Save on EpiPens and Other Household Prescriptions

Save on EpiPens and Other Household Prescriptions

Save on EpiPens and other household prescriptions? It’s a question that most of us ask ourselves. As you know, healthcare in the United States can be very expensive. While our premiums continue to rise each year, our benefits seem to dwindle. We’re paying more for less coverage, alternative foods are more expensive and the lifesaving medication cost of EpiPen® feels more expensive than ever for many families.

Many are quick to point the finger at Mylan, the maker of the EpiPen®. However, just as health insurance plans are complicated, so is the the pharmaceutical supply system. The pharmaceutical supply chain not only involves pharmaceutical manufacturers, but also multiple parties such as wholesalers, pharmacy retailers, pharmacy benefit managers and payors. These parties all play a role in determining access to, and the ultimate retail price of prescription drugs.

Dan Hammer of 790 AM Fargo Moorhead interviewed me on the high cost of EpiPen®. I prepared a variety of information to share with Dan on the topic of food allergies and epinephrine, but there’s only so much time in an interview, to be exact 13 minutes and 52 seconds. ; ) Click here to listen to the full interview.

Here’s a list of suggestions on how to save money on the EpiPen® as well as other prescription drugs in your household.

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Teaching your child to care for his food allergies

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies is like creating a stepping stone path. Parents and caregivers take a highly complex topic (food allergy care and independence); break it down into incremental steps to meet the child where he/she is – physically, mentally, emotionally and developmentally.

My life with food allergies began almost 11 years ago with the birth of my son. He was vomiting before we ever left the hospital from delivery and I was told that was due to a poorly developed digestive tract. Fast forward 11-months later, after struggling with reflux, transitioning to baby and table food, unexplained hives and eczema and labeled as borderline failure to thrive; we finally had a diagnosis of food allergies to milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts and sesame. I’ve learned a lot along the way, so I thought I would share some tips on how to steadily grow your child’s independence in an age appropriate way.

THE BEGINNINGS: Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Teach your child what he/she is allergic to using different methods.

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Image courtesy of photobucket / How to Ask Me

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means bringing it down to your child’s level. Place pictures, along with the words, of your child’s allergens onto a piece of paper and tape it to the back of the headrest in the car. This teaches a child in two ways (1) visually seeing the pictures and words and (2) verbally, by periodically asking, “What are you allergic to?” My son rattled off his list of allergens in no time. This is also a great tool for learning a home address and phone numbers. Google Images and Photobucket are great places to gather images.

A second way is to casually, and by casually I mean in a non-alarming way, introduce your child to his allergens while you’re at the grocery store. It’s important for him to see the allergen in the bag, e.g., these are peanuts. The jug on this shelf is cow’s milk. The cartons in this display case are eggs, etc.

Explain to your child why his food is sometimes different than what other people are eating.

It’s natural for your child to see certain foods and want to try them, even if they are unsafe. At a very young age, explain that certain foods are not good for him because it will make him sick, and then divert him to the large variety of foods that he can partake of. It’s important to focus on what one can have rather than what one cannot have, concentrating on the positive versus the negative. For example, instead of saying, “You cannot have that ice cream because you’re allergic to milk.” Say, “That ice cream does look delicious, but this soy ice cream is just as yummy and safe for you.” 

At a young age, teach your child how to read labels because it’s confusing and takes some time to learn.

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means discussing how to read ingredient and manufacturing labels at a very young age. When the time comes for him to take the reins…HE’LL BE READY! : )

Reading labels is confusing for parents, let alone children. Show labels to a child early not only to instill the habit of looking, but learning the variety of names for an allergen, i.e., milk isn’t just milk, it’s casein, whey, etc. Your child will be able to help make educated decisions, along with your help, so that one day he will make well-informed decisions on his own.

In addition, it’s just as important to understand how to read manufacturing labels. Your child needs to know that anything “manufactured on shared equipment,” “in a facility that manufactures” their allergen or “may contain” labels are not safe food options. Moreover, just because a label does not disclose their manufacturing practices, doesn’t mean it’s safe, rather it requires a telephone call to the manufacturer to inquire about their manufacturing processes.


Parents, encourage your child to be secure and confident by surrounding himself with supportive and responsible friends.

From a very young age, I’ve always told my boys that it’s not about how many friends that you have, but it’s the quality of the friendships. We have noticed that our son seems to be attracted to kids that have less unpredictable behavior, less impulsive – he must feel safer with those kids.

THE MEDICAL STUFF: Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

When age appropriate, be direct about what anaphylaxis is and describe what getting sick from a food might look like.

