Have you trained your co-workers?

23 replies [Last post]
By Daisy on Mon, 03-06-06, 23:14

Someone on another food allergy board recently posted this question. WOW! Never thought of this. (And I am in the medical field.)Of course, most of my co-workers know I have serious food allergies. One friend even asked me to go to lunch before her one day, as she had brought leftover Chinese food w/ shrimp. How nice! Many have even commented on my beautiful gold Medic Alert bracelet that DH gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago. But I have never shown my colleagues which purse is mine (we keep them in the same room, just in a "clean" cabinet), where my Epi-pen is stored.
Talked with my supervisor on Friday. They thought this was a great idea. Will be taking the Epi-trainer to work for a demo.

Just a thought,
Daisy

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By McCobbre on Thu, 03-16-06, 18:15

No, I haven't. I don't think they take the allergy very seriously. Granted, mine tends to take two hours, and with a GI reaction, I don't have to use the Epi right away. I've only had to use it once. Benadryl has worked for the peanut reactions (and I've tested negative to peanuts, but I've reacted). So there's some time to prepare.

There's a possibility of moving to a different building, and there someone has the same allergy and uses an Epi, so he will know. And another colleague with whom I am in meetings once a month also carries an Epi for a shellfish allergy, so she knows.

But I've not trained a colleague.

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By Daisy on Fri, 03-17-06, 01:56

[b]McCobbre[/b]
Mylene posted about this on the AL site. Thought it was a good idea for the Adults over here. (Everyone gets a 504 for their kids, but we sometimes forget to protect ourselves.)

I have shown several of my co-workers, and my supervisors what my purse looks like and done the Epi-demo. My *point person* is a co-worker with similar problems; but we work weekends and holidays, so I am training multiple people. Everyone has been really great, and actually very interested to learn.

I had *GI-only* reactions for years. But lately, I have been having vague little reactions, and my *usual* reactions have progressed in the last couple of years, so I'm worried that I might pass out at work and no one would know what was happening. I have a Medic-Alert bracelet, too(MFA and drug reactions). And a good idea if you're incapacitated (auto-wreck).[b]I do not have hives, so an EMT or ER Doc would not be able to diagnose my reaction without being alerted.[/b]

Daisy,
BTW, I responded to your GI question on the AL site.

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By kherbert on Fri, 05-05-06, 23:16

I work in a school. I have trained my teammates through the years on how to use my epi. We also have 2 RN's on staff. One is the school nurse. The other is a 5th grade teacher (changed jobs)

Since all my reactions in the last 5 years have been through touch - any new co-worker or friend gets an quick course in don't touch me (I also react to soaps/chemicals on people's hands)

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By princesshinmighty on Fri, 06-16-06, 23:32

I work from home now, so I haven't had to train my co-workers, just my b/f -- but he's been trained from the beginning.

I have just been applying and interviewing at some new companies. When they ask me what I don't like about a traditional work environment, my statement is always an educational statement about allergies and shared equipment/spaces.

When I was working in an office environment before, I constantly was talking to people about the allergies, and letting them know what signs to watch for. I didn't carry my epi-pen for a while (expired - no health ins. to see a new doctor), so I didn't bother to train them on that. I had my own cabinets for food, and most people were accomodating (except the halloween candy in the office ordeal) most of the time. I was pretty diligent about cleaning my phone & keyboard before I used them.

They all knew the signs to watch for and where I kept my benedryl...and of course if I started to have problems to call 9-1-1 without even thinking about it.

If I get/take this new job, you can bet the first thing I will tell HR & my co-workers/supervisors, is about my problems with peanuts & other allergens, how to make sure that I'm taken care of, as well as instructions to administer epi-pens and call 9-1-1...And of course, restrictions about who can use the same computer system as myself. I've already mentioned in my initial telephone interview, my concerns with returning to a in-building job.

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By iansmom on Sat, 06-17-06, 21:43

Absolutely!

