The Land of Enchantment

Being from New Mexico I can say this, they have the best red chile sauce anywhere and their sunsets are amazing.

Through our journey to see Hubby’s parents we are taking the longer route through New Mexico to stay with some of my family, and so I can get my sopapilla fix on.

This is a very important thing as they are typically fried in oil I can’t have and they just aren’t ‘right’ in Colorado.  I never get a golden pillow of delight begging me to grab the honey jar and meld them together in the perfect after dinner treat.

Instead, when ordering sopapillas in Colorado, you get one of two things: a rock hard pillow that could possibly chip your tooth if bitten into or a flat and floppy piece of…square dough…at least I think it’s dough. Another downside to Colorado’s sopapillas is that they come with cinnamon and sugar, strawberries and whipped cream. And if you are brave enough to ask for them plain with honey the look you get is one reserved for tourists who “don’t know what a sopapilla is”.

It’s so annoying that I stopped asking for them at the end of a meal at any “Mexican” restaurants in Colorado.

Thus our trecking 4hours (round trip) out of our way so we could stop in Albuquerque at the corner of Lomas and 16th Street where Monroe’s is located.

While I can’t eat any of their meats, their red chile cheese enchiladas and sopapillas are just what a New Mexico girl needs when she’s in the area.

If you are planning a trip to Albuquerque give them a call 505-242-1111 and talk to them about your allergies. If you don’t have allergies and simply want to taste a plate of pure heaven stop in and see the lovely folks at Monroe’s on Lomas.

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A Day In The Life: Chaz’s Tummy Problems Continue

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Chaz has been having a lot of tummy trouble for the last few weeks.  At first we thought it was the stress of selling our house, all the people coming in and out, and the general level of our stress that was throwing his tummy off.  But after having to put him on a boiled chicken and rice diet, I had to start paying more attention.

The Problem

Chaz is a picky eater.  He’ll more often than not walk away from food than eat. I’ve never owned a dog that didn’t inhale anything even remotely resembling food as soon as their nose caught a sniff of it.  So when the vet suggested a boiled chicken and rice diet until his tummy settled down, I doubted he’d eat it.

As is normal when I think I’ve finally figured this dog out, he proved me wrong and ate with gusto.

Yet, when everything seemed to be settling down and I started adding in his canned food again it all went sideways, again.

After several sleepless nights of cleaning up sick puppy poo, I called the vet and set up a consultation.  I know the signs of food allergy and it would appear that my dog is allergic to something in his dog food.

Through the sleepless nights, I decided to put Chaz on probiotics. He had been on them before, after an incident where he had eaten some detergent, and I really liked how his tummy reacted while on them. So when I found some at the health food store, I decided to give it a try.

The Vets Conclusion

Chaz is allergic to something, but it didn’t appear to be food. He had signs of allergy but not the typical food allergy. Go figure, he is my dog after all.

I had wondered if he was allergic to an additive. I know I am, and when I react to his food it does cause one to wonder what is going on with him. However, dogs apparently aren’t as susceptible to the same food allergies as humans are.  Apparently they typically are allergic to pork. Who knew?  So while I was reacting to the additives and soy in his food, apparently he was just reacting to the additives.

The Vet thought it was an additive allergy, not a food allergy, that the dog was reactive to. She said that while we had done well keeping him hydrated, we needed to find him a different food. Since there is no test for additive allergies, the Vet suggested I put him on probiotics (check) and the Vet had another suggestion.

The Suggestion

Our Vet suggested I take the dog through the store, armed with a list of brands she recommended, and let Chaz choose his own food and treats.

Basically I was to let him smell the bags of kibble and the one he showed the most interest in was the one I was to get.

While we had talked about a local brand of dog food I had found for our previous dog when he developed health issues, and she didn’t have a problem with Chaz eating it, she still recommended I try one of her suggested brands first. Chaz, however, had other plans.

Actions

I walked through the pet store with Chaz comfortably tucked into my jacket, and we found every brand the Vet listed. At each brand I found the appropriate bag for his size and set it in the basket in front of him and watched to see what he would do. At each brand he gave the cursory sniff, then turned his head in disinterest.

How do I know it was disinterest? Because I left the bag in his sniffing zone while I read the ingredients. All of them contained things I react to, and each one was passed over by himself (aka Chaz).

