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60 Years of Saving Lives: Michelle’s Story


May 2021 Share with   facebook   twitter

Should I pack this in my son’s lunch?

It’s a rhetorical question for most, but for mom, author and Personal Support Worker (PSW) Michelle Nel, the question strikes very close to home.

“On the day our son had his first anaphylactic reaction,” she recalls, “I walked away from the emergency room in a daze. I felt blindsided by my son’s new food allergy diagnosis and overwhelmed by the realization that the world as I knew it had just changed.”
Michelle and Nolan
 
It was life altering, because Michelle’s son, Nolan, wasn’t six or seven. He wasn’t even two or three. He was just six months old. But as a PSW, Michelle was well aware of MedicAlert, and as she describes it, she only took a “millisecond” to make the call to MedicAlert to ensure her son was protected.

In the months that followed, Nolan experienced several more allergic reactions. Slowly but surely Michelle learned about Nolan’s multiple food allergens including peanuts, tree nuts, legumes, soy, eggs and shellfish. But that wasn’t all. Over time Michelle came to understand that Nolan also had environmental allergies, asthma, eczema and autism. With every new diagnosis, Michelle was sure to update Nolan’s medical information and his ID.

At three years of age, Nolan was set to begin junior kindergarten – an emotional rollercoaster for both moms and kids at the best of times.  For Michelle and Nolan, this milestone brought with it several other challenges they needed to navigate.

“With multiple food allergies and his language delay, Nolan was going to be challenged to share if something was wrong. It left me in an emotional frenzy,” says Michelle.

During Nolan’s first few years of school, Michelle worked closely with his teachers, principal, resource teacher, and school custodian, and began volunteering almost daily in the school library. Having rules, protocol and procedures not only in place but adhered to, allowed her to feel comfortable that Nolan was in a safe environment. That included education for all of these people about MedicAlert and its importance to Nolan and Michelle.
 
It was also the time where Michelle discovered her inner author.

“In 2010, I began writing stories as a fun and informative way to spread allergy awareness,” she says. “I wrote six books that turned into a published series called ‘Allergy Books for Kids’.  I have aspired to write books that will engage children who have food allergy and serve as resources to aid with allergy education for schools, caregivers, friends or family. Seeing my books embraced by so many and from all corners of the world has been incredible. As a mom, the greatest reward has been watching my son Nolan as he reads ‘his’ books.”
Michelle Nel with books

Michelle Nel with books

Michelle is a tireless proponent of community activism when it comes to allergies.  So much so that when MedicAlert launched the Connect Protect Program in the Ottawa region, Michelle became our first volunteer champion.

Connect Protect is a community policing partnership with more than 50 participating police services from across Canada. It focuses on providing frontline police officers with invaluable information to help them navigate emergency situations particularly with individuals who have with Autism Spectrum Disorder as well as Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

“I was quick to put my hand up to volunteer as a Connect Protect ambassador,” says Michelle. “Now, not only does Nolan have MedicAlert’s protection, but he also has the entire Ottawa Police Service watching out for him if he has a health-related emergency. I can’t tell you what it means to have that kind of peace-of-mind as an allergy/autism mom.”

Nolan, now a happy, thriving 14-year-old, has become quite a hit with the members of the Ottawa Police Service.  You can read more about Nolan’s special relationship with Ottawa’s finest here.
 
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