Our Adventures

  • 10 Aug 2012

    We hit the headlines in a nationwide medical magazine.

    Posted: 10 Aug 2012

    New pharmacist magazine; English Pharmacy Review, asked if we could be interviewed about the diagnostic process both my niece and I went through, so GP's could read about a family's diagnostic journey and also the social implications food allergies can have on sufferers and their families.

    My niece was diagnosed with an egg allergy at 8 months old and perscribed an auto-injector pen at the age of two, after she had another reaction at her nursery. Previously we had only been prescribed Piriton, so the thought of having to administer an auto-injector pen was quite daunting for us as a family. But the doctor's and nurses provided great support and training in how to use it. Plus, you can also practice with trainer pens that EpiPen and Jext provide for free. Both companies have useful 'how to' instructions and video's on their site.

    And then there was I - diagnosed with coeliac disease back in 2011. An autoimmune condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue if wheat, rye or barley is digested. I won't go into detail of the two years prior of testing, but it basically meant we had to look out for eggs, wheat, rye and barley when food shopping or eating out from now on.

    After diagnosis you start to realise how allergens can crop up in the most weirdest of places. You can never assume... "well of course that doesn't contain x, y and z". I never even thought traces of egg would be in most icing sugars, or find wheat in some chocolate bars (that was a tough day!) That's why it's imperative every ingredient label is checked. Even the 'safe' products we've been eating and known not to contain allergens need to be checked because producers can change their ingredients or manufacturering processes at any time. So checking and re-checking is paramount.

    Which unfortunately means spontaneity is taken away from you because you're always having to plan your family days out. Finding places that can cater for families with allergies or alternatively plan what food you need to bring with you. 

    Before diagnosis I thought like everyone else who have never had to manage allergies, thinking if you take the allergen out of the diet everything is going to be fine. I didn't realise the emotional and social effects that can run much deeper. I've heard so many heartfelt stories in the past from parents whose children never got invited to the birthday parties because of their allergies. Or my niece who is sat on a separate table at lunchtime and not able to eat with her friends (we currently working with the school to try and change this). It's these social exclusions that can really have an affect on a child's self esteem and development. But if awareness and key safety steps are followed then surely everyone should feel and be involved? 

    As a family we try and make sure our restricted diets aren't going to hold us back. And enjoy the experience of discovering new things we can do and eat instead of focusing on what we can't.

    My ramble resulted in a wonderful surprise as we popped up in this months issue - to the delight of my niece. Seeing her face printed in a magazine, thankfully hasn't gone to her head. So the red carpet is still rolled up for now!

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