I don’t use our company blog for too many personal things anymore, but this one I just needed to share to the largest audience as I can to help explain what I learned about our experience and possibly help you understand allergic reactions.
Last night we experienced our worst fears in the life of an allergy kid’s parents. I guess we knew it would happen eventually, we were just extremely proud of our 3 year track record of defending our little angel from the foods her body considers toxic. To set the scene she is allergic to (in order of severity) Dairy, Egg, Peanuts, Tree Nuts, Shellfish, Fish, Wheat, Soy. Based off the 3 rounds of skin testing; and backed up with a thorough blood workup we are able to assess the severity of her allergies; but the top line reaction we were hoping to never experience. (BTW she is allergic to cockroaches based off her blood work, lol )
We can’t even begin to explain our methods of keeping her safe on a daily basis. Everything from her own placemats at the table, to completely changing the family’s diet to be safe around her as well, to even buying our own mobile kitchen (our camper) so that we can vacation. Take you quickly to last night. We were at a friend’s house for dinner; and as always Jen prepared Shayla’s meal to bring with us. She deliberately made the same items that we were going to be enjoying at our get together so she doesn’t have to feel “different”. Made a small batch of pasta salad (quinoa pasta) Burger (bunless) Even brought safe cookies for dessert. On the “Adult” table were chips and salsa. The Hint of Lime Tostitos that I love so much but we never get because we know there is dairy in them. Not sure what they need dairy for, but you learn there are a LOT of things with unnecessary ingredients in our food supply. (How about some sandwich meat having dairy in it.. figure that one out for me) While the kids were playing in the yard we enjoyed some of those awesome chips and salsa. As a note we do have whole corn chips normally around our house. The organic all natural ones that have corn in them, and nothing else. (kinda the way it should be you think) Skip to the end. After dinner was cleared the platter of chips was still around and after seeing the other kids take a couple of chips, Shayla naturally wanted one too; she reached up and took one without us seeing.
She took one bite out of the corner of a chip. Jen and I looked her and then at each other and said.. “She can’t have that!” Jen smacks it out of her hand then runs and grabs wipes and Shayla’s “Bag”. In the bag is a bottle benadryl, two epipens, and her inhaler; she is never without it. Trying to keep calm I said. It will be fine, she just had the smallest bite of the corner of a chip. And it’s not like she ate a piece of cheese. It’s just the powder on the chip that might have a little sour cream dust on it..??? I expected hives; which appeared within a minute around her mouth. I prepared for a possible vomit or something and that’s about it. After a few minutes she ventured back into the yard to play with the kids. Still being calm I was confident it couldn’t escalate too far. About 15 minutes later She walked back over to the patio we were sitting and fighting for every breath… she said… “I…. need… my…. inhaler.”
We sprung into action. As calm as can be as to not induce any traumatic anxiety; we ventured into the house where we can see she is struggling to breathe, bright red, feverish, blinking slowly, mucous pouring out of her nose, and hives. Not to mention drooling. We tried to administer her inhaler, but she couldn’t even breathe enough to pull that off. We knew then it was time for the hospital and the cap was off the EpiPen. Our hosts offered to keep Leighton while we head to the ER. So we did and are so incredibly thankful they could.
What’s happening to us right then. Its not about us… but my heart is in my throat, I can feel the beating of my heart in my earlobes… I can’t look at Jen because she is shaking and crying; mascara down the cheeks kind of crying. If I look at her it would in turn make me cry and I just can’t do that for Shayla’s sake. She needs to be as calm as possible. Anxiety increases anaphylaxis (blood flow and pressure). I want to give her the pen but am so scared. Worried I’m overreacting. Worried it wouldn’t be necessary. As we frantically look online at the medical care facilities nearby (and open for business besides the hospital 20 minutes away); we knew the only real option was the 20 minute ride to the hospital. Do we call the ambulance? Do we drive? We have to drive. We have to go now. Jen and I both agreed I would give her the Epipen in the truck and she would drive.
