Thursday, January 17, 2013

Managing a teenager with an allergy

My eldest child carries an Epipen (adrenaline shot) because he has a life threatening allergy to cashew and pistachio nuts. He's soon to be 15 and is much more independent now in many different aspects of his life.

This independence is great but his allergy is something he has to manage on his own. Yet so little of the way his allergy is 'managed' is related to him. Most of the energy I spend on this matter is related to the paperwork required for school. The endless signing of notes, visits to the GP for signed management plans, updating his epipens. There is more to help the teachers than there is to actually help him.

I feel worried as he becomes more adventurous. He does more on his own with friends. Tries new foods. And why shouldn't he? This is part of becoming an adult. But these are the times when he is most likely to get caught out. Not when I'm with him or a teacher is with him. When he's with his peer group.

And here's my latest thought. Why do his peer group not receive any training about using an epipen? Frankly, all the notes I sign for excursions are a little pointless if he's sent off unsupervised to a food court to find his own lunch.

I'm actually quite relaxed about the whole thing because he's a pretty sensible kid. But as we move into this next stage I think he might get jack of the whole sensible gig, and he needs to think through the consequences. And we need to help him do that well.



3 comments:

Libby said...

HI there Jenny, I've been reading for a little while and I think we might have some people we know in common.

I have a 5yo son with peanut and treenut allergies/anaphylaxis and I'm quite keen to see his peers trained in at least recognition of an allergic reaction even at the age of 5. I think I'll be chatting with school to see if that can happen, maybe I can go into his class and have a chat with the students and have some photos etc. Like you, I think that friends are much more likely to see the beginnings of a reaction than a teacher, especially as they get older.

Maybe you could get your hands on a training epipen (pretty easy to do I think you can by them from ASCIA or someone) and have his friends over for a training session? Go through the symptoms of a reaction as well as practice on each other (or if you still have some expired epipens you could do them on an orange).

I will be interested in hearing your experiences as you go through this phase of life. I'm hoping we will have a sensible kid too (and sensible, kind friends).

Jenny said...

Hi Libby

Thanks so much for your comment. They are really helpful ideas. I hope it goes well as you transition into school.

Sandra said...

I was actually thinking about this the other day from the other side - one of my kids has a good friend who carries an epipen. I was wondering if I should ask her mum to give my daughter a lesson. You've motivated me to do it.