Story by Jessica Bonnema, Kidssite Anafylaxie, The Netherlands
This picture was taken in the evening at the 3rd of April 2017 after my eldest daughter ran into anaphylaxis at primary school that afternoon. My daughter was 10 years old. You see her and her little sister at the hospital. They both were very scared that afternoon. At the moment the picture was taken, they were happy that everything turned out to be all right. Grandma and our youngest daughter came to the hospital with all the presents, postcards and drawings that friends had brought to our house. At this picture they are looking at all those sweet gifts.
We will always remember this day. Our daughter started to feel dizzy and sick at a playground near the school. She told the teacher she wasn’t feeling well. The teacher knew she had a severe allergy to tree- and peanuts, but did not help her. She sent my daughter into a classroom with a friend. Her bag with the Epipen and other medication stayed at the playground. The teacher stayed with the other children that were playing there.
Meanwhile my daughter had a stomach ache, was feeling dizzy and had difficulty breathing. Her friend stayed with her in the empty classroom. There were no adults around there.
After ten minutes the teacher returned into the classroom with the other children. My daughter was lucky that one of the children had brought her bag with her Epipen.
The teacher told my daughter and her friend that they had to call me at the caretakers office. She walked with them to the caretaker of the school. (I hope that is the correct word.) Another friend walked with them and carried her bag. The teacher tried to call me, but the phone she used wasn’t working well. She could not reach me.
The teacher said to the three girls that they had to try it by themselves and went back to the classroom. They were left alone in a possible life-threatening situation.
My daughter was scared. She felt very sick, dizzy, had difficulty breathing and she felt like she almost fainted.
Her friends kept trying to call me and put the Epipen on a table, they were scared to use it, the girls were only 10 years old at the time. At 12:55 they reached me. “Jessica, this is B. I’m calling you, because R. almost can’t talk anymore. You have to come to school right now!”
I grabbed my keys and drove to the school. F., my daughter’s other friend was waiting for me in front of the school. She looked pale and a bit scared. We went into the school and she brought me to my daughter and their friend B.
I saw the teacher standing near my daughter “Hi, there you are, I guess she has something like hey fever and I was just checking if everything was okay. I think you can handle this by yourself? I will take the other girls back into the classroom.” I was so mad at the teacher, she knew my daughter was allergic to tree- en peanuts and that it could be life-threatening and she left the girls in this severe situation all alone. There wasn’t any adult at all that helped the girls.
I didn’t want to start arguing with the teacher at this moment, so I smiled en said that it was a good idea that she left. Then I turned to my daughter. I asked her what she ate that morning, how she was feeling, checking her chest to see if she got hives. One of her friends came back with a bag of a treat they got that morning so I could read the ingredients. My daughter was feeling so bad. I administered the Epipen and called 112 (the alarm number in Europe, just like 911 is in the US). After that I called my husband, he was a two hours’ drive away from home.
My daughter was laying on the ground. She closed her eyes a several times and asked me if she could get some sleep. Her lips were turning blue. I kept talking to her trying to avoid her from losing consciousness. Saying and asking little nice things as:
”No dear, you can’t fall a sleep right here. Look at me, what is your sisters name? What would she be doing at this moment?”
“You don’t have to be scared anymore, I’m her with you. The ambulance is on its way.”
“Daddy will come to the hospital as quick as he can. He loves you very much.”
“It’s nice weather today isn’t it? It is spring, with the flowers en the sunshine.”
“I love you very much, you are so brave. The ambulance is on its way, stay awake, when they arrive and you’ve told them your name, you can have a little nap.”
“Daddy will call grandma and grandpa, they will come to the hospital with your little sister. Please stay awake for a little while. At the hospital you can sleep. I will wake you up when daddy or grandma and your little sister arrive. You can’t go to sleep right know.“
“We all love you very much.”
“Do you here the ambulance, they are nearby , they will help you feel better”
“There they are! Do you hear those voices? That’s the nurse who will help you.”
“You stayed awake very well. I love you. Everything will be all right.”
The ambulance arrived within five minutes, we were lucky they were in the neighborhood.
They gave my daughter Combivent and oxygen. We drove to the hospital where she had to vomit and had a very red and a bit swollen face. They treated her, I can’t remember very well what they did exactly. She had to stay 24 hours at hospital. The cause of the allergic reaction is unknown. We guess it could be caused by traces of peanut at the tables or in the treat they had at school.
We are thankful that our daughter is still around. She is a very brave girl. The day she came out of the hospital she spoke at The Public Academy “Food allergy in children” at the Universal Medical Centre Groningen, The Netherlands, to raise allergy awareness. She was still very tired and sitting in a wheelchair before the Academy started, but she was determined to speak about food allergies.
Our daughter at the Public Academy “Food Allergy in Children” at the University Medical Centre Groningen, together with Mrs. Dr. A.B. Sprikkelman and Mr. Prof. Dr. G.H. Koppelman. (4th Arpil 2017 the same day she came home from the hospital.)
We were very thankful that the two friends of our daughter helped to save her life, so we sent a letter to the Carnegie Hero Fund in The Netherlands.
The two brave girls received an award at 16th November 2018, in The Hague, from Jaap Smit, Kings’s Commisioner Zuid Holland, and chairman of The Carnegie Hero Fund in The Netherlands.
Today we share our story to raise allergy awareness. We thank all the people who try their very best, every day, to keep children with severe food allergies save. Please know we appreciate this very much and it means the world to us.
Every day that we can be together as a family, healthy and with no one missing, is a day to celebrate. At these lucky days, before I go to sleep I think of all of you and thank you from the bottom of my heart for keeping foodallergic children save.