What To Do Next

Chaz is not a service animal. While I do consider him to be a member of the family, to be taken care of to the best of my abilities, I know that he can’t simply be taken everywhere with me. It isn’t right to the people who rely on their service dogs for me to take my pet to a store that isn’t advertised as being a pet friendly store.

However, I was desperate to find something my dog would gladly eat.

So I walked into a local health food store with Chaz securely zipped into my jacket, and headed straight for the pet food isle. Not stopping near any other isle that contained food or products.

I pulled several of the more expensive bags into the cart for him to sniff, all received the same reaction…a sniff or two and he lost interest.

Finally, after several bags were dismissed I found the bag. The same brand as the canned food I had found that he liked is the brand of dry food he went nuts over.

I placed the bag of kibble in front of him and he went nuts trying to get into the bag.

Here we were feeding him a plant protein diet, low in fat, and he chooses a high (meat) protein and fat diet, and not only that, he’s keeping it down and wanting to eat.
Now he’s still not a voracious eater, I put his food out in the morning and sometimes it sits there till evening, but he is eating most of it every day and we aren’t having any of the nasty side effects we were having.

Conclusion

While I am not the hover pet mom I often feel like (the Vet told me so). I am very thankful for Veterinarians who are willing to think outside the box when it comes to taking care of my dog.

While I very much consider my pet a member of the family, I also do not loose sight that it is still just a pet.

With that in mind, finding a dog food that he would eat was a priority, and I’m very thankful for stores who understand where I was in my attempt to care for my pet.

What I took away from this is that much as a mother would with her children, I have to trust my instincts where Chaz is concerned. I had a feeling it was his food that was making him sick, but at the same time I felt hopeless to do something about it. When in reality I could have saved him a lot of agony if I had of acted on my instincts to change his food sooner.

It amazes me how similar a dog and human are in medical terms. From food allergies, to seasonal allergies they often need the same types of medications and care that we humans do.

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Our First Week Living In A Hotel

Back Story:

As shocking as it might sound, I want to travel more.  I know, who would have thought that a person who writes about the stress of traveling as a medical freak could wish to travel more.  But I do, thus…in May me and my Husband decided to sell our home to free ourselves up for whatever God might have in store for us.

At the time we had been to Maine for Hubby to go on a job interview.  We figured since they had flown him out and payed a nice chunk of change on him, that he had a pretty good chance at getting it.   Since we haven’t heard back from the company, we are assuming he didn’t get the job.

However, all of that talk about what we would do ‘if’ got us really looking at what we would need to do in order to move.

Other Things To Consider:

I am 12 years younger than my husband. And due to illnesses, freaky medical conditions, and idiopathic anaphylaxis I have only just finished college and started looking at what I could do from home to bring in enough income that my hubby could ‘retire’, something that I would enjoy doing and that would enable us to travel more.

Thus the Blog, and my attempts to get published for stories about the trips we take anyway.  I also am a shutter bug and to help fund my fun I sell photos for stock with several different agencies.

Back To The Story:

We decided to sell our house, as it would be the one thing we would absolutely need to do in order to leave. The housing market was on fire for sellers, so it was a ‘perfect timing’ scenario.  So we contacted a realtor friend of ours, had her do a walk through and give us a punch list of what we needed to do to sell.  Thankfully she knows us well enough to know that we would be working at our own, pain managing, pace.

As of last week, all the paint fume ingesting, paint spattered clothes, and back pain and spasms paid off and we sold the house.

Once that was done we had to figure out where we were going to live, since we weren’t going to buy again.  So we put some balls in motion and hubby made a hotel reservation.

(While I’m going to try and break out the numbers on what we are actually saving by staying in the hotel, I’m slow with numbers so that might not happen.)

Moving In:

Since I have to be careful of the company I keep, we signed the paperwork a day ahead of the buyers and we moved into a hotel.

Another back story:

The closing had been moved at the last minute.  So we were living in our house with a folding table, camp chairs, and sleeping on an air mattress.  Considering we both suffer from nerve and back pain, can you say OWIE!

The hotel was a much needed reprieve.  While Chaz is having to get used to only being outside on a leash. And we are having to get used to taking him outside when he asks, life isn’t all that bad.

When we moved in Hubby spoke to the manager and negotiated a lower price, which will average out once we’ve been here for a month (good tip to know), and we won’t have to change rooms.

The Perks:

After owning a 2800 + sq foot home, with nice grassy front and back lawns, not having to clean or do yard work means a lot of extra time.  There one down side I was dreading about hotel living…the coffee.