I don't have life-threatening allergies, but my best friend is anaphylactic to latex and has almost died on several occasions because of it. One of her more recent reactions happened at work, and onset was so severe that she was unable to use her EpiPen on herself before she collapsed. Fortunately, she had briefed her coworkers on what to do, and had her Epi in her desk with a bright label on the outside of the drawer. A coworker managed to inject her with the Epi and call 911, but if she hadn't had the foresight to train people she works with, she probably would have died.

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By princesshinmighty on Tue, 06-20-06, 00:10

I just had an interview today (and got hired for the job - pending background & drug test) and the first thing out of my mouth with each person I interviewed with was "I have a severely fatal peanut allergy" and talked over the special requests that I would need to make to make sure my work environment was safe for me. They were really understanding and helpful and sound like they will be accomodating for me.

I have 2 other job interviews this week, for different companies (jobs I'd prefer over the one I was conditionally offered today) so I will make sure to educate their HR depts about the allergies and my fear of working in a "public" environment with shared equipment. (except I might withhold a little bit of it from the airline I'm interviewing with -- then hit them with it once I am liked [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] hehe)

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By cathlina on Tue, 06-20-06, 00:47

My entire work floor is peanut free. I didn't even ask for it. When the human resource dept. found out about it, they initiated the accommodation.

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By cathlina on Tue, 06-20-06, 00:48

My entire work floor is peanut free. I didn't even ask for it. When the human resource dept. found out about my PA, they initiated the accommodation.

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By misaok on Mon, 07-10-06, 19:25

My workplace knows about it. We have birthday parties each month and they still continue to serve peanuts, cookies with nuts, etc. I walked in one day and could smell the peanuts. Ended up using my epi-pen and running to the doctor. Work made me use sick time because of it. I don't attend any of the celebrations anymore.

Unfortunately, not everyone is understanding. They think I am over reacting and just don't like peanuts and nuts.

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By ajgauthier on Mon, 07-10-06, 20:06

Quote:Originally posted by misaok:
[b]My workplace knows about it. We have birthday parties each month and they still continue to serve peanuts, cookies with nuts, etc. I walked in one day and could smell the peanuts. Ended up using my epi-pen and running to the doctor. Work made me use sick time because of it. I don't attend any of the celebrations anymore.

Unfortunately, not everyone is understanding. They think I am over reacting and just don't like peanuts and nuts.[/b]

wow! Here's a little information if you want to investigate and pursue the issue.

Just like how you read on here about schools making provisions and accomodations for PA kids...the same goes for the workplace with PA adults. Every place I've worked, the human resources director/manager has told me that b/c of my "illness/condition" that the workplace is liable to make the environment safe for me. If that means, no peanuts around, it means no peanuts around. It's like making a work environment handicapped accesible with ramps and elevators. The peanut allergy can be (and usually is) covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act. You could also consider it harassment if your workplace or coworkers do not comply with no peanuts.

Considering you had a severe enough airborne reaction to warrant and epi and trip to the ER, you can prove you "aren't making it up", that "it's real and is a real safety concern"

You should contact you HR Director if you haven't already. Try to search online for the correct laws so you can go in well informed.

I've never had a problem with a workplace, everyone has been accomodating. Sorry to hear you are having a problem.

Adrienne

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30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

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By erik on Thu, 07-13-06, 20:59

Since I go to public places where other people do eat peanuts (ie: bowling alleys, movie theatres, parks, etc), I do not ask for any special restrictions at work (ie: peanut-free floor, etc).

How could I expect a co-worker sitting 30 feet away from me not to eat a Snicker's bar, when I go with these same co-workers to the movie theatre where other people may be eating a Snicker's bar 10 feet away from me.

My co-workers know about my allergy and never come near my office with nut products, but I still think that it would not be right for me to ask for a peanut-free floor considering I frequent public places where people eat peanut products.

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By ajgauthier on Fri, 07-14-06, 03:19

Quote:Originally posted by erik:
[b]
Since I go to public places where other people do eat peanuts (ie: bowling alleys, movie theatres, parks, etc), I do not ask for any special restrictions at work (ie: peanut-free floor, etc).