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means delving into the medical side of your child’s disease. Use your child’s Anaphylaxis Action Plan to help speak with him about symptoms of anaphylaxis. Put scenarios together, and then ask, “What would you do if something like this happened?” Help your child to start thinking for himself…brainstorm ideas together. Consistently point to the Anaphylaxis Action Plan for answers on treatment and focus on the relationships of trust that are established with family, friends, school staff and other caregivers.

Allow your child to self-carry epinephrine when out and about with you.

When our son turned eight, during his second grade year, we had him periodically self-carry his medication pack when he was with us. This is a great way to create the habit of always remembering his medications. Be sure the bag is a convenient size, and consider purchasing an insulated pack to ensure the medication stays at a consistent temperature, this is our bag. Want a cross body pack with hands-free convenience? Stop by your local fabric store and purchase a strap that can be sewn on by yourself or a seamstress.

Review the Anaphylaxis Action Plan with your child monthly.

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Image courtesy of Children’s Health Network

Once a month or every other month, whatever is best for you and your family, take the opportunity to review the Anaphylaxis Action Plan with your child so that he can become familiar with symptoms and the sequence of the events that will take place during an allergic reaction. Children love and thrive on routine, on knowing what to expect, and regular review of the Plan enables them to feel more calm, confident and understand the steps that will take place in the event of a reaction.





Have him use an EpiPen® trainer to practice administration, so that when he’s permitted to self administer, he is ready!

While your child may not be ready for the responsibility of self-carrying or self administering epinephrine, he will be someday. When you review the Anaphylaxis Action Plan regularly, it’s the perfect time to demonstrate the administration of the epinephrine auto-injector by using a trainer.

By educating your child early, you slowly but surely empower your child to care for himself, treat a reaction and continue to grow in self-advocacy.

THE SENSITIVE STUFF: Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Have the LT-word (life threatening) talk, whenever it seems appropriate. Trust me, you’ll know when it’s appropriate.

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means sifting through the sensitive stuff. I never planned on telling my son that his allergies were life threatening until he started first grade and in school for a full day, kindergarten was only 2 1/2 hours. The plan changed, I told him the summer before he entered 1/2 day kindergarten because he started biting his nails — a real no no for someone with food allergies. Check out how we told him that his disease is life-threatening in this older entry entitled, “What You Can’t Afford To Be.” 

Encourage your child to talk about how they feel about their food allergies.

We strive so much for our children to not feel different that sometimes we fail to remember…they are different. No matter how much we try to make their lives feel “normal,” they are going to feel different. Be sure to connect with your child often to create a strong and open communication line that allows your child to feel vulnerable enough to share his worries or concerns. You may not always be able to make things better for your child…but knowing that you’re there to listen might be all the comfort needed.

Create ways to showcase your child’s many talents because food allergies are only a sliver of who he is…food allergies do not define him.

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means creating ways to showcase your child’s many talents! Image courtesy of Kristin Beltaos

Perhaps your child feels that food allergies define him. Regularly remind your child how they are so much more than the challenge they manage. Food allergies are just a sliver on the pie chart of who they are!

Idea #1 – Have your child describe his food allergies by using each letter in his first name and last name.


Idea #2 – Have him describe his talents and likes using each letter in his first and last name. These descriptions should have nothing to do with food allergies. Allow your child to keep these private, hang them on the wall in his bedroom, above his desk at home, wherever. Maybe make a pie chart that shows how he is so much more than his food allergy. Make sure that the food allergy slice of the pie is super small compared to all the other wonderful things that make up who your child is as a person. It’s a GREAT visual!

Give your child the gift of confidence by providing opportunities to talk about his food allergies with peers and adults.

When your child is young, it may be tempting to create consistently safe environments never allowing your child to be around his allergens or speak about his allergens. Offer opportunities for your child to speak confidently and positively about his allergies. It’s a gift to be able to say, “Yes, these are my allergies and it absolutely stinks, but it’s just the way it is,” and be able to move on. There is no shame to having a food allergy.

Share your child’s safe food with others to allow him to feel like their food is awesome too!

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Image Courtesy of Kristin Beltaos

Unless you have an allergy, it’s difficult to surmise what it feels like to sit at a table once, twice or three times a day to different foods than everyone else – because you have to, not because you have different likes. Be sure to serve your allergic child’s favorite dishes often. He wants to hear the oohs and ahs of how delicious their favorite foods are as well.

Be sure to strike a balance between safety and living life.

Food allergies can feel all consuming. Perhaps you only feel relaxed when you’re at home or in the company of others that are well versed in food allergy safety. It’s a feeling that only another food allergic parent can really appreciate, always having to be “in spy mode” in surveying the land for food allergy potholes. The feeling of food allergies being all consuming can have a negative effect on your child so be sure to strike a balance between safety and living life. Consistently remind yourself to evaluate the actual risk versus the perceived risk. Be ready to acknowledge that the actual and the perceived risk may not always match up. Do not let over worrying consume you, your child and your family.

