Today we wanted to share our friend Kendall’s story. She is a sweet little first grader that has life-threatening allergies to dairy and tree nuts. We have known her for over five years and watched her grow up and be assertive about her food allergies. After staying completely allergy-safe for six years, this year she had two anaphylactic episodes requiring emergency treatment. It was because of her experiences that we recognized the need for a clearly-labeled eating utensil. Her mother, Kirsten, is a certified RN and one of the leaders of the FARE Support Group “Food Allergy Families of Northwest Florida.” We hope that you enjoy her story and the accompanying images that we took of her this weekend. (She’s adorable, isn’t she?) Take it from here, Kirsten!
“We may look like the picture-perfect family on the outside, but on the inside we are NOT so picture-perfect! Yes, we have two beautiful daughters, Kendall (7) & Kamryn (10), but our daughters live with life-threatening food allergies that make our family life rather complicated. When Kendall was a baby our life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with life-threatening allergies to milk and tree nuts. We removed all allergens from our home and carried Epi-pens with us everywhere. Then, this past year Kamryn was also diagnosed with life-threatening allergies to tree nuts, so she now totes Epi-Pens in her backpack just like little sis.”
“For the first six years of living with these allergies, we managed to keep our youngest daughter, Kendall, relatively safe…meaning she never required the Epi-Pen. But, 2014 brought some very scary scenarios. In March, Kendall went into anaphylaxis after eating a bite of a cookie that unknowingly contained milk. This reaction required Epinephrine to save her life. Three months later she had another terrifying reaction. We were at home (aka, our safe place!) when she complained of an itchy tongue. In my head I quickly ran through her recent food intake. At the time she was eating dry cheerios from a bowl with a spoon, all safe (or so we thought). Despite not knowing why her tongue was itchy I immediately thought it could be an allergic reaction. A few minutes later she was vomiting. Once that stopped, I laid her down on the floor with her head resting in my lap and realized she was covered in hives, her beautiful face was swelling and she was wheezing and coughing. I pulled the Epi-Pen from her special purse and injected her little thigh muscle as my husband called 911. Within 60 seconds my little angel came back to life before my very eyes.”
“After the EMS arrived and we went to the ER to confirm Kendall was ok, the investigation began to determine where this reaction originated. We racked our brains and finally concluded that it came from a spoon or bowl contaminated with traces of milk. Every morning I use a spoon to stir cream into my coffee and sometimes I eat Greek yogurt with a spoon. I follow a strict routine of putting the contaminated cup and spoon directly into the dishwasher and I wash my hands and mouth thoroughly to avoid passing milk to Kendall. But, often our dishwasher is packed full and those silly spoons start “spooning.” Looking back, we believe this innocent “spooning” was the culprit. A spoon “spooned” with another spoon and trapped a bit of milk residue sealed between the two. Kendall ended up with the contaminated spoon and almost died as a result. Yes, it can happen that easily.
You can imagine my joy when Safe and Happy Family developed specially labeled spoons, dishware and cutting boards for my food allergic daughter. Kendall now uses the “Big Red Spork” for every meal. No one else is allowed to use this utensil except for her! This spork provides an extra layer of protection to our daughter. I will never use her spork to stir my coffee or eat my yogurt! It belongs to her and it is clearly marked with the label “Allergy-Safe Food Only.””
Interested in buying a set of Sporks for someone you love? Check out our online store to order yours!