TODAY A TODDLER put an ice cream covered finger in my baby girl’s mouth.
My first reaction was to yell ‘Noooo!’ and whip her out of her pushchair to douse her mouth out with a wet wipe.
Then I started to panic that she might react (so far she appears allergy free but Sidney’s doctor advised we delay the introduction of egg, nuts and sesame to his little sister until she is properly tested later this autumn). Then I began to shake, thinking: “Oh my God, what if someone had done that to Sidney?”
Then I had a little cry.
It’s incidents like this – brief, over-before-you-know-it moments where somehow a tottering 18-month-old manages to weave his way behind your back to offer ice cream to the smiling baby in her pram – that freak the living daylights out of allergy parents.
It’s why I can’t let Sidney out of my sight for more than a few seconds: even if he’s playing happily in the long grass with his chums, as he was today, mere feet from where we sat spread out on a picnic rug, I have to keep looking around to check there are no unwieldy toddlers lurking in the shrubbery bearing peanut butter sandwiches, or pools of spilled eggy ice cream waiting for him to slip and land a bare leg in.
I read awful stories like that of poor Natalie Giorgi. She wasn’t one of those tragic kids who never knew they had a peanut allergy, or who left their EpiPen at home, who you read about and think ‘well, there’s a terrible reason this happened – they didn’t have all the information, they didn’t know what to do’.
No, she was a 13-year-old girl who had always been vigilant, always carried her Epinephrine, always checked everything she ate and who followed her care plan and had three doses of adrenalin and still died. And the cosy cocoon you occupy when reactions have been few and far between, and you start to relax just a little, is ripped to tatters all over again.
If it happened to her, it could happen to us. If a child could lumber up behind me and feed ice cream to my unwitting baby, what else could happen in a fraction of an instant to Sidney?
There is a plus to all of this: Sadie didn’t react to the ice cream. It’s one way to test for allergy, I suppose.*
* This is a joke. It isn’t. Don’t try this at home! And our ‘experiment’ is far from conclusive; we’ll be waiting for hospital tests before making any assumptions…