We have stayed in many a hotel and the ones that have offered free coffee for their guests fall short on the my scale of good coffee.  When you go to the robust carafe and expect to see a deep umber colored beverage to be filling your cup, only to see a weak brown color (something you would expect to see say when ordering a hot tea) you just know that the coffee is not going to satisfy a coffee snobs tastes buds.

However, I found a way around that little issue.

Can't have bad coffee making for a bad day.
Can’t have bad coffee making for a bad day.

I brought my Keurig from home. (Cue the Cheshire cast grin.)  This way I can choose my coffee, and only drink the best.  This also meant that I could order my k-cups from Keurig and get my favorite Caribou Obsidian coffee to enjoy every morning.

Caribou Obsidian Coffee Keurig K-Cups, 72 Count

The cute little four cup coffee maker that came with the room is tucked away in a cupboard with the offered pre-filtered coffee where it can do no harm. I even brought a favorite mug from home that could handle the amount of coffee I drink in the morning.

You can’t leave anything to chance when your entire day could be derailed by having a bad cup of coffee.

The biggest perk for me is housekeeping.  Everyday the trashes are emptied, and if we wish our towels and bed linens are replaced. All without us doing anything more than holding the dog, or simply taking him with us on an errand so they can work.  They are by far my most appreciated people here.  While we still wash our own clothes, with my allergies I have to be very picky about the soaps I use, not having to worry about the basic cleanliness of the room and linens is a huge relief.

Also they have food (I can only eat the salad, but that’s ok because it means I don’t have to buy the ingredients for salad) Monday-Thursday.  And if Hubby wants breakfast before heading out to work, it’s all right there in the lobby waiting for him.

I’m not gonna lie, I could get used to this.

Nemo’s Coffee

If you dislike big brand coffee shops, that can be found in almost every town. Abhore the cookie cutter chains where every coffee shop looks alike. And if you are looking for a quirky, locally owned coffee place…Then I have the perfect place for you when you come to Colorado Springs.

NEMO’S is the place to you want to go for great atmosphere, wonderful food, and coffee that will keep you coming back for more.

The Anderson’s run the place offering organic coffee, substitutes for milk: soy, almond and coconut. More than most other coffee places in town, trust me I’ve checked.

They also offer a plethora of other goodies to stave off the hunger pangs. Sandwiches,salads, biscotti, and Hubby’s favorite…the sausage breakfast burrito with salsa.  If given the option, Hubby will choose to go to Nemo’s to get me coffee so he can have his favorite.

Nemo’s is a coffee house and your favorite lunch spot all rolled into one locally owned pretty package.

When you walk in mismatched table and chairs greet you, along with a couch for relaxing, shelves ladened with books invite you to pull out your favorite and curl up on the couch or easy chair and read to your hearts content.  All while enjoying your favorite cup of coffee, or tea.

If work is your aim, then pick a table, as I’ve done to write this article. Spread out a bit and let the creativity flow.

Nemo’s is the place I prove to myself just how much I enjoy my creature comforts. Though I have options of things to eat and drink I typically get the same thing…a caramel swirl with coconut milk. The only variation being whether it’s iced or hot.  Another favorite is the homemade biscotti (I highly recommend their white chocolate macadamia nut), they even offer gluten free options.

Hubby’s favorite drink is a sweetened iced latte, and of course their sausage burrito.

When in doubt ask about your allergy. Tracey is very knowledgeable about what exactly goes into the food she serves.  Check out their website, she make most of her offerings from scratch, to the point that she even grinds her own wheat.  Talk about attention to detail!

Go get your turtle power and let me know what you thought of the place. You can go inside or drive through, which ever you choose you won’t regret it.

Nemo’s is located at 2114 E Pikes Peak Ave, Colorado Springs, CO 80909  719-635-2745

www.nemoscoffee.com

A Day In The Life: Chaz’s big adventure

Life of late: 

Poor Chaz has had a rather rough time of it, of late.  We’ve sold our house, we lived in our house on an air mattress with a folding table and camp chairs while waiting for our closing date (after it has been changed…I did have it all planned out until…), and now we have moved into a hotel while we wait for the dust to settle and for us to figure out our next move.  More to come about that in a later post.

So we were living with the bare basics, really it was a glorified dorm room.  All we were missing were the cinder block and bare wood ‘book cases’ and posters on the wall.  Honestly a dorm room probably was a step up as we were on an air mattress instead of a futon.

