Vigilance to stay alive as family battles severe allergies
FOR 14 years, Heidi Finlay has fought a daily battle to keep her children alive and healthy.
It is a challenge any parent who has a child with severe allergies and intolerances would know all too well.
Mrs Finlay is encouraging people to change their attitudes towards allergies.
In many ways, the Finlays are just your average Coast family.
Heidi and husband Paul live in Sippy Downs with their four gorgeous kids Bailey, Aydan, Noah and Shiloh.
What makes this family a little different, however, is that their children have severe allergies and intolerances.
For the past 14 years the Finlays have been battling to lead a normal life, despite the challenges associated with these at-times life-threatening medical problems.
Their allergies and intolerances range in severity.
Mrs Finlay said finding out her children could die from an allergic reaction had been the toughest thing to deal with.
She said as a family they had to adjust to a life full of doctor and specialist appointments and learn a whole new way of life.
"We learnt new ways to cook without what would seem main ingredients such as milk, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, egg and gluten," Mrs Finlay said.
"And how important it was to read and question everything our children would be offered to eat."
Mrs Finlay has battled depression due to the "huge impact" her kids' allergies have had on her and her husband's life.
She said "everything was and still is out of our control", and it was not as a result of anything they did or didn't do as parents.
"Our four kids all have different reactions to different things and three out of the four have epipens in the case of severe reaction anaphylaxis," Mrs Finlay said.
"The causes of anaphylactic reactions in our children are different, we have one that is nut anaphylaxis and the other is latex and latex fruit allergy and recently just grown out of severe egg anaphylaxis.
"In the early days we had the kids' anaphylaxis to milk, wheat, egg, soy, and nut and over time they slowly have grown out of some of these."
Mrs Finlay encourages people not to fob-off people, when they talk about their allergies or their child's.
"Please believe them," she said. "Never attempt to downplay the risk or assume a little bit of an allergen would be okay, as it isn't - it is life or death."