A Pediatrician-Mom’s Journey From Her Son’s Food Allergy Diagnosis to A Life-Saving Invention
Textbooks and medical journals could not have prepared me for the challenges our family would face in dealing with the diagnosis and management of food allergy. I was a pediatrician. I was a mom, but I was a pediatrician. This was going to be a piece of cake – right? Well, not exactly.
By Reshma Shah, M.D.
What I knew:
I knew many things about food allergy. I knew that while accidental exposures happened, the risk of death from anaphylaxis was actually relatively small. Many of my own patients carried the diagnosis and I regularly collaborated with their allergists. At each visit I made sure to ask about any accidental exposures, what precautions the family was taking, and whether or not their medications were up to date. I probed into family dynamics… how they were impacted or whether their child was feeling excluded, bullied, or simply sad because of their food allergy?
The truth is, early on, I knew very little about what it actually meant to have a child with a food allergy. At the age of two, my healthy, adorable son ate a cookie and promptly broke out in hives. An adequate dose of an antihistamine quickly erased the welts on his face and chest. Trying to convince myself that it was just a fluke (and nothing serious), I walked into the allergist’s office assured that he would tell me that I was overreacting. Unfortunately, the skin testing confirmed that he was allergic to nuts, and especially to the dreaded black walnut, as it came to be known in our house. We left the office armed with a prescription for epinephrine, pamphlets, brochures, and instructions. We were good to go. . .
When we got home, I had a good long cry (and a few more in the days to follow). Together, my husband and I cleared the pantry. What if the open pack of crackers had a small amount of peanut butter on them? What if one of us snacked on some nuts and then dove into the bag of chips? I scoured the internet and bookstores for any and all information I could gather. I was a mom on a mission and when it came to sending my son to preschool, I was determined to make sure that he was safe.
The image of him sitting in a corner unknowingly consuming nuts, with no one knowing what to do was haunting. I wanted to be sure that everyone– teachers, parents, or anyone that would be caring for my son, knew precisely what to do in the event of an accidental exposure.
An Invention of the Heart and Soul
So, I created a homemade storage container for his emergency medications. It had a picture of my son (what if there was a substitute and she wasn’t sure of the children’s names?), clearly spelled out his allergies, what occurred upon exposure, what steps to take if he got exposed, and every imaginable way to reach us. I did this for my son’s safety and for my peace of mind. It gave me back some sense of control in a situation where I had none.
What surprised me was how this one little “prototype” reassured and empowered the people that took care of my son. Even though they took every precaution to keep him safe, they now had this box that could help them if the unthinkable happened. So putting together what I “knew” as a pediatrician, and my own personal experience with food allergy, I created Medpax™ so that any parent can prepared for their child’s unexpected food allergy or asthma incident.
The truth is every family, whether it’s made up of pediatricians, accountants, teachers, or stay-at-home moms and dads, eventually finds their own way through the food allergy world. From the diagnosis, to managing birthday parties, Thanksgiving dinners, and overnight camp, it’s a process. We learn, we make the best choices we can for our families, sometimes we even make mistakes and we move forward.
Both my background as a pediatrician and my role as a mother of a child with food allergies ultimately led me to create Medpax™. This unique, compact, personalized medication storage kit for children with food allergies and/or asthma became a reality, out of necessity for our family– and is now available to the rising number of families dealing with food allergy or asthma. With Medpax™, families can better manage their child’s unexpected medical emergency by ensuring that complete medical information and medications are clearly presented and immediately available.
Visit us at www.mymedpax.com to learn more about Medpax™ and how it can help you to better manage your child’s food allergy or asthma.