Labour Day weekend is spent labouring over back to school preparations. The first step is rummaging through the old back pack that was dumped on the floor at the end of June and has been stepped on and kicked around, but not opened since. It’s with trepidation that I stick my hand in to the bottom of G’s cavernous backpack. I hope to find pencils or pens to reuse but usually I find unwrapped sticky candies or petrified carrot sticks.
Once the bag is sorted, step two involves searching the art cupboard for any and all items that can be called school supplies in the futile attempt to avoid a trip to Staples. Leaving school supplies shopping until Labour Day is ridiculous but I do it every year. Staples is crowded and picked over, Walmart is worse… way worse. As I sit writing this, I’m avoiding this inevitable shopping trip that the boys love and I, well, don’t.
The back to school shopping I never avoid is the one to the drugstore. Back to school purchases for us don’t just include erasers and duo tangs, we always buy a new supply of Epipens. Yes plural, we buy more than one at a time. The shelf life of the epinephrine is about a year, 18 months if you’re lucky (expiry date is clearly marked). Every September we buy a new supply. First, the school requires one specifically for G to be left in the office. Second, G gets a fresh one to carry with him. This year he’ll get a new Alleject to replace the one he lost. The third one I buy is for us to have at home. If there are any we already have that have not expired, they get kept in strategic places (car, my Mum’s house, etc.). The ones that have long expired we use for practice on unsuspecting oranges.
I find it really shocking how many parents do not supply an Epipen to their child’s school. If a child is anaphylactic to an allergen, they need epinephrine immediately. Waiting for an ambulance to arrive is not fast enough. It also blows me away that kids do not carry their injectors with them. It’s so easy and less cumbersome than ever before. The length of time it takes to break open someone’s locker and search for an epipen may be the difference between … well you catch my drift. I don’t want to get all ‘Debbie Downer’ but, really, what have you got to lose?
I know that at $125 each the auto-injectors aren’t cheap. Get them with a prescription, which will help if you have a medical plan, ask your doctor or school principal if there are programs available to help with the cost. Back to school shopping can be an expensive time: new princess backpack, set of smelly pens, sushi shaped erasers, but the most vital and valuable is life saving medicine. All the binders, notebooks and calculators are useless if your child doesn’t have an Epipen when they need it.