How could I expect a co-worker sitting 30 feet away from me not to eat a Snicker's bar, when I go with these same co-workers to the movie theatre where other people may be eating a Snicker's bar 10 feet away from me.

My co-workers know about my allergy and never come near my office with nut products, but I still think that it would not be right for me to ask for a peanut-free floor considering I frequent public places where people eat peanut products.[/b]

I think it depends how sensitive one is to the smell of peanut products and how large the office space is.

My most recent smell-reaction was from the woman who sits back-to-back with my desk. She had an open can of roasted peanuts (sneaking them). I didn't notice at first b/c I myself was eating soybutter and grahams (she knows it's not pb). I started to get itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and very wheezy. At the point when I was standing up coughing, I saw her peanuts and realized it was a reaction.

I've had other such reactions in office places when someone reheated Thai food (pad thai), when someone next to me in a meeting was eating a Payday...

So, for me...I've become very senstive to odor over the years, triggering wheezing (the most disconcerting thing). What happens is that I remove myself from the situation and get clear air. If it's somewhere there are roasting peanuts, I leave. If it's in a theater when the person in front of me is eating Reese's (and it bothers me), I get up and move my seat. I'm the one who moves myself. In airplanes (I take peanut-snack-free flights), I will move my seat if the person near me has a pn product.

In a way, I treat it like cigarette smoke...I remove myself, I don't ask the person to stop smoking in the public place.

At work...I can't necessarily move my seat. My office right now holds 4 stations and it's a 15'x15' closed room (1 door no windows). So...in there, no peanut products. They are all cool with it. My second job (in a science center) is the one I recently had a problem with...even though they agreed it would be a pn environment (condition of my employment).

Anyhoot - I guess it depends on the type of office environment it is...small space, large space, and how sensitive the PA person is. I used to be able to tolerate the smell of a Snickers or Reeses...not any symptoms. In the past 5 years or so I've become very smell sensitive. In a way I thought it was becoming psychosomatic (in my head)...but I'm pretty good about controlling that. This past smell-reaction (where I didn't smell it straight off b/c the soybutter smell was masking it)...well...I know it's real.

So, while I do something opposite of what you do Erik (controlling the work environment), I can see/agree that it's not always prudent, and, can be hypocritical to ask for a pn-free work environment when you go out to places there is peanut present. Though, I will argue that "work" is somewhere you "have to be", and recreational areas are somewhere you "choose to be". So, for someone who doesn't recreate in places where they can smell peanut, then they wouldn't be hypocrites by asking for a pn work environment.

Adrienne [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

[This message has been edited by ajgauthier (edited July 13, 2006).]

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By erik on Fri, 07-14-06, 04:06

Hi Adrienne,

If I had airborne reactions like you do, I would ask for restrictions too. I do react to airborne, but only after prolonged exposure (such as being in a bar for 20+ minutes when everyone is eating peanuts, which is a situation I avoid these days).

So in your case, there should be restrictions (peanut-free areas) due to your airborne reactions.

I am lucky in that I am not as sensitive to airborne, which is why I do not ask for a peanut-free floor at the office. However, if I reacted as you do, I would ened to ask for peanut-free environment.

Fortunately my co-workers are very considerate so I don't need to worry about them eating peanuts near me. In fact, when we had a good bye cake for someone that was may contain, they brought in safe KIt Kats for me. When they handed out candies to thank us for participating in the fire drill, they specifically bought peanut-free candies so I could eat them [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

So even thoughI don't ask for a peanut-free floor as I feel it would be hypocritical for me to do that, it does not mean that this policy applies to everyone, as many people are more airnorne reactive than me and would need a peanut-free floor or some type of restriction on peanut consumption.

[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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By ajgauthier on Fri, 07-14-06, 04:49

Quote:Originally posted by erik:
[b]Hi Adrienne,

If I had airborne reactions like you do, I would ask for restrictions too. I do react to airborne, but only after prolonged exposure (such as being in a bar for 20+ minutes when everyone is eating peanuts, which is a situation I avoid these days).

So in your case, there should be restrictions (peanut-free areas) due to your airborne reactions.

