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Living with anaphylaxis

jody and girls
SUPPLIED
JODY AND HER TWIN GIRLS

Tomorrow we head to Tauranga Hospital to begin Wanda's immunotherapy. Yes Wanda is anaphylactically allergic to cats and dogs (also horses and rabbits). Which makes living in a country where we have the fourth highest cat/dog ownership in the world a little bit worrying!

How allergic is she?

One day a little over a year ago I left her and Diana at a friend's place while I went to the gym. One week prior to that Wanda's eye and half her face had swollen right up after a dog had licked her face but this time when I got home from the gym, my friend had Wanda in the bath as she was complaining about being itchy and was miserable.

I got her down to the car by this stage she was wheezing like barely breathing just a whistling sound really. I still did not understand how bad it was...I remember running back up to the house to get Sandy, Diana's booboo.

I got them both home, Diana was asleep on the couch and I brought Wanda in and she appeared to go to sleep but was in fact unconscious. I was very calmly thinking something's up, but also being a bit pioneer NZ about it and thinking I don't want to make a fuss...and at the same time a little relieved that BOTH girls were asleep!

I shook Wanda awake and gave her some antihistamine which she immediately threw up and that's when I thought "oh no". As Wanda never throws up. I rung 111. The ambulance came straight away. The staff were very calm, I picked up Wanda and the ambo staff got Diana and we got in the ambulance. They gave her adrenaline nearly straight away but Wanda's vitals - is that what they call them on Private Practice? - didn't improve. At the hospital they gave her another lot. Yes! Like Pulp Fiction but without Eric Stolz! Diana sang all the way in the ambulance, and danced around the bed at A and E.

A lovely friend came and picked up Diana and then I stayed with Wanda all hooked up to machines. I slept with her and held her tight. The ambo staff were great as were the hospital staff.

In the morning a nurse said "you were very brave mum, she nearly died,". And I thought lordy. And I said "is it alright if we go to people's houses with cats and dogs?" and she said, "well, it would be a matter of life or death, so NO." Double lordy.

My first thought was "Am I going to have to be like a peanut mum?" And then I realsied that yes I would have to be.

It has been a year now. And most of that year has been spent like John Travolta in the boy in the bubble (a film about a young guy who gets sick in the real world so he has to live in a plastic room. And yes also like George Costanza's nemesis Boy in the Bubble).

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Wanda gets a disability allowance (available to anyone in the population beneficiary or otherwise) which goes towards paying for the immunotherapy which will be between $2000 and $3000 over the next three years.

It was horrible when I went to WINZ to apply for the disability allowance and the woman case manager was one of the first people I had actually talked to about it, and she just rolled her eyes in disbelief, and said, "well is it a permanent disability? We don't cover it if it's not a permanent disability."

Though I had just realised that my dream of owning a small black staffy was now on hold, right at that point in time I wish I had one at hand. To be my friend, give my hand a nuzzle, and to evil eye that soul-less wench.

I think that is what is tiring at times. It's the always getting on with it, when sometimes you want someone to suggest what to do, to take the load off of thinking about what to do for one wee minute or just to hold you unconditionally.  I never even cried at the time, so then to share it with Miss Manners International it was like "are you for real?"  Doesn't take much to be polite...or professional. Perhaps she needs a Kiwi host course.

So after nearly a year of bubble living we have now begun venturing into people's homes where cats and dogs do play. Wanda takes her antihistamine and I watch her and she watches me till I look away and she can steal a touch of a cat. And now I know the girls like someone if they ask me if they have a dog or a cat because it means they would like to go to their house to play.

Diana still wants a cat, I still want a staffy and Wanda wants a unicorn. In the meantime we had four fish, now we have three - the doomed-from-the-day-I-named-her Rena died after being hugged a couple of times and washed with bubble bath - and a worm farm.

Here's to the immunotherapy working - it has an 80 per cent success rate. If not well enough to have pets, just well enough not to worry.

- Essential Mums

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