Mom’s Fright Over Popsicle That Triggered Son’s Peanut Allergy Sparks Advocacy Mission
Katie Bryant had done her homework. “I called the [popsicle] company, verified they don’t use shared lines, rechecked ingredients and felt confident that he could have it,” she wrote for Love What Matters. “I stuck them in the freezer for one of those relentless southern days.”
One of those days came, and as Katie’s family retreated indoors from the garden of their home after working hard outside, Katie handed out popsicles to refresh them.
“I had just kicked off my boots and laid back when I heard a tiny, faint cough. Just one,” Katie recalled. Her then-2-year-old son, Sterling was not yet old enough to tell his mother when his allergy had been triggered, so she had to know intuitively.
“Trying not to startle him, I sat down and watched him. Breathing, eyes, nose, skin, stomach, ears,” Katie explained. “Like an anaphylactic check list.”
As she kept watching him closely, suddenly, she spotted a tiny hive on Sterling’s cheek. Setting off her action plan, Katie sent her oldest child to alert Sterling’s father, took the popsicle away, washed her son, gave him his first dose of epinephrine, and called an ambulance.
Sterling’s condition deteriorated quickly over the course of the next hour, as “he vomited, broke out in hives from head to toe, lost his airway, turned blue,” and needed three further doses of epinephrine, Benadryl, Pepcid, and steroids. The medical team at the hospital flooded Katie with questions, but finally, Sterling’s doctor announced: “We’ve got him.”
“Things are much calmer now,” Katie wrote, after the panic was over. “He is sleeping. … They keep telling me to go get something to eat but I can’t,” she continued. “I can’t leave this spot. I am his voice, his advocate.”
Katie thought about how her family’s action plan had saved Sterling’s life that day. She also thought about how many obstacles remain between allergy sufferers and a safe world for them to live in.
“There are peanuts in the dumbest places,” Katie explained, listing sunscreen, mulch, and potting soil as some of the more unexpected contenders. Many such products are not required to carry a label.
“We are not antisocial, and we are sad when we have to turn down invitations,” Katie said. “We’re just trying to keep our kid alive.” Conversely, she expressed gratitude for all of the positive efforts made by others that help keep her allergy suffers like her son safe. “Because we are their voice until they are old enough to advocate for themselves,” she said.
Sterling recovered from his frightening ordeal, returned home, and is growing bigger and stronger by the day.
Speaking to The Epoch Times via email, Katie explained that her son has recently turned 4 years old. “He loves hiking, cooking, sandboxes, and his kitten,” she shared.
Sterling, Katie added, is also learning to self-advocate now. “He can tell anyone about his allergy and he does a great job at only taking food from one of his grownups,” she explained. “We’ve been training him to order his own food at safe restaurants and to communicate his needs to the server.”
Additionally, Katie also documents her family life on an Instagram page. Sterling’s journey has also led her down a new vocational avenue.
At the time of writing, Katie is lobbying for a grassroots bill in the United States. The bill, if passed, will require manufacturers to label all products that have come into contact with the 14 most predominant allergens in production.
Sterling’s peanut allergy is still severe, “but we are doing everything we can to keep him safe,” Katie told The Epoch Times. “He is a strong, energetic, kind little boy with a big heart and big dreams.”
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