Monday, October 31, 2011

Additional Information for an Anaphylaxis Emergency

It's been over a month since our first experience with an Anaphylaxis emergency so there's been a bit of time to digest it all. Since then, our son has returned to Childcare, but after 3 weeks, we had another milder incident where he started wheezing quite badly, sounding like an asthmatic. The worst part of this was not his illness, since he was actually chatting non-stop through it all, showing he couldn't have been that distressed. The worst part was that my husband and I had finally planned to both take a day off while our son was in care... this was our first "date" in a year! We were just about to go out on our lunch date when we got the call... I nearly cried.

So off to the GP we went. We think it was another allergic reaction, but again there was no identifiable cause. It took the Zyrtec a little while to kick in, so we still got the asthma medication as a back up. Plus the silicone mask, plus the chamber they recommend for young kids. Oh yeah, better get two of everything, one for us, one for childcare... the costs are crazy!

This second reaction was quite different from anything we've had before. The only thing I've narrowed it down to is that the childcare had recently got a gold fish and our son's friend had fed the fish that morning, by tipping the container. The fish food has Krill in it... I'm guessing that if our son is allergic to prawns, he's probably allergic to krill... so there you go, our son can't feed fish either, and all the kids have to wash their hands immediately after.

Anyway, I'd better get down to business. Here are the things we've now added to our emergency bags. We have an emergency bag in each of our cars, in addition to whatever we might carry on a normal outing.
- a full change of clothes - as soon as our son has a reaction, we will change him completely in case any more contaminant remains on his clothes.
- a plentiful supply of wet wipes - while we were waiting in hospital for over 4 hours after the adrenaline injection, you wouldn't believe how many times we had to wipe his hands, or our hands, or the furniture around us.
- long life food - 4 hours is a long time and although we could survive on vending machine food, it's not an option for a highly allergic kid. We have an unopened pack of Chang's crunchy noodles ready at all times now. In our recent time at hospital, it was fortunate that my husband and I were both present. My husband stayed with our son in hospital while I made the mad dash to the nearby shops for food for our son's dinner. The area wasn't familiar, so my only option ended up being the fruit shop. I bought nearly every fruit and veg our son could eat without cooking, a bottle of water, some extra wet wipes, and a little bit of food for ourselves. My husband had actually been interstate just a few days before. So if the timing wasn't as perfect, I would have been the only person to keep my son company... and a trip to the shops would not have been an option. You see? All these things you just don't think of! Up till now of course. The other option is putting a hiatus on long trips for my husband... that's in place too... at least for a little while.
- my normal outing bag now also contains a small bottle of antihistimine Zyrtec, next to the Epipen. I realised that if we started to have a mild reaction, it's better to start off with the Zyrtec, rather than having to go to the Epipen straight away. I didn't realise they have a concentrated serum - much more convenient to carry.
- a copy of our safe foods list, along with all doctor's information. I still have to put a copy of this on the blog - I'm really quite proud of it, especially after getting such praise from the medical staff when it came with our son in the ambulance. I promise I'll get to this soon - I just have to hop on the right computer to download it.

So that's it so far, all the extra things that make all the difference. In the end though, the timing was as good as it possibly could be, given the situation. For that I am always grateful... plus the fact that our son recovered just fine of course. A mother's only wish.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


There are many theories on grief in counselling circles. They used to say you would move from one stage to another, but nowadays, there's an acknowledgement that we are more likely to jump around from one stage to another and back again. Anniversaries or significant events often trigger more intense feelings. This means that birthdays, Christmas, any other food-related event can be a reminder or what's been lost.

So for allergies, grief comes because we've lost a way of life, we've lost a freedom that we took for granted. We have also lost the dreams of what we thought life would look like for our child. I was just watching a movie the other day and it dawned on me that our son would not be able to simply kiss a girl when he is a teenager, incase she had just drunk cow's milk. Can you imagine a teenage boy asking a girl to first brush her teeth before they kissed? Forget it! So that means, a kiss could be lethal... just like in the horror films, except this is everyday life for him. Sigh, all I can be grateful for is that he is only two now. Grief is a big part of dealing with food allergies, and how we deal with this grief can determine whether we continue to move on, or whether we get stuck.

These are some basic stages of grief and examples of what it sounds like in everyday life:
Denial or shock - "I can't believe this is happening... it can't be true"
Anger - "I hate this... I hate everything... it's not fair"
Guilt - "If only I hadn't done it like that...Maybe I should have done things differently?"
Bargaining - "God, if I do/don't do this, will you make it all better?"
Acceptance - "My life is different now. What else can I do now?"

I'm guessing that as our boy grows up, we'll go through each of these stages again. Each year brings new realisations about allergies and what it means for our son and for us as parents.

I do live in hope that the allergies will decrease or maybe even disappear, but part of what helps me accept this way of life is when I can find ways in which my life or perhaps the life of another is helped by us having to travel this journey.

"For God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him
and are called according to His will." Romans 8:28.

Yes, somehow, someway, our son's allergies will be used for good. I hope this is true for you too in whatever challenges you face.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pleasant surprises for an allergy mum

It's October and I'm a little fatigued by the number of birthday parties we've been to. Our son is 2 and I think we've been to nearly 10 this year! I've read of other mums just saying no to parties, but our son is very sociable and really does love going... of course! But each party brings extra work and stress for the parents of allergy kids. There are a lot of reasons to complain about the in-sensitivity of many people we meet, but today, I had the priviledge to think about the generosity and sensitivity of people we've met.

We went to a 3 year old birthday party today of a boy our child met through childcare. I had never met the parents, nor any of the other people at the party so I was a little hesitant about going - it's hard enough when we know only half the people there, and we have to be on super alert to watch that our son doesn't touch anything that's going to kill him. When it's all strangers... I did tell the mum before hand that she didn't need to order any food for our son since we'd be bringing all his food.

I still am amazed... during the party, the birthday boy's mother came up with a special present just for our son, since he wasn't able to eat the party food.... it was a toy monster truck! Our son's absolute favourite at the moment. So in the end, rather than our son feeling like he had been left out, he left feeling like he was the most special boy in the world... well, along side the birthday boy :-)

Then it reminded me of another mum who specifically asked what brand and flavour jelly our son can eat and made those jellies for her daughter's birthday party. Plus, the goody bag had raisins in it, the exact brand that our son has.

Such special effort from people I have just met or I have known for a while... it doesn't make any difference. But it's nice to take the time to remember just how many lovely and considerate people are out there, and that we are blessed in extra ways because of the allergies our son has.

Thank you Maria and Helene, your consideration has warmed my heart and the heart of my son.