When considering everyday life with a severe allergy, you wouldn’t necessarily be aware of the impact this would have on routine tasks, such as playing football. Anaphylaxis Campaign Support Group Leader Tracey Dunn highlights the areas she has to think about when choosing football coaching for son Frank and how preparation was key for a football trip to Dublin.
Tracey explains “We found out that Frank had a peanut allergy when he was six, we knew he was allergic to animals however he was given a selection pack from his Beaver Colony for Christmas. One night he looked poorly, he had bitten into a Snickers bar, so we went to hospital who confirmed it was an allergic reaction which was managed by antihistamine and Ventolin. At a later hospital appointment a skin prick test was carried out which confirmed he was allergic to peanuts as well as animals.
Frank’s love of football may not have come as a surprise to Tracey who mentions they are a complete football household. Frank started playing for his development centre; Wiltshire Football Academy two years ago and plays both defence and on the left wing. The opportunity for Frank to represent his football team in Dublin arose and while this was a very exciting time it did require Tracey to consider Frank travelling, eating and accessing his medication on a busy trip.
Prior to the trip Tracey made sure that the coaches, teammates and other parents were aware of Frank’s allergies and were vigilant. All the coaches were first aid trained and Tracey explains that they had been teaching Frank about his allergy and the things he needs to ask. “We are teaching him and equipping him with what he needs to do to keep himself safe, it’s all in the preparation.” Tracey also contacted the hotel and pub where they would be eating beforehand and spoke to the kitchen staff several times.
Tracy explains that Ryanair were great when accommodating Frank’s allergies and made an announcement on the flight informing other passengers about his allergies and requested that nuts were not consumed. While on the trip Frank was accompanied by his dad and self-carried his medication in a day sack in an insulated case which everyone knew contains his AAIs. While Frank was playing football his adrenaline auto injectors were kept on the side line. It was a successful trip for the team who won most of the games they played!
When asked what advice she would give to others Tracey said “You’re more than your allergy! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. We take each situation as it arises, we manage it to find a way to enable Frank to do what he wants. We eat out a lot and find chains like Giraffe have lots of allergy information and are fantastic at accommodating Frank’s allergies.”
We are so grateful to Tracey and Frank for sharing their story with us and their tips for travelling, we look forward to seeing how Frank’s football career develops and where it takes him in the future!