I decided to try and take Kodie for a drive to calm him down and get him away from the situation. After 10 minutes of driving around I headed home and asked Liz to come and meet me. The swelling was getting worse, and Kodie was becoming hysterical. When Liz arrived, she said we should take him to hospital, so we took him to the nearby emergency unit, and the doctor diagnosed an allergic reaction, that was in progress, but had calmed down and give us some medicine to control the reaction. Sometime later, someone from the party called to see how we were, and they said they saw Kodie eating peanuts from a bowl at the party.
Since that day, our lives have changed. The initial anxiety of not knowing what the exact trigger was, not having access to the correct medicine going forward, not really understanding the situation, took over our lives. The next few weeks consisted of constant googling, emailing, researching, using forums, and then chasing hospital appointments to get some clarity and clear diagnosis. The question of, ‘will Kodie be able to live a normal life.’, often kept Liz awake at night and in floods of tears.
Kodie then had some tests, and the results confirmed he was allergic to peanuts, mixed nuts, cats, dogs and grass.
Although we had a diagnosis, the anxiety didn’t stop.
The cupboards were cleaned out, every label checked, including in our closest family and friends’ kitchens. Party invites were declined in fear of Kodie eating something that may contain. EpiPen’s are carried everywhere with us, as a way of life now.
The two most particularly stressful events were our first family holiday flying to Turkey, and when Kodie started school in September. The anxiety and worry involved in both those events was huge. We fear that we come across as ‘over the top’ or ‘overreacting’ when asking for the seats to be cleaned on the plane or ensuring all of the teachers in the school are aware. We were at times very demanding, but we needed to be that way, when giving others the responsibility to look after our son. As parents we are his safety net, able to step in when people offer him food or a snack, but when we are not there, that’s where the worry sets in.
When we were going about our daily lives, we realised that the awareness is just not out there as much as it should be, and the attitude of some parents, is a careless, selfish one when complaining to the school that their kid isn’t allowed Nutella on their sandwich.
Whenever we looked back to the day of the party, we always say what if something worse had happened. We didn’t have a clue about allergies, and there was nothing to hand that could have helped. Liz came up with the idea that EpiPen’s should be available in public places, to help in an emergency. She started a petition which got some great coverage across the whole country, was featured on the local BBC news and we had over 13,000 signatures and a written response from the government that they would debate it. However, Brexit happened, then a general election and the current situation with COVID-19 also meant that it was closed down.