In an effort to keep to a routine, we did our best to have dinner around the same time each night and I even did my best to cook every now and again.  This leads to our latest vet visits with Chaz.

Remember the folding table?

When you combine a folding table and camp chairs with short people and food, you get a great comedy sketch set up.  Add into that mix trying to eat tacos and you get a recipe for disaster when you have small dog with a sensitive stomach.

Yep, meat was spilled.  It bounced off the dog, and never had the chance to hit the floor.  Chaz’s reflexes are just too strong.

While we expected the after effects, we didn’t expect them to last for almost two weeks.

The day we vacated the house we took him to the vet for his tummy issues.  They did some tests said he was OK and sent us home with instructions to keep him on a rice and boiled chicken diet, and to keep him as calm as possible.  So we had a friend over for dinner on Friday and then the Kids as usual on Sunday.  We dealt with the one accident at 2 am, and carried on as normal.  And then…

Today the vomiting started.  Now I’m ok with humans when they have physical ailments.  Blood, vomit, doesn’t matter I’m good, but when it’s an animal…all bets are off.  So there is our poor five pound multepoo being sick on the kitchen floor of the hotel, and I’m sitting across the room gagging.  Hubby couldn’t help but laugh.  And I really couldn’t blame him. I’m sure I was a sight to behold holding my breath, and nose and gaging all at the same time.

Several times today we have been faced with this dilemma, and I finally had to call the vet (again) to see what we should do.  Aside from hoping he’d eat and drink some water, giving him another tummy pill and waiting until they could see us tomorrow.  There really wasn’t much we could do.

Just when you think you’re going to have to go to the ER…

Then suddenly at around 6pm, the dog started eating and drinking his diluted chicken broth. By 9pm he’d eaten all of his food, and was ready to play.  And now I’m faced with the dilemma of going to be on time, or staying up incase we need to get him outside in a hurry.

I got him some probiotics, for dogs, from the health food store and he got his first dose in when he finished his bowl of food tonight.  So I have that to factor into the equation.

I always thought having pets were easy, until Chaz.  When a dog, and I assume a cat, has tummy issues all bets are off.  But you can’t help but love them even more.

Chaz has decided that we are going to bed.  Otherwise his whining will keep hubby awake.  Sigh!  Here’s hoping for the best, and a good nights sleep.

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Buffalo, Wyoming: A Winter Wonderland

What’s a girl to do when big crowds and hot temperatures send her running for the hills?  

Why she visits the iconic summer destinations in the winter, of course!

Living with severe environmental (sun and heat) and food (soy and yeast) allergies travel can be a real pain. In December 2015 my husband came to me with an idea.  We needed to travel six hours north of Colorado Springs…Why?… Because, he explained, “we have been six hours or more in every other direction”. Makes total sense. Hubby did some research and we decided on our destination.

We went to Buffalo, Wyoming.

A place where old and new meld beautifully into a winter wonderland, rich in history yet hip and modern. No matter when you visit, there is history to be reveled in around every corner of the town.

From the Occidental hotel, to historic down town, everywhere you look you can catch a glimpse of the glory days for this small town.

Not the best lighting, but a wonderful historic building with literary ties.
Not the best lighting, but a wonderful historic building with literary ties.
A better view of the Occidental Hotel. Yes, you can still stay in this hotel. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com
A better view of the Occidental Hotel. Yes, you can still stay in this hotel. http://www.occidentalwyoming.com

For the literary buffs out there, you will know this gem as the place where, the Virginian got his man. While the historians will know it for the role it played in infamous story of Butch Cassidy, the Sundance Kid, and the Wild Bunch.  For those who love the story lines of Craig Johnson in his Longmire series, especially if you have watched the show on A&E/Netflix you will recognize the scenery when you walk the paths in Buffalo Wyoming, as the fictional Longmire country.

And if you are in doubt that you’re in the right place, the “Longmire for Sheriff” signs all over town will confirm my description.

In summer time, locals and tourists a like, fill the streets to over flowing.  Whether they are stopping over on their way to Mount Rushmore or Yellowstone the town more than doubles in size in the summer months, making a stay in Buffalo more expensive – and for me more stressful – than it is in the off season.

In the winter, however, the small town feel returns to Buffalo.

Hotels can take time to deep clean their rooms, as the Hampton Inn we stayed at were in the process of doing.