20 minutes… the LONGEST in my life. After about 4 minutes of being in the car, Shayla was struggling worse than before and extremely hot. Fighting for every breath and not able to say a full word. Feverish, the kind of fever you can feel from a few inches away. I knew right then I couldn’t wait another minute. She needed the shot and she needed it NOW. I was terrified. Not terrified of the shot, or administering it; rather of how much it will hurt her. How will she scream? She can’t even catch her breath to say a word….. I showed the Epipen to her and said “Ok sweetie, I have to give this medicine now. Do you want me to? She said “Yes” It’s going to bite your leg but you will feel better” All I could think about is that it had to work. It just couldn’t fail. I couldn’t fail. I can admit it today, but she wouldn’t have made it to the hospital if I didn’t. So BAM…………. and press hard, hold for 10 seconds. Trying to keep calm as my sweetheart looked me in the eyes with disbelief that I would be hurting her this bad. The eyes… the ones I only see full of smiles are now looking at me in terror. She screamed a scream I’ve never heard. I kept pressing. And counting. One one thousand, two one thousand… She kept screaming. “Why is that hurting me so much!!!!!?????” She yelled. I hear Jen crying while driving….
We see a police officer at a convenience store….. pull over….. Excuse me can you help us get to the hospital? Through this traffic? “Um… I CAN’T do that?! That’s Taboo. If you got into an accident I wou……..” Jen peels out of the parking lot. (That’s about all I have to say for that waste of 40 seconds)
After about 3 minutes Shayla is breathing a little easier. We are playing all her favorite Frozen songs off the CD permanently installed in the car radio. I’m Singing, Jen’s Singing, Shayla is smiling but can’t sing. I open the window. I close the window. Fresh air.. No she’s cold. We get off the exit and follow the blue H signs…. The road is blocked off……. Paving. Jen jumps out of the truck and asks the officer blocking the road how we are supposed to get to the hospital. He orders a construction worker to lead us through the construction zone with his work truck. Yellow lights blinking everywhere we drove over fresh lose pavement, manhole covers, blew street lights… Slammed the truck in park in front of the ER door and Jen ran her inside as I parked.
I walked into doors of the ER and see a completely packed waiting room. My heart sank. Was this the right choice? It had to be. They opened the doors right up and took us in moments after that. I’m still terrified, but know we are safer now that we are in the hospital. Shayla is progressively getting better. She’s the hit of the ER. Telling funny stories. Using the barf bag as an elephant trunk and encouraging the others around to make elephant sounds with her. Explaining to the doctor what the stethoscope is and calling it the telescope. She also asked why they didn’t do the “pressure” thing on her arm; pointing to the blood pressure monitor. After a couple of hour stay, the doctors prescribed some steroids and released us.
Released us???? Um I’m pretty sure you are supposed to stay and be monitored because as good as she is progressing the Epi will wear off and her toxins are still in her. Anyway. We live 3 minutes from our hospital and with that in mind; it was just a waiting game. Before Shayla was released I went back to get Leighton and we returned to pick up Jen and Shayla. The truck ride home was just about an hour. I cried for almost all of it. Jen sat in the back seat in between the kids car seats. As per their request she held each of their hands and they passed out for the whole ride. The only sounds were our sniffles.
We stayed up most of the night watching her sleep in our bed between us. She kicked me a lot in her sleep. She sweat ALL night. Soaking wet sweat. (A side effect of the Epi Pen)
There WILL be a next time. And next time I WILL not wait, or hesitate to administer the EpiPen. And I know Jen will not either. It brought us the time we needed. My only regret was not giving it to her 7 minutes earlier when we made the decision that it was in fact, serious. They say 2 or more symptoms are enough to need to administer. She was showing 6. I get it. I hope you do too. If you have the prescription, don’t be afraid of it. Be brave, use your head, YOU know best when you should use it. Everyone told us… you will KNOW when it’s right. Well now we do. Then go get the help from there.
Today she is strong as can be.