SCHOOL: Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Have your child participate in his 504 meeting. Perhaps he would like to do certain activities, the team can make it happen. This is the foundation for self-advocacy.

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means discussing the administrative side to managing his disease. This past year my son sat in on his 504 meeting, he was in 4th grade. It’s important that a child know his accommodations. My son has always known his accommodations, so that when I periodically check in with him he could verify that the accommodations were happening. This year, he added value and promoted his self-confidence and advocacy by placing situations on the table that were challenging. For example, he is a quick reader that finishes library books within a day or two of checking them out. He wanted the ability to go down to the library and exchange his books without a medication pack-carrying chaperone, because a chaperone wasn’t always available.

We already had his allergist-approved addendum attached to his Anaphylaxis Action Plan, stating that he was permitted to self-carry upon his parents’ discretion. We decided that he was not only permitted to self-carry on days where he had student council, but also if he wanted to exchange his library books.

As you can see, self-advocacy builds with opportunities such as his voice/input during his 504 meeting and taking self-carrying to exchange his books in the library.

Be sure school accommodations aren’t overly restrictive. Let your child live without too bright of a spotlight on him. Be creative and provide a safe and inclusive environment full of many experiences.

There must always be a balance of risk and living life. Living life is never at the cost of making our child anxious with overprotective and unreasonable accommodations or isolation. It is our responsibility to ensure that our child is safe, happy and included. Our child’s food allergy calls us to think beyond a traditional accommodation and use creativity to make certain that safety and inclusion are combined in an accommodation.

Let’s say that your child is working on a science project with mealworms. The mealworms are developed on wheat germ that is processed on shared equipment with milk and soy. Milk is an allergen of your child. The wheat germ is included in the container with the mealworm. Your teacher decides that your child will wear gloves when observing and touching the mealworm. If your child is the only one wearing gloves, he will be asked, probably by multiple peers, “Why are you wearing gloves?” Your child may feel uncomfortable with being inundated repetitively with this question.

Since your child is entitled to a safe and least restrictive learning environment, a simple and creative solution will quiet questions and any discomfort. Ask the teacher to offer a box of gloves to the classroom. Then anyone in the class can wear gloves, instead of a Spotlight of DifferenceTM being placed on your child for his food allergies. By having the gloves offered to the entire class, your child’s focus can be on learning not on looking or feeling different.

Check in with your child often and ask if her 504 accommodations are happening, teaching awareness and self-advocacy.

It’s important that your child knows and understands his accommodations. Check in with your child frequently to be sure that the accommodations are being executed per your 504 or Food Allergy Management Plan. Ask open-ended questions about their day to gain insight into how the classroom operates. Also encourage your child to come to you, should he not feel safe or if accommodations are not happening consistently.

THE TOUGH STUFF: Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

When age appropriate, discuss food allergy deaths with your child and find the teaching moments in the tragedy.

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means talking about what you hope and pray NEVER happens. I do not speak about every food allergy death with my son, but I do when I feel there are monumental teaching moments.

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly, a 22-year-old from Minnesota, ate a candy bar bearing the warning that they had been made in plants that also processed foods with peanuts. He ate this candy bar on more than one occasion and didn’t have a reaction. Then he ate the chocolate one last time, packaged with this type of warning label, and died. This tragedy created an opportunity to discuss ingredient and manufacturing label reading.

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Chandler Swink

The second death that I was sure to share with my son was Chandler Swink. Swink had a level six nut allergy and, while at a friend’s house, he accidentally came into contact with peanut butter. He was found unconscious in the parking lot of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac around 12:30 a.m. Nov. 19 after he drove himself to the hospital. He had suffered anaphylactic shock, an asthma attack and cardiac arrest simultaneously. Chandler died seven days later after being in a coma, this just happened to be the day before Thanksgiving in 2014. This tragedy was an opportunity to discuss always following the Anaphylaxis Action Plan and how deviating from the Plan can have monumental consquences.

Sadly, a food allergy death results in a cascading number of errors leading up to it. It’s the slight chance that a person may take that can make all the difference. Riskier behaviors bring us to Monday morning quarterbacking and the realization of what could have been done differently. : (

Compassionately prepare your child that adults and peers will sometimes fail you or you may be disappointed by a situation.

Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

Teaching your child to care for his food allergies means having a tender touch when explaining how people may sometimes fail you and situations may disappoint. Image courtesy of Photobucket.

We all want to believe that people are patient, understanding and compassionate, but even the best intentioned person can make a mistake or two, or be the reason the “Mean People Suck” bumpersticker was invented.

