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celichris

Newly diagnosed/ Preschool teacher

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Hi all, I am newly diagnosed celiac, last Friday, and my brother was also diagnosed the Monday prior. I am not new to the gluten free community as I was first diagnosed with a wheat allergy 4-1/2 years ago. So I bet you are wondering how I got a celiac diagnosis being gluten free for that long. 

Well, I have had multiple exposers with not so typical allergic reaction type reactions. I was diagnosed through genetic test plus past symptoms prior to going gluten free in 2012 and my most recent major exposure from work.

I am a preschool teacher and I am almost done with college to go into this field. I worked at my college preschool/ child care. Despite the school knowing I had several food allergies ( tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soy, egg) they made me work in the kitchen.  I got very sick. Nausea like no other, an itchy blistery rash on my arms, lots of D, and I lost 15 lbs in 3 weeks and ended up in the ER. It was terrifying to say the least. Once they took me out of the kitchen I started feeling better after a couple weeks and was myself after a month. MY GI immediately suspected celiac but didn't test (via my endoscopy) for it since I have been gf for several years. Once my brothers first test came back positive via blood and endoscopy, my GI decided to do the genetic test which came back extremely likely. So here I am. BTW I also have another autoimmune disease, Sjogrens Syndrome. I have lost my teeth in my 30's to both of these conditions I believe.

I get gluten probably fairly often at my job. I work at a new preschool who is mostly gluten free but not completely. They use oats in the sensory bin, I know yikes! I am pretty sure that was the last minor gluten I got in the fall. They also use wheat playdoh. Some of their snacks are gluten snacks like pretzels, animal crackers or other crackers.

I am worried that I spent all this money on my education only to not work in this field. I cannot go back to the field I worked in before due to sitting too long ( I also have Ehlers- Danlos which causes me severe pain if I stay in one position too long). Are there any preschool teachers on this board who have been successful in the classroom without problems or minimal problems? I LOVE my job and already work part-time so I cannot cut hours.

 

 

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Welcome to the forum celichris! :)

I wonder if they tested you for dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)?  DH is an autoimmune skin rash that people with celiac disease sometimes get.  DH causes itchy blistering lesions that appear symetrically on both sides of the body.  They test for DH by taking a small skin biopsy from skin next to a lesion, but not on it.   They test the skin sample for IgA antibodies.  Only people with celiac disease get DH, so if you have DH, you have celiac disease.  There is a subsection of the forum on DH where you can find more info.

I don't have DH, so I can't say if your job will work out or not.  the biggest problem normally is ingestion of gluten, but inhaling airborne gluten is also bad as it ends up in the gut too.  Working in a kitchen with flour in the air is not a great idea for a celiac.  Airborne flour particles may not settle down for several hours and then you have the problem of keeping them off your skin or washing your hands before you eat.  But washing your hands before you eat is probably a real good idea anyway when around kids.  Did you know the little buggers sometimes eat mud pies? :)

There are some drugs for DH, especially dapsone.  But they are not intended for long term use.

I can tell you that I live in a shared household with GE's (gluten eaters).  I do ok even with my half blind brother leaving little piles of flour laying around the kitchen.  But I have been GF for years now and know how to avoid cross contamination and eat mostly my own cooking.  It can be done.

True allergies are a different thing from ceilac disease.  It's important to know which you have.  Allergies are an IgE antibody reaction, while celiac disease is an IgA or IgG antibody reaction.  Allergies cause different symptoms and can cause anaphylaxis also.  So allergies can be more immediately dangerous.  IgE type immune responses can get suddenly worse (more intense) and that is the danger with them.

I did have hayfever pretty bad and cat and dog allergies and tree allergy.  I had many allergy symptoms before going GF.  However for me the allergy reactions dwindled way down after going gf.  I used to buy anti-histamines regularly but now I hardly ever take them.  That doesn't happen for everyone though.

Learning the gf diet can take a good 6 months.  It is easy to make mistakes due to habit and just general unawareness.  The issue with gluten exposure is ingestion, and the immune reaction which can damage our guts etc.  The immune system is very powerful and doesn't stop attacking quickly.  So immune reactions can continue for weeks to months after exposure.  So we have to be really careful not to get gluten in our bodies through diet or breathing it in.

There is a Newbie 101 thread stickied in the "Coping With" forum section.  It has some getting started tips.  I hope you get a lot of good responses adn help here.  This is a great place for help with celiac disease issues.  We aren't doctors (mostly) but we have lots of experience among the members.

