My son was three when we discovered his allergies in the worst but best way possible.
Before I start this is the first time I have ever written our whole experience down, I have given brief summaries of what happened to people but never the whole story. I’m doing this now because I have started a campaign to get more allergy awareness into schools and I want parents out there to know a diagnosis of allergies is scary but you are not in this alone. I want people to take the time to understand what an allergic reaction is and why, we, allergy parents need to take it so seriously.
Thank you for taking the time to read Williams story.
We were living in Canada at the time and there was this one coffee shop we used to always visit. William would have his favourite berry smoothie and I would have (the mums must have) obligatory strong coffee.
One summer day, on one of our first outings as a family of four, we decided to pop by this coffee shop as a treat for a long day out running errands. William who was three at the time requested his normal treat, my husband and I had a coffee and Alex (newest addition to the family) was quite happy asleep in his pram.
We found a lovely table by the window for Will to watch the cars go by and settled in to enjoy our drinks. Within a few sips, William turned to us and said he felt “sicky”. Now, he had been playing up a bit when he didn’t get the balloon or toy he wanted, or when we had to leave the park, so we assumed this was another toddler moment. I told him he was fine.
He carried on and took another sip of the drink, then he said there was “hair on his tongue”. At this point, we thought he looked a bit pale so probably best we take him home. We left our drinks on the table and walked out. He kept saying that his tummy hurts and (to this day I regret what I did next) I told him off for being silly and not getting his own way.
By the time we got out of the car park William had quietened down, he started falling asleep and closing his eyes. We sang to try and keep him awake as I was worried about bedtime that was fast approaching. I carried him into the house, realising something wasn’t right and kept cuddling him and talking to him but he just stared at me. His lips were a funny colour.
We walked through our front door and he suddenly and violently he vomited everywhere, we still didn’t think much of it and thought it was a bug. And put that down his reason for being silly in the coffee shop.
It wasn’t until my husband took him upstairs for a bath that he saw the hives.
I heard him shout “DON’T PANIC BUT WE NEED TO TAKE WILLIAM TO THE HOSPITAL”. I ran upstairs and there was my baby, he was crying as he has just been sick again but his whole body was covered in hives. I had never seen anything like it before. Red huge hives everywhere on his little body.
I wanted to cuddle him but was afraid I would hurt him.
What the hell was this?!?
My husband had the common sense and composure to realise it could be an allergic reaction and sent me to find the first aid kit. I ran downstairs, found our first aid kit which contained anti-histamine and thankfully he took a dose.
We lived quite close to the hospital so ,my husband decided to drive him there and rushed him into A&E. I had to stay at home with our new born baby.
Due to the lack of phone signal in the hospital, I didn’t hear anything until 4 hours later. In that time I was going crazy, googling things on my phone with his symptoms, trying to piece the day together, where did I go wrong?
Finally I had a message to say he was stable.
What I found out later about Williams trip to hospital makes my blood boil.
Matt got him to hospital and the nurses looked over him , deemed it not serious and asked them to wait. William was in and out of consciousness, he raised this with them but nothing was done. Then William vomited twice in a row. And started gasping.
It was then and only then, they decided to have him seen straight away. The doctors administered a strong steroid dose and he was kept in for 24 hours to be monitored. They administered another dose a few hours later and were happy to send him home with the warning to be on the look out for a second reaction.
Thankfully they did warn us about a secondary reaction as a couple of hours later at home, we found him lying in a pool of water in his bed which he had vomited back up and slept through. We were lucky he was relatively conscious and secondly, didn’t choke on his vomit.
He spent the next few days going between his bed and the sofa for cartoons, we carried him everywhere as he didn’t have the strength to walk.
Three weeks after his allergic reaction, we met a consultant and discussed what had happened. After several tests, it was deemed the smoothie had a “new health beneficial ingredient” of flax seed placed in teeny tiny writing at the back of the bottle which caused his anaphylactic reaction. The quantity was meniscal but enough to almost kill my little boy.
William is now seven, we have spent the past 4 years educating ourselves on every aspect of allergy management. From our day to day life, to him starting school and finally enjoying birthday parties with friends.
His allergies have now increased to include peanuts, tree nuts, mustard, sesame and dogs. All of which he was exposed to before the reaction with no symptoms.
There is a minefield of information out there, but as his parents we are determined not to let his allergies control his life or the adventures he will go on. We have always told him, that his allergies will not stop him from achieving amazing things, it just means that he has to be more careful.
We are in this together, we are his family, positively allergic.