The girl who is allergic to life

Gabby Marler, 3, is so allergic to life it is unlikely she will go to school. Picture: AAP/Claudia Baxter
Gabby Marler, 3, is so allergic to life it is unlikely she will go to school. Picture: AAP/Claudia Baxter

GABBY Marler, 3, is so allergic to life it is unlikely she will go to school, join a playgroup or experience the fun of a sleepover.

Her multiple allergies, including dust mites, air conditioning, humidity, mould and soap, could prove deadly and there is nowhere on the planet that is safe for her ... not even her own home.

Gabby's little body rarely rests as sneaky triggers lurk everywhere.

The Queensland tot lives daily with the threat of an anaphylactic attack and her skin is ripped to shreds due to the endless tormenting itch of painful sores and rashes.

She cannot tolerate most foods with meat, vegetables and fruit her daily menu.

Dust mites are enemy number one. "Every day we have a mantra that we repeat. 'I am not itchy, I am not itchy'," mum Tiffany said.

Doctors suggested that the only safe environment for Gabby could be a medical bubble. However, Ms Marler said she would do everything she could to avoid her daughter being forced into solitary confinement.

"I want her to run and play with her sister in her own home," she said.

The stress on the family is crippling. The Marler house and yard are among the cleanest in the country as mum is on a constant rotation of scrubbing and washing and making meals from scratch.

"I have to clean everything inside and out from top to bottom every day just in case there is the slightest bit of dust. Clothes and bedclothes are on a constant wash cycle. I have another little girl Adalynn, who is 18 months, and my husband is working all hours to pay for the medical bills," Ms Marler said.

One in 20 children in Australia has a food allergy and food-induced anaphylaxis has doubled in the past decade. Hospital admissions have increased five times in the past 20 years and fatalities increased by 10 per cent each year. The Murdoch Children's Research Institute found that two in every three children would outgrow food allergies by age four.

"At the moment it seems there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Gabby," Ms Marler said. "It would be amazing if she improved as she gets older. In the meantime we dream of moving from the home we are in to build a home that is danger-free.

"Gabby needs a home that has special floors, aircon and paint."

Ms Marler lives a very different life than she dreamed of when pregnant with Gabby. Her thoughts of babyccinos, play dates and mothers' groups have been replaced by constant worry and around-the-clock cleaning to make sure her daughter's life-threatening allergies are kept under control.

"I don't like to compare myself to other parents as every family has different routines," she said. "There are many families in similar situations all over the world. But it is hard not to dwell on the daily decisions we need to make simply to keep our child alive. The isolation and constant exclusion is tremendously hard. Keeping Gabby safe but ensuring she is allowed to participate to some extent in life is a balancing act that is taken to the extremes.

"I miss being a part of normal society, I miss having a job where I receive recognition for my achievements, I miss being a participating member of society. All of these things are only for a period of time and, in the meantime, I want to ensure my daughter is happy and healthy.

"I hope she will have fond memories of her childhood, one that was filled with love, laughter and positivity. I don't want her to look back and think that I never wanted to spend time with her because I was always cooking, cleaning and taking her to appointments that she hated. But I suppose my biggest fear is that she may not live long enough to gather memories."

Topics:  allergy editors picks health

News Corp Australia

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