By Morgan Baker.
As I got ready for an evening out, my cell phone rang. It was my youngest daughter, Ellie, a freshman at Emerson. “I’m having an allergic reaction.”
A year earlier, she had joined her older sister, Maggie, and her father, Matt, in the food allergy club. Maggie has been allergic to peanuts, tree nuts and legumes since she was a baby and always carries an EpiPen, a shot of epinephrine. Matt is allergic to many foods and combinations of allergens, including exercise after he’s eaten, and is idiopathic – they can’t always figure out what triggers his shock.
Through constant vigilance, Maggie has had only a few incidents. She went to birthday parties with her own cake when she was little and her elementary school and high school provided safe spaces for her in their cafeterias.
Matt has had more than 40 reactions when using an EpiPen and rushing to the hospital to be observed has been enough. But, he’s also had episodes where I watched as paramedics worked on him when I wasn’t sure an Epi, or two, would be sufficient, when his blood pressure dropped so low his skin turned gray.
But Ellie had escaped this horror. The only terror she lived with was worrying about her sister and dad like I did. I didn’t just live with the “what ifs” most parents live with that are real and scary enough. The “what ifs” that keep you awake in the middle of the night when your kid hasn’t come home yet. Or when you let your child walk to school for the first time.
I wondered if she had read the packaging? Had the tabletops been wiped down? Had he remembered his EpiPens?