Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Sobering Reminder...

...that kids sometimes die from their food allergies. Ugh.

Full story here: Seventh-grader dies of food allergy at Chicago school

So tragically sad. I'd say I'm speechless, except there are countless thoughts swirling in my head, such as:

--it is stupid that all schools are equipped with defibrilators but not Epipens. At this point shouldn't Epipens be standard issue at all places hosting children, like camps, schools, airplanes, etc.? (I mean, I wouldn't personally want to solely rely on my child's school having an Epipen around rather than sending her own Epipen to school to be stored there, but still -- it seems there should be one there as a backup. What is the great harm we are trying to prevent here by NOT having extra Epipens around? Accidental injection? Overdose? Give me a break. The risk of potential death trumps that.)

--why does food have to be a part of SO, SO many school events in the first place? We wouldn't even have to get into the question of nut bans so much if food were just kept in the cafeteria at lunchtime. Kids deserve to have their classroom be a safe place for learning.

--Georgia has never had Chinese food. I view it as extremely high risk. I'd flip a lid if someone served her Chinese food at school. [EDITED TO ADD: I should clarify that I'm not blaming the teacher involved in this particular incident. I presume permission to eat the Chinese food was given by this girl's parents, but I have no idea. I just meant that as of right now I can't imagine ever feeling comfortable allowing Georgia to eat Chinese food at school, outside of my immediate supervision. But who knows, maybe I will feel differently about that when she's 13.]

--Georgia's preschool kept her Epipens at school, but this story reminds us all of how quickly a reaction can grow out of control. As they say, seconds count. (People TOTALLY forget that and look at you like you are crazy when you act annoyed about your daughter going to gym class in a separate building where her Epipen will be a block and a half away. No, they don't eat in gym. But do you want to be the one sprinting on a mad dash looking for an Epipen in case of some freak emergency? I don't think so.) I wonder if Georgia's teachers would've remembered where the Epi was in a time of crisis? I wonder if they'd have remembered how to use it? For my own sanity, I generally like to assume the answer is yes and put these terrible thoughts out of my head, but stories like this one are a painful reminder that things can go horribly wrong.

--it's not clear to me what all the facts were here. It appears there was no Epipen in the classroom or at the school to give the girl. But we have no idea how long it took the EMTs to arrive. Presumably they had epinepherine on board the ambulance, but I don't know. Also, as much as Epipens are thought of as a life-saving device (which they can be), I think people need to realize that sometimes they are not enough.

I don't mean to make this all about ME, and Georgia, and our family. My heart goes out to this family. I can't even imagine the pain and grief they are dealing with.

Now go hug your little ones, be they babies or all grown up. Squeeze them tight.