Mum: I thought she was allergic to me
Alysha Hardey, 14, has to be with someone trained to save her life with a shot of adrenaline at all times.
Four years ago she was sitting on a Whitford friend's couch when her eyes began to swell and her throat close over.
Over the next six months she suffered eight anaphylactic shocks. On the long list of Alysha's allergies are wheat, dairy, preservatives, dust mites, medicines and animals - a niggly allergy for someone with her heart set on being a vet.
Initially the family was too scared to venture further than 20 minutes from Middlemore Hospital, which had become Alysha's second home.
Her mum, Jacqueline, worried all the time. She began to think everything would poison her eldest daughter.
"I wondered if she was allergic to me.
"You don't stop worrying but we're a little more confident with what we're doing now."
There was no common link between the spate of attacks.
"Doctors did every test - hair, muscle, blood, but nothing showed what was stopping her breathing," Mrs Hardey said.
It is extremely rare for tests not to reveal the cause of anaphylaxis.
The Hardeys are no strangers to allergic reactions. Alysha's dad and younger sister Victoria, 11, suffer from food intolerances and Mrs Hardey suffers anaphylaxis from codeine.
The Howick College student said to empty the pantry of all foods the family was allergic to would leave it bare.
She is so fed up with being prodded and poked her mother has agreed to stop testing unless she has another attack.
Alysha is now so schooled in anaphylaxis she recognises the warning signs.
"The first thing I notice is my cheeks then my throat starts to close over, my lips swell and my eyes puff up."
Mrs Hardey said it happens very quickly. Once Alysha felt tingling in her cheeks and within two minutes her heart rate had soared to 232 beats per minute.
Mrs Hardey said she has discovered a lot of New Zealand foods contain additives illegal elsewhere.
"We took the kids to America at Christmas and it was much easier to shop."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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