Yesterday I would have said yes, unequivocally. My son has been anaphylactic (meaning life threatening reaction) to so many foods since he was 9 months old, that I made it my business to be on top of it. We never go anywhere without Benadryl and epi-pens, however up until this time we’ve never had to use more than Benadryl, and that was always as a precaution. One or two hives, or some itchiness. No worries.
Well today I was in for the shock of my life, literally. And I tell this story so all of you mommas out there will be careful, and diligent and watch your child closely! Today was allergy shot day. Isaiah has been getting allergy shots for a year. We brought Candyland with us to wait out our post shot 20 minutes. After his shots he was complaining it hurt. Not to common with him, he’s a trooper, but I chalked it up to wanting some attention. He then said he was cold and could he put on his jacket, I agreed because there was a slight draft form the overzealous air conditioner. Then it was time for Candyland. He was quiet, not getting as excited as normal, asking me to move his pieces for him. He won a couple of times, we played three games and it was time to go. As per doctor’s instructions, I always check the injection sites before we leave. Arm one, good. Arm two, not so good, two giant hives were flourishing. So we walked in to the shot nurses office and I showed her. She asked if there were anymore and I said no. She asked Isaiah how he was feeling, he said “fine”. So she said, sit outside for 10 more minutes and lets see how it goes. As he turned around to walk out we saw 4 more welts on the back of his neck. At this time we called the doctor in, we were quickly escorted to a room and then what I had managed to so skillfully avoid as far as food allergies went, for so many years, occurred as a result of environmental allergy shots. My son was going into anaphylactic shock. What? But he keeps saying he’s fine. But his blood pressure is dropping. But he says he’s fine. But he has hives all over now, and they are growing. BUT HE SAYS HE’S FINE! Well he wasn’t fine. He’s 7, and apparently a 7-year-old is not ready to answer detailed questions about his health. Yes he admitted to being itchy, but he’s always itchy. Other than that all he could say was I’m fine. The nurse, whom I truly trust, said “look at him, he’s not fine”. And so I really looked. His skin and lips were pale, his eyelids were slightly puffy and under his eyes they were red and puffy. He was moving a little strangely, and I had noticed all of those odd things right after the shot, that I chalked up to moodiness. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the hives!
First step, mega dose of Zyrtec. It did nothing, and he continued to get worse. Then came the dreaded epi-pen. I had avoided the epi-pen for 5 and a half years! And now, in the doctor’s office, to control his allergy shots no less, the dreaded epi! Poor Isaiah, I had promised him no shots. The minute he heard he started bawling. Another indication that this resilient kid was not OK. If you’ve ever seen anyone get an Epinephrine injection you know it’s not a pretty site. Basically it looks like the person is dying. Literally all color is drained from their body. Then they start to heave, and often throw up. Then they start to shake and can’t stay still, although they have too to get their blood pressure up.
The nurses seemed a little panicky when they looked at him. He had to lie with his feet elevated. After about 15 minutes his color returned, and honestly, to look at him you would think nothing happened. But it did. And you should know it. Because I thought anaphylactic shock would be obvious, I thought he’d be gasping for air, I thought his throat would close, or his tongue would swell. I thought he’d be covered in a rash or hives. I thought he’d be throwing up. I thought it would be plain as day. Well it’s not.
When he was better I asked him if he could explain how he felt when he started to feel bad. He said “I admit I felt bad, but I could not tell you how. But now I feel great!” So he was always “fine” but he wasn’t “fine”. Now he was great, and the horror show was over.
If you have an allergic child, please take this to heart. If I had left the Dr’s office before the 20 minutes, or without checking his arms. We’d be in the hospital right now. The “mild” anaphylactic shock he was experiencing would have turned not so mild pretty quickly. Anaphylactic shock kills. And this could have just as easily been a food reaction. I could have brushed off the itchiness, or the one or two hives, as him being an allergic child.
Here’s my mantra. You are your child’s only advocate, if you don’t look after them no one will. If you have an allergic child it is your duty to be hyper vigilant. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. I thought that. I was wrong. And always, ALWAYS, carry your epi-pens and benadryl WHEREVER you go!