Also no matter where you decide to eat you can almost guarantee a seat without a wait.   They have a variety of restaurants that would appeal to almost any pallet.  They have steakhouses that can, not only work around food allergies, but will serve you a steak and potato meal worthy of a cowboy who had spent a long hard day in the saddle.

For those who prefer an organic option for their meals, take heart… they have that also.  Organic BBQ is a thing, and it is better than one might think. Regardless of which you choose, prepare for the locals to give you a cursory once over, in the friendly small town way, and welcome you to town.

Buffalo Wyoming is a quintessential small town in winter.  So out of towers stick out just as much in winter – if not more – than in the summer when out of towners are expected.

With my food allergies, the steakhouse and organic BBQ were a welcome sight.  As I have come to realize the more hippy (a family term of endearment for food I can eat) the place is, the more choices I would have, and the Winchester Steakhouse and Up In Smoke, two places that were willing to work with me where my food allergies were concerned, were a breath of fresh air in the small town setting.

They also boast The Fix. The all import coffee house, where even the pickiest of coffee drinkers – me being among them – can find a worthy caffeinated beverage when one is needed.  A very important part for any trip I am on, otherwise I am not my normal bubbly self.

They outsource their coffee and syrups so you know you aren’t getting a cup of Folgers for the price of a Starbucks coffee.  Beans and syrups from Italy, the attention to detail was a wonderful addition to our trip.

The town is very pet friendly, over all.

We were traveling with our 9 month old 5 pound Multipoo, and other than eating establishments, which we expected, we were able to carry our small dog around while we reveled in the historic atmosphere.

Taking a short stroll around historic downtown.
Taking a short stroll around historic downtown.

The employees at the Hampton Inn fell in love with our little fluff ball, and did their best to spoil him with attention, as did most locals we happened upon in our exploring.

While we were not headed to another location we did drive through the Big Horn National Park. 

We reveled in the clear blue sky, the white mountain peaks, and the wind – which Wyoming is known for – as it whipped the freshly fallen snow into puffy clouds before our very eyes.

Those clouds are actually snow being carried by the wind.
Those clouds are actually snow being carried by the wind.
More snow being whipped into a cloud frenzy by the famous Wyoming winds.
More snow being whipped into a cloud frenzy by the famous Wyoming winds.
Driving through Big Horn National Park, and Chaz is in his favorite (warm-up) spot. Sun is bright, but don't let that fool you, it's cold out there.
Driving through Big Horn National Park, and Chaz is in his favorite (warm-up) spot. Sun is bright, but don’t let that fool you, it’s cold out there.

We also walked Clear Creek path for a bit.

I enjoyed the opportunity afforded by cold cloudy day to get out and walk a bit. Clear Creek runs through the town of Buffalo, and is filled with picturesque scenery. The locals call out a friendly hello as you pass one another on the path. While the Big Horn Mountains seem to suddenly appear out of nothing in the distance.  It is easy to see how in the spring and summer this path would be a tranquil walk, filled with areas to stop and take a moment to enjoy the scenery and quiet the creek provides.

Crossing the creek afforded an amazing view of the semi-frozen creek.
Crossing the creek afforded an amazing view of the semi-frozen creek.
A view often seen near Longmire's home in the Television series.
A view often seen near Longmire’s home in the Television series.
Chaz enjoying walking where there wasn't snow.
Chaz enjoying walking where there wasn’t snow.
A path leading to the Big Horn mountain range.
A path leading to the Big Horn mountain range.

We left our home in Colorado hoping to find an allergy friendly locale where I could relax and enjoy my time away from home, and we hit gold with Buffalo, Wyoming.

A cold, often overcast, place where hippy restaurants abounded so I could eat my meals without fear of reaction. To place icing on this already fabulous cake, it was also affordable. Something I had on good authority was not the case in the summer months.

If you are looking for an affordable winter get-a-way, think of heading west. Just keep in mind that winters in Wyoming are harsh. Which puts into perspective just what it took for settlers of this glorious state to survive each winter, let alone their first winter here.

 

 

My Take On The EpiPen Debate

As a sufferer of Idiopathic Anaphylaxis the latest Epipen controversy has me a little concerned for a number of reasons.

My life could literally hang in the balance.

I don’t just carry an EpiPen or two.  I carry ten or more at any given time.  When I’m planning to go on a trip, I discuss with my allergist just how many EpiPens he wants me to take with me.

