A friend of mine was recently stung by a bee and recounts a terrifying story of his journey to the hospital to get the treatment he required to survive. He now carries a number of EpiPens.
He is not alone.
My three girls all have nut and sesame allergies. My three girls all carry EpiPens. Each school year begins with making sure their medical supplies and action plans are up to date. There’s the discussions with teachers to remind them of the severity of their allergies and to please ask parents not to let their children bring gifts of food to school like chocolates at Easter and Christmas.
I’ve watched my youngest girl struggle to breathe, her face and lips swollen and covered with hives. I’ve seen hospital staff emerge from all directions , administering life saving medical support, needles, oxygen… a blur of activity while I looked on in a cloud of fear. She touched some peanut butter toast to her lips, one small bite consumed. Having seen our eldest child react to allergies, I was aware of the symptoms. I knew what was happening. So many people do not. It happens so very fast – it’s a race against time. I wrote about our experience here.
When in doubt ring an ambulance. Keep Zyrtec in your fridge for instant relief. Take some time out of your busy day to read about allergic reactions. Learn how to use an EpiPen just in case someone needs your help.
Then reassess your attitude to school lunch boxes, shared play spaces, kid’s birthday parties as the gorgeous Pip Lincolne wrote recently. Always ask children if they have an allergy before offering them food – kids know what they can and can’t eat, but they are children, they are easily distracted, sometimes shy or just embarrassed. If you put a cake, ice-cream or chocolate in front of them they will not even think twice. If their parents aren’t there to do “the swoop” (this is when you walk into a room, playground, house etc and you pinpoint every danger, you remind your children what not to eat it or you kindly ask for food to be put into a safe place away from young hands. You ask if there’s nuts or sesame or (insert food here) – you do the legwork to protect your children) – then please do “the swoop” for them. I always feel pushy when asking people over to our house to bring no food with dangerous ingredients. I feel awkward doing “the swoop”. I feel weird having to do that every single time we go anywhere, but then I remind myself it is for my children’s life. And if someone else was in the same position they to would also do the “swoop”. I feel scared about our children as they grow older and gain independence, go on school camps and sleepovers. I can not protect them all of the time.
My kids are my world.
Please do something for me, my children and for those people who have life threatening allergies – read the information here and watch this video on how to use an EpiPen. And then please encourage people you know to do the same – education is power.
You could save a life.
Have you ever had to use an EpiPen? Do you know someone with an allergy?