I am lucky in that I am not as sensitive to airborne, which is why I do not ask for a peanut-free floor at the office. However, if I reacted as you do, I would ened to ask for peanut-free environment.

Fortunately my co-workers are very considerate so I don't need to worry about them eating peanuts near me. In fact, when we had a good bye cake for someone that was may contain, they brought in safe KIt Kats for me. When they handed out candies to thank us for participating in the fire drill, they specifically bought peanut-free candies so I could eat them [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

So even thoughI don't ask for a peanut-free floor as I feel it would be hypocritical for me to do that, it does not mean that this policy applies to everyone, as many people are more airnorne reactive than me and would need a peanut-free floor or some type of restriction on peanut consumption.

[img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

[/b]

I hear ya, I wish I didn't become so airborne reactive. It depends on the source I've noticed...bags/cans of roasted peanuts are the worst. Reeses are bad, Snickers I can actually stand. Butterfingers...forget about it! PB&J, not good. Baked peanut butter cookies, not so bad.

Keep an eye on your smell reactions though. Mine took a real bad turn (as in, really reactive) after a flight where peanuts were served. I can't help but wonder if there was some trigger for it since it was so potent.

Argh.

Adrienne

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30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

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By Peg541 on Fri, 07-14-06, 16:58

Adrienne, what did you do for that reaction? Take yourself away from the situation, Benadryl, Epi?

How long do you think the air was bad after she put the peanuts away?

I would like to know this kind of stuff for my son. His dorms are peanut free but soon he is out in the real world.

He's had airborne reactions we treated the first with benadryl and epi because it was his first but subsequent ones he's gotten away from the peanuts and used benadryl only.

I guess it depends on how you feel and how far it goes but I would like to know what you did.

Peg

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Peggy

Son 22 Allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, tomatoes, soy, milk, oats, fish.

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By ajgauthier on Fri, 07-14-06, 17:36

Quote:Originally posted by Peg541:
[b]Adrienne, what did you do for that reaction? Take yourself away from the situation, Benadryl, Epi?

How long do you think the air was bad after she put the peanuts away?

I would like to know this kind of stuff for my son. His dorms are peanut free but soon he is out in the real world.

He's had airborne reactions we treated the first with benadryl and epi because it was his first but subsequent ones he's gotten away from the peanuts and used benadryl only.

I guess it depends on how you feel and how far it goes but I would like to know what you did.

Peg[/b]

hi Peg,

In the airplane (oh, about 5-6 years ago now)...I just popped benadryl. I didn't want to give myself the epi on the plane until I had to. My nose was a bit stuffy (not runny), my eyes were a skoosh itchy, and I was coughing/wheezing. The deal I made with myself is that if the benadryl didn't quiet it, then I'd epi myself. However, I believe I hesitated b/c I didn't "sense" it was going anaph. and I was on a plane. I was always told that I'd have to get to a hospital ASAP if I gave the epi b/c there is a history of severe heart problems in my family, and, that the epi could trigger a heart attack. So for me...I didn't use the epi on the plane. I was all ready to ask for oxygen though...I even buzzed the flight attendants and moved myself into first class (was divided off and they hadn't served peanuts in there yet)

For all my other inhalation reactions since then...it's just removing myself the instant I smell peanuts and if getting clear air doesn't help me, I pop 2 benadryl. My smell reactions are more like how someone who is allergic to fresh-cut grass or cats reacts --- while breathing it in you react, but once you get clear air for a few minutes you start to feel better.

For this last reaction, I was all ready to go with the epi since apparently I had been breathing in peanut-odor for about 10 minutes before I really noticed and started to really cough and wheeze. I got outside and took 2 chewable benadryl (kids dose...so it was 25 mg all together). I started to feel better the instant I removed myself, and then about 10 minutes later the benadryl really kicked in and I was fine.

I did talk to my allergist about it --- given my history, he doesn't seem to think I'd need an epi for odor or skin contact, only for ingestion. So "my rules" are to wait-and-see for peanut odor and skin contact, treating with benadryl. However, the moment I start to even feel like I can't catch-my-breath or take a deep breath, then give the epi. For ingestion...epi right away, no doubt about it.