It is a realistic expectation that people will be kind, inclusive and thoughtful…but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes our expectations miss reality, which can make us even more thankful for those that meet or exceed our expectations. Teach your child that disappointments are a natural occurrence in life, especially related to his food allergy. More importantly, disappointments can be teaching moments that open our eyes to the good things that we weren’t paying attention to before or took for granted.

To start, devise strategies for challenging scenarios with your child. A natural response when something doesn’t go the way we planned it is to become very frustrated, cry or yell, but perhaps there’s a better way to handle it. Speak with your child about the possible silver linings or alternatives to redirect your child’s thoughts.

And sometimes…try as we might…there may not be a silver lining or an alternative to consider. Sometimes crummy things happen and fairness isn’t always top of mind. Choosing acceptance, and moving on, may be the healthiest approach in putting a bad experience behind us.

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS: Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

  • Know that you are more than the food challenge that you manage. While this aspect of your life is enormous, it’s also only a small sliver of who you are as a person.
  • Surround yourself with people who care about you, who know of your allergies and understand how to act in the event of a reaction.
  • Follow your Anaphylaxis Action Plan.
  • Carry two doses of epinephrine with you. It doesn’t matter if you are gone for just an hour, just a minute, just a second…it must always be with you. Even when you haven’t had a reaction in a very long time, don’t let over confidence creep in and cause you to drop your guard. The time that you won’t have your epinephrine, you’ll wish you had it.


NEVER NEVER NEVER: Teaching Your Child to Care for His Food Allergies

  • Eat something that might have been manufactured on shared equipment or in a facility that manufactures an allergen.
  • Go it alone. Never drive yourself to the emergency room. If you are alone, follow the protocol of administering your EpiPen, call 911 and administer your other medications.
  • Be embarrassed about your food allergies. They do not define you.


Teaching your child to care for his food allergies isn’t simple but with ideas like these and the support of your family, friends and community it can feel maybe a little easier. I hope my 19 tips help you navigate teaching your child to care for his food allergies.

Do you have a tip to add and round out my 19 to 20? If so, please share a comment!


EpiPen® hold time is now 3 seconds

The EpiPen® hold time is now 3 seconds and there are other administration guidelines that the FDA has changed due to lacerations and injuries related to usage. There are three points of change listed below; however, you can read the FDAs document in its entirety:

  1. Restrict Patient’s Leg, limit movement during epinephrine administration

    EpiPen® hold time is now 3 seconds

    Image courtesy of Mylan

    Lacerations, bent needles and embedded needles have been reported when epinephrine has been injected into the thigh of a young child that is moving, kicking or uncooperative during administration. To minimize the risk of an injection-related injury it is advised that caregivers hold the child’s leg firmly in place and limit movement prior to and during the injection.

  2. EpiPen® hold time is now 3 seconds

    The EpiPen auto-injector should be held firmly in place for 3 seconds prior to removal.

  3. Serious Infections at the Injection Site

    Rare cases of serious skin and soft tissue infections, including necrotizing fasciitis and myonecrosis caused by Clostridia (gas gangrene), have been reported at the injection site following epinephrine injection for anaphylaxis. Advise patients to seek medical care if they develop signs or symptoms of infection, such as persistent redness, warmth, swelling, or tenderness, at the epinephrine injection site

This information came on the heals of the Minnesota Children’s Health Network finishing a revamp of their Anaphylaxis Action Plan, it was an honor to serve on the committee that examined and enhanced this Plan. The FDAs new administration guidelines will be included in the revamped Anaphylaxis Action Plan that is set to release just in time for the 2016-2017 school year.

If you’re looking for more information, be sure to: check out Mylan’s EpiPen® website, read the box insert of a newly filled EpiPen® prescription, contact a Mylan Customer Relations Representative at 800.395.3376 or speak with your physician.


Food Allergy and Inclusion

Kristin Beltaos interviewed by Katja Rowell, M.D. for Extreme Picky Eating Help

Food Allergy and Inclusion: Introduction by Katja Rowell M.D.: Children may face eating challenges for various reasons. Children with extreme picky eating tend to experience higher levels of anxiety, around food and in general. Perhaps the most anxiety-provoking feeding challenge that parents face is life-threatening food allergies. Some children with extreme picky eating also struggle with food allergies, which can complicate the picture even further. Kristin Beltaos has made it her mission to help parents and children not just be safer and healthier, but thrive. We were intrigued and impressed with Kristin Beltaos’ work with parents, children, and schools (A Gift of Miles). She has graciously agreed to share some wisdom in our first guest blog post.