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I know the frustrations of going to school for something and not being able to apply it to your job. I went to school for computer programing and excelled at it. One of my reactions with celiac disease was that it attacked my nervous system including my brain. I lost the ability to make sense of complex math, and computer languages, like I know I should know them but they do not make sense anymore and numbers/letters seem like just plain gibberish now, sometimes even rearranging. As to the severe allergy thing I fell back on cooking, I am naturally good at, and thought I could work in the food industry, but I developed a severe allergy to corn, and a few other things. Sorta threw a wrench in that dream, I am still trying to make the most of it by doing cottage home baking and selling at farmers markets and trying to make the best out of it doing side jobs of cooking for others with special dietary needs like celiac or allergies.

What is your position at your job? I might be able to get some advice, my mother has been teaching for over 40 years, she is now a bi-lingual pre-k teacher. She had a kid last year with a severe peanut allergy. I can ask how they dealt with that in other areas. I know in her room they had to take precautions sending letters to the other parents about bringing foods/snacks and the school had to source certain brands of products and snacks for the kids.

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I can approach the preschool topic from a parent side and high school teacher side. I don't personally have celiac but my three year old does. He attends a preschool part time. I know many of their snacks are full of gluten (we send alternates); could you wear gloves while helping with snack and cleaning up? We also provide gluten free play doh, oats, etc for the sensory table. His room is as gluten free as we can make it. I would wait until you are interviewing for your more permanent teaching position once your practicum is done, and then have a frank discussion with the school about your celiac. It's not that much more expensive for them to purchase gluten free supplies at the beginning of the year, and you will probably have a classroom budget to work with. You will find yourself paying your own money as a teacher anyway for school supplies (me every year), so make sure to include that deduction on your taxes ( it's not much but better than nothing). I think the important thing is to have a serious discussion with the school. Point out that your job is your passion, and it would be easy to modify so you can work at your peak healthy level for the kids you love. I know money is always an issue with schools so be sure to bring in some figures showing that supplies can be bought that are gluten free and not that much more expensive. Also point out that celiac (and gluten allergies/intolerance) is being diagnosed in more kids that age, so it might attract more parents to the school if they know it's a safer space for their kids. I know most preschools are nut free, but I personally would love to see more celiac friendly facilities. Hope this helps!

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6 hours ago, GFinDC said:

Welcome to the forum celichris! :)

I wonder if they tested you for dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)?  DH is an autoimmune skin rash that people with celiac disease sometimes get.  DH causes itchy blistering lesions that appear symetrically on both sides of the body.  They test for DH by taking a small skin biopsy from skin next to a lesion, but not on it.   They test the skin sample for IgA antibodies.  Only people with celiac disease get DH, so if you have DH, you have celiac disease.  There is a subsection of the forum on DH where you can find more info.

I don't have DH, so I can't say if your job will work out or not.  the biggest problem normally is ingestion of gluten, but inhaling airborne gluten is also bad as it ends up in the gut too.  Working in a kitchen with flour in the air is not a great idea for a celiac.  Airborne flour particles may not settle down for several hours and then you have the problem of keeping them off your skin or washing your hands before you eat.  But washing your hands before you eat is probably a real good idea anyway when around kids.  Did you know the little buggers sometimes eat mud pies? :)

There are some drugs for DH, especially dapsone.  But they are not intended for long term use.

I can tell you that I live in a shared household with GE's (gluten eaters).  I do ok even with my half blind brother leaving little piles of flour laying around the kitchen.  But I have been GF for years now and know how to avoid cross contamination and eat mostly my own cooking.  It can be done.

True allergies are a different thing from ceilac disease.  It's important to know which you have.  Allergies are an IgE antibody reaction, while celiac disease is an IgA or IgG antibody reaction.  Allergies cause different symptoms and can cause anaphylaxis also.  So allergies can be more immediately dangerous.  IgE type immune responses can get suddenly worse (more intense) and that is the danger with them.

I did have hayfever pretty bad and cat and dog allergies and tree allergy.  I had many allergy symptoms before going GF.  However for me the allergy reactions dwindled way down after going gf.  I used to buy anti-histamines regularly but now I hardly ever take them.  That doesn't happen for everyone though.

Learning the gf diet can take a good 6 months.  It is easy to make mistakes due to habit and just general unawareness.  The issue with gluten exposure is ingestion, and the immune reaction which can damage our guts etc.  The immune system is very powerful and doesn't stop attacking quickly.  So immune reactions can continue for weeks to months after exposure.  So we have to be really careful not to get gluten in our bodies through diet or breathing it in.

There is a Newbie 101 thread stickied in the "Coping With" forum section.  It has some getting started tips.  I hope you get a lot of good responses adn help here.  This is a great place for help with celiac disease issues.  We aren't doctors (mostly) but we have lots of experience among the members.

Thank you for the info. I do know the difference between Celiac and true allergies. I do have a high positive blood IgE to wheat. PLUS celiac. I also have a tree nut allergy.

