5 Things I Wish the Doctor Told Me When My Daughter Had Her First Anaphylactic Reaction

Photo by Daniele D’Andreti on Unsplash

I was barefoot and wallet-less the day I found out my daughter, Billie, had an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts. Eggs and most tree nuts were added to the “prone to anaphylactic reaction” list in the coming months.

Was expecting to do a quick pick up from my parent’s house, head home and catch the last online work meeting for the day.

Well — as we know, plans can change — in an instant.

When I arrived, I took one look at Billie and knew she needed help.

Her face was swelling to a point it was unrecognisable.

She was pulling at her throat and coughing.

At 20 months old, she didn’t have the vocabulary to tell me what was going on. Her body clearly showing something was not right though.

Billie had swiped some of my Mum’s peanut butter toast minutes before I got there. She had eaten it before, but this time she ended up with very different consequences.

I put her in the car with my mum sitting next to her and sped to the local chemist.

What I should have done is phone for an ambulance.

It was all new to me, and in the moment, I did what I thought was best.

The chemist was like — um no, not our department —quick, see the doctor next door.

We were rushed through. After a quick jab in her leg with adrenaline and an ambulance ride to the hospital — the emergency doctor was telling me Billie had had an anaphylactic reaction.

We are forever grateful to each of those who helped care for Billie that day. And each day since.

The emergency department was and is constantly filled with so much hustle and bustle; I completely understand how the care and attention from staff is stretched.

During the seven hours in observation, we were given a short video to watch that showed us how to use an epi-pen, filled a script for two epi-pens and was told to book in to see an allergist.

Billie, after she was almost back to herself — sitting up playing fun hats with “clean” spew bowls — her Penny toy had a whole other adventure that night when we accidentally left her behind — luckily because of her “uniqueness” she was found… phew! Photo my own

It all felt like a whirlwind.

A journey started that I had no idea would change our day-to-day life as much as it did.

This was the first time I had ever encountered allergies in my life—most of what I saw in the video forgotten in the stress of the moment.

It was 6 months until we could get in to see the allergist and Dr Google was terrifying!

As a new mother still figuring out how being a parent fit into my world, adding allergies and anaphylaxis to the mix, well — the combo was confusing, to say the least.

These days, thankfully, there are some amazing resources available, but still, I have heard from other parents of the newly diagnosed child kind, these nuggets of information aren’t given straight up. The waiting lists for specialists expanding to over 12 months now.

It is a seek and maybe find game while they wait.

These are 5 things I wish I could tell the Mum I was 6 years ago. Sharing them in hopes others may learn from my insights and avoid some of the pain and strain of walking into the unknown.

1. It is not your fault

I didn’t hear these words until a few weeks ago.

It wasn’t during an appointment either.

It was from a specialist hosting an allergy research seminar I went to at the hospital.

Instead, I got questions like,

“Didn’t you eat peanuts and eggs when you were pregnant?”
— Yeah, I did eat them

“Do allergies run in the family?”
— No, not that I know of – until now

Didn’t you feed your kid eggs and nuts before they were one?”
— Yep, did this too

Questions that made me feel like I could have done something to prevent my child from becoming anaphylactic.

A stigma that triggered a feeling of guilt in me. Guilt that I carried around for way longer than necessary.

The fact is, they don’t know exactly why people get allergies or anaphylaxis.

Or why the stats in Australia are currently at 1 in 10 children that will get diagnosed with allergies or anaphylaxis.

I have heard many theories and have some of my own, but none are 100% consistent or proven. There is no one answer that fits all.

The day I heard the words “it is not your fault” from someone with letters after their name — well — it felt like a massive weight had been lifted.

So please — let go of any guilt you may be holding on to. It ends up draining your energy. Energy that is needed to help your child and save your sanity.

The quest to find an exact reason has even the experts stumped.

Certain there is an answer out there waiting to be discovered, but I have a strong “feeling” it will not be a singular root cause.

The more sharing we do, the more answers will surely come with time.

If it helps, remember there are cases where only one twin has allergies and the other doesn’t.

Proof in my mind that it isn’t a clear-cut link to environmental or genetic causes in, or ex utero.

2. Reactions are rare, but the management of risks is everyday

I didn’t fully comprehend the management of allergies until the lessons started coming in thick and fast.

My sister had eaten a pasta salad for lunch one day — it had an egg mayonnaise dressing on it. Several hours later, she kissed Billie on the lips. She reacted — vomiting bile for around 12 hours, hives and welts all over her body. What is classified as a mild reaction.

BUT mild reactions can turn into anaphylaxis quickly, so still must be monitored carefully.

Lesson learned. No kissing on the lips.

Then came the birthday parties.

One that stays with me most was when Billie was two. After the candles were blown out and the cake was eaten — sorry the icing was licked off the cake — what is with kids only eating the icing?! — kids were left with eggy crumbs all over them.

One of them gave Billie a nice big hug. Adorable right.

Next minute — yep, you guessed it more bile — all over Mum- aka me!