1. Food Allergy and Inclusion – Spotlight of Difference intrigues us. Can you tell us more?

First off Katja and Jenny, thank you for the opportunity to communicate with you and your followers.

food allergy and inclusionUsually when you think of placing a spotlight on a child you think of something positive, i.e., accomplishing an awesome grade, playing a great sport game, writing a wonderful paper or doing well in a recital. These are all great ways to shine a positive spotlight on a child.

It’s fascinating how when we are confronted with a challenging situation, such as creating a safe environment for a food allergic child, our initial instinct is to determine how a child will adapt to our environment, rather than how the situation can be modified so that it’s safe for everyone. When we only address the individual child it will almost always create a Spotlight of DifferenceTM.

In our efforts to create safe environments for children with food allergies, parents and schools alike often shine an unnecessary Spotlight of Difference TM on these children that I believe is a catalyst for anxiety in food allergic children as well as food allergy teasing and bullying. We need to understand that safety does not always equal separateness and vice versa. I believe it’s our inability to view the picture creatively and holistically that causes us to go the easy route and shine an unnecessary Spotlight of Difference TM.

When I use this in my training, I have attendees actually work through real life examples on how to create more inclusiveness and diminish the Spotlight of Difference TM. It’s really stirring to see people get creative and excited about how to make life for a food allergic child better. I think so often we don’t like what is happening, like an allergy table, but we don’t take the time to think about how we can do it differently.

2. Food Allergy and Inclusion – How does this relate not just to food allergies, but also children with extreme picky eating, and even beyond food, to other differences?

I think we shine a spotlight more often than we think. Let’s examine when treats are used for incentives, rewards and celebrations.

Food Allergy and InclusionI always like to share about the first year when my youngest son was old enough to eat Halloween candy. My youngest son sat down to Twix®, Milky Way® and Hershey® candy bars while my child that has food allergies had in front of him Starburst®, DOTS® and Smarties®. You cannot look at these treats and equate them as being in the same category. You can’t “sex up” the non-chocolate treats, there’s just no comparison, unless of course you aren’t a chocolate fan.

My point is, you wouldn’t have your child’s three friends over and provide three of the children with delicious chocolate and one child with the other variety. How do we solve this dilemma? If you’re having a school-wide celebration, then that means finding a treat that is safe for all based upon all the dietary restrictions whether that be food allergy, food intolerance, diabetes, Celiac disease, autism, extreme picky eating, ADD, ADHD, etc. If you’re having a classroom celebration then that means finding a safe treat based upon the dietary restrictions within each classroom.

Spotlights don’t always have to be related to food. Each child may learn to read or understand math at a different pace. Stickers, colors, or Popsicle sticks may be used to track progress. Peers will know what level you are at in reading based upon the tracking system utilized. Children may be called out in the hall, to at a separate table or moved to a different classroom for assistance. If a child is learning at a slower pace, he/she may feel embarrassed. I don’t have the answer to this type of spotlight, but as you can see, often times we probably don’t even know that we’re shining a spotlight on a child.

While it may require additional planning, many schools have successfully found ways to socialize, celebrate, incentivize, reward, learn and craft without food or within restrictions surrounding food. It simply takes a little extra effort, and more importantly; just imagine the difference you make in a child’s life that is dealing with a challenge.

To read the rest of the interview about Food Allergy and Inclusion, click to enter the Extreme Picky Eating Help website.

Food Allergies Are More Than An Awkward Moment

Food Allergies Are More Than An Awkward Moment or Two

Food allergies are more than an awkward moment, yet when you are a parent to a child with a food allergy, or you are the person who has the food allergy…most of the time you feel like you’re asking for special treatment rather than a safety requirement. We’ve all seen the eye rolls, the teasing, the telling glances and even some “friends and family” that are embarrassed of our constant questions. I have always said, “Who would ever choose to live this way?”

John Espinosa messaged me over LinkedIn and shared with me his recent food allergy experience that opened his eyes and caused him to find his voice! I’d like to share his post with you because as I advocate for my son and for other children that have food allergies I realized John’s message needs to be heard LOUD AND CLEAR. He exemplifies everything that we want our kiddos to be…to be confident enough to know who they are and what they need! We want our children to believe and communicate his same messages: “My life should be worth more to you than an awkward moment or two.” and “I’m empowering those who are peer pressured towards death to fight for their lives.”

Join me in READING his story and be sure to SHARE HIS BRAVENESS with others:

“Friday Feburary 26th was a wake up call. A white chocolate chip macadamia nut (… really cashew) cookie landed me square in the hospital. That Friday, I learned to be adamant when it comes to food allergies. Show me an ingredient list. Call out friends that snicker or roll their eyes when I ask the waiter to clarify whether kitchen equipment is scrubbed well between meals. Shut down people who bother me about how my epipens make my pants look clunky.

