The Allergist Mom
Sarah Boudreau-Romano is an Attending Physician in the Division of Allergy and Immunology at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University, Director of the FASE Program and food allergy blogger. What gives Sarah a unique perspective on food allergies is that she is a mother of 4 children, 3 of whom have life-threatening food allergies - more than 20 allergies amongst them. We had a chance to chat with Sarah, and she generously shared some wisdom with Spokin.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE BEST PART ABOUT STARTING YOUR BLOG, THE ALLERGIST MOM?
Starting The Allergist Mom has been a wonderful way to bridge my work as an allergist and my life as a food allergy mom and to share that with the world.
WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU'D KNOWN FROM DAY 1?
Your child will handle having a food allergy better than you think and probably better than you do! There will be tough days and each age definitely brings with it new challenges, but overall, your child with food allergies will be healthy, happy, and resilient.
HAVE YOU FOUND ANY SILVER LININGS IN LIVING WITH FOOD ALLERGIES?
Our family has found many silver linings since being diagnosed with food allergies but the most profound one is the close sibling bonds that have developed. Food allergy and all that goes with it - food sacrifices, continual reminders to get the epi, careful hand washing, and constant vigilance - have all helped foster a fierce sibling loyalty and protectiveness. These kids have each other's back.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR TRUSTED AND GO-TO SOURCES TO MANAGE YOUR FAMILY'S ALLERGIES?
HOW DO YOU ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILDREN TO ADVOCATE FOR THEMSELVES?
So much of your child's young life is planned, controlled and directed by you. As they get older, it is hard to remember that this is their disease and not yours. They need to be able to advocate for themselves and manage it without you. My children have been carrying their own injectable epinephrine since 2nd grade, reinforcing early on the importance of having their life-saving medicine with them at ALL times. Hand washing, reading labels ("Don't eat it first, read it first!"), learning to cook, ordering their own food when we are out to eat, and being able to ask for what they need to keep themselves safe are great ways to teach them self-advocacy.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON LATELY?
I recently became the director of the new FASE (Food Allergy Support and Education) Program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, Division of Allergy and Immunology. The FASE program consists of physician-led patient and family support and educational workshops. We also have started a well-received Kids' Food Allergy Hangout. To register for any of these workshops or the Hangout, click here!