, for me, has made all our efforts this week worth-while.

10368328_10152062730306123_2476405082926815390_oM and G were also keen to raise awareness with their teachers and late Wednesday evening, I came up with a plan that would get our message out.  Thanks to the generosity of FABED, I had a stash of their pens at home – bright pink and bearing the FABED logo – and, following a hasty head-count of the members of staff in the school, realised that there was enough for every teacher to be given one.  I painstakingly cut out pairs of glasses from “FABED-pink” paper, glued them to hand-made white card tags, inscribed them with the words “I am EGID aware..are you?” and attached the tag to each pen.  The end result was effective and M was delighted to be able to take them in to school with him this morning and hand them out to the teachers.  We had lots of positive feedback as they received their pens from him and I hope that this will encourage them to also find out a little more about EGID.  Knowing that at least 3 teachers have decided to use the FABED pens as their dedicated register pens assures me that it’ll be a constant reminder of EGID and not just a nice thing that happened on the Friday before half-term.  Not content to leave our awareness-raising with just school today, M also took some pens and left-over M-friendly carrot cake cupcakes to Stagecoach tonight for his teachers there to enjoy.  He’s been fab at handing them out today and has grown in confidence about explaining what it’s all about – as long as Mummy’s alongside to lend a helping hand when needed.

20140523_202419On the food front, Mike decided to eat exactly the same food as M today, matching him mouthful for mouthful, even down to the obligatory serving of Neocate at the end of the day.  I chose not to do the same this year as M has been off his food this week due to his flare and I need to keep my carbohydrate intake up to keep my T1D on an even keel, although I too have endured enjoyed a glass of Neocate!

M

Me

Mike

Breakfast
  •  Sliced pear
  • Black coffee
Lunch
  • Sakata rice crackers (4)
  • Free from spread
  • Fruit stars
  • Sesame snaps
  • Orgran Mini chocolate Outback biscuits

 

  • Rice flour toast (3 slices)
  • Smoked salmon trimmings mixed with cucumber, tomato and egg-free mayonnaise

 

  • Sakata rice crackers (4)
  • Free from spread
  • Fruit stars
  • Sesame snaps
  • Orgran Mini chocolate Outback biscuits


Dinner
  •  4 tbsp Risotto (Arborio rice, onion, garlic, bacon, courgette, mushroom, corn & vegetable stock)
  • 150mls rice milk
  •  Risotto (Arborio rice, onion, garlic, bacon, courgette, mushroom, corn & vegetable stock)


  •  4 tbsp Risotto (Arborio rice, onion, garlic, bacon, courgette, mushroom, corn & vegetable stock)
  • 150mls rice milk


Snacks
  • Carrot cake cupcake
  • Nakd Cocoa Orange Date bar
  • 1x 350mls Neocate Active flavoured with Crusha strawberry milkshake syrup
  •  1x 350mls Neocate Active flavoured with Crusha strawberry milkshake syrup
  •  Carrot cake cupcake
  • Nakd Pecan Pie Date bar
  • 1x 350mls Neocate Active flavoured with Crusha strawberry milkshake syrup

If you would like to donate to FABED and the wonderful work they do supporting families like ours coping with children with EGID, please see their JustGiving page at https://www.justgiving.com/FABED/

 

Lessons about the Press

My foray into the world of the local press over the last week has taught me some interesting life lessons.  Last week was all about my appearance on our local BBC radio station to talk about EGID, National Eosinophilic Awareness Week and baking for a child with multiple food allergies.  I had some great feedback from people who’d listened to what I had to say and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  The pros were all about getting that message out there and raising some much needed awareness about this rare condition. The cons were that I didn’t know what I was going to be asked beforehand as it was all completely unscripted and so missed giving some information that would, in my opinion, have made the interview even better.

Today an article featuring our family appeared in our local paper.  The interview hadn’t been the easiest as I took the phone-call at work and could be spotted standing on one leg about 10 feet from the front of the office, with my left hand raised in the air in a vain attempt to get a decent enough signal to be heard at the other end – well maybe not really, but you get the picture!  I don’t find explaining EGID the easiest thing in the world when sitting face to face with the person asking the question: there’s a tendency for the individual to begin to glaze over, right up until I mention that M struggles with multiple food allergies as part of his condition.  At that point, their interest sparks up again as everybody inevitably knows somebody who can’t eat wheat/gluten/dairy* (*delete as appropriate).  Now, imagine trying to discuss a rare and virtually unknown condition over the idiosyncrasies of the mobile phone network – nigh on impossible.

