Wednesday, October 24, 2012

EpiPen Jr.

Anaphylaxis (a-na-fi-LAX-is) is a life-threatening allergic reaction that can occur quickly (as fast as within a couple of minutes). Symptoms of a life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) vary, but can include hives, itching, flushing, and swelling of the lips, tongue, and roof of mouth. The airway is often affected, resulting in tightness of the throat, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. EpiPen® is an Auto-Injector for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions
Our son Isaac is allergic to eggs. We avoid quiches and any form of eggs, but he has been fine with baked goods. He does, however, seem to have trouble with cremes and puddings and whipped creme type stuff. We have carried EpiPens with us since we first found out about his allergy when he was very young. He had woken up one day completely swollen, and we didn't know why. The second time his face swelled up, it was at the exact moment I put scrambled eggs to his lips. That confirmed what he was allergic to. However, in all that time, we have only had to administer the shot three times: two times JB did it. One time, our friend Linda (a pediatrician) was there, and she did it. The last time was well over a year ago.
But today, there was no John and there was no Linda. There was Joni and me at an ice cream shop/restaurant, and Isaac trying a new kind of ice cream: Cookies & Creme. Normally, Isaac always wants strawberry or vanilla or some combination of these two. But this time, he decided to try something different. And nearly immediately, he started telling me that his throat was hurting badly.
His cheeks got very flushed, and he started pulling at his neck -- pinching bunches of skin and kind of yanking on it. He asked to try my ice cream instead to help his throat feel better, but he wasn't finding relief. He saw marshmallows in my bag and asked if he could have some of those to help his throat. I let him, but of course, those didn't help. As he has aged, we have noticed that the facial swelling has not seemed to take place. Instead he has thrown up or complained of a numb tongue. He has never told me his throat was hurting. Hearing that really spooked me.
I always carry the pens, but I had left them in my purse in the van. So I told Joni I was going to run out and get them. On the way back in, I realized I had an old cell phone that they gave JB for emergencies in my purse. I looked through the numbers and saw that Nick & Kristy's number was in the saved contacts. I called Kristy. She gave me the number for Nick's office. Nick answered. He told me to give Isaac the shot immediately, but he also put JB on the phone just so I could hear his reassuring voice.
"He's acting a little bit better," I pleaded, even though I knew what he was going to tell me to do.
"It doesn't matter. With an airway, you should always be safe and just give the shot. You have to do it," he said. "Just remember to hold it in for 10 seconds."
Isaac, meanwhile, was acting fairly normal but was still pulling at his throat. He was telling me he was "okay" but that he wanted to go home and go to bed. I remembered JB's past words to me about children. That they will look good and then collapse, all of a sudden. I remembered him telling me that most people who die of  anaphylaxis, know that they have an allergy. They either forgot the medicine or they didn't administer it. I remembered him telling me that if I was ever in doubt, I should just give the shot. An extra dose of epinephrine (aka "epi") will never hurt him. But if an airway closes up, it may be too late.
So while Joni entertained Sidge and Abigail, I dropped Isaac' jeans and explained to him what I was going to do. I felt absolutely horrible. He was crying and yelling over and over again, "I don't want a shot! I don't want the EpiPen!" I knew I was doing something that needed to be done. But I didn't want to hurt my son. I didn't want him to cry. But yet I knew that I knew best.
Stabbing him was the first hard part. The second was holding it there for ten seconds while he begged for me to take it out.
As I removed it, it bled a lot, and JB was calling again. He told me that, as with any need to use an EpiPen, you should immediately seek medical attention. (I also always carry two pens just in case a second dose was needed.)
We headed up to the Clinic where the staff was expecting us. Isaac was very upset. He was mad at me and wanted Joni to hold him. He wouldn't immediately go to JB when he saw him as he was afraid of another shot. He just kept saying, "I want to go straight home and get my blue bear and small doggie." But as JB held him and assured him that a second shot was "highly unlikely," Isaac relaxed a bit, and by the time we were given the all-clear, he was nearly back to his normal self. When you give the shot, the lips immediately lose color and the face goes very pale. I was excited to see his color returning and we pulled into the house.
So, what did I learn today:
  • I must make sure I always have my pens with me. I cannot imagine how fearful I would have been if I had not had those with me.
  • I should not even stop to call JB. if he complains of his throat hurting, do not lose time. Give the shot right away.
  • I need to stay "fresh" when it comes to thinking about what he is eating. I need to especially pay attention when he is trying a new food.
But the biggest thing I learned was actually probably something I knew but was being reminded of. I was reminded of HOW MUCH GOD LOVES US. I realized that in the times in my life when I have been in pain, God may have even been administering the shot, but that He was doing it with my BEST INTEREST IN MIND. He was standing there saying, "Wendi, I know this hurts. But I am doing this because I love you. Something bad has happened, and I am going to help make it better. If you trust me, this will all come out okay." I love my son sooooo much. I was doing this because I love him. I would have done anything in that moment to make sure he was okay.

I never knew that my children would help illustrate for me, so perfectly, the amazing love of our Heavenly Father.


animalcrackerkat said...

Thanks for posting this!

I appreciate the reminder that there are things more important in life than the minor everyday struggles.

Mickey Beall said...

Thank you for sharing! Our greatest teachers are often our children! Awesome story... I'd like to share this with my adult daughter who had a severe allergic reaction when attacked by a swarm of "yellow jackets" she now has an EpiPen because a second time could be deadly (they told her)

Melinda said...

Bless your heart! I understand completely since I have two children with peanut allergies. The epi pen is scary, isn't it? I am so thankful that you did the right thing, the courageous thing. You are a wonderful mom, and your children are blessed by you.

Melissia said...

I also carry epi pens due to a severe allergy and just want to remind everyone that they do expire, so check their expiration dates and do keep them with you all the time!

Carrie said...

Egads. :(

Carrie said...

This makes me want to carry around an epipen just in case I ever witness someone going into shock.

TAV said...

Good job, Wendi! Your Isaac is one patient I will excuse from a flu shot :) I had a pt who had anaphylaxis yesterday from a (new) antibiotic I gave her for a UTI and is now in the ICU :( Scary. Yay for Epipens.

Anonymous said...

So scary! So glad that he is OK.

Gratefulfoodie said...

Bravo to you for giving it when you did not want to and for understanding that it had to be done!

I needed to hear your reminder about not allowing children to go sleep or rest.

Very important blog post. Thank you.