So...I get wheezy, but not like when I had asthma. I can still take deep slow breaths, which helps calm me down (biofeedback is great!) If I ever feel like a smell reaction triggers a more asmtha like attack, I'd epi.

Once coming home from college (surprised my mom) she was making homemade peanut butter. Well...I took one step in the house, took 2 breaths, and began to immediately shut down. I turned around and stepped back outside, got fresh air, popped a benadryl, took a whiz of my albuterol (at the time I still had the inhaler), and felt better. Said a few choice words to my mom, then went back to school for the weekend (mind you, it was a 3 hour drive!).

so yeah...I think I take each one as it comes, I'm educated enough about the reactions/treatment/process, carry epi, have chewable and liquicap benadryl, so...yeah
Adrienne

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30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

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By LisaM on Fri, 07-14-06, 20:54

The question about whether to ask for a reduction in the amount of PN and TN in one's environment is one I've been giving some thought to lately.

Here's the situation:
am going to a conference. said conference has lots of refreshment breaks which usually means cookies/muffins and coffee . . . So if there are peanut products in those products, peanut residue is bound to get on peoples' hands and get spread everywhere as they aren't exactly going to worry about washing their hands.

I'm not as sensitive as some to contact or inhalation, but I'm always worried that the allergy could progress to that. (especially as both of my sisters simply can't have peanuts or tree nuts around . . . inhalation reactions are usually respiratory, but for my one sister also involves eczema flare ups, breathing difficulty, tingling mouth, etc.)

I've been intending to write to the conference organizers asking them to consider serving nut free and peanut free food (particularly finger food). I still shouldn't be shaking peoples' hands as I'm anaphylactic to egg and to soy as well....but the nuts are the biggest worry.

On the other hand, the only times I've ever had a major problem requiring medical treatment have involved actually ingesting an allergen . . . yes, I could potentially contaminate my own food after touching peanut residue. But if I wash my own hands before eating, the risk of anaphylaxis is low (unless there is peanut protein on the washroom door handle on the way out). so an argument could be made that my request is over the top.

What do others think of this?

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By VariegatedRB on Sat, 07-15-06, 00:01

Personally, I am just happy if a conference is cooperative about making sure my meals are safe!

The last one I went to, the coordinator was snotty with me when I tried to talk to the hotel people and said, "I got your email and I took care of everything. You don't need to talk to the staff."

First off- she never answered my email in which I asked for info on speaking to the chef since I have multiple food allergies including nuts/peanuts... and how did she "take care of everything"? She ordered me the vegetarian meal! WT&*$?!?

IME the buffets, snacks, etc are usually less nutty nowadays because they do realize that people with allergies will be in attendance. I don't eat the food, but I figure that my risk is no different than when I am shopping, etc, where people are eating and then touching things.

I wash my hands before I eat and I avoid areas that seem really nutty.

It wouldn't hurt to call and talk to the staff, but I wouldn't expect much understanding (except I would *demand* that safe meals be substitued for you!)

Tara P

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Tara P

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By McCobbre on Sat, 07-15-06, 14:46

I'm finding this thread interesting and helpful--not from a pn perspective but shellfish--and from a work and how you handle it perspective. Adrienne, thank you for sharing your experience, especially the fact that you're airborne reactions have changed over time.

I fear I may be becoming airborne sensitive to shellfish, and I'm afraid of dealing with it at work--of sounding like a hypochondriac. I opened up the microwave the other day and caught a whiff of freshly nuked shrimp and just felt weak for a while. I didn't dare nuke my soup. And then in a meeting where I couldn't even smell the cold shrimp across the room I felt the same way. I couldn't imagine it would bother me when I first sat down. But I just felt weak--like my muscles had become deflated or something. Ironically the person who had brought that was my boss whose stepson has a PA--but they're not very knowledgeable about it.

I've thought about buying my own little microwave. I tend to eat in my office.

