My son is not allowed to eat birthday cake, ever. It’s something I’m challenged about often and I’m pretty sick of having to explain myself.
The first time I was confronted was at a family function a few years ago. My son and I were lined up at the dessert table, plates in hand and were looking forward to seeing what was on offer. We reached the table and both excitedly surveyed the food. There wasn’t one thing I could allow him to have. Not one.
“You can’t have any of this darling, I’m sorry,” I said, after observing the birthday cake, cupcakes, biscuits, jelly, custard cups and other delicious treats.
“That’s okay mum,” he said, a little dejectedly. Then, a stranger who was standing behind us said, “Wow, a bit harsh mum. Should I get him a carrot stick?”
I turned around to confront the person I suspected was in fact a distant cousin and said, “It’s not because he’s on a diet, he has food allergies. He’s allergic to all of this.” The guy scoffed, actually scoffed. Clearly he had no idea what one mouthful of these foods could do to my son.
Philip has explained it to me often. He’s told me exactly what anaphylaxis feels like to him. He said it starts with pain inside that makes him scratch his throat and skin. “It’s not itchy mum, it’s more like pain inside me. Then I feel sad and in pain and I just want it to stop mum.”
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Alphapharm. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100 per cent authentic and written in her own words.
Here’s what it looks like on my end. My previously happy and healthy boy becomes agitated. “I’m having my reaction mum,” he normally says before beginning to hysterically cry. Apparently, the crying is brought on by an overwhelming sense of fear and dread, that is, the body sensing impending death and entering panic mode. He looks flushed, the bridge of his nose begins to swell and his skin appears patchy.
By the time I retrieve his emergency medicine and come back, he is pacing around the room or jumping up and down on the spot, which has the sad effect of speeding up the reaction. I grab my child, pull him onto my lap facing away from me, press the injector into his thigh and count to 10 slowly while my husband calls for an ambulance. I’ve only had to do this once.
Other times the reaction has been minor and he’s come back from it without his life-saving injection. Then there are the ‘food challenges’ we do each year at the hospital. He is fed foods that should be safe. Twice he’s reacted and had an alarming number of doctors and nurses frantically try to stop the allergic reaction.