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.