You might think it strange that I’m sitting here eating chili cheese sticks from Black Hound Bakery (yum!) and drinking a glass of water when just a few hours ago I was sitting in an ambulance on my way to the hospital after my son had an anaphylactic reaction to a smidge of ice cream I gave him. It really was just a smidge. He seemed really to really want some of what his sister and I were so obviously enjoying after a day of shopping. I didn’t think there was any harm in just a touch of it on his tongue. That little touch wound up more around his mouth than in his mouth and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Within a few minutes his lips began to swell and I looked at him and thought this is NOT a good sign. Despite my nursing school training I still didn’t trust myself to call it as I saw it, an anaphylactic reaction. I immediately took a photo and messaged my pediatrician (who may rue the day he ever let me have his personal cell phone number). Trying to remain calm, I wrote, “Hey quick q… Just gave Marcus a taste of ice cream and his lips swelled up. Should we be worried?” I waited a second before calling and leaving a message with his service as well. I guess this is where my medical training instinctively kicked in because I knew if I was right, this could quickly turn into a bad situation. I started to notice Marcus getting lethargic and falling asleep almost instantly. My phone rang and it was the pediatrician who confirmed what I already knew. I sprinted to the front of the store with my son and as calm as possible asked them to call 911 as my son was having an anaphylactic reaction to the ice cream I gave him a few minutes ago.
It took about 3-4 minutes for the ambulance to arrive and we were trying hard to keep Marcus awake. He was desaturating fast. I could not believe how calm I was being. I did exactly as the EMT’s told me. Got on the stretcher with him and we were on our way. Marcus was barely awake, but not trying to sleep anymore. He was quietly observing all the commotion. Definitely not his usual behavior but they placed him on an O2 sat machine where he fluctuated from 92% to 100% as they gave him oxygen. He happily placed it in his mouth like it was some teething toy. The EMT’s had evaluated that they should take us not to the nearest hospital but rather one that had a Pediatric emergency room and also happened to be en route to home. In minutes we were in the pediatric emergency room where he was given a dose of oral Benadryl. Once again, thankfully to an informed conversation I had with the EMT’s, instead of shot of Epi(nephrine) or a shot of Benedryl, he was given an oral dose which eased everyone especially the infant who would have been wailing at the top of his lungs. I guess that would have a been a good thing too, opening up his lungs. It was funny arriving into the ER with the EMT’s informing the staff that “Mommy speaks Nurse”, all I could say was… um barely… The swelling around Marcus’ mouth had gone down significantly and you would never know anything was wrong because he was the happiest patient. He thought being in the ER was sheerly the best thing ever! See Video. After being evaluated, we were cleared to go home. The reaction was mostly localized thanks to it only being a “smidge” of ice cream. Armed with a bottle of Benadryl and instructions to get his allergies evaluated as soon as possible, we went home.
The baby is now fast asleep thanks to the side effects of Benadryl, none the wiser to the fact he probably shaved like 20 years off my life. But I guess I have no one else to blame but myself. I gave him the “smidge” of ice cream. The irony was that he had an appointment to get allergy tested earlier in the week but since I had just started school, my mother in law had to take him. Because of a language barrier between my barely English speaking mother in law and the doctor, they thought it was simply a routine visit.