When we went on a cruise last year that number was 21, incase we were somewhere in the wilds of Alaska and I had to wait for emergency medical services.   That would give me almost two hours to live if we had to wait for medical services.  Since anaphylaxis isn’t something you can choose to treat or not.  It is literally a treat or die situation; I am dumbfounded at how a company can choose their bottom line over saving lives.

The answer I am seeing the most to the high cost of the EpiPen is to get an ampoule of adrenaline and a syringe.  

I have an issue here.

When you can’t breathe, you can do one of two things…

1) focus on breathing – it is kind of important after all.

OR

2) divert the energy I should be putting into breathing  to draw up the right dose of a life saving drug.

I do not see how this is an option for an adult who is often on their own.

For children who are around school nurses, or even at home with their parents I can see how the ampoule could be a viable option. (Though when seconds count making sure you have the right dose takes too much time). While still having the auto-injector for when the child is outside or at a friends house.

Fear of needles.

Let’s face it, the auto-injector is favored because you never have to see the needle.  I have a number of friends who will pass out at the sight of a needle, let a lone seeing actual blood.  So if my life is at stake I don’t want to be reliant on someone else to draw up AND stick me with a needle.  Because lets face it, if you prick me with a needle…I’m going to bleed, a bit. And if you have to use a syringe there is no way to hide the needle from view.

Then you get into the situation of needing a sharps container to dispose of the needle, and carrying multiple syringes incase you need more than one dose…. The list goes on and on.

So what are my options?

The News Media is talking up a couple of different manufacturers who plan to put out a generic auto-injector within the next year. However, my fear is that the FDA will rush them through without allowing the proper amount of time to test for viability.   One generic brand has already attempted to release an auto-injector but was shut down because it didn’t deliver the correct dose.

Another question I have is, how can they be sure the generic adrenaline will be as effective?   Not to mention…for me specifically…will they work?  Since I also have adverse reactions to Soy and Yeast, AND other drugs – namely steroids- there are no guarantees that a generic will work for me. Since one of the reactions I have to these additives is anaphylactic you can imagine my fear of using a new product.

So where does that leave me in this medical corporate greed era?

My personal take on the issue.

Since I am often out doing errands on my own – quite literally taking my own life into my hands to keep up with the demands of our household – having things pre-measured is a must.

My husband found me small containers which I filled with the exact dose for my antihistamine I’ll need at the start of an attack.  This way I’m not carrying around the giant prescription bottle filled with the magic elixir and trying to find the measuring cup, and measure out exactly 15cc’s of the medicine when I’m oxygen deprived.  Believe me when needed I’m not afraid to just put the whole bottle up to my mouth and pour, which isn’t a good thing.  So my little bottles are a must!

However, I wouldn’t be able to pre-measure the adrenaline as it cannot be exposed to sunlight for long periods, thus a pre-filled syringe would not be a viable option as it could degrade to the point of being ineffective, which leaves me having to draw up another dose when I’m even worse off than when the attack started.

Let’s get real:

Do you see the snowball effect here?  It’s act quick and decisively…or…die.  There really isn’t a middle option unless you can afford to have a certified medical person with you at all times.

Also there are times when more than two doses are required (for me), if I’m by myself, I’m screwed because at that point my oxygen levels are down to the point that I can’t count to 10, let alone focus my eyes adequately enough to read the line numbers on the syringe.

So the auto-injector is vital to my survival.

Also when it comes to other brands I have to not only be careful of what’s in the new brand, but also whether or not it will work as effectively as what I currently use.  Believe me, most of the time I fall into the .01% of people who it won’t work on.

( I don’t carry the mantlet of medical freak lightly, I have earned it!  Even the National Institutes of Health don’t know what to do with me.)

I will be having a long talk with my Allergist about what to do when I get my new prescriptions from him.  I’m very much a ‘stick with what works’ person, so if my insurance says no to the EpiPen, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Aside from having major panic attacks about leaving the house.

The stress of switching brands.

Aside from the stress of wondering if the generic will work there is also the issue of new procedures to use the auto-injector.  Apparently the one generic that is offered currently has two caps that need to be removed before use, not one as the EpiPen has.  So for someone who often has to jab the auto-injector into her own leg, this means learning new moves to ensure a successful dosing.  Not the easiest thing when you’ve been using one style for over a decade.

I know it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but believe me it is.  Muscle memory is a real thing, and it is vital to my survival during an attack.  I have to focus on getting air past my swelling airways and into my tight lungs in order to survive. So that means if I get distracted on something crucial like…opening an auto-injector I could pass out before I can get the meds into my system, which literally lessens my chance of survival.