Unfortunately, I don't have any DH rashes now. If that is what it is. I am pretty good about staying away from gluten. The rashes I had prior to going GF went away except when I get exposed in a very bad way, like over that 3 weeks. I know I shouldn't have been working in the kitchen. I didn;t work with flour but breads, crackers and such. I know about hand washing practices and was/am diligent. I should have worn a mask or something.

I also live in a home where we still have wheat in the house. My food prep areas are separate  as well as all of my cooking gear. My husband also eats GF for me. 

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4 hours ago, Ennis_TX said:

I know the frustrations of going to school for something and not being able to apply it to your job. I went to school for computer programing and excelled at it. One of my reactions with celiac disease was that it attacked my nervous system including my brain. I lost the ability to make sense of complex math, and computer languages, like I know I should know them but they do not make sense anymore and numbers/letters seem like just plain gibberish now, sometimes even rearranging. As to the severe allergy thing I fell back on cooking, I am naturally good at, and thought I could work in the food industry, but I developed a severe allergy to corn, and a few other things. Sorta threw a wrench in that dream, I am still trying to make the most of it by doing cottage home baking and selling at farmers markets and trying to make the best out of it doing side jobs of cooking for others with special dietary needs like celiac or allergies.

What is your position at your job? I might be able to get some advice, my mother has been teaching for over 40 years, she is now a bi-lingual pre-k teacher. She had a kid last year with a severe peanut allergy. I can ask how they dealt with that in other areas. I know in her room they had to take precautions sending letters to the other parents about bringing foods/snacks and the school had to source certain brands of products and snacks for the kids.

Thank you! I also have memory loss and cognition problems which were diagnosed by a neuropsychologist before my celiac diagnosis but AFTER I had been gluten free for two years. 

I am a preschool music teacher part of the time and the rest of the time I am a assistant preschool teacher. I am almost done with school. The music teaching part is nice because I do not have to touch food and have minimal exposure. My problem is when they use oats in their sensory. It gets everywhere! So does the play dough. I know how to make GF play dough but my directors, though supportive, cringe at the cost of GF flour. We luckily provide the children's food. And most of it is GF. But some of the snacks are NOT. Like pretzels, animal crackers and crackers. Some teachers are very sensitive to my condition and they ask me if I would like the GF crackers in my room instead of the Gluten crackers but that cannot happen with all the snacks.

 

 

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2 hours ago, pschwab said:

I can approach the preschool topic from a parent side and high school teacher side. I don't personally have celiac but my three year old does. He attends a preschool part time. I know many of their snacks are full of gluten (we send alternates); could you wear gloves while helping with snack and cleaning up? We also provide gluten free play doh, oats, etc for the sensory table. His room is as gluten free as we can make it. I would wait until you are interviewing for your more permanent teaching position once your practicum is done, and then have a frank discussion with the school about your celiac. It's not that much more expensive for them to purchase gluten free supplies at the beginning of the year, and you will probably have a classroom budget to work with. You will find yourself paying your own money as a teacher anyway for school supplies (me every year), so make sure to include that deduction on your taxes ( it's not much but better than nothing). I think the important thing is to have a serious discussion with the school. Point out that your job is your passion, and it would be easy to modify so you can work at your peak healthy level for the kids you love. I know money is always an issue with schools so be sure to bring in some figures showing that supplies can be bought that are gluten free and not that much more expensive. Also point out that celiac (and gluten allergies/intolerance) is being diagnosed in more kids that age, so it might attract more parents to the school if they know it's a safer space for their kids. I know most preschools are nut free, but I personally would love to see more celiac friendly facilities. Hope this helps!

Thank you for your response! My job is not my practicum job but it is a permanent job. I am their music teacher for two hours in the mornings and then the rest of the day I am the co teacher or assistant teacher in the preschool room (3-4 yr olds). I did tell them I have celiac. I am going to approach it again, they are super supportive so I think I can make our room GF. I may have to buy the GF oats (what brand do you get yours for your child's class?) And I think Costco might have flour I can use to make GF play dough for the kids.

Yes my preschool is nut free and that is a good thing too because I have a tree nut allergy as well. We are also mostly GF. Our chef is GF, not because of celiac, and she cooks most of the food GF but there are a few gluten dishes like our sandwich thin sloppy joes which was yesterday. I wear gloves at all times when I handle any food. ;)

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I did a post earlier in foods, about GF alternatives, Glutenfreeoats has bulk oats you can order GF, GERBS Allergen Friendly foods has dried fruits, seeds, etc free of all major allergens, Enjoy Life has some more allergen friendly foods, and Authentic Foods has a bunch a GF single based flours. Perhaps the cheaper garbanzo bean or potato starch flours might be more economical. I will link the post with the web domains this evening when I get home.

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