I've noticed similar reactions walking through the seafood sections in grocery stores, so I don't think I'm imagining it. Ugh. At this point I don't really want to bring it up with HR--I just don't want to be a pain--it's DS's PA that I always feel I have to really advocate for, you know? When I was going through orientation (a very official one), and ADA was brought up, it was news to the one leading orientation that FA was covered and had to be accommodated.

I'll be attending a conference in Baltimore soon--and inflatable crabs were sent out with the invitation. Uh oh. :-)

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By ajgauthier on Sat, 07-15-06, 19:49

On conferences...

I travel once or twice a year, most usually have a coffee break with bagels and muffins. Some have a provided for lunch or special dinner.

I just steer clear of provided for food (unless it's just coffee, bottled juice, water) or it's prepackaged snack-packs and I can read the ingredients.

For me, it's just not worth the hassle to make it safe. If it's a lunch thing...and they are asking $25...I just call and tell them I have food allergies and would like a meal ticket to get in since usually there are round-table discussions during the lunchbreak, but I don't want to pay since I will be bringing in my own food. I've never had a problem getting a free ticket in. I've been told it's much easier to accomodate that way than to inquire about and get ok food. Buffet/sit-down conference lunches are NOT like a restaurant experience where everything is made to order. I've worked as banquet staff before, and it's just insane behind the scenes, especially at conference centers where things are in-house catered.

Anyhoot - before I go to a conference I'll search the area or call the hotel concierge about area restaurants and supermarket-type stores. I usually bring oatmeal, snack bars, and boost shakes with me in my suitcase. I always find somewhere safe to eat (even if it's fast food), and just make my own accomodations with the conference food.

Only once I ran into a problem where my subgroup meeting was in a Thai restaurant that evening (seating for 25). I called ahead to the event coordinator and since I was one of the folks giving a presentation at dinner...they accomodated and changed the location. I was like, "Yeah, I can't even breathe the air in there...it's not about just not eating and bringing my own in." So, it all worked out.

Adrienne [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/smile.gif[/img]

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30-something survivor of severe peanut/tree nut allergy

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By LisaM on Sat, 07-15-06, 22:31

Thanks for the feedback. I'm trying to work out what my comfort level is with asking for special accomodation, etc., and it is helpful to hear what other people in the same boat think.
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Tara, as you know, it is really important to talk to the people who are preparing your food! on the mayo clinic's website, they advise taking a chef card to restaurants . . . the idea is that the server isn't necessarily going to know . .but they might nevertheless *think* they understand allergies . . . the conference coordinator is even less likely to understand about food preparation.

I hope your future conference experiences are better than that one!

With all my allergies, it would be pretty difficult for them to accomodate me even if I were comfortable with that--which I probably wouldn't be. My mom even finds it difficult to cook for me (wheat, corn, potatoes, soy, nuts, peanuts, legumes, shellfish, oral allergy syndrome . . . the list goes on)
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McCobbre -- I understand what you're saying about not wanting to seem like a hypochondriac. It's something I have issues with with the multiple food allergies. Also, my sisters are airborne sensitive to certain things . . . my one sister reacts when she's near someone eating nuts, peanuts, hot fish, hot egg dishes. First airborne reaction: when she was just an infant, my mom cracked an egg near her and her eczema flared up instantly.

But while people who react when being around peanut butter are sometimes dismissed by the medical community, anaphylaxis to fish, egg, shellfish when they are being cooked (microwaving would count here) is well documented. That isn't to say that you might have difficulty getting people to believe that you react when other people are eating cold shrimp in the room.

Do you think that people at your workplace should go shellfish free? In my opinion, people don't *need* to have shellfish for lunch.

That conference in Boston would be truly scary!
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Adrienne,

Yeah, I would avoid the Thai restaurant situation too! I did go to one awhile ago because I got stuck in a social situation where I felt uncomfortable asking people to change their plans (I had already said I was going out to lunch with them . . . and then en route they decided to go to a Thai restaurant. I wasn't eating anyways and didn't feel comfortable saying anything . . . if they were all people I know well, i would have spoken up, but I only knew one person beforehand.) I didn't have a reaction or anything, but my stress levels majorly went up.

