So today marks the start of allergy awareness week for 2016 (15 – 21 May) and while I hadn’t planned to post anything about it, I feel it’s a subject that needs more exposure. Currently 1 in 10 babies born in Australia will develop a food allergy and this rate is growing.
You see I’m one of those parents, yes I’m the reason your child can’t take peanut butter to school. But don’t worry, if you were to exclude everything that could kill my kids from school it would mean you wouldn’t be taking anything with nuts, eggs or dairy to your local education center. Now think about that again, “that could kill my kids” because for us that’s the fear we live with everyday. You see everyday we put the care of our kids into the hands of educators and the community of their school and hope that today isn’t the day that we receive that phone call. Do you know what it’s like being an allergy parent and seeing the schools number pop up on your phone? Well when it happens to me my heart stops, I get a lump in my throat and I grab my keys and head for the car as I’m answering the phone mentally making a decision if I head to the school or meet the ambulance at the hospital.
Oh and by the way, giving my son a little bit of egg won’t build a tolerance to his allergy, instead it causes his throat to swell, it causes his tongue to grow so large it won’t fit in his mouth and his eyes to close to the point he can no longer see. Now that this has happened he can’t breath, he can’t see and he knows what comes next, a needle about an inch long gets jabbed into his thigh and then held there for 10 seconds. This isn’t to save his life, this is just to hold him for a few minutes until the ambulance arrives with more drugs.
Do you know what it’s like to never be able to go out as a family for lunch or dinner? Just think about that for a second, ever been out for the day, been caught short so you just find somewhere to eat? Ever gone out to celebrate a birthday or an event with family at a restaurant? Well as a family we haven’t, if we’re out for the day and forget to take enough food then our kids have to wait until we get home or find a supermarket. Our eldest son is allergic to eggs and nuts and some places can cater to that but our youngest son is allergic to dairy. Between the two we have no nuts, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, cream and so many other stupid products that contain this stuff. So yes, if we’re heading out of the house we literally take a packed lunch along with all the emergency medication.
I’m not going to bang on about this further instead I’m going to ask you to do a few simple things. Firstly go to http://www.foodallergyaware.com.au and have a bit of a look around. Secondly paint one fingernail, it’s ok no one going to think anything different of you but by doing so they will ask you about it and you can can tell them about allergy awareness. Thirdly change your profile picture to one of the badges available from the free resources here http://www.foodallergyaware.com.au/resources/ Fourthly, adopt an allergy, now this will be to scary for most but I dare you to try. Pick one of the top food allergies nuts, eggs or dairy and go for a day without consuming these products, sound easy? Well start flipping over all those packets of food and start reading all those ingredients. If you really think it’s easy try going for a whole week or try going out to eat and asking the wait staff for what you can have with anaphylaxis to dairy.
And I will leave with one final thought, the next time that note comes home from school or you hear about an allergy just stop and think, stop and think what it really means. How would you feel if your child took a bite from the wrong food that would led them to stop breathing.