Before my little boy Antonio had his first anaphylactic reaction, I knew little of it and could not even spell the word! Now our family always carry an ‘Epinephrine auto –injector’ wherever we go and we’re always examining food labels for allergens that may send our precious little boy into shock.
But I am getting way ahead of myself. Let me take you back about 4 years to the day that changed our families lives forever. I'll never forget it.
I was on tour with The Wiggles (I spend over half the year away touring around the world, singing songs with three other Wiggles, a dinosaur, an Octopus, a dancing 6-foot dog and a pirate who tickles people! Ahh my life!). We were in New Zealand – you know the country that sadly (always!) beats Australia at Rugby. We were driving in between venues, looking at the great New Zealand sights. My mobile phone starts ringing and being the responsible driver that I am, I pull over and answer it.
It was my wife Miki. She was crying, talking inside an ambulance. She said, "They are taking Antonio to hospital!" My blood ran cold. I could hear her panic.My mind starte racing. Had he fallen over? Broken his arm? What could it be? Miki quickly told me he was eating a peanut butter sandwich as he had for the past 10 months or so when his breathing became very shallow like he was choking. He started scratching his chest and said it was hurting him. His lips swelled as did around his eyes and hives had started appearing on his body. Antonio became listless and his quick-thinking aunty Maureen called the ambulance and called Miki who was at the supermarket.
Antonio was quickly taken in the ambulance, joined by Miki. He was given a shot from the Epinephrine auto -injector by the ambulance officer, taken to hospital and after 4 hours was discharged and allowed to go home.
Tests followed, all carried out in hospital and visits to medical specialists. It became clear Antonio was anaphylactic and the triggers were peanuts and locust bean gum .
Our whole family – grandparents, aunties, uncles, brothers, sister and cousins were made aware of Antonio's condition whenever we met for family parties. It’s so easy for someone to offer him a nut or a lolly/jelly with locust bean gum and we couldn’t afford to take that risk. Antonio's sisters became practiced at using the Epi pen, just in case and we regularly checked Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s website for any insights into how to make life easier and safer for Antonio.