I was pregnant at the time and barely coping with morning sickness. Hence the vivid memory of driving home with spew all over me while keeping an ear out for Billie’s breathing. Side note — whoever named it morning sickness never experienced morning sickness! It can strike at any time — day or night!

Then there is the restaurant scene.

Call ahead.

Check there are things on the menu that are allergen-free.

Yep! Happy days.

Give the run down to the waitress working when we arrive.

Order the plain margarita pizza as planned — tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil as listed on the menu — check with the waitress again as we did on the phone that the base is allergen-free.

Hand over Billie’s allergy card that outlines once more that she is anaphylactic to eggs and nuts. Check.

Pizza comes to the table.

It’s delivered with a pesto swirl on top.

Well, pine nuts are a no go, so back it goes. Apologies galore. Don’t know what happened.

Yep, no worries — we understand.

Second time out —

Presented beautifully with swirl of garlic aioli –
aka fancy mayonnaise made with eggs
What the?!

No — now we don’t understand. Trust well and truly broken.

The safest way for us to have pizza — homemade all the way. Photo my own.

It was at that point we knew we couldn’t order food for our daughter when we were out.

Unless we were completely confident the staff were on top of allergy practices.

The traces, the mis-takes and the risks are too high otherwise.

We pack “safe food” any time we head out the door.

It has gotten easier as she has grown. The hands go less in the mouth and Billie is more aware, as are the people around her.

We have learned and been lucky none of her accidental reactions were fatal.

Now there are other things to navigate like playdates at other people’s houses, sleepovers, camps, first dates, alcohol exposure etc. The learning continues.

As I said, the reactions may be rare, but the risk management is there.


Which leads us to number 3 —

3. It is normal to have some anxiety

How can you not?

You have seen your child have trouble breathing. Being rushed to hospital and not knowing if they are going to be ok.

That stuff stays with you.

Not to mention when you hear news stories about someone who has died from anaphylaxis even after administering an EpiPen.

Yes — our ears are more tuned into this type of information, and these stories stay with us, BUT we have to move past the fear to focus and respect the risks while empowering our kids to do the same.

Otherwise — we’d never leave the house.

It took me time to train myself not to go down the spiralling trains of thought and stay in the moment.

The tools to train those thought muscles are infinite—we each find what works for us.

A trail of shining lights that expands each day when we start seeking.
Many of mine have been found exploring the golden labyrinth of words on Medium MindValley another shining light for me — think, Jeffery Allen, Michael Beckwith, Vishen Lakihiani, Dr Shefali, Donna Eden, Anodea Judith, Eric Edmeades and more.

Matilda meditating — photo my own

4. Society will not understand on the same level as you do

As the old saying goes — you don’t fully understand another until you walk in their shoes.

Unless you live the day-to-day,
it is so easy to be blasé about allergies.

The number of times I hear —

“She will grow out of them.”

Isn’t there a jab they can give them now”

“That never happened in my day — you need to give it to her more.”

… is incredible.

Yes, these are all thankfully possible, but in that exact moment, it may not be possible for a number of reasons.

Each case is different.

Each person is in a different stage of their allergy journey.

If someone is talking to you about it, then for them it is still way too risky to be exposed to the allergen and the likelihood of them having an anaphylactic reaction is too high.

The knowledge and understanding is growing, but, for the most part, people won’t get what you go through each day to try and keep your child safe — on top of the usual safety measures parents take.

Sharing your story helps the amplification of the risks.

Be loud, be repetitive.

Your sharing helps keep your kid and others safe.

We can’t allergy proof the world, but the more people that know about them, the better.

5. Empowering your child with knowledge is crucial

When you can’t be there for your child — at daycare, school or even in the care of friends or family, they need to become their own advocate as soon as they can.

Off to school she goes — photo my own

They need to know what their allergens look like, how to read them on a label, what questions they need to ask to keep themselves safe, when and how to use an epi-pen.

I have seen kids as young as 3 ask if the chopping board used to cut up something was used for cutting up their allergens.

They can do it.

But there may be times they forget. And times others forget.

Billie had a mix up at kindy one day.

The class was decorating cupcakes for someone’s birthday. Even though I had ensured there were egg and nut-free alternatives for her in the school freezer she ate the cake.

I imagine she got caught up in the fun of decorating a cake and simply forgot.

As her teacher did.

Easy to do in a classroom with over twenty excited kids.

Well — that didn’t turn out so well.

Her teacher, who ended up covered in bile, and her learned a valuable lesson that day.

Such is life with allergies.

The takeaways

Remember, it is nobody’s fault your child has allergies and is prone to anaphylactic reactions.

The reactions are rare, but they happen. And they can be fatal.

Being aware is paramount, but so is being able to have fun.

As a parent, you can never fully switch off BUT the balance is possible when we accept we can’t allergy proof the world; take the steps we need to take to minimise the risks and ensure everyone, including our child, is as aware as they can be.

Thank you for reading

Thank you for being you

Originally published on Medium

What Happened When I Ate Peanut Butter

Written from the perspective of my daughter, Billie.

