The greatest fear of any parent is losing their child. We want our children to be safe and happy and healthy, no matter what. Anything that threatens them in any way is automatically the enemy and must be removed permanently from their lives. When it’s an allergy, however, or any chronic illness, we can’t do anything about it.
There’s no cure.
There’s no permanent solution.
All we can do is manage it as best we can in order to keep our kid as safe as possible. But what happens when the worst does happen, despite our best efforts? It recently happened to me, and to be honest I think it scarred me more than it scarred my kid – and it was them that went into severe anaphylactic shock.
I watched as my daughter’s throat swole up so much that she couldn’t take in any air, after she took what was supposed to be a safe bite of chocolate.
The label said, “May contain traces of nuts.” Emphasis on the May.
My daughter has a peanut allergy, which isn’t so bad that she can’t be around the legumes without reacting, but it is serious enough that she can’t eat any food that has a trace of peanuts.
When she picked up the chocolate bar from the gas station he read the label and thought to herself, “Eh, safe enough.”
Admittedly, this wasn’t the best attitude to have, but food that may contain nuts has never been a problem for us.
Until it was.
Suddenly she started to freak out in the passenger seat beside me. Her face immediately started to swell up. Her eyes started to run. She became flushed and started to wheeze and hyperventilate.
She didn’t even need to tell me what was up, I recognized immediately the signs of a severe allergic reaction.
I pull over to the side of the road with my heart in my throat. I tell her to stay calm. I get out her EpiPen, tell her I’m going to inject her. I put the injector on her upper thigh and push it down. I push the car seat back so my daughter can lay down. I check her throat to see if the swelling has gone down.
I’m was relieved to see that it had. I ring 911 as I tell her to breathe, looking at her to see if I need to administer another epinephrine injection, but her symptoms seemed to be contained.
Medical help comes 5 minutes later.
My daughter is brought to a hospital where he’s kept overnight. She gets released the next day with a replacement EpiPen and a new awareness of what may contain nuts.
She also gets the week off of school, plays a lot of video games and is spoiled by me. She’s fine. Me? I’m shaken. If it wasn’t for the fact that I had a plan of action for if my daughter had an allergic reaction she could’ve died.
You can never be over-prepared, in my experience. Since I knew what steps to take and when to take them, my daughter was OK. But if I hadn’t? I don’t want to think about it. That’s why it’s so important that parents and caregivers have a plan of action for if their child has an allergic reaction. Here’s mine, based off of FARE’s own.
Recognize the common signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
- Shortness of breath, wheezing, repetitive cough
- Pale or bluish skin, faintness, weak pulse, dizziness
- Tight or hoarse throat, trouble breathing or swallowing
- Significant swelling of the tongue or lips
- Many hives over body, widespread redness
- Repetitive vomiting, severe diarrhea
- Feeling something bad is about to happen, anxiety, confusion
Mild allergic reaction vs anaphylactic shock, which one is it?
- If mild, give them Antihistamines
- If severe anaphylaxis, administer an epinephrine injection
Administer the epinephrine injection as per directed
- See if the symptoms lessen, if they don’t administer another epinephrine injection
- Call for medical services and wait with the affected
Remain calm throughout and reassure the affected
Write these down, give it to teachers or coaches or any other adult that takes care of your child. It’s easy to be prepared for the worst, and the worst never has to be the worst. It can easily be navigated and managed. Just follow your plan of action and you’ll be fine.