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The night Chezzi Denyer almost died and the words she mouthed to her family.

“I looked at my husband and he said ‘do we panic do we panic, you tell me when we panic’. Then Sailor was like ‘mum do we panic!?’

“Inside it took me straight back. I’ve had lots of counselling, but it was that underlying thought where you feel like you’re playing with life and death.”

Two weeks ago Chezzi Denyer, 39, watched on as her eldest daughter Sailor, seven, had a severe allergic reaction and she was immediately brought back to the moment she nearly lost her own life from anaphylaxis shock.

Her experience when she was aged 32, was so bad it had her mouthing to her husband – TV presenter and 2DAY FM radio host Grant Denyer; “tell Sailor I love her” as she vomited and struggled to breathe.

Side note: Having allergies is easier when we help others who have them. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

“They said at the hospital if I had arrived five minutes later, I wouldn’t have survived,” Chezzi told Mamamia.

“It caused me a lot of grief. I received counselling for post traumatic stress disorder. I thought I was gone,” she added.

After extensive tests the reason for Chezzi’s severe reaction was uncovered. She’d always had allergies, but nothing to overly worry about.

But a combination of unknowingly ingesting cat hair from the carpet of her home [ from the previous owners] and sleeping with a wattle tree she was allergic to outside her window – Chezzi didn’t realise she was in the process of creating a perfect storm.

A glass of red wine that night for dinner was the final straw for Chezzi’s immune system. She had an immediate reaction that saw her on the floor unable to breathe.

Sailor was 18 months old at the time of Chezzi’s attack, but it wasn’t until Sailor was about four that her allergies presented themselves.

Denyer family
Both Chezzi and Sailor are allergic to the grasses around their farm along with a long list of other things. Sailor's most recent reaction means she now has to carry an epipen.
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"She wanted some of Grant's paleo cereal and she had a moderate reaction to cashew. Her face swelled up, she had puffy eyes and hives on her lips.

"We went and got her tested, she had an allergy to cashews and a slight allergy to pistachios. We've managed it well [since then]. Or so I thought. We hadn't taken her back to have it checked, which was a mistake," explained Chezzi.

Sailor was eating breakfast at a hotel buffet recently, when she started to get a reaction.

"It didn't make sense, she was just eating some watermelon. Within half an hour she said 'my throat feels weird I can't swallow properly.' I turned around and she had hives on her lips. I didn't have anything [medicine] to give her," said Chezzi.

The family rushed to a pharmacy after managing to get a script over the phone from a doctor, and were able to treat Sailor immediately with steroids and a double dose of antihistamines.

"We took her back to the allergists, and her histamine levels were out of control. They were all elevated, which I guess partly we now know, is because she is allergic to two particular grasses around our house. So that made the perfect storm for her. She's now also allergic to peanuts, avocado, and oranges which she wasn't before," said Chezzi.

 

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Any parent with a child with allergies knows what this photo is about. Allergy testing. It hurts. It’s scary. It’s hard to watch for a Mum. It’s itchy, irritating. It’s frustrating. But, it can be life saving. Yes, allergies can be fatal. And the number of people developing serious allergies in Australia is skyrocketing.. And really, we have no idea why. It’s petrifying for parents. Living on edge that one small cross contamination with a nut, a grain, a fruit, a chemical could kill your child in an instant. Part of my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was related to me myself having an anaphylactic reaction when Sailor was 18months old. And they still haven’t been able to tell me exactly what caused it. Only that my histamines were through the roof because the previous owners of the house we bought had cats. I had eaten and drunk things that day that pushed my immune system over the threshold, and boom I arrive at hospital close to death, unable to breathe with swollen lips, eyes closed over and swollen tongue. They cut my clothes off me and put the paddles on my chest and at the same time gave me a large shot of Adrenalin. And in 6 hours I was released home under the guidance of an Allergist who tried to work out how all of a sudden at the age of 32 I had such a severe reaction. It was terrifying. As my Husband drove me to hospital, I was throwing up and struggling to breathe. And it happened so quick. It was so unexpected. Thankfully, my Husband was able to be calmed by my Sister Linda who knows firsthand about allergies due to serious allergies with her eldest daughter. Her advice to Grant at that time, and Grant’s quick thinking and driving skills saved my life that day. I remember it well.. But this post isn’t about me, it’s about my little Sailor and every other child and parent dealing with allergies.. These are Sailor’s little arms pricked with different drops of various things we suspect she could be allergic to. And unfortunately her reactions are worse than 3 years ago. She’s very allergic to grass we have around our house. She’s also now developed a reaction to peanuts for the first time. Also Oranges and Avocados. So we’ll carry an Epi-pen...

A post shared by chezzidenyer (@chezzidenyer) on

Dr Preeti Joshi is a paediatric allergist and explained to Mamamia that allergies can develop in some people over time.

"It's not as cut and dry as some of the other diseases we might be treating where it's a standard protocol [to treat it].

"It's such an individual thing. You can have a relatively mild reaction one day, and then on another day you could have a worse reaction. There are so many different variables that can dictate that.

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"If you've had a virus that can heighten your immune system. If you've had certain things like alcohol - that can worsen the speed of your reaction. If you've been exercising and are then exposed, that might heighten it," said Dr Joshi.

Dr Joshi also explained  that someone might not be allergic to for example egg baked into muffin, but they might be allergic to raw egg or plain egg.

"There are so many variables, and the variables can change," she said.

Sailor now carries an epipen which she has been learning how to use over the past few days. She'll have to keep one at home and one at school from now on.

denyer girls
Sailor's younger sister Scout hasn't shown any signs of having allergies. But she's only three. Sailor was four when hers emerged.

Chezzi hopes that by sharing their story, it will encourage other families to be aware of the risks.

"There are so many people with allergies, and people like me who didn't have it badly until 32, and all of a sudden nearly dying. It's scary. I urge any parent if they have any worries or any inkling to get it checked out," Chezzi told Mamamia.

Dr Joshi says while the skin prick test is important, it's not the only thing they go by. She gave Mamamia this advice should anyone be wondering how often you might need to 'check' your allergies.

"It depends on the age, the allergy they have and any other problems present. If you have a teenager who has an established peanut allergy you might only need to go back every 1-2 years.

"If you have a little baby or a child and things are changing quite rapidly we know the majority of younger kids can grow out of allergies - so that might be more of a six months to one year kind of check in," she advised.

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