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.

Always.

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

Key

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

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

Hope For A New Day

Hope for a new day

Hope for a new way

Lessons to be learned

Freedom being earned

Spirit to reawaken

Actions being taken

Step by step, little by little

Growth for human acquittal

Our place on earth

Beholds our worth

Hope for a new way

Hope for a new day

**Photo by Louis Maniquet on Unsplash

Originally published on Medium

in dedication to an amazing human.

What Is

A poem I wrote for my daughters — inspired by none other than Dr Seuss

What was, what was, will not be again
It happened before, in the past my friend
What if, what if, may never be
It’s a made-up occurrence we are unlikely to see
What is, what is, is the place to be
Its here, it’s happening now to you and me
What is, is bliss, what-is is freeing
It’s a way to show up as a human being
What is, is where I am standing now
What-is is living, what-is is real…wow!
Sometimes it is nice to visit what was
To remember, smile, reflect and pause
And please have a small thought for what-ifs
They may save you from walking straight off cliffs
What was-es and what-ifs are all in our mind
And can make us miss what is from time to time
The place you’ll feel most calm is when you live what is
It will keep you away from anxious fuzzy mind biz
Releasing more energy to focus
On the present of presence gifted to us
So take a deep breath and live your day
fill it with the what-is-es you choose to play

First Published on Medium

How I Check My Vibrational Level of Consciousness

Dr Hawkin’s Scale and Christie-Marie Sheldon’s Energy Awareness gifted me a tool to monitor my emotional vibrations

One is a million

I have heard this said by many of my teachers.

The first time I heard it was like…what the is this woo-woo stuff I am listening too?! One is a million..pfff. I stayed amused though and like anything, the more I learnt, the more I understood.

How I turn up in my day directly affects everyone else I encounter.

The good ole ripple effect.

“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects” — Dalai Lama

The contagious smile….or if we are thinking about the current situation, the Coronavirus. I like the smile version a shit tonne better.

If my headspace is cluttered with feelings of guilt or fear my filters of awareness are blurred.

I show up with less energy.

My capacity to handle the slightest drama will trigger an unconscious reaction vs a conscious response.

Dr David Hawkins chart of consciousness mixed with muscle testing I learnt from Christie-Marie Sheldon help me track what vibration I am at.

Usually, it is obvious, how I feel. BUT my physical body and the intellectual side of my brain doesn’t always align with my energy and subconscious side of my brain.

For years I was telling myself I had things under control…until BAM! I became an emotional leaking mess of a human.

So how do I know if what I am thinking and feeling is what I am giving off into the world?

If you haven’t come across it before — here is what Dr David Hawkin’s scale of consciousness looks like.

I am unsure who to credit for this image — I assume Dr David Hawkins but I sourced it from Pinterest

The muscle testing I do is the linking of fingers as demonstrated by Christie-Marie herself.

The test demo starts at the 3:30 timestamp.

If you have time, do yourself a favour and watch the whole thing-it shows you pretty much exactly what I do. Heads up — Christie-Marie has an addictive giggle when she speaks — I remember hearing it is from the source energy connection she has.

Christie-Marie Sheldon – Muscle Testing Clip

The steps I take are —

  1. Ask a question to muscle test a true response (unbroken finger link)
  2. Ask a question to muscle test a false response (broken finger link)
  3. Physically look at the scale and pick the emotion I think I am operating at
  4. I ask “Am I vibrating from a place of Desire?”
  5. If I test strong, I ask “Am I vibrating above Desire?”
  6. I keep asking for each level or skip a few until I break.
  7. I retest the level under the break to confirm if it is strong
  8. I know where I am “in” that moment.

Every time I do this, I have to remind myself there is no right or wrong level — it just is what it is….doesn’t mean I don’t ever judge myself though.

The days I do judge tend to be the days I am operating on the lower end of the scale — energy expended elsewhere, lack of sleep, an unexpected confrontation, feeling like I am not enough.

Then I remember…this is a tool. A guide to help me know I need to look within and clear the source of the energy block. Assign a new meaning. Work at a new habit. Re-balance so I can show up better in the next moment.

Whenever my daughter does it she is usually operating from the level of Enlightenment — I know why she is my biggest teacher!

I understand it isn’t for everyone, but it is a tool that helps me immensely. And since one is a million, it helps the world more than you will ever truly know.

It’s free to try so why not give it a go? Even if it is just to prove me wrong.

Thanks for reading.

Originally Published on Medium

Spotto the Positive in Life

The kid’s game that can help light your path out of negativity.

Hi. My name is Amy, I’m a personal growth addict.

I have consumed a massive amount of content these last 12 months.

All of it has had a golden nugget to add to the toolkit and I don’t regret doing any of it. The person I was last year is, thankfully, a stranger to me.

Besides spruiking personal growth, I want to share a powerful common thread in these teachings — positivity and gratitude.

Ok… I can almost hear you sigh “not another Pollyanna going on about gratitude”…. but here I go anyway.

Gotta be something to it if so many of us are writing about it, yeah?!

The more you notice the positives in your life and feel gratitude for them, the more you will notice and feel grateful for. It trains your brain while spiralling you up out of negativity.

It reminds me of the game “spotto”.

For the unfamiliar, spotto is an Aussie game where you pick a car and yell “Spotto!” every time, you spot one. The less violent version of punch buggy. Handy for a road trip to break up eye-spy or should that be screen time now?

My kids and I play the game by picking a colour, “yellow car” or even “motorbike”. The motorbike was my partner’s idea to train the girls to spot riders on the road. Nothing like being prepared for when they start driving…in 14 years. Maybe we won’t even have cars then? Ok, apologies, I am getting off track.

Back to the positive and gratitude stuff. The same thing goes here, except you use the game to spot the positive stuff in your life. Like catching a beautiful sunset, hearing someone laugh, giving or getting a smile or smelling onions cooking- yep gets my mouth watering every time and I don’t even really like eating onions!


When I started to train my brain to spot the positive, the smaller or seemingly insignificant the better, it became easier and easier to do, until everything feels like it’s positive, even the negative given time.

When I started writing my positive spottos down (or use a free gratitude app) I found myself with a go-to list.

A drama or trauma situation in the past would have left me in a looping overthinking spin for days, weeks and even years. For the most part, these spins last a maximum of a couple of hours until I remember my list. Reading it awakens the positive panda to kick me out of my negative spin and get me smiling again.

It’s free.


It doesn’t take long.

Give it a go, even if it is just to prove me wrong.

Thanks for reading.

Photo by Tommy Lisbin on Unsplash
Originally published on Medium in Know Thyself

Monster Mum

Well… off it goes.

My debut picture book manuscript for Monster Mum has been sent to its first slush pile.

I seriously believe they need to change it to something more positive…like a lush pile!

Who is Monster Mum by the way?

It’s me… well technically my alter ego.

I use to take the edge off challenging parenting times. My girls find it hilarious when I use my monster voice. I get the message across that I am at my limit and at the same time, stop myself from unconsciously yelling like a crazy person.

I believe this picture book has the potential to, at least, give readers (parent and child) an opportunity to share a laugh.

Maybe even give them the space to start creating solutions together for use during emotionally charged times.

Time will tell!