“What do you mean I can’t take peanut butter to school? Just ‘cause some other kid’s allergic doesn’t mean I should suffer.”
The year was 1995, I was in Grade 5, and a new kid with allergies had just moved to town. His inclusion in Mr. Kingsland’s class meant my favourite savoury spread was outlawed. A total ban. My peanut butter sandwiches were all of a sudden, a thing of the past. And I was angry, “Just ‘cause he’s weak doesn’t mean I should starve.” I always did have a flair for the dramatic. Fast forward more than 20 years and man-oh-man how my outlook has changed.
My beautiful wife and I have one daughter, Matilda, who’s nearly four and in my eyes, perfect. This is despite her anaphylaxis, the condition that means nuts, raw eggs, shellfish and even a humble citrus seed could cause a severe allergic reaction and end her life. How something so small can inflict such a response for a select few, I’ll never understand. And to be honest, despite her condition we really do consider ourselves the lucky ones.
You see my little girl is fortunate enough to live in a modern world where a sweet little device called an epi-pen exists. She has one with her every second of every day. Putting it simply, an epi-pen is a single shot of pure adrenalin that counteracts the effects of allergic reactions. This little God-send device has already saved her once. So yes, we rate them pretty highly.
But back to the peanut butter sandwiches. Now, what actually prompted me to write this particular column on anaphylaxis is the sign that is on the front of my daughter’s daycare. It explains that her particular Goodstart centre is a nut, raw egg, shellfish and citrus seed free zone. My wife and I appreciate that feeding children is hard enough without having a list of ‘can’t haves’, and it doesn’t escape our attention that this is a sacrifice other parents and kids have to make, but this is a sacrifice that might well save our daughter’s life.
So, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you, parents and kids. You’re awesome. We as a family really do appreciate it.
We would also like to put a huge shout out to the amazing team at Goodstart Golf Links Drive and the Allergy Medical Centre. Together you guys have supported us through this process from day one, and for that, we will be forever grateful.
P.S. Vegemite sandwiches forever!