Thursday, March 21, 2013

Asthma Allergies Children: a parent's guide

(A note before I begin: The books I am going to discuss were purchased with my own money.  This is not a paid review.  I met co-author Henry Ehrlich at the Auvi-Q Summit, which is where I found out about the books, but my opinions are purely my own, as always.)
Asthma Allergies Children: a parent's guide

I have finished reading Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide.  I didn't want to put it down, each time I had to tend to something.  I felt like each page was giving me another piece of the puzzle, and the chapters were guiding me in the placement of the pieces, and I was starting to get a clear view of the box top, for the first time.  I've been dealing with my daughter's "atopic" conditions, eczema, food allergies and asthma, for a few years, now, so some of it was "review", and I found myself agreeing with the information, but that is not as common as one might think.  So often, I read "medical" literature and I think, "Sheesh, how can they have it so wrong?"  Instead, as I "clicked" through the pages on my Kindle, I was nodding in agreement and even sometimes audibly saying, "YES!"  Reading through the pages, I sensed the proverbial lightbulbs going off, over and over, as I learned more about the conditions that affected my sweet girl.  I also found myself thinking about so many people who needed to read this book, some of whom might not even realize it...All those people whose child's always clearing their throat...or has a perpetual "runny nose"...or who has trouble focusing in school, but probably has underlying allergy issues...

A wonderful thing about this book is that it doesn't exist in a vacuum.  It's part of an organic, mutually-educational system.  The first book I purchased was actually the eBook, Children's Allergies and Asthma: One of Nature's Dirty Tricks, which contains a selection of 89 of the 200+ articles from their website  They state that "medicine moves faster than print" and they've developed what I like to call "Atopic University".  With the completion of Asthma Allergies Children: A Parent's Guide, you get your "degree" and the Children's Allergies and Asthma e-book and subsequent articles on, give you your "continuing education" credits.  They also have a "Parent Mailbag" section, where you can ask them questions, which I equate to my former college professors' "office hours".  It's a chance to have your additional questions answered and further your education.  I say it's "mutually educational" because the authors and doctors interact with readers and continue to learn from their readers/patients, just as they've done over their careers.  Dr. Paul Ehrlich's book dedication reads, "I would like to dedicate this book to my patients, who have taught me so much over so many years."  The website allows that learning process to continue, across a wider base.

The book itself is such a valuable reference tool that after I finished reading it on the Kindle, I immediately ordered the paperback version.  Yes, I loved it that much!  I love the style of their writing and the way you can tell the doctors really listen to their patients and take the "whole picture" into consideration.  I love the vignettes, particularly the one titled, "'They' Don't Understand":
 On June 10, 2001, I was quoted in the New York Times Magazine as saying: I tell my patients, if people point at you when you walk down the street and say, "Look at that neurotic parent," then and only then are you being careful enough.
  I said it, and I meant it, but upon reflection, it bears further explanation.  By "neurotic" I meant a selfless dedication that to outsiders could appear excessive.  "They" don't understand the threat to your child.  You do.
  One parent quoted in the article said, "After my son was rushed to the doctor because he touched an egg noodle - just touched it - my friends finally apologized to me for what they'd been saying behind my back." 
  "They" don't understand what life is like...endlessly reading food packages for dangerous ingredients, never knowing whether something is not on the label, wondering when you enter a restaurant if the kitchen is well run or subtly contaminated.
  For the parent of a severely food-allergic child, the world is full of hidden dangers.  Food companies and their lapdogs in government look more conspiratorial than the CIA in an Oliver Stone movie.  The regulations and the bureaucracies growing up to cope with the problems are daunting, frustrating, and sometimes contradictory.  
  You can't be too careful.  There used to be a saying, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean those people aren't looking at you.  At the same time, reality is hard enough.  Food allergy turns childhood into a time of Alice in Wonderland logic.  Up is down and black is white.  Don't let it reach the point of unreality.
~Dr. Ehrlich
That NYT article was from 2001, when food allergies didn't have as much attention as they do, now, and Dr. Paul Ehrlich already "got it".  This is one my favorite "letters" on the subject of food allergy precautions.  It validates all we do to keep our children safe, yet reminds us at the end to keep things in check and based in reality.

Now, even though I've included this favorite vignette of mine, I don't want you to think the whole book is just comforting, sympathizing notes.  This book is packed with medical information!  It covers all aspects of allergy - skin allergies, environmental allergies, food allergies, asthma, testing, treatments, etc.  It also covers the emotional aspects, marital and inter-familial aspects, and the stages of an allergic life.  There's even a table of medications, at the end, with the symptoms they treat, side effects and additional notes.

I am grateful to the authors for sharing their wisdom and time, as well as the continued effort they put into their website.  I'm so glad to have found these valuable resources and wanted to share them with you all.  I hope you will find them equally valuable and enlightening.


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  2. Fantastic! I completely agree, and I too highly recommend the book and website :).