Providing food allergy education, support and advocacy
for the Triad!
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Our son had his first allergic reaction at 8 month old. Since his diagnosis 14 years ago, we alway carry Epi. I was nervous that I wouldn't know the "right time" to use it and had nightmares of not being able to get to it when the time came. Time passed and we found ourselves in Kindergarten. One day, I got the dreaded call from school. Please come by...he just doesn't look right. When I arrived, I noticed he looked flushed, like he had been playing outside on a hot day. Strange because I had never seen this as part of an allergic reaction. Not too concerned, I gave him Benadryl, called his allergist and loaded him into his car seat. A few minutes down the road, he threw up. Definitely recognizing this as a sign of an allergic reaction, I became worried and drove faster. A few minutes later, I noticed that he looked very lethargic and was beginning to nod off. Adrenaline kicked in and I realized THIS IS IT. This is the moment I had been preparing for. I pulled the car over, grabbed the Epi out of my purse, gave him a quick reassurance that even though it would hurt, he would feel better momentarily. I jabbed the Epi pen into his little 5 year old thigh, right through his jeans, counted to 10 and stepped on the gas. The allergist was waiting for us at the door. Vomit covered and frantic, they took him in and gave more meds, steroids and such. We waited in the office for hours as he began to feel better and I began to calm down. We were given more steroids for the next week and information of what to look for in case of a biphasic reaction. The next day, we were off on vacation, as planned, and the previous day seemed like a bad dream. But, I never had another nightmare about using an EpiPen.
What I learned...
1. You can never predict from past reactions what an allergic reaction will look like.
2. When in doubt, give Epi. The earlier the better. I know know that flushing is a sign of an allergic reaction and I should have given Epi immediately upon arrival at the school.
3. Epi works! Being prepared is the best defense in our food allergy world of uncertainty.
My son had weighed off the charts low for his one year well visit. I asked my sister what she recommended to fatten him up. She suggested I give him peanut butter. I was already giving it to his older brother, who was 3 at the time, so I figured, why not? Within minutes he was covered in hives. His eye swelled shut. I quickly called the pediatrician's office, as his face started to swell twice the size. I was holding him in one arm, the phone in the other. While I was chatting with the nurse, he started to cough and struggle to breathe as his throat was tightening. I had poured some Benadryl down his throat (per the nurses instructions...no Epi in the house because this was our first experience). When I explained to the nurse his throat was closing, she told me to hang up with her and call 91. Within minutes the firemen arrived and swooped him out of my arms. The EMT's were close behind and they took him in the ambulance. I was not allowed in because I had my 3 year old with me. I followed the ambulance all the way to the hospital not know if he was ok. By the time I got to the hospital and frantically ran through the hallways looking for him, he was in the EMT's arms with a huge smile on his less swollen face. They had given him Epi that was in the ambulance. The ER doc was a little skeptical that it was the peanut butter (he needed some serious education) and let us go home rather quickly. He did tell us to follow up with an allergist, which we did two days later. In hindsight, I would have asked to stay several hours longer, in case of a biphasic reaction and wouldn't have left the building without our own Epi. So grateful for those EMTs that recognized anaphylaxis and acted quickly.
Years later, my 40 year old next door neighbor came knocking at my door. He was pale looking, swollen face, asthma inhaler in one hand, coughing. He had eaten 5 baby carrots at a school function, felt terrible, went home and used his inhaler. He took Benadryl but did not feel any better. He figured we knew what to do. My boys were upstairs doing their school work. I told him he needed Epi and he was like, "Nahhh, I'm fine". But his body was saying otherwise, so I ran into the kitchen and grabbed both of my son's EpiPen Jrs. We called down the boys (educational moment for sure). They giggled as I pulled down the neighbor's pants and injected one of my son's EpiPen Jrs into his thigh. Then, I did the other one right next to the other place injected, since he was an adult. (Later I found out I could have just done one in one leg and one in the other, because it was a bit sore with two shots so close). I laid him down on the couch, put his feet up and within seconds he was breathing better, his color came back and his swelling had gone done. What a miracle epinephrine is!!!