Hospital time for Billie after her first anaphylactic encounter with peanuts

When I was one, I swiped some peanut butter toast
It was up high so I had to climb, not that I’m gonna boast
It tasted delicious but something wasn’t right
My eyes felt funny and my throat a little tight

Mum said, “That’s it. To the car right away!”
Off to the chemist without delay
He took one look and pointed us to the doctor
Who pricked my leg cause my breathing shocked her

Off with my mum in the ambulance, I went
Straight to a hospital, she said that meant
For 6 whole hours, they made me sit
I was also poked n prodded a bit

Mum and Nanny kept me entertained
And a cool new cardboard hat* I gained
I’d be tired after, the doctors said
But I was in no mood for bed

Mum says I hardly slept a wink
I reckon I was just trying to think
What it all meant and why my eyes still felt tight
Next time I’ll stick with vegemite

Eggs also make me feel yuck
Any trace of them and I upchuck

A special allergy man checks my progress
He draws on my arm as part of the process
Then nicks me with stuff that makes me itch
I sometimes scream at a very high pitch!

My family and friends are helping me learn
To be aware and safe is their main concern

I carry my epi-pen every single day
And before I eat remember to say

“Does this have eggs or nuts in it?”

PS: before you kiss my loveable cheeks or use my water bottle
Please know, the smallest trace can trigger reactions full throttle

*the hat was a hospital spew bowl as shown in the pictures

Into the Wind

Thrown up into the wind
The kite rose as children grinned
Up up into the air
How high, not one care

Giggles and fun on the ground
Bare little feet running around
Perceived control of its direction
Where it will land is the question

Whoops, it crashed into a tree

Higher up than we can be
Clever pulling of the string
Yelled advice of how to bring
The colourful kite into reach

Life lessons for it to teach
Persistence and patience pay
The reward gifted is more play

The kite rose as children grinned

Off it goes back into the wind

Originally published on Medium

*Photo my own

Letters & Words

To be or not a bee
I see a sea of c’s
I before e except after c
A weird rule to me

Some sum to add an s
But geese and mice don’t end with s
Neighbour and neighbors
Kerosine and kerosene
Depends where you learn

Practice to practise
License to licence
Colour and Mum

Oh! English is such fun

Thumbs up for lower case b and d
Big D spins from left to right…weee!
p and q are thumbs down
Capital Q turns round

Silent letters
Known to numb
Its’ it’s it is like
Cinnamon and synonym
Twist the tongue

Accept except quiet quite


I know no
Their there they’re
Many more to make aware
So sew it seems seams
Rules consistently broken

Words written or spoken
Perceived meaning only a token
Intention and meaning awoken
Depends how our ears are open

Experience and beliefs masking
The answers to questions we’re asking
Communication with clarity
A sparkling gem of rarity

Echo chamber or original thought
Rationality can not be taught
Hear and read with an open mind
The meaning for YOU, for YOU to find

Based on who you are in that moment of time

Oh! What an infinitely divine and confusing paradigm

*Photo by Nathaniel Shuman on Unsplash

Originally published on Medium

Superpowers Unleashed

Abundance of superpowers has to come first to quench my infinite thirst
Balance and peace, to make the race cease
Clarity for all, consciousness will have a ball
Dreams to aspire, drama to expire
Empathy eradicating evil egos
Freedom of mind, for us all to find
Gone the guilt that society built
Honest and transparent systems in place, consequences for those in power to face
Inspiration narration, frustrations cessation
Judge-less, support more
Kindness curing blindness
Love — what else needs to be said — love or above bred
Magical miracles for the masses
Nature being nurtured
Opulence outdated, simple simplicity rated
Positive panda, not propaganda
Qi the key
Respect for all
Sentient beings
Trust each other are doing their best
Understanding for the rest
Vision for humanity, not insanity
Wisdom on tap, no trace of a cap
Xeniality the reality
Yielding fields wields hunger shields
Zealous living forever giving

Superpowers that can be free for any of us to use, any time we choose.

Originally published on Medium


Are you willing to unlock the door?

Who holds the key
For questions to unfold
The answers untold

Who holds the key
To make a choice
And use a voice

Who holds the key
To make dreams reality
Take steps with clarity

Who holds the key
To ecstasy
And destiny


You hold the key

You hold the key to unlock the door

Are you willing to open it and explore?

Photo by Ylanite Koppens from Pexels

Originally published on Medium

Wake Up

We’re All One And The Same

A seed of source energy within us all
Connected within a world so small
Sentient beings infinitely unfolding
Beware the production line of molding
Choice rippling consequences
Vibrating from all our senses
The time to wake up is now
Before tools of our making allow
An environment beyond all repair
Reverberations overwhelming despair
Expanding consciousness the only way
The change the world needs on display
Each of us willing and able
To lay our cards on the table
Play our best hand whatever‘s dealt
Together we amplify the impact felt
Harmony and peace will realign
Nature’s balance all so fine

Photo my own

Originally posted on Medium