29 Oct Life as an Allergy Mum
For me, this is the hardest blog I have written yet. My oldest daughter has severe allergies and every day is a challenge.
The first year of my daughter’s life we had noticed she would sometimes get hives and we never knew what caused it. The doctor always said to just keep an eye on it but it would no doubt be fine. I was a typical first-time mum and I was always so paranoid about trying her with certain things. To be safe, I tended to stay on the safe side.
She was always fussy with food when she was little and would avoid certain things, looking back she often would not eat things that hurt her inside. Even at a young age, she had some form of comprehension even if we did not.
The first time we knew that a real allergy was present was Easter Sunday 2017. She was one. I decided to try her with scrambled eggs for the first time. Thankfully she decided she didn’t want to eat this unusual food and instead of ingesting it, she started playing with it and throwing it around. Not unusual for a one-year-old! Almost immediately we noticed huge hives developing on her arms that continued to spread. We phoned NHS 24 as her eyes were also starting to swell up and close. We took her straight in and they confirmed it was a severe egg allergy. I had never been so frightened in my entire life!
We adjusted things in our day-to-day life, not knowing that this was just the first of many allergies to be discovered.
The next allergy that presented itself next, was lentils. I had tried her with lentil soup twice and both times she vomited within seconds. We then discovered peas were another to add to the list. This one made sense now as she never ate them and pushed them to the side of her plate.
We had our first meeting with an allergy specialist and she confirmed that she was allergic to eggs and pulses. I had been reading up and asked her about a nut allergy as I had read they can go hand in hand with an egg allergy. She told me it was still very unlikely that she would have an allergy to nuts.
Nevertheless, my husband and I felt terrified and we never tried her with any kind of nut. One day when I was visiting family she took a few crunchy nut cornflakes out of a breakfast bowl and within seconds she had trouble breathing. She started vomiting, coughing, and developing hives. My worst fear was confirmed. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I was helpless.
Once again the doctor confirmed she had an allergy, this time to peanuts and we were informed that it was likely that all other nuts would cause a reaction also. We had to be a nut-free house, along with anyone else that she has any regular contact with.
Thankfully we were issued with Epi-Pens and we take them with us everywhere we go. Many items in our house took a trip to the bin. I felt like I was living in a daze, it didn’t feel real to me.
She has since had a severe reaction to almonds (after touching cuticle oil) in which we had to phone an ambulance. For anyone worrying about allergies for their little ones always make sure, hand creams and cuticle oils do not contain nuts. Most cuticle oils contain sweet almond oil.
She has had so many reactions when we have been out at soft plays or eating out. We have had to completely educate ourselves so we can do our best to keep her safe at all times.
We want her to have as normal a life as possible especially as she will have so many limitations growing up. People don’t make it easy. A lot of the time we are met with a, do so at your own risk attitude and this just frustrates and aggravates me to the hilt.
What I have realised is, people don’t get it and if I’m honest, neither did I before this happened. If there is one message I could give to parents out there, sending their kids to school, it’s this. Please, if your child has had nuts before going to school, make sure they wash their hands. It could save another child’s life.
One amazing thing is the understanding our daughter has. She is unbelievable. She knows at age four what she can and can’t have. She will not eat anything foreign to her and will always ask others to check the ingredients. I am so proud of her.
We discovered a few months ago a wonderful book called, Me and My Injector Pen, by Suki Bhachu. This book is a must for little ones with allergies. It’s a fun way to educate them on the use of their epi-pen. I love how it’s written in a non frightening way and on a level kids can relate to.
I have always been a worrier and do struggle with anxiety. I found the only thing that got me and gets me through is prayer. I know I cannot control this situation and that is what I struggle with the most.
In lockdown, I have embraced the fact that she has been with me and I know she is safe. When school starts back in August the fear will return tenfold.
On a positive note, the schools are excellent and take allergies very seriously. That is such a relief, to know your child is being kept safe when they are not with you. Also, the support network of family and friends is wonderful and completely necessary to help keep your little one safe.
To other families out there in the same boat, take one day at a time and focus on the good, it always outweighs the bad.
Love and prayers – Shelly x