 

*All articles were found on either CNN or Fox, for more information I urge you to search out these articles and arm yourself with information. 

5 Things I Do Before Trying A New Restaurant

When you have food allergies, no matter how severe, there is one thing that strikes fear in your heart like none other…eating at a new restaurant.

Here are a few steps I take before trying a new restaurant.  They aren’t fool proof, and it doesn’t mean that you will be able to eat anything you want on the menu, but they should save you a few uncomfortable evenings after diner.

1. Look them up on line especially pay attention to their menu. If they have instructions at the bottom…* eating undercooked…yada, yada, and it also says to “alert your server if you have food allergies”… then in my experience you should be in luck.

2. Call them, but not at a peak time.  If you google the restaurant during their peak times should be listed.  When you call them ask, specifically, to speak to a chef or the kitchen manager. Do not just talk to whomever answers the phone, if they aren’t aware of food allergy severity or if they aren’t a part of the ordering process they will not be able to thoroughly answer your questions.

3. Get a name for when you go into the restaurant. This way you can give your server the name of who you need to talk to concerning your allergy.  I always call, then double check when I get there.  You can never be too careful.

4.  Get a card listing your allergies, your allerigst should be able to help here. If not there are companies who will make them for you.  This makes it easier for your server. They can take the card back to the kitchen so the chef can come out and quickly lay out your options.

I’ve been asked several times if I had a card, which I don’t because of the nature of my allergies, it’s hard to list out what I’m allergic to.  Often people assume that since I’m allergic to soy, so long as there is not soy sauce I should be fine.  But that isn’t the case. I have make sure there’s no mayo, or that the restaurant only uses real butter as opposed to a margarin butter blend. And the list goes on and on.  Never be afraid to repeat yourself.

5.  Keep your expectations in check. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to a new restaurant and had one of two things happen.

I either found I could only have one thing on the menu, or that the chef would have to make something not on the menu for me. Which I have to tell you isn’t such a bad thing.

OR

I can have anything on the menu, that isn’t asian inspired, and I’m so overwhelmed I can’t decide.

Conclusion

While I’ve come to appreciate the chef who is willing to go off book, I typically get food that is so good I’m willing to eat the same thing every night for a week.  It’s not always that easy.

Once when on a trip we went to a seafood restaurant in Las Vegas.  I had called a head and talked to the chef, so they were prepping an area in which to make my food and we had settled on what would be made for me.

We were on a field and track trip so there was a rather large group of us going.  When we got there, I spoke with the chef again confirming that I could eat what was being offered.  While I was doing this the server came and took everyone else’s order.

Once my order was confirmed: pan fried trout (a personal favorite), steamed asparagus, potatoes and brussel sprouts, and an olive tapenade.  I sat back and enjoyed the conversations going on around me.  As everyone’s orders began coming out, seafood platters, crab cakes, a bunch of deep fried goodness I sat there calmly waiting for my food.

The chef brought it out himself.  After confirming everything looked ok, the chef returned to the kitchen and I looked up to many pairs of eyes staring at my plate.  One of my friends raised his hand, while looking at my plate and proclaimed, “I think I have food allergies”.  HA!

I must admit it was one of the best meals I had had up until that point in my food allergy journey.

On the opposite side of the coin, we recently had a new restaurant open here and I made the mistake of calling during their opening night.  I checked for peak times and none were listed, I quickly realized why none were listed.  Anyway,  I talked to someone in the kitchen who was very frazzled, and she asked that I email, but also said that she would get some answers and call me back.

I emailed them asking about their menu, and never heard a thing back.  It’s rather disheartening, but I will not eat there. Hubby has asked a couple of times about it, but since I do not have answers I will not be eating there.  It’s that simple.

What are some steps you take to ensure you don’t take a hit when eating out?

Joanie’s Deli And Bakery

 

What does a girl do when she is told by her doctors to eat more calories, especially if she is a rabbit food loving freak?  Why she finds places that serve BIG yummy salads!

Can you say fresh?
Can you say fresh?  And can you say YUM?!

OK, so my doctors didn’t want me eating more salads they wanted me to eat more calories than a salad has to offer.  But when you are a rabbit food lover who has very specific food allergies, you do your best to eat what you love…because then you’ll eat more in a day, which is the over arching goal of eating more…right?

