SCAN before you think you CAN

My 5 year old Ky is the King of Styes. For whatever reason (either dirty fingers or dirty gut!), the most perfectly puss-filled pimple will form out of the corner of his eyelid just about every other month like clockwork. In fact, his styes have become so regular that the rhyme “My name is Ky, and I got a stye on my eye!” is almost always followed by an immediate chuckle in our household. As soon as a new little sucker would appear, my husband and I would run for our tube of Stye, Sterile Lubricant Eye Ointment. Although this product is not meant to treat eye infections related to styes, but rather to provide relief for their symptoms, we’ve always believed that it’s played a key role in Kyle’s healing process.

When Kyle was officially diagnosed with Celiac Disease in June of 2017, his dietician sat down with us and went over the importance of always checking the ingredients found in everything entering Kyle’s system to be certain that they are free of gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and malt. She further recommended downloading the Gluten Free Scanner app to double check ourselves. Essentially, there are no apps that can be trusted 100% of the time, yet I generally trust this app when time is of the essence. When I’m grocery shopping and a new product sparks my interest, I’ll whip out my phone, scan the product bar code and in mere seconds I know whether I’m tossing it in my cart or back on the shelf. Occasionally products will say they are gluten free, yet they come up as “may contain gluten” in the app. Even if I don’t see the words wheat, barley, rye, or malt in the ingredients label, I find myself trusting that app instinct and scanning the shelves for a replacement product. I also won’t have much to show at the check out if a product doesn’t show up in the app. I’m a big fan of Costco, yet many Costco products currently do not exist in the Gluten Free Scanner app. I hope that the app continues to expand its content to make “on the go gluten free shoppers” even more content.

While this has become my summer of scanning, I typically reserve my scanning for food. It’s easy to forget that other substances may enter my child’s system. One morning in July, Kyle’s bimonthly stye made it’s nasty appearance. I ran for our tube of Stye, Lubricant Eye Ointment, put it on him, and was about to place it back in the medicine cabinet, when out of habit, I reached for my scanner. And wow, was I ever wowed. And not the good wowed, but the WHAT?!? wowed. I couldn’t believe it: contains gluten! Here I had worked so hard to keep Kyle gluten free for the past month, and I had just, unknowingly, injected gluten into his system. I turned the ointment box around, and low and behold. There it was. Right on the label. The phrase wheat germ. Who would have thunk it? The Gluten Free Scanner app may have it’s flaws. It may say “may contain gluten” even if a product is actually gluten free. It may not contain every product stocked on every shelf of every store. But in this single case, it was more than just another time saver. It was a real life saver.

Kyle’s dietician warned us that we’d make mistakes along the way. Thankfully this mistake has served as a reminder of how important it is to check EVERYTHING that goes into our child’s system (of course foods, but also medications, ointments, play doughs, toothpastes, etc.). Check the labels, google the products, download the app, and SCAN before you think you CAN.

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