While at the conference, I'll stay in a hotel room with a stove and bar fridge and cook my own food. It's a *major* pain since I have to cook everything myself. Can't even buy bread. . . or crackers...I can eat canned meat, though (but I don't particularly care for it!) I was actually avoiding conferences until my thesis supervisor pointed out to me that I ought to have another on my resume as I hadn't gone in awhile. . .

I'm dragging my parents with me because I need their car(i actually chose the conference because we have relatives nearby with whom they can visit). My dad said something about them coming to the hotel when I'm gone and cooking for me so that I can socialize with people at the conference in the evenings. . . I'll probably accept some assistance but will make the cooking a group effort. I hate being so dependent at my age, but I have no car, and, anyways, it would be a long way to drive by myself (10-11 hours) so what can one do.

--------------------------------
I was going to fire off the letter asking for nut-free refreshments, but now I am having second thoughts.

Here's where I'm at right now in terms of my allergy-related requests/demands:

1) family functions---request no nuts served (there are a *number* of people in my extended family with nut allergies . . . and my sisters do need the gatherings to be nut-free. but even if it was just me, I would ask for no nuts because people are going to be hugging me . . . I don't think that leaving nuts out of desserts is that big of a deal in comparison to the health risks. There are still health risks for me anyways because of the anaphylaxis to egg and soy . . . which I wouldn't ask people to restrict.)

2) visiting other peoples' homes. If my food is going to be prepared in someone else's kitchen, I need the house to be nut free for the duration of my stay. (well, not nut-free exactly. The nuts just have to stay in the cupboard for a time.) I haven't really discussed this, but I think it would be a good idea for me to ask people in whose homes I'm staying at to wash their hands after eating eggy products.

3) work. haven't resolved this yet as I don't really have a workplace. Next year, though I will be working part time while finishing my degree--I'll have shared office space.

ideally--in the workplace (for people who are not airborne sensitive and don't have severe contact reactions): I think it is sensible for allergic people to insist that their desks be a nut-free area, train people on epipen useage. And I think it is reasonable for the anaphylaxis management plan at work to include recommended handwashing after eating (so that coworkers don't get allergenic proteins all over the office.)

But conferences are a grey area. In the workplace, one can have some sort of anaphylaxis management plan. At conferences though (where individuals apply to attend rather than attending as a part of a company) there really aren't any safety measures in place.

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I think it would be great if allergy societies would come up with a protocol for dealing with anaphylaxis at universities, workplaces, etc. like they have done for children at school.

[This message has been edited by LisaM (edited July 15, 2006).]

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By princesshinmighty on Tue, 07-18-06, 06:29

My latest update: I accepted the job and was all set to start this week. When I was interviewing, I brought up the allergy and the concerns. I was told to talk to HR & the trainer on my first day of training...That they should be able to accomodate me somehow.

So two weeks ago, I got the official job offer. I was set to call the HR director back last Thursday or Friday, just to go back over the concerns and to make sure that they would be accomodating the allergy as best they can (contact & airborn sensitive...)

Last wednesday, I got a call from the HR dept, just to remind me that I started training today and what to bring and when to be where. I took that opportunity to bring up the PA thing, and ask what I could do to accomodate things with them and vice versa. I explained that it shouldn't affect my work, that I would be able to complete my work, as long as they took a few simple precautions to help me out (my own desk or some signage at the desk warning others not to sit there if they've had peanuts/pb, and to refrain from eating it directly around me, making sure that the trainer didn't give out butterfingers or reecees during training, etc.) The girl who I was speaking with was very understanding, as she said she had a friend who had the same allergy, and who was also very sensitive to being around others eating pb/peanuts. She made a few suggestions of her own (lysol & cholorox wipes for the keyboard & phone pad & surface of the desk, the trainer explaining the reasoning behind the "no food" rules, maybe having me give a little talk to my class mates, etc.) I agreed that these would be reasonable and I'd be happy to talk to the class about it, just so that they could be educated on the issues (and know why I look like a total germophobe, not touching things without wiping them down thouroughly, eating outside, etc). She said she had to talk to the director of HR and one of them would be calling me back later.

