Monday, July 23, 2012

His Allergy, His Life

Have you ever walked into a school classroom or a day camp and noticed one of these signs?

That's my son they're talking about. Well, it's him and usually at least 1 or 2 other kids in the class. In my daughter's class there was 4 kids out of 22 with anaphylactic allergies. It's something that is becoming more common and more talked about and yet I still see people who don't understand how serious it really is.

My son is allergic to Tree Nuts. More specifically he's allergic to pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and pine nuts. I know, who would have thought pine nuts?! It means he can't eat Nutella, he can never eat pesto sauce, he can't try some of my favourite dishes from the local Indian or Thai restaurants, nor many types of chocolates or ice creams due to cross contamination.

What happens if he comes into contact with his allergy? He goes into anaphylactic shock. The doctors have told us that within minutes (possibly seconds) of his next exposure to any of those nuts means his face and throat will swell to the point where he won't be able to breathe. He will have abdominal pain, a fall in blood pressure and possibly fluid in his lungs. The symptoms are endless. Based on his last exposure, watching his little face swell beyond recognition, it's simply something that we never, ever want to happen again.

What does he need to live after exposure? An ambulance to get him to a hospital. He carries an EpiPen but that will only help to open his airways for 10 - 20 minutes so it's essential he gets immediate medical attention. I had someone ask me if he would need help administering it. YES, he's 4, of course he'll need help but even older kids would need help because they'll likely be in a panic because they can't breathe.

Basically what I'm asking is if you see the above sign, or one like it stating someone has an allergy, please take a moment to ask the instructors what the allergy is. Sometimes you don't have to do anything but sometimes making a few slight modifications on a lunch or snack you would normally send along could mean saving the life of someone like my little Ham.


  1. Great post! My 4 year old is anaphylactic to milk, eggs, peanuts and tree nuts. My 2 year old is anaphylactic to peanuts and allergic to sunflower seeds. So I totally understand! It's so scary for us! People are always asking me what my son can eat being allergic to so many thing. It's hard to explain. Milk especially is in EVERYTHING. I'm sending him to preschool this fall and am scared. I'll be showing his teacher how to use the epi-pen and explaining about cross contamination. People can easily avoid giving your child something, but if the teacher passes out goldfish (and doesn't give them to my son) and then passes out ritz, the cheesy goldfish are on the ritz he will receive. Scary!

    1. One of the kids in my little Ham's preschool class is anaphylactic to dairy, eggs and tree nuts. I was impressed how the teacher's took care of them :) They have a photo of each kid with an allergy and a list of their allergies in the kitchen/snack room and the kids with allergies have their own placemats the other kids can't use.

      Instead of bringing cupcakes for someone's birthday no food is allowed so parents bring small containers of bubbles, or a pencil to hand out to each kid. The kids honestly don't care what they get, as long as they get something!

      Leaving him the first day was hard but I felt much better knowing the teachers cared so much about his safety.

      Good luck!