Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Reaction!

Well, it happened. I guess I always knew it would, sooner or later, but I had really hoped it would be later. Here's the whole story...

For me it started with a phone call as I was driving to my anaphylaxis support group meeting (I know, ironic, right?). I don't usually pick up my phone while I'm driving, but I was at a red light, so I figured I'd just make it quick. All Joel (my husband) said was, "Where are you? You have to turn around. Ella had a reaction, I gave her the EpiPen, she's doing better now, and the ambulance is on the way." So I hung up and started driving home. I'm not really sure how I made it the whole way without freaking out, actually. But I did. I met them at the emergency room, and of course by that time, Ella was ok. But I had to see it with my own eyes.

For Ella, it started at dinner time. She started wheezing and coughing, then turning red all over her face, neck, chest and back. Her mouth and cheeks were swollen. And the wheezing was worse than any asthma attack she had ever had. So Joel grabbed the EpiPen, grabbed Ella, and jabbed it into her thigh. She screamed, as this was the first time she'd ever had the EpiPen and I don't think she realized until that moment that there was a needle inside. But within seconds, she was able to breathe better and she calmed down. Joel immediately called 9-1-1 and the paramedics were there within 3 minutes (awesome!). They told Joel to give her some Benylin, and then some Ventalin (from her puffer) in the ambulance, as she was still wheezing. By the time she got to emerg, she was doing much better.

So we all spent the evening in the emergency room, where they kept her for observation for a few hours. Keeping the kids entertained was quite the task, especially as bedtime approached and then sailed on by...we didn't get the kids home to bed until after 9pm. But the nurses and doctors and paramedics were amazing. The kids got teddy bears from the paramedic, and the nurse gave Ella a little TinkerBell game.

As terrible as the experience was, there were a few good things that came of it. We now know that we can handle it - Joel was amazing (I'm pretty sure I would have freaked out, but he was so calm and did everything right). We now know that she can survive it. We now know the benefit of having an emergency plan on the fridge - Joel used it, and the paramedics said that it was great that we were so educated and prepared (yay us!). And most of all, we now know that it is SO important to be prepared for an emergency AT ALL TIMES, even when we're certain the food is "safe."

We're still not 100% clear what caused the reaction. Ella was eating leftovers from the night before, which were made at home with safe ingredients. We think that some peanut residue must have been on a Slurpee cup that Joel was drinking from while he fed the kids dinner. It could be as simple as someone eating a Reese Peanut Butter Cup while they restock the Slurpee cups, then Joel touching the cup and then Ella's food. That's why cross-contamination is such an important issue. And that's why I look like a crazy woman anytime we eat at a restaurant - wiping down Ella, the table, the chair, the cup, etc, etc, etc.

Anyway, bottom line: Ella's ok.