I AM DONE feeling like an “inconvenience. Continue reading


Allergy Petition — Your signature is needed!

PLEASE sign this allergy petition! Whether you take allergy shots or not, I AM ASKING FOR YOUR HELP! Patients are in jeopardy of not being able to start or continue in their current therapy! Allergists must be able to offer this therapy to their patients. Please read further and sign the petition, IT ONLY TAKES A MINUTE! You will be doing a service to many patients who depend on this treatment, including my son, husband and myself!
Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are an important treatment that has improved the quality of life for many allergy patients: reducing symptoms, decreasing medication costs, and reducing hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room.
However, new regulations threaten to make allergy shots unavailable to many patients in the United States.
The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is introducing new regulations that would change the procedures for mixing the allergen extracts used in immunotherapy treatments. The new requirements would make it highly unlikely that allergists would be able to continue to mix allergen extracts for their patients in the office setting. Having to use outside facilities to obtain the allergen extracts will make it very difficult or impossible for most allergists to continue offering this treatment for their patients.
How can we help?
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is circulating a petition to tell the USP that allergy patients are considered about the proposed changes impacting access to immunotherapy, and that the current regulations should remain in place. You can also submit a public comment to the USP to voice your concerns. To submit a comment, visit the USP website, scroll to the second to last paragraph, and click on the link to the submission template you must use. Download the template, write your comments under the general comments section, and email it to by January 31st.
I appreciate your involvement both personally and professionally!
Kristin Beltaos, M.A.
Consultant and MNCPD Licensed Trainer

Create A Support System You Want and Need

Create a support system that you want and need sounds like an enormous undertaking, especially in the sometimes-harsh, female environment of snobbery and cattiness. I have wondered, is there room for friendship with women who are self confident, yearn for a true connection and mutual support through all phases of life while making beautiful and fun memories together?

Creating a support system is challenging, but can be done.

Who wouldn’t want friends like the women from Sex and the City?! They laugh, cry and fight…but are always supporting one another through it all.

I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to find my Sex in the City version of best friends. I’ve had plenty of friends in my life; but I’ve never had the feeling, deep in my heart that these girls were here to stay. Many of my friendships felt temporary, like a new tube of mascara, short-lived as it clumps, flakes and dries out in due course. I want women who, despite our different natures, find one another inseparable as we live out the storylines of our everyday lives.

Now that I’m in my, ahem, late 40s I can finally say that I feel like my Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte are found…and I’m grateful that there are more than four fabulous women that have agreed to take me on as friends for life. ; ) A friend of mine (MK are her initials) once said to me, “I’m in this for the long haul.”

Many women have confided their difficulty in developing close friendships. I’d like to share how I managed to create a support system of beautiful women.

To create a support system means examining what kind of friend you are.

To have good friends, you must be a good friend. Be sure to clean up your clutter in order to create a support system you want and need!

To have good friends, you must be a good friend. Be sure to clean up your clutter!

“Maybe the past is like an anchor holding us back. Maybe you have to let go of who you were to become who you will be.” ~ Carrie Bradshaw

I read this interesting entry from Karol Ladd several years ago and it has stuck with me ever since, The Seven Qualities of a Good Friend. Take the time to read her entry as it’s a great way to examine what kind of friend you are. Be sure to commend yourself for your greatness and clean up the clutter that is preventing you from being the very best you can be. To create a support system, this is the first step.

Be brave enough to ask for what you want and need.

“Be bold enough to use your voice, brave enough to listen to your heart, and strong enough to live the life you’ve always imagined.” ~ Carrie Bradshaw

This one is a toughie for many, including myself. Recognize that it’s ok to ask for help, a listening ear, a closer friendship, an afternoon or night out on the town. If you don’t ask, you won’t get and if you don’t get, you’ll just continue to feel unfulfilled.

My parents are deceased, my in-laws are out of state and elderly, my brother is in California and my sister is in Massachusetts so family support is not readily at my fingertips. I had to start asking a few of my close friends if they would be my family, aunts to my boys or I would continue to feel isolated and lonely. This wasn’t easy for me…but the positive end result outweighed any anxiety I had in putting myself out there.

When you ask for what you need, be sure to clarify what family means to you and how you want to create a support system of mutual comfort. If you’re really nervous, use your sense of humor to deflect any discomfort, “I would like to have you as my family, not in a Jerry Springer way, but more along the lines of Oprah.” You get the same point across, yet explain there’s no crazy to be had. ; )

Be vulnerable enough to share.

“Maybe we can be each other’s soul mates.” ~ Charlotte York

Be vulnerable enough to share your life with others. It's the first step to create a support system you want.

Be vulnerable enough to share your life with others. Letting people in is the second step to create the support system you want.

