Monday, August 29, 2016

Why the EpiPen is so important and why a substitute isn't as good

We have carried an EpiPen in our purse or diaper bag since Isaac was one year old. He has a severe allergy to eggs that causes his throat to close up if he even takes one bite of them. We have never gone anywhere with Isaac that we didn't have this pen with us.

We have had to administer it four times.

Folks are posting all this stuff on the Internet during the last few days that say, "You don't need an EpiPen. You can use a shot and needle instead."

One of these guys was a doctor who said, "Use what we use in the ER."

Okay. Ummm .... you are a doctor trained to administer medication. I am a mom with a child who might die.

BIG difference.

So are their substitutes for the EpiPen?

Here's the short answer:


But here's the longer answer:

We are not talking about second-best here. An EpiPen is used when a child or adult is having an allergic reaction that could KILL THEM. My son's throat closes up. This means he could end up not being able to breathe.

This means he could die. Quickly. In minutes.

The reason the EpiPen is so amazing is it is because it is basically fool proof. Could my husband and I carry one of the needles shown above? Of course we could. My husband is a doctor, and I've given myself a zillion shots, and we could do it. I believe I would be able to handle it.

But I want to know if these people who say: "Just use something second best" could do it?

Picture the last time I had to administer this to my son.

I am standing in a parking lot in Portugal and my son has just eaten ice cream that had eggs in it and he's telling me that his throat hurts and it's getting tight and he's screaming and telling me he doesn't want the shot and people are watching and I'm crying. I'm on the phone with the medical clinic and Joan is holding my other two kids, and I am having to hold Isaac down and give him a shot on the side of the parking lot.

Folks that is NOT an easy thing to do. Now add in trying to operate a pen pictured above and you can see why the EpiPen is so valued by mothers everywhere. Okay so maybe I could learn to do it, but I am not the only one who might have to do it.

Could his babysitter do it?
Could his coach do it?
Could the mother of his friend do it?
Could his sibling do it?

An EpiPen is a brilliant creation because it is VERY easy to use. It isn't a pen even though that's what it is called. It's a shot in an apparatus that looks something like a pen. But it is so simple. You seriously remove the lid and shove it into the thigh, hold for ten seconds, and race to the hospital.

That's it.

It is a device to buy time. It is a device to prevent someone from DYING.

Yes, there are substitutes. And yes, you can use them. But they are not as easy.

And not as easy is a BIG DEAL when you are talking about life and death.

So yes, I think it is a SIN that someone is charging $600 for these pens when most parents need to have 2-3 sets. I think the someone who is charging that much KNOWS that this is a requirement in every home where a child could die of an allergy.

The end.


Unknown said...
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Pam said...

I completely agree with you! My children don't have allergies but I know if they did and they had an episode I would be completely freaked out and would need the absolutely easiest thing on the market to help. I know these people want/need good salaries but a salary in the millions is ridiculous when most of America is struggling to get by every week. How do they live with themselves?

Anonymous said...

I agree! Our son has food allergies too and we carry a set of epi-pens everywhere we go. We also have a set at daycare. Facing anaphylaxis and making a decision to give an epi-pen is not easy. The epi-pen is very intuitive and easy to train people to. I'm pretty comfortable with medical stuff, but even I would not want to trust that I could maintain my composure enough to very quickly draw up the right amount and inject it quickly. We spend a fortune on epi pens every year (and would love to have a 3rd set so each of us could carry one), but I'm in no way comfortable going to the syringe alternative.