Monday, August 1, 2011

travelling with allergies

You’d think that the stressful part of travelling with allergic children would be the allergy part, but that was not the case with my trip from hell.

Five years ago (the fact I still remember should give you an indication as to the traumatic events that follow), I travelled with my children to Central Queensland to visit my family, and left my husband behind to hold the fort.

The night before our return, we stayed in Brisbane with my cousin, who blitzed the dust mites by spraying our mattresses with eucalyptus oil. That night Nicholas broke out in a rash all over his body, and cried and scratched until dawn. The result was a terrible combination: lack of sleep and a 22-month-old boy.

The fun began at midday (nap time) at check-in. It was hot, there was a huge queue and Nicholas decided to liven things up by throwing himself on the floor and screaming his lungs out. Between his screams, we had the check-in person try to confiscate Stella’s adrenaline auto-injector(despite our letter), so my blood pressure was sky high. The kids actually behaved on the plane to Sydney, pulling the wool over the flight attendants’ eyes so well that one even commented on their good behaviour.

Well, they obviously didn’t see Act Two. Our arrival in Sydney coincided with Nicholas reaching a frenzied, over-tired state and he decided it was time to play the bolting game. This involved me putting his squirming body down so I could fill out the departure forms while he made his own departures, disappearing at jet speed into the distance. (All of this could have been avoided if we had been allowed our super-small stroller on the plane – it had been bought specifically to avoid this situation.) Stella solved the problem by tackling Nicholas and sitting on him.

He then discoveed some “safe” chocolate. A sugar rush would have made no difference at this stage, I naively thought, and at least it would keep Nicholas quiet for 60 seconds. All was going well until, as we went through customs, I saw from the corner of my eye a chocolate-covered paw making its way towards my hair. Nicholas hadn’t eaten the chocolate. He had shoved it in his mouth, along with his fists, to make a wonderful chocolate paste.

Act Three. Passengers in transit were audience to a three-hour show involving a slightly deranged woman chasing a toddler from one end of the airport to the other, with a five-year-old doing the odd tackle.

Finally it was time to board the plane. Halleluiah! The end was in sight. But Nicholas hadn’t made his grand finale. I suddenly felt something warm oozing through my shirt, followed by an unmistakable odour. He had vomited bright orange twisties all over my shoulder. His only saving grace was that he fell asleep the instant we got settled into our seats (after a clean up). As I held his sleeping carcass, I vowed that nothing was going to make me wake him up, not even an emergency evacuation. Surely it was a scientific impossibility for anything else to wrong?

But it wasn’t. I looked over at Stella, who had been very well behaved even when customs confiscated her scoobies (those long, plastic string things that were all the rage back then) in case she strangled a passenger. To my horror, blood started oozing from of her nose, and turned into a gush. It was the biggest nose bleed she had ever had. We were rescued by a flight attendant who correctly read the look in my eyes and rushed to help.

The lesson I learned? Allergies do present a challenge but they can be the least of your worries when you travel alone with a child under the age of three.

Do you have any travelling horror stories?

Inga St├╝nzner