Yesterday our local FAAN chapter held a "Strike Out Food Allergies!" bowling fundraising event. Mark, B and I (along with Mark's brother, his wife, and their kids) attended and had a ball (no pun intended)! You always forget how much of a workout it is to throw around a 10 pound ball and use muscles you didn't know you had. But we had a great time and helped raise money for a great cause (and we even won a raffle prize - 2 lift tickets to Sugar Bowl - score!).
But the event wasn't without some seriousness as to why we were there. We were fortunate to have a very special guest speaker - Brian Hom's father, Brian Hom, Sr. was there to talk about his family's experience losing their son due to a peanut allergy just a few short months ago while on their first night of vacation in Cab San Lucas, Mexico.
My post here doesn't do his speech justice. Brian's composure while talking of the details of his son's death in front of his eyes was amazing. If you looked around the room, you saw other mothers (me included) crying as he recounted his son's last words to him, the nature of his son's allergies before the trip (just some hives that would clear up with benadryl), the details of how he died in the hotel lobby, the agony of planning his son's funeral just weeks after he graduated (and in close proximity to his 18th birthday), and how the true cause of death (anaphylaxis) wasn't listed on the death certificate (heart attack was even though the autopsy showed anaphylaxis).
This could have been any of us there.
The talk really brought home how serious food allergies are and that you should never make assumptions about them (specifically that your next reaction will be the same as the last). That you need to get tested properly by an allergist and take the proper precautions to keep your child safe (which isn't to say that either applied to him - apparently they did have epi pens there and Brian's brother, also peanut allergic, received a shot due to his reaction as well and his life was saved). Brian really wants to make sure families work as hard as possible to minimize the possibility of this happening to them.
Brian repeated a very well known statement: noone should ever bury their child. He's of course, right. You usually hear this from parents burying casualties of war. But I suppose we are fighting a battle of sorts, aren't we?
I hate to be morbid, but I think parents of allergic children hold this thought and fear of death in their back pockets at all times. It's always there for me, hovering, and it's a real possibility (which sucks). Personally I have thoughts of B's death more often than I'd care to admit and hate to think that there IS a possibility of her passing before I do. I have these flashes of the worst happening to B because I didn't plan well enough or wasn't there when she needed me - it's horrible and I know many of you can relate. It's absolutely terrifying to imagine, and obviously even worse to experience firsthand.
Personally I can't thank Brian enough for speaking to our group. I wish I could have done it in person, but I was so emotional after hearing his talk that I feared that I would break down. I'm hoping to find his email address so I can write to him though, to encourage him to keep telling his story.
So Mark and I are supposed to be going to Mexico next year with his folks for their anniversary. At a resort much like the one Brian's family went to. After hearing Brian's story, I'm not so sure this is a risk we're willing to take with B (that is unless we have a negative skin and rast at B's next allergist visit). Not to say that we will never travel internationally EVER, I just feel like we should hold off for a while (Mark felt otherwise until he heard Brian speak).
Am I overreacting? How many of you travel internationally? If so, what precautions do you take to avoid reactions?