Life has given us all a bunch of lumps along the way. Many times these lumps are truly blessings, becoming a part of our fabric and forming us into who we are.

Our ability to be vulnerable defines the closeness of our friendships. Check out this entertaining, funny and candid TED Talk from Brené Brown, she is a personal favorite of mine, on The Power of Vulnerability.

Remember after you watch the 20-minute video: We are all storytellers. We are all worthy. We all have the ability to fully embrace vulnerability. We are enough. We all want to create a support system.

Friendship needs more than a 90-minute download.

A BFF and I excited for our trip to Seattle. Create a support system by traveling with your friends.

A BFF and I excited for our trip to Seattle.

Friendships don’t magically last for forty years, you have to invest in them. ~ Carrie Bradshaw

I spoke at a conference in Seattle recently and one of my Sex and the City girls agreed to travel with me and be my Karen, Grace’s personal assistant from the show Will and Grace. In my 46 years, it was the first time that I had ever traveled with a girlfriend. In addition, it was the first time I had left my children since my eldest was 18-months old, he’s now 10.

The trip to Seattle made me realize, there is so much more past the 90-minute download. Whenever I would meet up with a friend for lunch or dinner, shopping, a movie whatever…there’s this 90-minute download that always happens to get one another caught up with what is happening in each other’s lives.

After the 90-minutes, that’s where your friendship’s story begins…

You laugh, you begin to enjoy yourself in a different way and a bond forms that one cannot experience in the traditional 90-minutes. Circling back to my Seattle trip…there were memory burns made on that trip. We were able to get outside of our roles as mothers, wives, cooks, bill payers, and of course, Queen of the Toilet Scepter. We were able to step outside of these roles and become women, our truest selves who were travelling and fulfilling our own needs, talking about what is important to us and just plain being silly.

For those of you with young ones yet, I know it sounds like it might never happen…but it will. It did for me finally at 46! Speak with your husband or partner on how to create this kind of opportunity, it doesn’t have to be a travel trip but even just day away with a friend or friends. To create a support system, you need to invest time. Continue reading

Self Carry Epinephrine: When Can My Child Carry?

Lots of questions arise when a child should self carry epinephrine.

As a child grows in independence when should a child start to self carry epinephrine? Image courtesy of Photobucket

“When should a child self carry epinephrine?” I’m asked this question a lot. First of all, it’s a decision between you and your spouse, your child and your allergist or pediatrician. It’s important to remember that we need to meet our child where he/she is developmentally and from a maturity standpoint. School staff often say to me, “We have a kindergartener that is able to self carry epinephrine, why not this child?” Ok, that’s fine if that is what the parents, physician and child have decided. However, just as 504 accommodations are not cookie cutter, meaning what works for one child may not work for another child, either is self carrying epinephrine.

When your child is ready to take on a more active role in his/her food allergy management, consider reading these posts. From the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology: age appropriateness for self-administering epinephrine and when a child assumes responsibility for self-treatment of anaphylaxis.

I haven’t come across anything written on when to transition your child to self carry epinephrine and so I decided to share with you how I have started to navigate this path. Hopefully it will give you some ideas on how to handle your child’s growing independence.

When is my child ready to self carry epinephrine?

As with many food allergic children our son is an old soul who is mature beyond his years. We were able to explain complex information, at a very young age, and knew it was understood. As a result, he became well-organized in his daily routines and knows how to take care of himself and manage his food allergies. Continue reading

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Summer Stress

Top 10 Ways to Reduce Summer Stress and Keep Kiddos Engaged

You’re busy thinking about how to reduce summer stress as another school year is draws to a close. While the first day of summer isn’t until June 21st, technically for anyone who has school age children it starts this month. For me, it’s Friday, June 5th at 3:55 p.m., the moment when those two energetic boys finish their kindergarten and third grade year and meet me in the school lobby. We will have 13 weeks together this summer…for better or worse, in begging for electronics and playing board games, in sweet never to be forgotten moments and sibling heated arguments, to laugh and to cry, till school starts again on September 8th. : )

reduce summer stress - Fun with my boys at Millennium Gardens, Plymouth, MN

Fun with my boys at Millennium Gardens, Plymouth, MN

By all means do not interpret that I think the summer will be bad, rather I’m looking forward to time together with my sons and making those memories that will warm my heart far after they have left the house, or are living in our basement. ; ) And yet…when my children are in the throws of a fiery argument of “Did you just look at me?” I think…isn’t it bedtime?

When the difficult times roll in, I always have to tell myself, “I’m normal.” I’m like every other parent out there, we’re praying for an abundance of patience, the ability to temper our temper and establish boundaries with our kiddos so that we strike a balance between family fun and our ability to administer a daily dose of self-care to maintain our sanity.

