Paul’s eye and the power of Facebook – how news of an allergic reaction reached six countries before mom and dad

Paul was sent to the school office last week. His teacher was concerned about his eye. The school was unable to reach me so they got hold of my emergency contact, Ana Lopez. Ana is the proprietor of a convenience store in Luperon, Dominican Republic. Ana’s family has deep roots in Luperon. Ana provides a mail service through her shop, and has contacts within the cruising community.

When Ana heard the news about Paul’s eye she had no way to reach me. Ana contacted another cruiser who happened to be in Puerto Rico. He sent out a Facebook message. That message was picked up by my sister in Canada, a friend in Mexico, and a cruising family in Grenada. Several cruisers in Luperon saw the Facebook postings, found Rick and brought him to the school.  My aunt in England (who had also seen the Facebook message) was relieved.

Meanwhile, I was oblivious to the effort to reach us. As I stood in the school yard it appeared to me that I was doing a standard after school pick up. To me, Paul looked like he had pink eye, and I would be keeping him at home for a few days.Nevertheless, I was grateful that his teacher had taken him to the school office. Then, I saw Rick and he explained to me that he had been brought by motorbike because the school was worried that he was having an allergic reaction.

Paul has multiple food allergies and is anaphylactic to tree nuts (walnuts, pistachios, and cashews). An allergic reaction must be taken seriously as his allergies are life threatening.

Still, I was convinced Paul had pink eye and began treating him with antibiotic eyedrops. I took Paul to the hospital the next day to make sure that I was treating him appropriately.

The doctor was sure that he was looking at an allergic reaction. We have no idea what sparked his reaction, though I have seen him react to pollen in a similar fashion.

Paul is now taking eye drops for allergies, and was prescribed a powerful antihistamine.

Thanks to the community in Luperon and in countries beyond!

I will be carrying my cell phone with me from now on. Paul will be back at school tomorrow.







  1. Thanks for sharing your sons story, my son had a anaphalactic response to a nut just a few months before we started our journey to boat life. I felt like my world was crumbling around me at the time. It’s encouraging to see that it hasn’t been an obstacle to your family. Good winds!


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