The key to staying alive for my first 18 years… Mum’s the word

Rory second most allergic boy in Leeds

I have to say I’m humbled and a little shocked at the reaction to my first blog for Safer Eating. I have not had that many nice things said about me in short succession since my wedding day. And at my wedding, I just assumed it was because I was plying my friends with free booze.

The reaction that meant the most to me was from a lovely lady called, Helen Catterall, who said:

Second most allergic boy in Leeds

I mean, my jaw literally dropped to the floor like Jim Carey’s in The Mask. I don’t see myself as an ambassador, I’m just a guy with allergies that gets funny looks from people whilst I’m reading the back of every packet in the supermarket. Yet, here is Helen, saying that I’m a great person. In my eyes, she has a far harder job than I do – she has to protect the life of someone else because her child has allergies. Now, I have my own five-year-old and I have a hard enough job trying to stop her from eating stuff off the floor, let alone keeping her away from allergens.

This got me thinking about my mummy, or ‘Mum’ as she prefers to be called. I sometimes try and call her ‘Mummykins’, but that’s purely because she hates it (God, children are horrible aren’t they?).

Anyway, Mum was the first person to realise I had allergies. When I was a baby, she would routinely change her clothes about ten times a day because I vomited so much. I was also covered in eczema and at this point she realised something was amiss. Due to all of this (and me just generally being a baby), I screamed a lot. Why she then had two more babies I will never know.

The biggest scare I must have given her is my first anaphylactic reaction. As an impressionable toddler, we have all had a moment where we spy a box of eggs on the side and think, “MINE”. Well, on this particular rainy morning in Manchester, I did just that, pulling an entire six-pack of eggs directly on top of my head. (I don’t know if it was actually raining, but as it was in Manchester, I’ll assume it was to help paint the picture for you). For any parent with a ‘normal’ child this would just have been a bad morning, however my skin started to swell wherever the egg touched and I ended up looking, as has been described to me many times, like the “Elephant Man.” I can’t even imagine what was running through my mother’s mind as she frantically dialled 999. It’s moments like this that make me thank a higher power that I’ve not hereditarily passed on my allergies to my children.

Most children can be left at a nursery at some point in their lives. Of course, nursery helps with basic social skills and development, but as I’m a parent – I know the real truth! It gives parents a well-deserved break from their children ensuring that they can have a little rest, get through the millions of jobs they still have to do and also gives them time to lose the desire to throttle their little ones in the process. On the day I was left for my first trial at nursery, my mum kitted me out with a huge badge saying, “DON’T FEED ME ANYTHING.” Unfortunately however, when she left the room to finalise paperwork for two minutes, she found that someone had given me a biscuit and I was sat happily munching on it, crumbs falling all over my big badge. I can almost imagine her frustration walking away from the nursery, any hopes of a little breathing room in tatters.

It’s no wonder that every birthday, Mum would tell me the same story, about when her and Dad were discussing whether to get a National Trust membership. They wondered if I would even be alive to see out the full 10-year membership offer. A sad and slightly harrowing thing to be told on your birthday, but I always took it to mean… I’m a miracle child. Yet, in reality it’s down to my miracle mum for keeping me alive all these years. She deserved to tell me that story on every birthday as she grinned from ear to ear with pride. I’ve now successfully arrived at 31 years old and that’s ALL because of her.

The thing is being a full-time mum must suck. I mean I’ve got two beautiful children, but if I have to look after them by myself for a full weekend – I’m ready for a holiday to the south of France (minus the children of course). So how anyone does it all the time is beyond me. But mostly it must suck because you never get thanks for it. When my first child was born it was the first time I could honestly see things from my Mum’s point of view. I could suddenly see the other side of every argument I’d ever had with her and the only thing I could do was give her a hug and say, “I’m so, so sorry.”

The thing is my mum is a hero and she deserves a medal for keeping me alive. To prove it further, she also studied for and got a PHD whilst I was growing up.

I want to give a shout out to the tons and tons of mums of “tricky eaters” who are researching how to make life better for their kids. Take Karen, (Safer Eating MD) for example, she knows everything there is to know about allergies. I only found out last week that cooked egg can cause different reactions in some people with egg allergy compared to raw egg, and egg is one of the allergens that might kill me, so I thought I knew everything. The mums out there are fantastic and nobody says it enough, because as children we just take them for granted and assume they know.

So, let me finish by saying that if your child is anything like me, they are eternally grateful for everything you’ve done for them. This will not stop them rebelling, or treating you at times like you’re the enemy, but that is just a part of growing up. So I’m taking this mantle on myself, on behalf of people with allergies all over the world, to say, “thanks Mum.”

By Rory Mason – the second most allergic boy in Leeds (allergic to egg, peanut, sesame, milk, soya, goat’s milk, shellfish)

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