Today, as I was going thru the news, I was deeply saddened to read about Natalie Giorgi. She was a 13 year old teenager with peanut allergy who recently passed away due to her body's reaction to the allergen. Coincidentally, this story came out just 4 days after my friend's son (who also have peanut allergy) was rushed to the hospital for breathing difficulties after tasting a pork BBQ in a restaurant. They later found out that marinade used had some traces of peanut in it. Thank God the later was fine after an epinephrine shot.
When I first read the story at Yahoo, I was extremely bothered by some of the comments. So instead of typing anything, I decided to look for a more detailed article online. Finally, I was able to see this from the Sacramento Bee.
Photo courtesy of Sacbee.com
As I am writing this, my body is still filled with goose bumps. Okay, here's a quick disclaimer. I am not a medical professional, allergist or a declared expert when it comes to food allergies. I am just a mom who happens to have children with multiple food allergies. One of them has anaphylactic tendencies. Whatever I'll write from here onwards are just my opinions most of which are based from my experiences. If you have issues on how to cook or bake gluten, dairy, egg, soy, nut and peanut free food though, ask away and I'll share my countless tips and recipes. Are we clear with that?
Anyway, after reading the article which pointed out that the parents followed everything by the book. Just like my allergist has reminded me a hundred times. First sign of itching or a reaction --- Benadryl. Within the 2 hours after consumption, if there's tightness around the throat or trouble breathing - 1st Epipen shot and call 911 for an ambulance. If there's no relief after the first shot, use the second Epipen. Still, they weren't successful in reviving their daughter.
I am so thankful and blessed that I haven't reached a point where I needed to use that Epi-pen. I can't imagine how scared and powerless the parents had felt seeing their child struggled to stay alive. Holding the body of a supposed to be perfectly healthy child is incomprehensible.
The two incidents about the accidental ingestion of peanuts and their outcome made me realize that:
1. One can never be too prepared. It is necessary to have the required medications at all times.
2. Epi-pen or Epinephrine is a tool that helps treat the symptoms or signs of an allergic reaction. Take note, I emphasized the word help. As what I've discussed with my children's allergist, Epi-pen is not a cure. As with all medications, it also has side effects that can be severe or fatal to some people.
3. Avoidance is always the best way to prevent a reaction. As pointed out to me by our allergist, "One can never tell how the body will react when exposed to the allergen at a particular time. It can be a simple bump, upset stomach, eczema after 2 days or even no reaction at all. However, the possibility of a fatal reaction is always there."
With that being said, education is a must in order to have an allergy friendly environment for everyone. The exact cause of food allergies is still unknown. Yet the rate of people with food allergies is growing significantly. According to the recent statistics by the Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). 1 in every 13 children (under the age of 18) has a food allergy. That doesn't include undiagnosed children and even adults.
I may not know Natalie or her family personally but we do have something in common which is Food Allergy. May stories such as hers enable other people to understand the severity of allergies. That to some, simple things such as peanuts are indeed fatal. It is not a fad diet or an act to look special. It is a matter of survival.
Can I ask you a favor? Will you join me in prayer for Natalie and those who have food allergies? Also, will you help me spread awareness about it?
Thanks a bunch.