Oh. So. Yummy.
Oh. So. Yummy.

During some of our weekends –  when we have to be out the house so people can look at our house – we would go up to Woodland park and stop for lunch at Joanie’s before heading back to the house, or out into the mountains for some light hiking.

Woodland Park is a nice drive up Highway 24 from Colorado Springs, not so long that you feel as if you’ve been in the car all day, just for a salad…but also not so short that we couldn’t be out of the house for the  2-5 hour window needed.  The longer we needed to be out the more we would do, after eating.

One great thing about Joanie’s Bakery and Delicatessen, other than the fact I can eat what I like even with my food allergies, is that we can take Chaz with us and sit on the covered patio.  It’s away from the street, and well protected. So it pet friendly, provided you don’t take them inside. (Though we have been told that they just might make an exception for Chaz…”because he’s so cute”. However, we don’t want the health department to close them down, so we keep Chaz outside.)

He's ready to eat. I share the egg yolks from my salad with him.
He’s ready to eat. I share the egg yolks from my salad with him.

I can actually sit outside, kind of, and enjoy my meal. A very rare treat for me.

See that first seat on the left? Yep that's my favorite spot at Joanie's.
See that first seat on the left? Yep that’s my favorite spot at Joanie’s.

Plexi glass protects us from the smoke the wind might bring in, and the over hang keeps the afternoon sun from reaching me.   I couldn’t eat breakfast there, with the dog, because I wouldn’t be able to sit outside. But once the sun reaches noon the porch is shaded and lovely.

Joanie’s is located at 110 East Highway 24, Woodland Park, CO  719-686-9091.  They only use Boars Head meat and cheeses for their salads and sandwiches, and their staff is very knowledgable about what goes into everything – even their salad dressings.

So if you have questions go in and ask, they’ll tell you exactly what they use. For example…knowing that soy is in practically everything, but not in most mustards, I get their honey mustard dressing.  They only use canola oil in their dressings, but if there is mayo or soy sauce (duh) in the dressing it’s a non-starter for me. So that takes their ranch and asian fusion style dressings, and the blue cheese, out of the equation (I just don’t like blue cheese) leaving their honey mustard or vinaigrettes for me to enjoy.

Now their vinaigrettes are lovely, but since I typically get a Chefs salad,  there is lots of protein to be had – a must for my picky body – I get the honey mustard.  It is a better paring with the bacon.

Once I had the Chef with their raspberry vinaigrette… again the vinaigrettes taste great, but for me they aren’t the best paring with the bacon.  The honey mustard gives you a nice zip and zing without over powering the meat…bacon.

Hubby loves their sandwiches, he’s had their version of grilled cheese, the Roast Beef Melt and many others that I don’t remember. Why?  I’ll let you ask.  Because I can’t eat them.  I cannot envy something I’ve never tried, and thus I find them unmemorable.  However, my I can eat anything hubby enjoys their sandwiches.

So if you fall into the I can eat anything category, be sure to check them out also.

I have even gone with a vegetarian friend of ours, and she was able to get exactly what she wanted…catered to her liking.  We both left satisfied, and ready for our trip back down the mountain.

For Labor Day hubby and I grabbed the dog and headed out to get a late lunch and so I could get photos for you…in case you are like me and need a visual aid from time to time to ensure you are where you think you should be.  Though Woodland Park isn’t that big still I want to be thorough.

And since I am a foodie who forgets to take photos of their food…I had a purpose in going there…I took my phone and my camera.  Try not to drool on your electronic devices.

 

Next time you are in Woodland Park, checkout Joanie’s if its time to eat.  Let me know what you had and what you thought.

 

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Modern Market

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If there is one place in town that is my ‘go to’ place when I need food Modern Market is that place.

The place to go for a quick healthy meal.
The place to go for a quick healthy meal.

While not nationwide, it has a number of locations in Colorado, Texas, Arizona, and on the East coast in the Washington D.C. and surrounding areas.   Their motto is eat good food, but not too much.  However, if you are a freak like me who is often told by my doctors that I need to eat more, it is a haven of food I like that I can eat a lot of.

If you have food allergies let them know when you get the counter, they have a three ring binder that is filled with each ingredient used in every single one of their dishes.  I was so happy the first time I went into the restaurant, because of this binder.  While I have two favorites, their BLTA and their Roman Salad (no tomatoes).

Click here to find one near you! Hopefully you are able to find one, I have yet to find something I didn’t like.