So about an hour later I had a voicemail from the director of HR saying that I needed to call her immediately, as she had heard that there was a problem with me starting today. I called her back as soon as I got the message and spent about 30-45 minutes talking to her about the severity of it, what had happened in the past, what could happen if I'm exposed, what my ideas and the other lady's ideas were to make this smooth & easy. She assured me that they would figure it all out and make accomodations whenever possible.

So, I started training this afternoon. I walked into the room and there on my desk was a can of lysol and a bottle of chlorox wipes (I brought my own too) sitting on the work area they had assigned to me. I wiped down my area, sprayed it all down, and sat down. I explained to the person sitting next to me about my allergy, during an ice-breaker exercise. At lunch/dinner time, I explained to those that sat around me that I wasn't a germophobe, like it might appear, but that I was contact sensitive to peanuts, and had to make sure that the area was safe for me (this was after everyone had finished eating & were just sitting around chatting -- I ate outside, by myself, in a little corner... :S)

The only time that food was brought up was that the trainer really stressed that there was a "no food in the training area" rule and that she was going to be a stickler about that...that it's not as strict on the floor as it used to be, but that in there she was going to very much enforce the rule.

So, at about 11 (our training went from 3-11:30pm) the trainer pulled me out to the hallway to chat with me real fast about the situation. She informed me that she was instructed NOT to bring the allergy up at all, because that was an invasion of my privacy. I let her know that it'd be better if it was brought up, and that I was comfortable with giving a little talk about it, as education is about the only thing that I can do in such a situation. We're supposed to be having a potluck during training, so it's imparative that I explain the problems and that I'm not trying to find out the "secret ingredients" to do an expose on little johnny's great great great great grandma's family recipe for cookies, but I'm just trying to keep myself alive.

So, tmrw I get to give a small speech to the class to educate them and request that they be a little bit more aware of things around them. The good news is that they all seem really nice and accomodating -- which I'd hope for, considering we're in the customer service business!!!! So wish me luck, and if anyone has any ideas of what to say, any advice between now and tmrw afternoon would be dandy!

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By JenniferKSwan on Tue, 07-18-06, 16:22

My most recent job before becoming a SAHM was working for a Reform Jewish Temple as an administrative assistant. As someone of Christian faith and limited Jewish knowledge it was explained to me that I would not be allowed to eat pork or shellfish products on the campus and during Passover there would be other restrictions. I never had a problem with it (though for some reason my husband's family did) since it was just 5 meals a week with the occassional dinner when working late. If I had the "urge" I was more than welcome to leave and have lunch elsewhere - I think I only took advantage of that once or twice during Passover because I really needed a soda (corn was prohibited and I hadn't remembered to pick up soda made with sugar and not corn syrup).

About 6 months after I started, we welcomed a new employee that had several LTFA and we just added them to our list of foods that we avoided. It wasn't that big a deal. We really became aware after she had an ana rxn due to an aersol rxn for an unlabeled ingredient in something. I know it was par for the course for her and she didn't want to make a big deal of it, but WOW it really made an impression on us! We all became more vigilant and probably bugged her to no end with "Is this safe?" questions but we all agreed, including her - better safe than sorry.

So I guess this is why it just baffles me that some people just can't understand how dangerous this is and why it won't kill them (pun intended) to give up nut products for a few hours out of their day. Not sure if FAAN has a video showing someone actually having an ana rxn - but maybe they should! Is it said that I have considered taping my son's rxn (from onset to trip to the hosptial) if he ever has one. Not that I ever want him to have one, but maybe that would drive the point home. Of course I can't get my husband's family to understand, how can I convince a stranger?? Sorry, I digress yet again!

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Mommy to Aiden 1/26/05 PA,wheat,barley,soy,egg and others yet to be discovered DS#2 is due July 15, 2006 who we hope will be AF

__________________

Mommy to Aiden (1/26/05) PA,TNA, wheat,barley,milk,egg, and pea and Connor (7/21/06) with no allergies

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