NST (2)

However, despite it all, I’m not disappointed with the article that was written.  Okay, so the headline was misleading given our actual aim is to raise some much needed awareness about EGID rather than food allergies, but the reporter did include lots of important and accurate information.  I was delighted that she included some words about FABED, without whom I doubt I’d have found the confidence to even approach the press to report about M, as this was the bit that was missing from my radio interview on Friday.  To my delight, the paper has also agreed to run a small follow-up piece next week about our fundraising efforts this week and report how much money we have managed to raise for FABED.  That will be my opportunity to include FABED’s website details and to encourage our community to consider supporting this worthy cause.

feetup

With all the excitement of 2 appearances in the local press within the space of a week, this media mogul decided she needed a break of the mundane task of family dinner and instead tonight’s menu was courtesy of Mike:

 

M

Me

Mike

Breakfast
  • Home-made bread (1 slice) with free-from spread
  •  Sliced pear
Bowl of:

  • Free-from cornflakes
  • Rice milk
Lunch
  • Sesame snaps
  • Fruit buttons (blackcurrant)
  • Chocolate cupcake (1/3)
  • Home-made rice bread (1 slice)

 

  • Sakata rice crackers (6)
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Peanut butter

 

  •  Brazil nut & sultana cereal bar (2)
  • Mango fruit smoothie
  • Apple
Dinner
  • 2x home-made rice bread (toasted)
  • Baked beans
  • Pears (1/4)

 

  • Taco shells (4)
  • Home-made chicken satay (chicken, onion, garlic, courgette, mushrooms, tomato, peanut butter, coconut cream, chilli flakes)
  • Home-made coleslaw (red cabbage, carrot, onion, egg-free mayonnaise)
  • Taco shells (4)
  • Home-made chicken satay (chicken, onion, garlic, courgette, mushrooms, tomato, peanut butter, coconut cream, chilli flakes)
  • Home-made coleslaw (red cabbage, carrot, onion, egg-free mayonnaise)
Snacks
  • Sliced pear (1/4)
  • Nakd cocoa orange date bar
  • Dried apricots (3)
  • Sakata rice crackers (2)
  • Peanut butter
 

 

 

Eosinophilic Awareness Week 18th-24th May 2014

This week I’m delighted to welcome Kate from The Recipe Resource as my guest blogger. Her blog was set up to support those catering for multiple food allergies, particularly in children and Kate is a fellow EGID Mum, who I’ve been privileged to meet through the fantastic FABED.  I was going to write a post to tell you all about Eosinophilic Awareness Week, but found Kate had already done an amazing job on her own blog and she kindly agreed to let me share it with you all:

 

18th-24th May 2014 is Eosinophilic Awareness Week.  Read about EGID here

Gastro research is drastically UNDER FUNDED.  It is not “glamorous” and rarely on the radar for celebrities and focus groups, and rarely attracts public interest unlike cardiac care and cancer research.  Gastro conditions are badly neglected in the UK when it comes to research funding allocation, but without research treatment and outcomes are not likely to improve much.

Approximately 1% of the total amount of medical research funding available in the UK can be accessed for Gastro research.  There are currently no listed projects specifically for Eosinophilic Disorders on the National Research database.  GOSH are running a Gastro Research Project that will include related conditions/problems.  Alarmingly, children with allergic gut conditions are reaching epidemic proportions according to GOSH.

No one knows why the UK has the highest incidence for Allergy.  I went to Westmnister to attend the All Party Group for Allergy in October 2013 and heard how in the 19th Century, a study into Hay Fever took two decades as it was so rare and there were insufficient people to include in the study.  Today it is incredibly common.  The UK tops the league table in the incidence of allergy in its population, with Australia second – which is interesting as their population obviously share a similar root.  Allergic gut conditions are becoming common and hugely problematic for NHS paediatric services and Eosinophilic Disease is a specific subset of this group.

FABED is the main UK charity supporting families with members (adult and children) who suffer from eosinophilic disease.

FABED

FABED are UK partners supporting the United States Eosinophilic Awareness Week.  This is coordinated by APFED.  Two years ago they made this video to promote awareness.

Read more about Eosinophilic Diseases here.

During Eosinophilic Awareness Week, do something to raise awareness.  Tell someone about EGID and the appalling lack of funding for gastrointestinal disorders in the UK.

 

This blog was first posted on May 9th 2014 at The Recipe Resource here

Our charity needs YOU!

Fabed needs youFABED (Families Affected by Eosinophilic Disorders) is a charity close to our hearts.  As I’ve mentioned on many occasions, FABED is a small charity supporting families like ours who are living with the challenges of a child, or children, diagnosed with eosinophilic disorders.

In the last 12 months since we’ve had M’s diagnosis, we’ve struggled to get to grips with the implications of EGID for M: how we can manage his health, coping with the impact of it on, not only M, but our family as a whole and how we communicate and explain this chronic illness to those surrounding us.  In particular, we’ve found it hard to fully explain the effects of EGID on M to his teachers and school as they rarely see the negative side – the sleepless nights, the chronic pain, the diarrhoea and the frustrations – because M just gets on with life at school and keeps his melt-downs for home.  Without the support of FABED and its wonderful families, I’m not sure how well we would have coped.

FABED

FABED is keen to produce an educational leaflet specifically for schools, separately aimed at both the Primary and Secondary education sectors. This will raise awareness of a rare, but increasingly prevalent condition, which can take years of struggle to diagnose. Helping schools to understand this disease will help alleviate just one of the many areas that families have to deal with.

This is where YOU can help.  Galaxy Hot Chocolate are looking to help small, local community based projects and community minded people through their GALAXY Hot Chocolate Fund. Eighty £300 awards will be given to help small groups and we would love for FABED to receive this money and achieve their goal.

A vote from you will make a big difference to children like M and families like ours, so please take a moment and add your vote.  Just click on the link below to cast your vote and remember to confirm from the e-mail sent to you:

http://www.galaxyhotchocolate.com/fund/fabed

thank-you-languages