Speaking of sanity, I’ll get to the point of this entry and provide my “Top 10 Ways to Reduce Summer Stress and Keep Kiddos Engaged” this summer. This is my plan to help manage my stress and keep my boys active, engaged and enjoying this novel thing called “down time.”   : )

  1. Prevent Brain Drain During the first week off from school we head over to the Lakeshore Learning store and grab summer reading and math workbooks. Establish time for workbook, daily or a minimum of four times per week. I always expect that each workbook can be completed prior to heading back to school. Reduce summer stress by setting the expectation that workbook time is finished before any screen time can be enjoyed.
  2. Schedule Activities We live in a society that fully supports and pressures parents to over schedule their kids, so when you’re looking for activities to participate in, make sure that it’s not too heavy of a schedule for them or you. Remember, you’re the one that has to chauffer them to all of these activities, so reduce summer stress by allotting so much time for scheduled activities. ; )
  3. Quiet Time or Downtime Shhh…it’s really important that children know how to self soothe and self entertain. Ensure that there is routine downtime so that they can determine how to spend their time, develop interests, problem solve their own boredom, or do I dare say it – GASP – take a nap. Downtime is a very important element to reduce summer stress.
  4. Fun with Friends If your children are of elementary or middle school age, you’ll want to schedule some fun time with friends. That might mean some time at your local pool/beach, running off physical energy and a picnic at the park or outdoor games of volleyball, croquet, Twister, bocce ball, Chinese jump rope, water balloon fights, etc., at your house.
  5. Create Bookworms Reading not only helps to pass the day, but it increases vocabulary, comprehension and fosters a love for reading. Select a book together and take turns reading it or establish an independent reading time so that you too can sneak in some self-care time. Select a special place for your reading time, under a shady tree, the porch or nook.
  6. Lions, Tigers and Bears Oh My Check out the local attractions where you can spend the day with your kiddos learning, relaxing or having fun! Some great ideas can be found in this article, “100 Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer” or check out your local museums, amusement parks, waterparks, parks, zoos, theater, historic landmarks and other attractions. Perhaps planning something once or twice a month is best, keeping costs in mind and not encourage a bad case of the gimmies with your children.
  7. Workday Yes, we all have to do it. Laundry, dusting, vacuuming, washing the car, mowing the lawn, grocery shopping, etc., doesn’t happen on its own. A workday creates ownership, responsibility and establishes each person’s contribution to the household and family unit. To reduce summer stress also means you being able to be freed up from your household duties.
  8. Rainy Day Rain is bound to show up in the forecast and having a list of rainy day activities is a definite must, i.e., movies, cook special meals, bake, board games, house hide and seek, crafts, puzzles, etc. are all possibilities in passing a dreary day.
  9. Craft Day Whether your children are wee young ones or of elementary, middle or high school age, there’s nothing like a good craft day to connect and get in touch with your creative side. While there may be some moans to start, not too soon after most will enjoy being together and making family connections.
  10. Parents Remember to Care for Yourselves In the middle of all the mayhem it’s sometimes difficult for parents to remember they have to take care of themselves too. If you’re taking care and giving all the time to your children, you’ll eventually find yourself depleted, a bit grouchy and short on patience. I’m very lucky to have a husband that recognizes that I need my downtime occasionally. I’m not certain he recognizes downtime for himself, so I push him to do things that will reenergize him. So pick up a book, go for a walk with a friend, exercise, or garden – whatever you find enjoyment in that recharges you. Additionally, don’t forget to get a babysitter. You and your partner need time to reconnect with each other and your friends.

I’ve shared my view with you; please leave a comment and share your thoughts with me.

Happy Summer!

My Son Forgot Epinephrine: A+ Problem Solving

My Son Forgot Epinephrine: A+ in Problem Solving

He forgot epinephrine and that sounds like a nightmare.

There isn’t a quick fix to this problem, is there? There isn’t a handy dandy saying to help you, like “Stop, Drop and Roll.” You can’t cross your arms like Jeannie, blink and have Epinephrine in hand.

forgot epinephrine - Key to solving a problem? Staying calm and think about your options.

Key to solving a problem? Staying calm and think about your options.

My son is a Student Council representative. In this role, it requires him to be at school early in the morning for meetings or to work at the school store. Per his Anaphylaxis Action Plan our son is not permitted to regularly self-carry his epinephrine, only under certain conditions defined by his parents. Student Council is one of those conditions where we permit him to self-carry.

The evening prior to a Student Council morning our son takes his Emergency Medication Pack from his sports duffle bag and places it into his school backpack. On these mornings, my husband drops our son off at school. Two schoolteachers, who are familiar with our son’s food allergies and the location of the Emergency Medication Pack, staff the council meetings. Continue reading