Mum describes daughter surviving ten years of life-threatening allergies
“My heart still stops every time the school rings as I assume they are calling to tell me she has had a reaction and is in an ambulance or worse."
Living with allergies is bad enough for anyone, but imagine living with a cornucopia of allergies and be able to do nothing much about it. That’s how Coco from Gold Coast has been living her life for ten years now.
Her mother Terran first knew about her allergy when Coco was drinking cow’s milk formula at six-months-old.
A decade of allergies
“As she drank the formula, I started to notice that the skin around her mouth had started to go red. Within half-an-hour her body was covered in hives. It looked as though she had 1000’s of insect bites. Her eyes had started to swell,” Terran recalled in a Mama Mia story.
At the hospital, Coco was given a steroid shot to relieve her symptoms. The GP then told her that the allergy may have been triggered by a component of the milk, but was unsure exactly what.
“He suggested I keep trying different formulas until I found one that she didn’t react to—advice which could have killed my daughter had I followed it.”
After consulting three practitioners, she was eventually referred to Professor Pete Smith, a paediatric allergist and immunologist.
“We discussed her reaction, her mild eczema, her frequent vomiting and she underwent a skin prick test,” Terran said.
The Gold Coast mother said she expected to be told that her daughter was allergic to something common, like dairy. Instead, she was shocked to find out that her daughter was allergic to almost everything.
“[Coco] also had a large reaction to peanuts and tree nuts with milder reactions to dust, dogs, cats and eggs. We were given an overwhelming amount of information that day, and a script for two EpiPens.”
Coco is now ten-years-old, and although she has outgrown her allergies to egg, certain varieties of tree nuts, dog, feathers and grasses, she is still allergic to peanuts, dairy, cashews, pistachios and cats.
Mother’s guilt and fear
Despite not having a severe reaction in past ten years, Coco’s mother says that part of parenting an allergic child is being overcome with fear and guilt.
“Over the years I have realised that even if it was something I did or didn’t do, I can’t change the past,” Terran admitted. “Guilt still rears its ugly head whenever I have a down day, or I see my daughter upset about her allergies.”
But fear is harder to overcome.
With each passing year, new challenges arise, and Terran is always concerned that she won’t be able to keep her daughter safe.
“My heart still stops every time the school rings as I assume they are calling to tell me she has had a reaction and is in an ambulance or worse.
“She is starting to go on camps at school and I worry that I haven’t packed enough food, the mobile phones won’t work or no-one will realise she is having a reaction until it is too late.”