Sunday, October 4, 2015

When Balloons Are Scary

Picture via Google Images.
I recently shared about my latex reactions over on my Stroke Of Grace blog. I promised to provide more details here. These details are taken from the replies I gave on this thread on Facebook.

Picture via Google Images.
Reply Details:

I was only touch reactive most of my life. I never had airborne issues until about 5 or 6 years back when a kids school craft sent me to the hospital. I was taking harsh medication at the time that was bringing rapid changes to my immune system and I think that's what threw the switch to severer reaction.

About our church:

Church leadership is aware and has been beautifully accommodating to us. It is a large church. Two of the three pastors have been gone this week (hospital and death in family) and this one just sort of slipped in under the radar. I imagine it was someone's birthday in a Sunday School class. Nothing malicious and they would have been horrified to learn the ripple effects to our family, I'm sure! I'm just ever-so-thankful that we got there at the exact time to see and avoid the danger!

To the question, "How do shop?? Most stores nowadays sell balloons."

I do as much shopping as I can online. Stores that sell them, as long as they aren't inflated and are in a package, I'm OK as long as I don't handle or hang out by the packages. Last year, I scared a friend when we were in the party supply department enough we had to do an impromptu overview of where to find the Epi-pen I always carry, etc. I ALWAYS carry Benadryl too, and pop them liberally, at the slightest first signs of possible exposure. Most places only have the mylar (foil) balloons inflated in the stores now (at least to sell, unfortunately, you never know when/where you might run into them in a display). If a stores sells inflated latex balloons, I leave and don't go back! 

I haven't even met my son's school teacher this year (we do all our communication via email) because his school uses balloons in crafts. Before going to anyone's house, party or event I call first and don't go if they have recently had balloons or rubber gloves on premises. We also have to call any restaurant before we go to make sure there are no balloons. 

Fortunately, most kitchens now use vinyl gloves so food contamination is rare (I just have to watch fancy stuff like chocolate shell bowl formed around a balloon), but have had to get up and leave in the middle of "safe" restaurant meals before if other guests bring in balloons, like for a birthday party. I can only use one of the two main medical health care systems in town because they a relatively latex-free while the other hospital may still use latex in gloves or some of their other supplies. I also have to watch rubber bands (not allowed in our house!) and several other every-day items, but unless I touch them or they "snap" near me, most of those things don't release enough air borne particle to significantly impact me unless I touch them. New items like tires or certain paints in an enclosed area can make me reactive until they have aged and settled enough (can take weeks or months) that I have to be really careful in things like walking into Sam's club (they have a big automotive area including tires, right at the front entrance).

Also, it depends on the quality and manufacturing process of individual balloons. As a general rule, the cheeper a balloon, the lower the quality of material and more readily it sheds latex particles into the air. I have actually been around very high quality balloons without reaction. But typically folks grab the least expensive (a.k.a. most dangerous as far as latex shedding goes) balloons they can buy for party decorations, crafts, pranks, etc! And please, NEVER pop any kind of latex balloon anywhere near me - fantastic way to spread a ton of allergen-particles far, wide and FAST!

A friend replied:
Thankful that you were able to avoid a dangerous situation! My sister has a latex allergy too but only if she touches it. I'm also glad that you posted this. Helps to better understand why hospitals near us do not allow any balloons unless bought in their gift shops (all latex free).

Short, very helpful article! Please take 2 minutes to read!

Original post:

We missed church today. Got up, ready, and even into the church parking lot, only to see someone carrying balloons into the church. (I am HIGHLY reactive to LATEX and even going into a room that has balloons in it could send me to a hospital via ambulance!) Our student driver didn't even get to park. Rick simply said, "We are not going in there!" and directed him right through the parking lot and back onto the main road. 
I was disappointed as I haven't been out of the house in a week, but just getting up and ready, a quick stop for bagels on the way, then picking up a couple items from the store on our way home, I came home (back home by 9:30!) and slept HARD for over 2 hours! (Sad that I slept right through the internet feed of our services so I didn't even get to see those!)
Guess I'm not bounced back much from surgery yet. Counting it God's grace that we pulled into the parking lot at the exact time the balloons were being taken into the building so I didn't encounter another allergic reaction in my already stressed body!
‪#‎MyInvisibleFight‬ ‪#‎InvisibleFight‬ ‪#‎IIWK‬ ‪#‎IIWK15‬ ‪#‎LatexAlergy‬‪#‎WhenBalloonsAreScary‬ ‪#‎CrazyBody‬

Picture via Google Images.
For more latex allergy news and resources, be sure to click on the tag below or the resource link in the right side bar!