by JO ABI
My first-born son has severe food allergies. He couldn’t keep my breast milk down and was diagnosed with allergies to egg and tree nuts at 18 months.
Keeping him alive is a daily struggle.
When Philip eats egg or tree nuts his body over-reacts to the protein. His immune system is overly-sensitive and it mistakes the protein in these foods as poison. It immediately tries to block his airways to stop the ‘poison’ getting in, causing his nose and throat to swell. He suffocates in minutes.
When Philip is having an allergic reaction my first clue is his distress. He is overcome with an unexplained feeling of dread. The dread is his body warning him of what is about to occur. His face then becomes flushed and his eyes start to dart around looking for help. The bridge of his nose swells first. By this stage he is crying. He feels faint because he is having trouble breathing. He jumps up and down because a sensation of itchiness comes from the inside out.
I have moments to save his life. I get his ePipen from my handbag. I have one there, one in my kitchen cupboard, one at school, one at my sister’s house and one at my mum’s house.
I sit Philip on my lap facing away from me so his upper thigh presses against my upper thigh. Hugging him with my left arm to restrain him I inject him with my right hand directly into the large muscle of his upper thigh. We count to 10 slowly. After we’ve counted I take the needle out, rub the area and, still hugging him, call an ambulance.
I don’t know why food is killing our kids. I don’t know why so many kids are born with life-threatening food allergies. All I know is there are lots of ways our children can be injured and killed and now a piece of cake can kill mine.
I have given up full time work to care for him. He is almost 9. My biggest fear is that I’ll get him safely to 18 and then he’ll go out with friends and join them for Chinese food. He won’t have his ePipen on him because it’s too big to carry in his pocket. He’ll die in agony. I won’t be there to save him.
This week, a Victorian city council placed a ban on homemade cakes at kindergartens. The reason? Kids with allergies and not being able to know for sure what’s in home-baked goods. And I know that ban makes no sense for some people but for me? It’s a no brainer.
We wouldn’t keep dangerous poison in classrooms so keep the foods that are poisonous to my son out of classrooms too please because he has a right to be in a safe environment while he is too young to manage his allergy himself.
How bad would you feel if a cake you’d sent in killed my son? Who would you blame?
Please help me keep him safe.
It’s all about layers of protection. Ban the foods that create most problems, keep his medicine close by, teach people to use it and teach children about allergies.
We build fences around swimming pools. We teach them to swim. It’s the exact same thing. Please support all measures when it comes to kids and food allergies.
If you’re interested in finding out more about efforts to keep kids with allergies safe at school you can visit: www.triggerallergy.com.
Do your kids have allergies? Do you have allergies? What do you think of rules put in place by schools and councils?